Monday, May 23, 2011

Friends unit

Our latest unit followed the book Friends by Helme Heine. This was a very fun book that I'd never heard of before. It has beautiful illustrations that contain some sneaky and humorous unwritten "additions" to the text.
Sorting, sorting. I'm always trying to find a way to work sorting into our units. And who doesn't love a good Fruit Loop sort? So we started off with that. It was interesting to watch the different levels and how they handled it: O Boy flew threw this and easily sorted by color; Mr. T still needed some assistance getting (and keeping) going but totally understands the basic idea; and the Little Sweetie still could care less about matching colors. When I finally sat down with her and broke down the task into very, very simple steps and only a few Fruit Loops, then she was able to match colors. But since she's a 3rd child, I'm not rushing her! Now that the boys are beyond that stage I realize that she WILL learn her colors whether I sit down and drill her on them or not. So she gets to eat way more Fruit Loops without sorting them than the boys ever did. :-)
O Boy's very efficient sort
I found that if I really spread out the containers holding different colors and gave her just one FL at a time she understood the sorting much better.
"Now, PLEASE, can I eat them!?!"
These glaringly bright pictures show the different characters that we painted throughout the course of our unit. Over the course of several days I drew and they painted the different characters, cut them out and then wrote their names: Johnny Mouse, Fat Percy the Pig, and Charlie Rooster.
These are the Little Sweetie's paintings:
O Boy wanted to hang his paintings going up the side of our staircase. Here's Charlie Rooster:
His Johnny Mouse:
And Fat Percy:
Mr. T's 3 characters:

Here's O Boy cutting out his mouse.

Our curric suggested we play Hi Ho Cherry-O because the characters spend a lot of time eating cherries. And, thankfully, Aunt Missi and Uncle John gave us this game for Christmas!
Here was a little oral motor activity I had Mr. T doing that the Little Sweetie enjoyed joining in on. Not sure exactly how I spun out the story, but I think I told him it was pufferberry (what we call puff balls) bowling. He had to blow the puff balls into a line of other puff balls and see how many he could knock over.

This was a little game I made up to practice the concepts of "more" and "less". I wrote a series of numbers on scraps of paper (each piece had either the number 0, 1, 2, or 3 on it). Then on another series of scraps I wrote either MORE or LESS. Then we used some coins from another game that go from 1-10. One player had gold coins 1-10 and the other silver coins 1-10. First, each player would turn over one coin. Then they would count out that many puff balls (for Mr. T we used a number line). Then each player would pick both a number card and a MORE or LESS card. So each time you were either adding to, taking away or keeping the same amount of puff balls. At the end of this long series of turns we'd see who had the most balls! And then it would start all over again! They really liked this game but the biggest challenge was the little sister who loved to lean in and grab cards and/or puff balls...
The Little Sweetie loves to practice counting too.


This was a game I came up with for some fine and gross motor work, spotting, and one-to-one correspondence counting. They had to 1) roll the dice and correctly read the number 2) stand on the balance beam and lean over and catch the correct number of fish and, finally, once all the fish were caught, 3) count up their fish to see who won the game. They took turns switching who used which fishing pole (one is magnetic, the other velcro). Thanks to "Aunt" Deb Ernst for the cool fishing pole set which we're obviously still using quite a lot. :-)


Here is Mr. T practicing his letters using his Handwriting without Tears wooden pieces set.
This is Mr. T doing the Handwriting without Tears Wet, Dry, Try practice method.

A B made using the Wet, Dry, Try practice method.

My "building" component to this unit was to haul out our Teramid blocks set and have them, over the course of several days, put together different creations. I love this set because the cards are very nicely leveled. So Mr. T has lots of level 1 and 2 pictures he can do and O Boy goes straight for the level 3s and is still challenged by a few of them!
A Teramid happy face by Mr. T.
A Teramid sad face.

More Teramid. On this one, he decided to pose like his creature.

O Boy's favorite one to do: the Wave.
These are the bugs I used for the Blotter Bugs activity which follows:


A year or so ago my friend Sarabeth Hill told me about an art book she made with her oldest son when he was doing kindergarten. It goes through each of the basic artistic ideas (primary colors, secondary colors, texture etc.). And when you're done with all the activities you put them all together into a book. I've never gotten around to doing the entire thing but for this unit I decided to try out their Blotter Bugs activity for an intro to secondary colors. The basic idea is that you put two of the primary colors together on a bug, fold it up and squish it and you should get a secondary color. Except that it didn't really work that way. For some reason it was very difficult to mix the paint and we didn't really get a good idea of the secondary colors. It mostly looked like swirls of pretty primary colors no matter how much squishing I did. There definitely were some patches of the secondary color but not really enough to make a dramatic impact so that you would say, "Wow! Blue and yellow make green!" So I wouldn't recommend this activity! But here are some pictures nonetheless.

Checking out blue and green. Can you see how non-impressed they are?
Folding and squishing
Red and yellow
Getting ready to squish red and yellow together.
Of course it worked a lot better for the Little Sweetie when she just decided to get in there and mix it up with her hands. But O Boy wasn't interested AT ALL in going that route.
Red and yellow
Blogger makes it a bit tricky for me to rearrange my photos so...here are a few more Teramid pics.
A Teramid butterfly
This creature is called "Nessie"
Mr. T works on a crab
Throwing more accurately at a target is one of Mr. T's PT goals this month. Here he is using a beanbag/target set that a church friend loaned us a while back. It was made for her daughter (now an adult) years ago. Thanks, Mary! We're taking good care of it and it gets a lot of use.
This was a game I found and adapted on the Making Learning Fun site, which I'm recently a big fan of. I printed off a cow (since we're doing a Farm theme again) and each player had one die. We rotated turns rolling our die and, after each roll, coloring in the correct amount of dots. Then when the cow was filled up we counted them up to see who won. It was fun and once again practice with spotting and accurate one-to-one correspondence counting.
Sorting: another sorting task I gave them this unit was to sort farm animals. I thought this would be a bit boring or easy but it was still interesting to see what they came up with. O Boy sorted here by what he determined to be baby animals and parent animals. Thanks, Deb Ernst for the fantastic IKEA animals! We love them and use them all the time!
Some more color blending. I gave them blue and yellow and just said, "See what you can paint!" This was, I think, their first activity on blending. I wanted to let them see what they could discover first.
You can see Mr. T had a pretty dramatic sort here: I think his categories were "live in a pond and doesn't live in a pond"!! So the swan stood alone.
For our pretend play area we, of course, set up a farm. I borrowed a fantastic little mouse from my friend Doris to play Johnny Mouse. Of course our huge IKEA pig was perfect for Fat Percy. And any number of roosters that we have rotated the role of Charlie Rooster. The farm is laid out on a great piece of very thick cardboard I got at some point from somewhere. O Boy loved using chalk to draw and redraw out different settings to add to the flavor of our pretending. He drew in the pond in their story, a road for them to ride their bike on...and then of course added a farmhouse, doghouse, dock for the boat etc. etc.
Here's O Boy grabbing a break from a school job to re-read his beloved Smoky the Bear comic book that we got a year or so ago from the Forest service. He has just finished a "friends on the bus" counting activity I got off of the Making Learning fun site. It was a good practice for one-to-one correspondence counting.

This was a bit of a ridiculous activity for O Boy but I couldn't believe how difficult it still was for Mr. T. He was just so distracted that I finally had to (again) break down the activity into very, very small steps and then he could be successful. I finally gave him only a small amount of beads and only one girl at a time to match beads to, rather than all 3 at a time. That was apparently too overwhelming for him. What he did end up doing initially was dumping all the girls and the beads on the floor under the table. You can see how frustrated he was by this at first!
Charlie Rooster's tail is a rainbow and so for a day or two we played around with making rainbows out of different blocks. Again, I thought (in my adult brain) this would be easy. It wasn't. Even when I just had Mr. T do it as a matching exercise, as he is here, it was still very difficult.
Here's a rainbow O Boy made out of pattern blocks.
This is a picture of the day we were painting Johnny Mouse.
Back during our Night Tree unit we learned how to draw mice. I thought I'd pull out that activity again, but you can tell by the sloppiness of the drawing that they weren't that excited about it.
Here's another picture of our pretent area setup with the pond, the boat, the 3 characters and the rest of the barnyard. We also used a motorcycle for their bike which isn't shown here.
Because we worked in a very simple study on life cycles in this unit, here are a few of the books we read to learn about that topic:

This book has a pretty hilariously improbable ending that you'll just have to read to experience.
Nic Bishop is one of my new favorite author/photographers. He has several books out and the text and photos are just fantastic. They are beautiful and fun to read!

Since we were talking about life cycles during this unit, I found some fun life cycle videos on youtube that we enjoyed watching a few times:





Some other things we did:
I printed out the life cycle puzzles from Kelly's Kindergarten and we worked on those.
I made a Powerpoint of the Friends book for them to do on their own so that we could work on prediction. I also could then use those same pictures for them to practice sequencing the story.

1 comment:

McDorky said...

I love this all! I thought about something when I saw the pictures on the window. This year we started having the kids paint on old scrap pieces of laminate from our lamination machine. They just use tempera paint and it is gorgeous and a different texture for sensory! It looks so good pasted on the window as the light streams in! You could maybe get scrap laminate from a mail store? I am loving all these ideas!