Friday, April 22, 2011

Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

We went to a local community garden for this week's Mommy and Me to enjoy Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. The weather was perfect!  Our lesson plan is a little different for this week.  We chose not to do an art project.  Each family brought a picnic lunch and a picnic blanket instead of our traditional snack.

Circle Time: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

We gathered our blankets together in a quiet corner of the garden  to read the story of Peter Rabbit.  I love this classic tale.  The language is beautiful and the pictures perfect and simple.  It is a little longer story than we sometimes read, but I think the novelty of being outside (and the fact that it is a fun adventure story) helped the children sit longer. 

Activity 1: Walk in the Garden 
After reading the story, we explored the gardens with the children.  The garden has a flower garden and a vegetable garden.  We even spotted a gardener who looked a lot like Mr. McGregor!  We kept our eyes out for Peter, but he stayed hidden!

Activity 2: In the Trees
Peter and his family live inside of a tree.  Our garden also has a large magnolia tree that has an open area underneath to play.  The children explored the area and pretended to be rabbits. They also found a tree to climb.

Activity 3: Bunny, Bunny, Rabbit
Two moms played Bunny, Bunny, Rabbit (played like Duck, Duck Goose) with the children while the other moms prepped for the next activity.

Activity 4: Easter Egg Hunt
The children each brought 12 eggs with them and the mother's hid the eggs. The children had a fun time searching for the eggs together.  I know it has nothing to do with the story, but it was our Easter themed Mommy and Me class.  If you were doing this book a different time of year, you could leave out the egg hunt.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch together and all our good little bunnies ate blackberries for dessert. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Empty Pot by Demi

Gathering Activity: Planting Seeds in Pots

The children scooped potting soil into pots and planted flower seeds inside.  While we planted, we talked about what plants need to help them grow.

Helpful Hint: We did not water them immediately, as the children would be taking the home in a short time. We didn't really want black water in our cars.  The moms just made sure to help them water them as soon as they arrived home.    

Circle Time: The Empty Pot by Demi

The Empty Pot is one of my all time favorite books.  I can never read it without tears coming to my eyes.  The first time I ever heard it was in a Sunday School lesson for teenagers, and they were enamored .  It's message about integrity is powerful, but simple enough to be understood by young children.  Our preschoolers sat and listened quietly to the story and it seemed to hold their interest. 

The story is about a land of people who love and respect the beauty of nature.  They love to garden, to plant beautiful flowers and trees.  Even the Emperor tends to his own garden each day.  The Emperor holds a flower growing contest to see who will be the next Emperor.  He gives each child a seed and asks the children to tend to the seeds for an entire year.  The hero of the story, Ping, carefully nurtures his seed, but nothing grows.  On the day appointed to present their efforts to the Emperor, all of the children come before him with beautiful flowers they have grown.  Only one, Ping, comes forward with an empty pot.  The Emperor looks upon this child and pronounces that Ping will be king. All of the seeds the Emperor had given to the children had been cooked, and therefore could not grow.  Only one child had lived with integrity and come forward with nothing but the truth.  

I love the lessons in this story.  Gardening is for everyone, boys can like flowers, and of course, honesty takes courage, but is always the best choice.

After we read the story, we reviewed again what flowers need to grow.  Then we sang three favorite songs about flowers and blooming trees.  If you click on any of the titles below, they will take you to the words and accompanying music for each.

Popcorn PoppingIn the Leafy Treetops, and Little Purple Pansies.

Art: Popcorn Trees

The story is illustrated with pictures of beautiful blossoming trees.  We made our own "popcorn trees."

Materials Needed: Popped corn, paper, brown paint, paint brushes, glue

1-We had drawn a simple outline of a tree to allow the children to paint the tree branches and trunk.
2-Allow the children to squeeze glue onto the tops of the tree branches.
3-Glue the popcorn down onto the paper.

Snack: Fruit Flower Pancakes

 Materials Needed:
Small whole wheat pancakes, cream cheese mixed with agave nectar and vanilla, fresh fruit cut into pieces, child friendly knives to spread the cream cheese 

Allow the children to spread the cream cheese onto the pancake and then create a flower using the fruit provided.  The children came up with a fun variety of flowers.

Activity: Planting Strawberries

We went outside to the square foot garden and allowed each child to plant a strawberry plant.  After watering our plants, we spent the rest of the morning digging in an empty square foot garden that is waiting patiently for me to plant something!  None of the children seemed pleased when it was time to stop digging.  It was just too much fun!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Puddle by David McPhail

 Gathering Activity:  Umbrella Art 

Materials Needed: Cupcake liners, pipe cleaners, construction paper, Do-A-Dot markers, sticky foam cut into the shape of raindrops

We made these adorable umbrellas inspired by this craft on No Time for Flash Cards.  You can click on the link for detailed directions.

 The only modification we made was to cut raindrops from sticky foam we happened to have available.  The children were able to peel off the back and stick them on directly.  

Circle Time: The Puddle by David McPhail

The Puddle is a delightfully written and illustrated story about a child who goes out to play with a sailboat in the rain.  The child's sailboat sails out of reach when a frog asks to sail in the boat Then a turtle backstrokes by while enjoying afternoon tea, a crocodile rescues (and chomps) the boat, a pig dives into the puddle and splashes the child, and an elephant drinks the puddle.   In the end, the child comes home and enjoys a warm bath and sailing the boat in the tub.  Another fun thing about this book is that the author purposely allows the reader to decide whether the main character is male or female.  

After reading the story, we sang some favorite songs.


A Sailor Went to Sea
A sailor went to sea sea sea.
To see what he could see see see.
But all that he could see see see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea.

This first one was our favorite.  We taught the children how to do the hand motions.  You slap your knees, clap your hands, and then clap the hands of your  partner three times.  We sang this one several times.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the waterspout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out.
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
So the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again!

Rain Is Falling
Rain is falling all around,
 on the housetops on the ground,
 rain is falling on my nose,
on my head and hands and toes.

Snack: Apple Sailboats

Materials Needed: Apple slices, cheese cut into triangles, toothpicks 

We allowed the children to assemble these themselves.  They really enjoyed making and eating these. 

Art Activity: Sailboats 

Materials Needed: Plastic cup with top half  cut off, with duct tape around the top of the bottom half of the cup (keeps the jagged edges from cutting the children), straw, triangle shaped paper with two holes to thread straw through, modeling clay 

Directions: Allow the children to decorate the sail themselves.  Help them thread the sail onto the straw and stick into the modeling clay that is placed in the center of the bottom of the cup.  The lower the sail, the better balanced your boat will be.  

 Activity: Sailing Sailboats

We sailed our boats in our little swimming pool.  It was a fun use for our pool that usually doesn't get pulled out until the summer.  The children wore raincoats and rain boots like the child in the story.  It also helped ensure that they stayed dry.

  We played outside for quite a while.  By the time we finished, the 3 girls' boats were exactly as they had been at the beginning.  The 3 boys' boats had been taken apart and were now cups that they were using to scoop and pour and splash with. 

Puddle Jumping

We cut out puddles from blue construction paper and allowed the children to jump over them.  A fun song to play along while they moved would be Greg and Steve's "Robin in the Rain."  Of course I didn't think of this until they were jumping.  I will pull the puddles back out later this week and play again using that song.