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.
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!