H for Habitats

The weather has finally turned and the charged, cool air breezing through the school room made it quite the rowdy environment, indeed.  I intended for today to be full of imaginative play due to the nature of the lesson and in the spirit of child-led learning- the change in weather led us outside for a great bulk of our time together.  Not many pictures to be had when there are no quiet moments in which to take them!

Our first order of business was to define the word habitat. Once everyone had a basic understanding, ee read The Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown, a Shine-A-Light book which utilizes a flashlight to see hidden objects on the pages. I really enjoy this series of books as they are non-fiction and full of facts presently simply and interactively. Toads, worms, squirrels and other living things call an apple tree their habitat and we learned many interesting tidbits about all of them.

apple tree

A genuine attempt at yoga was made, however that wee autumn breeze sent the Rascals a-Rascalin’ and so I shoo’d them outside to work out some energy and prepared for a habitat hunt (read: I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee). Searching under damp leaves to find a toad, spotting  dewy spider web, examining common fungi, visiting the chicken coop, and visiting an abandoned robin’s nest proved a beautiful way to sharpen observational skills.


Snack was enjoyed in the comfort of the owl’s nest habitat, with food brought by the “mama owl” and enjoyed by all. We sang a few songs about animals in their habitats (Five Little Speckled Frogs, etc) while they munched.  We played the Question Game, habitat edition, reviewing what kinds of habitats certain animals lived. As I had provided assorted ears and tails for imaginative play, we started with lions, bats, and owls, and then moved onto dolphins, tigers, chickens and birds. We fed our apple scraps to the chickens, who always love a post-snacktime visit from these kids.



Rosy-cheeked and slightly less wild, we moved back inside ready to get to work on our math project. This session of number building went very smoothly as the kids weren’t in need of instruction and got to work quickly. We completed cards four, five and six before I brought out animal and bug counters with which to practice counting, ordering and patterning.


Keva planks are so useful in creative play. I grabbed my small set from a consignment sale and they have been worth every bit of the five dollars. Today, they used the planks to build habitats for the counters. We talked about shapes, roofs, climates and what kinds of habitats certain bugs choose. They were so creative, but the best part was quietly watching these kids encourage each other and giggle together over their habitats. But even better is the careful consideration they give each other.  We’ve only met for two sessions in this season of learning and I can already see the friendships becoming true.

Our creative outlet today came inside a mason jar. Choosing from a random selection of small-play animals I’d hidden in a small bag, each child received an animal for whom to create a habitat. A snake, lizard, otter and panda were chosen and I laid out assorted materials to include. The kids had gathered sticks from outside for use as well. Combining materials as they wished, they each created unique habitats for their animals in their mason jars.

In between formally planned lessons and outdoor play, a few casual activities were available to choose from. New this week was a bookshelf full of pictures books about different animals and their homes for perusal during transition times or if someone felt a need for some alone time. While the classroom is full of books, I indicated after our opening song that should they feel a need for a break, the Habitat shelf was free for them to use- mostly I just wanted to preserve the order of my other bookshelves, but I’m glad I organized it as they all loved the National Geographic book about bears and the Bug Hotel book. The light table and translucent letter construction set was lit up

Another ancillary activity was the “bat cave,” a tent that I set up and draped with a gray sheet to resemble a cave. Another opportunity for discussing different habitats, the kids thought it was AWESOME to have a cave in the school room and pretending to be bats- flying out to catch bugs in mid-air being the most fun of all.


  • Math skills:
    • Number recognition & formation and counting 0-6
    • Patterns
    • introductory addition
  • Language / Reading Readiness:
    • New vocabulary: Habitat, crepuscular, damp, warren & burrow (in relation to rabbit homes)
    • letter recognition
    • letter construction
  • Sensory Integration:
    • Fine Motor skills: number shaping 
    • Gross Motor skills: hanging on bars, climbing, swinging, kicking, marching, running
  • Art:
    • creative thinking and planning
    • mixed media planning
  • Science: Life Science
    • identifying habitat features and animal adaptations to such
    • Life cycle of a tree
    • Creature features

Five Senses: The First Rascal Playschool PreK of the 2018-2019 Learning Year

Playschool began this new season of learning with a soft chorus of the ABCs as we delved into learning all about our five senses. To emphasize hearing as one of our senses, we listened closely to the difference in soft and loud singing and instrument playing. We followed our opening song with name practice in order to create labels for the Rascals’ supply caddies, a new feature of playschool this year. Each child has their own supply caddy in which to keep their number cards and other projects we will be working on through the year. Rainbow stickers were provided for some extra decorative flair.


Our book this week is authored by Aliki and provided a simple introduction to the five senses and the ways we can use them. My Five Senses (a Let’s Read and Find Out Level 1 science book) has lovely, expressive illustrations that capture attention without being distracting.

To stretch our muscles and get ready to use our senses more fully, we moved through several poses using Yoga Cards to focus on proper positioning. Tickling toes, sniffing the air like a puppy, listening for a train, tasting cool water as camels and looking for birds to nest in our tree helped us to remember what each sense allows our bodies to do.



The Rascals enjoyed filling our Five Senses Language Map with silly things we do with each of our senses. Tasting boogers and smelling butts was especially hilarious! Using a mirror, the kids explored the ways their eyes can not only see, but be expressive of feelings like happiness, sadness, anger and fear.



The Rascals began a learning project this week they will continue to work on the next several classes. Using blank playing cards and pipe cleaners, they will create a set of tactile number cards this fall to begin basic math skills. I enjoyed watching them each choose the colors they wanted and shaping the numbers (0-3 this week). They helped with the glue gun, too! We stored them in a small crayon box to be kept in their caddy and stored in the classroom between playschool days.


By this time we worked up a hunger, so we had a taste smorgasbord covering all the tastes except sour. We talked about tongues and the names of each taste. Yum!


Our next two five senses exploration activities required the Rascals to be detectives. First, with noses! Cotton balls were pre-soaked with extracts of identifiable scents: lemon, mint, vanilla, maple and almond. Lemon and mint were first to be correctly identified. The others were identified as chocolate chip cookies, pancakes and cake. Pretty close!


I made a fantastic discovery at the dollar store prior to this class: five pairs of plastic test tubes with screw-top lids and stands. For the sound detective activity, each pair had the same objects within and I concealed the contents using wide painters tape, labeling each with a number 1-10. The objective is to match the pairs of sounds, placing them into a stand together. I used pony beads, q-tips, googly eyes, wooden cuisinaire rods, and sand. They used their ears very carefully and only mixed up one pair!


Our final project tested our senses of touch and sight. These kids love a good, messy painting session so we leveled up our routine and fingerpainted blindfolded! The giggles and excitement was palpable when I explained that I’d use a very soft sock and a clothespin to block their eyes from seeing what they painted. I distributed fingerpaint (red, blue, yellow) evenly on the paper so they could acclimate to the condition, clipped on the blindfolds and set them to work. Hilarity ensued. One child chose not to be blindfolded, and she happily mixed her colors and encouraged her friends in their art. The kids were free to remove the blindfolds whenever they chose, and they had a great time.


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  • Math skills:
    • Number recognition & formation and counting 0-5
    • Concept of pairs
    • Sorting like sounds
  • Language / Reading Readiness:
    • Name recognition: knowing how to spell, write and recognize one’s own name is an obvious life skill, but beginning to recognize friend’s names is a crucial skill in beginning letter recognition, phonics and reading readiness- not to mention kindness and respect for others.
    • Thinking map: providing a visual structure to organize thoughts and information; a basic Tree map was utilized in today’s lesson as a classification tool, but is a precursor to higher levels of thinking, such as classifying main ideas and supporting details in later learning and writing structures. 
    • Expressive words (smell and sound activities): using expressive language and listening to others’ expressive language increases vocabulary as well as cognitive and emotional awareness. 
  • Sensory Integration (pretty much the whole lesson!):
    • Fine Motor skills: today focused on lots of grip strength practice with tracing and number shaping using pipe cleaners
    • Finger Painting: tactile integration for all senses with the added bonus of strengthening hands and fingers for fine motor skills and writing
  • Yoga:
    • Develop spatial awareness, balance, strength and emotional management
    • Increase confidence
    • Foster positive feelings as belonging to a healthy, non-competitive group
  • Art:
    • creative thinking and planning
    • Color identification and mixing
  • Science: Five senses
    • learning how senses gather information to allow & increase awareness
    • Isolation of each sense defines its purpose and develops body awareness

Rascal Camp Day 4: Ocean

On this, the fourth day of summer Rascal Camp, I believe we laughed the most. Sea creatures seems to be a topic a lot of kids are familiar with- sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, Nemo, etc. So today we did a lot of kid-led discussion and I asked a lot of questions, introducing info nuggets through the day instead of an instruction-focused lesson.

Keeping with routine, we started with the Hello song and a rule review. Our book today is one of my favorite ocean books: Atlantic,  by G. Brian Karas. Written like a poem, this book touches on so many topics and opens up discussion  organically through illustrations. We talked about the water cycle, ocean currents, icebergs, tides, umbrella uses (sun vs rain), sea creatures, abstract art and more as we read. This is a title that was gifted to my family as a birthday gift by a dear friend and I love to pull it out for ocean days. I highly recommend this as an addition to home libraries.

Our yoga practice today focused on creature features. We moved our bodies like jellyfish, octopus and more. Before finishing with balloon breaths, the kids even created their own creature  feature poses, which made us all giggle.


Our first project of the day was a movement activity- the Anemone Alphabet hunt! I love a good scavenger hunt- it really works on focused thinking, noticing one’s environment, and attention span. We sang the ABC song to help us remember all the letters we needed to find and set off through the Backyard Ocean. Rascals really worked together this morning and it was heartwarming to see them cheer each other on and distribute letters to each other to make sure everyone had a few letters in their baskets. We came back together when the kids thought they’d found them all and worked as a team to put the letters in alphabetical order to figure out what letters we were still missing. They did a great job, and we only had a few more to find. After round two of the hunt, they all celebrated with high fives when the Anemone Alphabet was complete and in order.


Next, we talked about pollution and the importance of keeping oceans clean. To demonstrate this concept, two trays of lime Jell-o containing various sea creatures were brought out and each child was given a chip clip. The object of the activity was to rescue the sea creatures from The Muck using ONLY the chip clip (working on grip and hand strength, among other skills) and then place the rescued creature on the table to be cleaned later. Each kid rescued exactly ONE creature before they realized that The Muck was Jell-o and it was actually a delicious snack. Ha! I loved seeing their reactions to this delightful surprise and they proceeded to gleefully complete the rescue and lick the creatures clean (“yikes! Don’t lick a jellyfish in real life!” I said with waggling eyebrows). I was actually admonished by a Rascal for not telling them sooner!

Next, we moved our “cleaned off” creatures to the small world play in the water table: shells, more creatures, and smooth rocks that created an imaginary ocean. [This activity remained available for play through the rest of the morning and the Rascals came back to play several times as their interests led them.]  The kids cleaned the creatures, played and went out into the yard to explore while I prepped snack: goldfish and sea slugs (cantelope slices).



We moved on to our math work, which was a fairly simple counting project but involved several steps. I normally try to avoid cut-and-paste type of projects that aren’t very meaningful. For this project, and these kids, on this day, I thought something a little more structured would provide some good skill reinforcement. I provided a blank aquarium for rainbow number fish. After discussing gills and how fish breath underwater, I introduced dot markers and gave the kids free reign to choose which number fish they wanted to include in their aquarium, as long as each fish had enough air bubbles! Some kids only wanted one fish, others completed all six. Once they felt satisfied with their work, they moved back to the small world play or went inside to put on swimsuits.

We moved to art next, for which I had three creative opportunities planned. The first had to be done one-on-one, so I made sure to have a blank stretch of paper, tempera paint, and sea creature stampers available for kids to explore as they waited. They were so patient as they waited their turns to make sand art! After a few false starts and spilled grains, we worked out that the sand ended up in the bottle better if I poured, so each child was in charge of holding their chosen bottle steady and naming the colors of sand they wanted within. I used a basic kit, which provided the bottles, sand and a funnel and worked really well. The kids were stoked to create their own rainbows and took care to choose their colors carefully.

For our third creative project, we painted scallop shells! We used all different sizes of paintbrushes and more tempera paint, adding glitter for extra flair. They really turned out well and dried nicely. I’d not done this before, but was impressed with the shell size as it provided plenty of space for lots of paint colors and dried really thoroughly. It was fun to paint on an atypical surface!


We wrapped up with our most fun activity of the day. With a little help from family, I had eight plain kitchen sponges (without scrubber pads) cut into basic fish shapes. We quickly discussed flying fish, and then we tried to catch some! Basically, I soaked the sponges in a tub of water and threw them to (at) a kid holding a plastic basket (the net) as they tried to catch the fish. This proved to be a hilarious exercise in what it feels like to be slapped across the face by a fish. The Rascals had SO MUCH FUN… and so did I. Flying Fish Catch also gave a lot of kids the opportunity to experience what it feels like to not be good at something the first time you try it- and how practicing can help you improve! Who knew that catching wet sponges being thrown at you could also be a character building exercise? Regardless, my voice is super hoarse after all the cheering and we will definitely be playing this frequently through the rest of the summer. This one is a must-try, pals.

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Objectives and Concepts Covered:

  • Language: letter identification, alphabetical order, basic letter sounds
  • Math: one-to-one correspondence, counting, more vs less, addition to 6, numerical order to 6, sorting by size, size comparisons, volume
  • Science: basic marine biology, aquatic respiration, ocean habitats, sea creature features, ocean conservation, coral reefs, water cycle, ocean currents, states of matter (water)
  • Social Studies: world geography, local geography, bodies of water
  • Motor skills: eye-hand coordination, motor planning, body awareness, spatial awareness, balance, proprioception, bilateral coordination, body awareness, fine motor skill practice, hand strengthening (for grip strength), pincer grasp

Rascal Camp Day 3: Bugs!

We were so busy today! After our Hello song and rules review, we jumped right in to our book of the day: Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! By Bob Barner. This book has wonderful rhymes and opportunities for counting on each page. I chose it for the bright illustrations but also for the bug comparison chart in the back. We read through each data point highlighting things like number of legs and where a bug might live, adding any knowledge we knew to the discussion as we analyzed. This set the tone for the rest of the day, as the Rascals continued this kind of observation of bug attributes the rest of the morning.

Yoga today included practice of many “bug poses” and lots of imagination. We started with balloon breaths- at which these kids are now masters- and moved right into slug pose. We made pointy stingers like bees, held shells on our backs like snails, then became flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and fireflies followed by slimy slugs, round ladybugs and wiggly caterpillars. We ended as our favorite butterflies and shared what we would look like by using describing words.





We spent a significant amount of time with math skills today. Starting by sorting bug counters by color, we then followed a recipe as a team to make bug stew. (“Eeewwww!!”) By practicing listening skills, we each contributed to the stew and took turns stirring and adding ingredients. We then sorted by bug type which organically morphed into creating pairs and patterns. It was my favorite moment of the day and the reason I love child-led learning. They did a beautiful job as a team helping each other create patterns, discovering that everyone had 12 bugs and 2 of each color.


The next math skills we worked on utilized measuring worms. Another multi-step project (building attention spans and memory from yesterday), the kids were tasked with finding an object in the yard they’d like to measure. I demonstrated my dump truck measurements with the worms and explained my diagram depicting my object and the worms. We took a moment to compare the different lengths of worms, noting longest, longer, shorter and shortest. We observed that two shorter worms are equal in length to one longest worm. The kids then found items to measure and set to work. They really enjoyed setting worms along edges and counting how long or high their objects were. We practiced writing numbers and creating sentences. When they finished, we took a brain break and they had free play or visited the chickens while I prepped bug snack. (Veggie straw caterpillars, grape beetles and banana slugs)



It’s not a secret that art is my favorite subject, and I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate the next project into a lesson for a while. Using lengths of butcher paper and painters tape, the kids used tree trunks as easels for crayon rubbings to create bug habitats. This. Was. So. FUN! On a tip from my fave art teacher, Miss Annie (currently director of Family Programming at The Walters in Baltimore) I bought bug stickers by a company called Eyelike. They are photographic, not illustrated, and so the effect is that the art really looks like bugs crawling over (rainbow) tree bark! Process art is so important at this age for continuing to build attention spans and focus. We has such fun with this project today! This also incorporated science concepts like habitats, bug anatomy and identification and life cycles.

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The kids cleared the table for clay play and I distributed small pots of air dry clay and placed the bug counters back on the table. To make our next project, bug fossils, I showed how to gently press the bug into the smooth surface of the clay and pull it free- an imprint! After trying out several bugs (caterpillars seemed to make the best fossils) I passed around several colors and the kids created their own bugs. We discussed basic bug anatomy but generally just had some free creative time. This dough was really interesting to play with!

While the kids explored the bug counters and dough, I broke out a quick phonics game I dubbed “mystery bug.” I’d taken the first letter off of several bug names and written them on a separate card. I introduced my mystery bug and the game would go something like this:

“Here, I have a Rasshopper! The amazing, green, hip-hoppity Rasshopper!”

*Kids giggle and shout out*

“No way, Miss Abby!” “It’s a Grasshopper!”

Me: “wait, what?! But, it says RASShopper, not Grasshopper. What is my RASShopper missing?”

From there we’d figure out what sound, and thus what letter, was missing and make the bug word complete again. The kids would hold up the corresponding bug counters if they had them and we’d move on to the next bug word. (“Look! Look at my IREfly! My UTTERfly! My EE! My NT!” And so on.)

While they played I set up the sprinkler and we ended our day screaming with joy running through the water. Can’t beat that!

Rascal Camp Day 2: Community Helpers

Day two of pre-k summer camp kicked off with another joyful round of Hello (Ella Jenkins) with happy, clapping hands to keep the rhythm. After a quick rule review, we dove right in and cracked open today’s book: Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do, by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook. I love the playful rhymes in this book and interactive nature of the guessing game that encourages kids to think and pay attention. I especially like the diversity throughout ending and how it celebrate

Spreading out the yoga blanket, we took off our shoes and started our morning practice with deep balloon breaths. Today, they were much better at this concept and inflated/deflated their balloons/lungs beautifully. Moving though our poses, we pretended to be engineers building bridges, veterinarians caring for cats, firefighters reaching their hosess to put out fires, zookeepers feeding lions, train drivers through tunnels, and gardeners or farmers planting things for butterflies to pollinate. [poses in respective order as pictured; cards from ThinkFun ]


Continuing with our theme, our language lessons began with connecting “go-togethers.” These Rascals were absolute pros and demonstrated some early reading skills that knocked my socks off. I set out two columns of words with the instruction to match the words that belong together. I read out the words, and it only took the kids about one minute to match them all. I had counted on much more time being needed!

Teeth/brush? Sigh. I meant Dentist/toothbrush. They understood, though. 

Next, we stamped some postcards and matched letters. Letter stamps and ink pads were set in the middle of the group and each child was given a small stack of “stamps” (construction paper squares). Holding up a postcard (index card with capital letter printed upon) for the children to see, we would all make the sound of the letter and then they would search the box for the corresponding stamp- capital or lower case- stamp the square, then glue the stamp to the postcard for later mailing at the post office station. This process was four steps long and they exceeded expectations. I only planned to do 5-6 letters but they asked to do several more as they enjoyed the process. We talked about where a stamp is located on a piece of mail and how mail gets delivered.


Next, for math lessons we brought the abstract concept of community to our table and made it more concrete using a gears set. Everyone built their own community, with each cog representing a helper or member of the community (firefighter, teacher, etc) and chose where in the community they would love, fitting each cog together on their board. We discussed how everyone has an important role to play in our community and how, even if people (cogs) are different colors, each is a needed piece of the puzzle in order for the community to run well. We expanded on this concept a little by then piecing each board together and adding the turning handle, watching how all the pieces worked in unison when the handle rotated. Everyone got a turn rotating the handle. We built different communities several times and worked on being kind to each other (our over-arching theme of the week) while taking turns. We sorted the cogs by color and made sure each color was represented on each board. The more diversity the better!

At this point, the kids were pretty anxious to move on to free play in the stations they had glimpsed during yoga. So, we took a tour of the backyard community stations I’d set up so they’d know what imaginative play areas were available. This also gave me a chance to explain some additional rules we had today (such as “do not cut anyone’s hair, clothes, person or hair. Did I say don’t cut anyone’s actually hair?”) while we previewed certain stations.


  • Library: stack of various books covering community topics, individual library cards, stamps and stamp pad. Kids can “check out” books, but must apply the number of stamps to their card corresponding to the number of books checked out (3 books = 3 stamps on card)IMG_20180710_095525.jpg
  • Veterinary Clinic: Lab coat, toy stethoscopes, otoscopes and syringes, various stuffed animals. Animals have come to the office because they have booboos! How can you be kind and help them?
  • Post Office: large mailbox with several slots (cut from a cardboard box and labeled mail), stamp stickers, markers and index cards. Invitation to write a postcard to whomever you like. Don’t forget to apply a stamp before popping it into the mailbox!
  • Market: market stand and cash register. Use your imagination- what kind of store are you running? How much does everything cost?
  • Farm: chicken pen and coop. Help to take care of the chickens by feeding them scraps leftover from our snack
  • Salon: scissors, cardboard tubes with “hair” pre-cut. Identify how each tube person feels and cut their hair according to their needs. IMG_20180710_095635.jpg
  • Cafe: toy plates, bowls, pitcher, cups, pots and pans. Practice cooking skills and take orders- what is it like to be a CHEF? 
  • Fire station: firefighter costume, fire truck ride on toy. Quick! To the rescue! 
  • Construction Zone: mud pit and trucks. What will you build to help the community?

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We took a break for snack- graham cracker, strawberry, raisin and peanut butter fire trucks- devoured by all Rascals who then asked for seconds!


Today was super messy kitchen process art, which very quickly devolved into a sensory art project involving bare feet. The messier, the better! Unrolled butcher paper, some squirts of washable tempera paint (pink was a big favorite today!) and all the kitchen tools I could find were the only supplies needed. Whisks, various sized spatulas, potato mashers and marinade brushes made for some great painting tools and we had a great time. We talked about mixing colors with our toes, slipped around some and then sang some made-up songs about how messy and fun this was.


After rinsing off toes and hands, changing into swimsuits and slathering on some sunscreen, we blew up the pool and took a dip. At this point the morning was coming to a close, so the kids were rotating between the pool and their favorite stations- mailing some last-minute postcards and picking up some items from the store before heading home for the day. What an awesome morning!




Objectives and Concepts Covered:

  • Math: sorting, counting, early money concepts, addition, subtraction, shape identification
  • Language Learning: letter identification, letter sounds, pre-writing practice, grip strength, proper grip, left-to-right orientation, community words (fire, truck, library, farm, police, chef), vocabulary word of the day: Chef
  • Social Studies: community members, diversity concepts, team work, basic geography, identifying feelings and facial expressions
  • Motor Skills: body awareness, motor planning, balance, proprioception, scissor skills, fine motor skills (pinching, writing)
  • Imaginary play! We did lots of pretending, allowing kids to explore their worlds and what it might feel like to pretend to be someone else- building confidence and empathy in the process.

Rascal Camp: Kindness

Rascal Camp kicked off today with a focus on being kind- establishing an expectation for behavior for the week and how to be a good human in general. Our sub-theme today was Water Play.

I followed the lesson plan layout I usually use for Pre-K days: Song, rules, story, activities, snack, play, activities. I find this routine works well and can be really flexible if I need it to be.

We tried a new song this week: Hello by Ella Jenkins. I really like this easygoing melody! The kids picked it up quickly and we beat the rhythm on the table as we sang. We reviewed the rules of kindness: hands to ourselves, listening ears, etc. and added a rule about staying inside the gate.

Our book today was Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. I loved this story because it outlines what kindness can mean and various ways one can be kind to others. We discussed as we read the ways we have been kind to others today and how sometimes we didn’t even know we were being kind- they were surprised to find out that clearing the dishes to the sink is an easy way to show kindness.

If you’re looking to review the concepts we read about today, I adore this YouTube read-aloud version- read by a kid!

After we finished our story, we spread out the yoga blanket and practiced some poses, focusing our thoughts on today’s theme.  We started in Lotus pose and learned how to take balloon breaths: deeply inhaling to expand our balloons and slowly blowing out our breaths to deflate. We moved into Mountain Pose and thought about how we can be mountains of kindness for others- what small actions we can take to be nice to others. Some examples the kids came up with included using people’s names when speaking to them (an example given in our story today!) and using manners. We then stood and moved into Warrior II pose, thinking about how we can be Warriors of kindness for ourselves- how can we be kind to ourselves? Taking a bath and eating healthy choices were the Rascals’ suggestions! So smart, those Rascals. Finally, we practiced balancing in Tree Pose and focused our thoughts on how to be kind to nature. One of my Rascals said we shouldn’t pee on the grass. And with that, we finished in Lotus and took some more balloon breaths to finish our morning practice.

Pose Cards from ThinkFun Yoga Cards

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While I prepped the Movement Math activity for today,  the kids sifted through a huge tub of water beads to find letter tiles (I love Bananagram Jr!) and say their sounds. Water beads were a popular item today and I’m pretty sure my driveway is now paved with them.


Next, we completed a sidewalk chalk obstacle course, counting jumps and steps and spins as we went. This was an easy way to get up and move around but also work on motor control and life skills like talking and walking at the same time. They completed the course continuously throughout the morning as they felt the urge.

To continue movement & learning, I wrote the alphabet scattered across the driveway in three different colors of chalk- each coordinating with the child’s chair color. They wore a matching apron to remind them what color was theirs, and were given a cup of water and a paintbrush. They were only allowed to paint their own color and instructed to holler out the letter as loud as they could each time they painted one. This ended up being pretty hilarious as screams of “F!” and “X!” echoed down the street.

We took a break for apples, yogurt dip, Goldfish and cheese sticks before moving on to art exploration. I’ve always wanted to work with liquid watercolors in my homeschool, so I was anxious to try out our fun water play art! I added an ounce of Colorations liquid watercolor** to a 3/4 full water spray bottle for super-saturated color and adjusted the nozzle to streaming instead of spray/mist. I clothes-pinned color diffusing paper to our fence and instructed to only spray on paper, not people, and off they went! In hindsight, I should’ve pre-hung MUCH MORE paper, as they loved this activity and I wasted a lot of creative time hanging more sheets. Alas, the Rascals showed my kindness by being patient and using manners and we all really enjoyed this creative outlet. The original plan was to let these dry while we ran through the sprinkler and then fold them accordian-style with a pipe cleaner to make flowers to give to people who may need a little sunshine in their day (showing them kindness) but our next activity was such a hit I skipped the flowers and let them play.

After a break for changing into swimsuits and applying sunscreen, the kids had some free play and ran through the sprinkler a bit while Hooligan Papa and I set up our STEM activity.  Going along with our water play sub-theme, we unrolled a long length of aluminum foil down the incline of our driveway and folded up the sides to create a river. we set the hose at the top, flowing at a slow/gentle rate, then provided the kids with Solo cups, craft sticks and small animals to create bridges and dams for the animals to use to get across safely. The kids made quick work of this and rapidly moved on to the next experiment: ice boats. I set out cups full of ice cubes, which they floated down the river, noticing that the craft sticks in the river changed the flow of the water (and thus, the ice boat) and the speed of flow. They experimented with this simple set up for over 45 minutes, adding water beads to the mix too. Then they brought out the watercolor bottles and watched the color make its way down the river, diffusing as it went. They would’ve gladly played with this the entire morning. The adults had just as much fun as the kids!

Objectives and Covered Concepts:

  • Kindness: what it means and how to be kind
  • Motor skills: motor control and planning, balance, proprioception, bilateral coordination, body awareness, fine motor skill practice, hand strengthening (for grip strength)
  • Math: numeral recognition, one-to-one correspondence, counting in order, ordinal numbers, sorting by color
  • Language: basic phonics (individual letter sounds as well as ch, sh, th, ee, and oo), capital letter recognition
  • Science/STEM: bridge building, dam building, water force and power, sink vs. float, osmosis
  • Art: primary and secondary color review, color mixing, watercolors

Africa Resource List


  • Collections:
    • Stories from Around the World
    • National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 poems with photographs that squeak, soar and roar!
    • Around the World in 80 Tales
  • A South African Night
  • Africa is Not a Country
  • African Princess: the amazing lives of Africa’s royal women
  • Amazing Africa: projects you can build yourself
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain: a Nandi tale
  • Emeka’s Gift: an African counting story
  • Home Now
  • I lost my tooth in Africa
  • Jambo means hello: a Swahili alphabet book
  • Mama Panya’s Pancakes: a village tale from KEnya
  • Mirror
  • My name is Blessing
  • My rows and piles of coins
  • Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
  • September Roses
  • The Butter Man
  • The Elephant Keeper: caring for orphaned elephants in Zambia
  • The Lion’s Whiskers: an Ethiopian folktale
  • Voyage to the Pharos
  • Water Hole Waiting
  • Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears: a West African Tale



  • Zarafa (highly recommend!!)
  • Binta & the Great Idea
  • The Lion King


  • Wild Kratts
    • season 1: 1, 3, 10, 17, 18, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30. 35, 40
    • season 2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
    • season 3: 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
    • season 4: 4, 5, 23, 24
  • Amazon Prime:
    • New Dimension Media:
      • Nelson Mandela
      • South Africa
      • Ivory Coast: My House on the Ivory Coast
      • Burundi: Nsengiyuma in Burundi
      • Morocco: Djalil in Morocco
      • Ivory Coast: Lasso and his Balafon
      • Senegal: Cheik in Senegal
      • Senegal: Nialle in Senegal
    • Continents of the World: Africa
    • Travel with Kids: season 5 episode 12 & 13 – South Africa
  • Netflix:
    • Planet Earth: Fresh Water. Deserts, Great Plains
    • Queen of Katwe
    • BBC Earth: Africa
    • BBC: Nature’s Great Events



  • Book:
    • Nelson Mandela’s Favourite African Folktales (HIGHLY RECOMMEND)
  • CD:
    • Ella Jenkins: Multicultural Kids Songs (a Smithsonian Folkways CD)
    • Best Multicultural Songs for Kids