We started our year with basic alphabet and weather units based on concepts in ABC Bunny by Wanda Ga’ag, which I chose from our Before Five in a Row manual for its fun rhythm and simple illustrations. We “rowed” this book for about a month (January) because we were able to expand the units so well and the girls loved the book.
The first day of a new unit, we always begin by reading the book. Since our first day of this row was also the first day of our new co-op journey, I thought we should establish a good rhythm for the girls so we began by getting out the instrument box and jamming out to a lively rendition of the classic ABC song. We then put the instruments away and sat together to read the book. We continued to read the book every day of the month of January.
In an effort to keep things interesting, I found the ABC Bunny song on YouTube and the girls LOVED it.
- Ivory Soap Clouds (science): Something about Ivory soap and the way in which it is made allows it to expand into a cloud-like shape when microwaved. This was probably the most favorite lesson, followed closely by the shaving cream rain clouds. It was very easy: cut a bar of Ivory soap in half, place in a microwaveable glass bowl (for easy clean up- we used colored paper plates for visibility purposes but I’d recommend a glass bowl for future clouds) and microwave for one minute. Likely it will not take that long and only about 20-30 seconds. It will be done when it stops expanding. We then used eye droppers with colored water to drop onto our clouds and watched as they disintegrated into mush, which then became a fun sensory material to knead and squish.
- Shaving Cream Rainclouds (science): Fill a clear glass container (you can use a pint glass or mason jar) about 3/4 full with water. On top of the water, layer shaving cream so that it creates a dense layer to the brim of the glass. In another small bowl, color a little water with food dye. Using an eye dropper, drop some of the colored liquid on the top of the shaving cream, watching just below where the water and shaving cream touch for “breakthrough,” or Rain! We discussed that clouds (shaving cream) can only hold so much water before they spill over with what we know as rain (colored water). The girls loved this activity, and quickly used their colored water, asking for different colors to see them mix as rain underneath.
- Counting hailstones (math): We used Didax Sandpaper Numerals
to help us count hailstones- marshmallows or cotton balls- and trace the numbers. [“H for hail”]
- Weather clip cards: These were fun and a great math intro game. I printed them and laminated them myself using these printables: http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/rainy-day-clip-cards/
- Wind lesson (science): Super simple and really fun. All you need is two pompoms (I used white tinsel to look like snow for our weather unit) and a straw. Blow the pompoms across the floor. We had pompom races and we herded snowflakes and in general had a lot of fun. [“G for gale”]
- Tornado bottles: We attempted, but it wasn’t as successful as I wanted and I think because we added too much soap with not enough air at the top of the bottle. http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/makeatornado.html
- Rain stick: This was really fun, though tedious. http://theimaginationtree.com/2011/02/diy-rain-stick.html
- Ice Painting: Freeze water in various containers, then upturn it onto rimmed baking sheet and paint with water colors. http://teaching2and3yearolds.com/ice-painting-for-kids/
- Ice Melting: Fill 4 small bowls with ice cubes. Have cups of cold, warm and hot water at the ready, as well as a small bit of salt (be careful with the hot water!). Talking about hot cold ice is and that it needs to stay cold to remain frozen, start with the cold water and pour the cold water over the first bowl of ice. Move to the warm water, asking what the child thinks will happen, and watching as the ice melts slowly. Hypothesize about the hot water and then the salt, each in a different bowl of ice.
- Weather sensory bottles: We used these to discuss what kind of weather was happening outside each morning while I made breakfast. http://www.two-daloo.com/weather-sensory-bottles-circle-time/
- Letter tangrams: I had gotten Melissa & Doug tangram blocks and found these free printables to use the tangrams blocks in alphabet learning. They were a big hit! http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/free-alphabet-printables-pattern-blocks/
- ABC matching: Our homeschool classroom has an alphabet floor mat
and we utilized it for a speed matching game with our Alphabet Wall Cards. It was a great way to get moving in between lessons and helped with letter recognition. After using the letter names to find matches, we matched with phonetic sounds for a level up in difficulty. I’d hold up the card, and they’d race to match it to the letter on the floor mat.
- Letter matching manipulatives: This little bag of letters came in handy several times when one would finish an activity before the other. Having an actual letter to hold when matching was popular!
- Q tip painting: These printable Q tip painting templates were free, I only had to cut them. All we needed were Qtips and a little paint. This helped with grip, motor control and movement planning, for sure.
- Alphabet Stamps: ink pad, floor pad of paper…. go!
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: This classic paired well with our alphabet focus. We read the story, then completed a few activities to reinforce concepts and for extra fun.
- Letter matching stickers: Using a pack of circle stickers (like the kind used for pricing things at yard sales) I wrote either a capital or lower case letter on each sticker, and used these free printables for the girls to find the letters and match with the correct sticker. http://www.makinglearningfun.com/themepages/CCBBLetterAssessments.htm
- Build a coconut tree: I found a great craft kit at Target and used the wooden beads and pipe cleaners from that to set up a coconut tree for the girls to make. Essentially, I made the tree and then they worked to string on the beads as coconuts. The tricky part was making sure they distributed the beads on all the branches so the tree didn’t tip- a nice little lesson in balance! (also we had to listen to the song- below- 283952653 times while making the tree)
- The Chicka Chicka Boom Boom song: we did this lesson over a month ago and this is still requested daily.
- Animal sorting: There are lots of animals mentioned in ABC bunny. I printed animal classification cards and laminated them, as I plan to use them with our entire BFIAR curriculum. I pulled the animals that were mentioned in this book and gave them to C for her to “smack” the animals in the books as we came across them. The search helped her pay attention and was hilarious.
- ABC Bunny printables: we used the line tracing, leaf letter matching and a few other activities from this awesome free printable resource to go with our lessons and for a quick lesson when we had some time to fill.
- Sorting Chart activity (science): I set up Animals vs. Insects in our chart and the girls worked together to sort each item appropriately.
- Sorting Pie(math): set up for color sorting
- Learning palate (math): Made by Usborne, this is one of my favorite learning tools because it is self correcting and once they’ve gotten the hang of the discs it can be a self-led activity to reinforce concepts in a different way. I get this out a lot when I’m transitioning to a new lesson or cooking dinner, etc. Right now we are working through the beginning math cards.
- P for Porcupine: Another big hit, this was super simple but the girls really enjoyed it. Simply choose a play doh (or modeling clay) color and grab some toothpicks. The kids stick in the toothpicks to their shaped porcupine body as the quills. Done. The girls wanted to know more about porcupines, so we looked them up in our handy Picturepedia andMy Big Animal World books, then left them open as inspiration while they built their porcupines.