Preschool Rascals happened to meet on Valentine’s Day this week so our theme was hearts! Not candy hearts, but heart shapes and the heart in our very own body. Hearts, lungs, bones, brain and lots of other body parts were discussed today. And poop. Because everybody poops!
After we sang the ABCs (with gusto!) we discussed things we noticed on the cover of our book of the day. This is such a wonderful book for storytime with preschoolers. It encourages body movements by pretending to be each animal, hones observational skills in finding all the ways hearts are used to build the animals and math skills in counting them. We had so much fun with this story.
Our snack today was plain sugar cookies, good’n’processed and straight from the tube. I really aim to keep the Rascals as involved as possible in the process of cooking/making their snack and while I do try to keep things as wholesome and healthful as possible, sometimes ease of use wins. So, each child got a plastic butter knife and a section of dough and they practiced slicing and safe knife skills. We did this right after opening storytime so the cookies would have time to bake and cool for decorating later.
Once the cookies were safely in the oven, we headed back to the school room and got out the Big Book of the Body (by Usborne- an awesome resource for this age!) and learned about each of our main organs, singing a chant for each organ in turn to help us remember their function. We started with our heart! The chant was very simple with a basic rhythm and we repeated it three times, at least, for each organ. Keep in mind that I REALLY simplified the function of each organ for these to be memorable and in a good rhythm.
Our heart pumps the blood
Lungs are for our breath
Our brain helps us think
Stomach churns our food, churn churn churn it up
Small Intestines digest the food
Large intestine makes the poop (giggle, giggle)
Kidneys make the pee (howl with laughter)
I broke out one of my favorite hands-on learning resources to help us reinforce what organs are and how they help our body. The organ apron is always a huge hit! After we repeated the chant for each organ and placed it appropriately, we’d find its location on our own body and say the chant again. This is an expensive resource, but we use it anytime we talk about anatomy and its been worth every penny.
After wrapping up discussion about organs, we moved on to talk about our skeletons and how they give our organs protection and support. I used a felt skeleton and we sang “Dem Bones” which was a HUGE hit. [As a note, I always feel terrible about teaching not-entirely-correct information in the interest of ease of learning. I strongly believe in honest and accurate information that is age-appropriate but NOT dumbed-down. For instance, there is no “foot bone” that is connected to a “calf bone” nor is there an “arm bone” connected to a “hand bone” because that is all ridiculous. These kids remembered every line of the song after the first time we sang it and it occurred to me that I should remix it a bit for more correct learning. Alas, “the femur bone’s connected to the pelvic bones at a synovial ball-and-socket joint and supported by cartilaginous and muscular tissues, now shake dem skeleton bones” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.] Everyone got a turn to build the skeleton as we sang and these friends were rockstars at shaking their skeleton bones.
For our creative project today, I traced the upper portion of each kid onto butcher paper and hung it on the wall. I had pre-cut two lungs and a heart for each Rascal to glue on their body in the appropriate location. The location was open to interpretation (I sometimes feel as if my heart is outside of my body, or in my throat, don’t you?) but they loved talking to each other about how big their lungs get when they take deep breaths and the sound their hearts make when pumping blood. They chatted as they colored their bodies and drew faces and boogers and poop and such, and I had some stickers out for them to use as well.
At this point, our cookies were cool so when they’d finished their self-portraits, I provided homemade cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, a dash of vanilla and a little powdered sugar whipped together with a handmixer by two Rascals) and some berries for decoration. We discussed the shapes of the berries, specifically that they resembled hearts, and the kids worked on strengthening their hands by squeezing the frosting through their own frosting bags and pressing the berries on top.
I had more activities planned after this, for letter recognition & formation and grip strength/practice, but snack took a while and they were ready for some free play, so we rolled with it and wrapped up our day. I’ll include the list of other planned activities below.
- Letter erasing: use water and a paintbrush to trace letters on a chalkboard to erase them
- Dot tracing: use a q-tip and paint to dot along the letter shapes
- Letter tracing: this can be done several ways, but I planned to leave it open to the child to choose how they wanted to work. I put a little shaving cream into a ziploc bag and provided our favorite letter cards to either be placed above the bag as a guide for drawing the letter (using the trace-write technique) or slip the card under the bag, which was taped securely to the try along the zip-top, and trace through the shaving cream to reveal the letter.
- Usborne’s Look Inside Your Body: a lift-the-flap book with some excellent graphics and information; a fun read!
- Lung science: following the project from Living Life & Learning using paper bags (I still plan to do this with my Rascal and KindyKid)
- Listening to heartbeats and tummy sounds with a stethoscope
- The Foot Book and singing “head, shoulders, knees and toes”
***Disclaimer: I’m currently using a backup phone and so picture quality is seriously lacking. Apologies, pals!