We’re Planting Seeds Today!

I had some very excited preschoolers today: it was seed planting day! We kicked off the day with a story by Eric Carle: The Tiny Seed.  The illustrations are classic, captivating and perfect for a read-aloud. We counted seeds (and then subtracted as each seed met its own destiny) and observed sizes, colors and discussed the process of seed dispersal.

Today we incorporated a yoga story into our learning. You’ll find our cycle of poses in the slideshow below, thanks to the image library from Kids Yoga Stories. Like our Eric Carle story, we started as a tiny seed (Child’s Pose) with our foreheads touching the floor. We practiced deep and slow breathing, quiet resting to get ready to grow. We decided what kind of seeds we wanted to be: yellow, green and rainbow. Then I “rained” on these Tiny Rascal seeds with a tickling of my fingers on their back and they extended their arms as their shoot popped out of the casing into the soil (extended Child’s pose). Growing upright into Lotus Mudra pose, we puffed out our chest to try to feel the sunlight then extended our shoots upward, out of the soil as we became seedlings (Fox pose), lifting our bottoms off our heels and stretching toward the sun. As our roots spread into the soil around us (horse pose) we straightened our bodies and felt the warm sun on our stems and wiggled our toes into the dirt. We became trees, resting one heel on the top of the other foot (or for a couple of experienced yogis, full tree pose) then reached out into the wind, blowing our branches gently around. Our branches grew buds as we touched our thumbs to each fingertip in turn. The buds turned into flowers and we moved down into flower pose, remembering the colors we had chosen in the beginning. We took a few deep breaths, moving our petals as we breathed in and out. Then, just like in The Tiny Seed, our flowers died and dropped seeds back onto the ground to grow into new plants as we moved back into Seed pose and finished with another round of breathing.

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Once we’d regrouped from such a nice yoga session, we gathered around the magnet whiteboard to get some visual reinforcement of a seed cycle. We learned that beans are seeds themselves and what a bean plant looks like as it grows from a seed to a pod-bearing adult plant. They each took turns adding a stage to the cycle and worked hard to form a circle to complete the life cycle process. Life Cycle magnets can be found here.

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The completed life cycle of a bean plant.

 

The Montessori seed puzzle was a big hit today. We learned the names of all the seed parts and everyone had a turn to put it together.

 

At this point my Rascals were ready to learn about the microscope. VERY. READY. I introduced the microscope and reviewed each part’s name and function. We discussed the microscope rules and then jumped in. I had four test tubes, each with a different seed inside, on display and ready for the Rascals to study. I used purple cauliflower, carrot, pumpkin and pea seeds for a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. First, we identified without magnification any features of the seeds that were immediately obvious. Then, starting with carrot seeds, I emptied the contents of the test tube into the viewing field and set the eye piece at the least magnification (farthest) setting. Each child took a turn observing at the least and then the highest setting for each kind of seed, noting the differences as they were observed. They were delighted to discover that carrot seeds are oval, pea seeds are wrinkly and purple cauliflower seeds are purple! I love seeing these kids find joy in learning new concepts, and the microscope really set the Rascals’ gears turning.

Our last activity before snack involved seeds we could eat! First, we learned a new song to the tune of Heigh-Ho the Derry-o! from one of my favorite preschool resources for themed chants and tunes.

graphic by HooliganMama

 

I’ve found that the little calendar numbers found at teacher supply stores make great counting aids when learning to count to 30, as they usually have a fun graphic or something easily tied to whatever theme you need. The numbers for this activity have a bee on the reverse side for future insect or pollination lessons! Today we discussed numerical ordering, which numbers come before and after, and then counted roasted pumpkin seeds beneath each number to ten.

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We took a break for snack and enjoyed apples (seeds in the middle) and yogurt-peanut butter dip. While the kids ate I took advantage of the time to read aloud.   I had chosen a few pages in a couple of different books that focused on some information about germination and dispersal to read to the kids while they ate so I knew I’d have most of their attention.  I love to read to kids while they eat- it’s one of the few times you’ll catch them sitting in one place with (mostly) quiet mouths and is a great opportunity to squeeze in a little more learning.  We read excerpts from Lift-the-Flap book of First Questions and Answers: How Do Flowers Grow?, My First Book About How Things Grow, DK Publishing’s Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Plants and a short passage from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  One observant Rascal pointed out that both dandelions and sunflowers are yellow, but the sunflower grows its seeds in its middle, which is brown. The Rascals were engaged and especially loved the flap book, mostly when I told them that birds do, indeed, help to plant seeds… by pooping. (Giggles and hilarity ensue!)

 

{The disclaimer is this: I used to sell Usborne books to take advantage of the discounts on their awesome kids non-fiction resources, so you’ll see them a lot throughout our lessons here at H4H. It honestly became something of a necessity because we use them so much here that a discount was needed! I no longer sell, but I am happy to link you to someone that does if you’re interested in anything you see in any of our lessons. The books are truly well made and curated. }

Tummies full and brains re-energized, the paints came out and we turned our focus to painting pumpkin seed pots. We set them to dry while we got to work starting seeds in soil. Each rascal got their very own pair of gardening gloves today! I set up our “water table” (without water) on top of a vinyl tablecloth in the school room and placed the bag of dirt in the middle. Everyone got a scoop and an 18-cup cardboard egg carton and got to work. I gave instructions : one scoop in each cup, then poke a hole with a pencil in each dirt scoop, then one seed in each hole. Tuck the seeds in with another scoop of soil on top, then gently pat everything down to tuck them in. I provided cups of water and syringes to work on a new skill: two handed vacuum suction. It was tough, but after a while, everyone became a master at pulling up water into the syringe and gently pushing it out to give each tiny seed a few drops. Spinach, pea, carrot, purple cauliflower and radish seeds were available to plant today, though I think everyone chose pea and carrot. After our egg cartons were all full and watered, our pumpkin pots had dried and were ready to be planted too. We filled these 3/4 full with several scoops, then dropped 1-2 seeds in and covered them up, watering them in the same way as the tiny seeds.  For only being 3 years old, I fully expected a huge mess but they were very tidy in their work!

 

Once these were done, I had a letter matching activity ready for them to work on until everyone had finished. This was simply made: upper- and lowercase letters on a sun cut-out (again, from a teacher supply store) and then cut apart in different ways so each set was a self-checking puzzle. I used letter stickers for legibility and uniformity purposes. This was a low-key activity but the independence was needed at this point. We had a lot of cooperative and curated lessons today and the quiet, focused way they worked through this simple matching was an obvious nod to their need for some quiet-thinking time.

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I think it’s important to note that while it may seem that we get a lot done, our mornings are just that: A LOT. Some days are more creative than others and involve a lot of free-thinking. Others, like today, involve a lot of new information and me talking for instructional purposes (like how to plant a seed). Sometimes it can be overwhelming and someone will need a break. And that is ok! Rascals are always free step away from the activity and sit by the bookshelf and look through a book if they need a little break, as long as they do so quietly and without disrupting others in the process. Sometimes we have a mama come sit for a little while while a Rascal gets comfortable- that’s ok too! I continue on with the activity and usually give them five minutes, unless they rejoin us before then, before I check in to see if they need any help or encouragement. Whenever they do decide to come back to the group, I’ll acknowledge with a smile or a “We missed you!” or “Thanks for coming back to play” and we continue on about the day. This very thing happened today, and the Rascal did a beautiful job of quietly moving away, choosing a book and regrouping by herself for a few minutes before coming back to plant some seeds. Being three can be overwhelming, its so important to give some space to these little people, too.

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