Sunday, November 18, 2012

Preschool Science: Space Unit

Space...the final frontier! 

This space sensory box is filled with odds and ends we already had around the house. I have noticed that Aiden enjoys his toys as if they were brand new when they are repackaged as sensory boxes.


We had a playdate with some friends and made some galaxy playdoh. We found the recipe at the Fairy Dust Teaching blog. It was so sparkly and pretty!

 We are reading lots of space books. I found a gazillion wonderful activities in NASA's 3...2...1...Liftoff Guide. I placed the activities I printed from the guide and placed them in small baskets along with any needed manipulatives.


In this activity from NASA's Liftoff Guide Aiden and Elle rolled the dice and raced to be the first to build their  rocket ships.

 Another NASA activity involved learning the names of the space shuttle components and putting them together to create a space shuttle. As an extension the children designed their own using pattern blocks.


The children worked together to build a space station using blocks (We used our Wedgits). Then they had to design equipment to solve a series of space station problems presented in the NASA guide. This was an excellent thinking activity and really fun.

Aiden looked at three different kinds of rockets and then build one using his blocks.

Aiden measured everything in the house (Even our pug, Max) using rockets for some non-standard measurement fun.

Aiden really liked putting his astronauts in space. Later we did some patterning with astronaut counters.                     I  purchasd these years ago at an AIMS (Activities Integrating Math and Science) conference. They sell them on their website for around $5.

We began our space study with the moon. We read, "If You Decide to Go to the Moon" by Faith McNulty and "The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons."   

I sewed astronaut felties and put pictures of their faces in them. Aiden thought this was hilarious. Elle wasn't so sure!

We ate yummy Space Goldfish while we read our moon we need an excuse to eat Goldfish!.


We used textured paint (flour and grey sparkly paint) to paint moons. They are still wet in this                       picture, but they had very moonlike looking texture when they dried. Check out iheartcraftythings for the exact recipe.

We made moon sand using flour and baby oil. It smelled wonderful! Aiden dropped 'meteors' (marbles) from the kitchen chair to make craters. Fumbling Through Parenthood had a good recipe and some fun ideas to go with it.

Aiden took his moon sand out to his fort and played with it with his 'guys'. Unfortunately, it ended up back in the house  (i.e. ALL over the house) while I was doing laundry...and is now in the belly of the vacuum cleaner. Some days I think perhaps worksheets might not be so bad after all! LOL!   

The children took turns being the Earth and Moon. Aiden is orbiting the Earth in the picture above.

They also had fun making the different phases of the moon using a flashlight. Elle looks unhappy                         in the picture because Aiden kept getting the 'sun' in her eyes.

The Oreo phases of the moon was my favorite activity. 

I printed off these fantastic moon phase cards from 2 Teaching Mommies and Aiden and Elle                           put them in order.

Then we sang a song about the moon phases to the tune of, "The Ants go Marching In". They ran to the correct moon phase and stood on it when its name was mentioned in the song. Waxing vs. Waning was a bit tricky, but it was fun!

We discussed the differences in day and night using  Divya Srinivasan beautiful book, "Little Owls Night". Aiden then sorted these diurnal/nocturnal cards from the wonderful Spell Outloud blog.

The children then drew our house at night and in the daytime.

Intently painting the planets. I found this shadow match activity at 2 Teaching Mommies. They have a ton of great space downloads! Besides sequencing, we also did a lot of reading about the planets.

We will be continuing our Space theme through December. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spooky Halloween

Since our science co-op was the day before Halloween we had a party.

Katie and her boys made this yummy cake she found on Pinterest.

The children played 'Grab the Ghost". This was so much fun! First, we made ghosts out of tissue paper, tied string around each one and then wrote a number (1-6) on the ghost. Then, my teen-aged helper Danielle rolled the dice and tried to capture the ghost with the matching number (using a funnel Aiden decorated) before they pulled it off the board. You can learn how to make this game at Family Fun.

They played 'Great-Pumpkin May I'. They really loved this game (even the older ones) and                                 They wanted to play a few times. Cole is enjoying his role as the great pumpkin on the left and Molly is taking one giant leap forward in the pic on the right.

Zombie tag! We used clothes pins to attach a paper 'brain' to each child's shirt. One child was chosen to be the zombie and if they stole someones brain they became a zombie too. The last player who still had their brain was the winner.

The children ran a three-legged monster relay. Lots of giggles and a few spills!

They also played 'Toss the Eyes on the Ghost". We bought a pack of sticky eyeballs in the Halloween section of Target for $1 and then drew a ghost on poster board. We taped it to the opposite side of the glass  so it would stick to the glass. The children took turns tossing the eyeballs:) 

They played the 'Roll a Pumpkin' game I posted in my Fall Fun post. Thanks Happy Home Fairy!

Aiden and Elle decorated a small oatmeal container and we filled it with spooky words and everyone took turns acting them out. 

Happy Halloween:)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Letter C

We had some fun with the letter C this week!
Camping I Spy...

We made a 'Camping I Spy' this week.
The bear is made from felt and his stomach is covered with some heavy duty plastic I had leftover from covering my dining room chairs back when Aiden was a messy little toddler. After sewing everything together the children and I filled the bear with black-eyed peas and cute little plastic camping pieces. The camping pieces were purchased at Michael's. They are in little packages near the scapbooking supplies. I took a picture of the pieces and am having it enlarged to a 5 X 7 so the children can search for each piece. In the meantime they are having fun just searching for the pieces!

The children had a blast camping in our family room. I strung up rope between two doorknobs and then placed their bedspreads over the rope. 

What's camping without a snipe hunt? I found this cute game on Amazon last year. You hide the snipes and after three minutes their eyes light up and they start to chirp if they have not been found. We love this game!

We continued our outdoor theme with a walk through a corn maze with my sweet little niece. Aiden is mad because the girls are being bossy to him:) 

We also visited some friends property and climbed trees. Aiden was very pleased with himself.

While we were there we collected pretty things and made a nature collection in an egg carton. 

And we caught some lizards and bugs! Ewww!

There isn't a whole lot this week for the letter C! We spent as much time outside as we could. Aiden did have some indoor fun working on his letter C activity packet which you can download for free under my printables!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Preschool Math

Aiden is just about 4, so we have begun more purposed math this year using games and manipulatives.

The National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics (NCTM) has a list of expectations for each mathematics topic organized by grade and I refer to these as I plan Aiden's math experiences for the week. There are six major mathematics topics:  number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, process and data analysis & probability. 

I created several math felties to use as a basis for math conversations. I am SO not crafty, but these are really easy to make and he really enjoys playing with them. 

As he plays with these I can ask questions like, "If you put two fish in the castle how many fish will you have left?" or "If you had four friends come over which pizza would you serve?" 

 Concepts like addition, subtraction, fractions, one on one correspondence etc. can all be discussed using the math felties. Aiden also forms his own math connections as he plays with them independently. 

I also purchased several games and manipulatives which I rotate throughout our week. I modified Elle's game Ratuki so it was age appropriate for Aiden. We play Slap Jack (Actually Slap Ratuki) with it. Aiden calls out each number as I flip them over and then we race to slap the Ratuki card when it appears to win the deck. In the picture above you can see how each number is represented four different ways. This game did wonders for his instant number recognition.

Lauri's Number Play has been a great staple. Besides practicing counting we use it to make patterns and compare the sizes of the puzzle pieces. I just love the material the puzzles are made out of.

I hesitated to purchase Inchimals because they are a little pricey, but I am so glad I finally bought it! It is basically cuisinaire rods for younger children. It comes with a booklet full of addition and subtraction challenges. Aiden is not writing the number sentences out yet, but he loves to solve the puzzles.

Sum Swamp is a fantastic addition and subtraction game. Players take turns rolling two number dice and an operation die. They then add or subtract depending on their roll and move that many spaces forward or backward. I give Aiden teddy-bear counters to use to solve the equations.

My amazingly talented mother-in-law (thanks mom!) sewed these superhero beanbags for Aiden. Beanbags are so versatile and can be used to play all kinds of math games. 

We have a raised herb and vegetable garden the children help keep up. Our family garden                           provides a wealth of  natural math experiences for the children, especially in the area of measurement. 

We also use How Tall Am I to practice measurement. Players roll the die and then choose the article of clothing indicated. The object of the game is to build the tallest person. When everyone has completed their wacky person each player measures them using the slide ruler provided. 

Block Buddies has over 76 challenge cards divided into four different levels.                                                  This has been one of the most played with toys at our house.

Tangoes Jr comes with a magnetic board, a set of tangrams and several pictures for children to make. I like that each picture is two sided. One side has lines and one does not so this game really grows with the child.

We use geoboards for all kinds of things, but this, "Geoboard Pictures for Little Hands" is a great starting point. It comes with a set of pictures for children to make using rubber bands. Aiden also really enjoys making his own pictures and patterns.

Pattern blocks are great for building geometry skills...and they keep Aiden busy for quite some time:)

Mighty Mind scaffolds very nicely. Each card builds on what they learned on the previous card. They get progressively harder as you move along.

I have a huge stack of in the frame puzzles that were picked up here and there by my grandmother at the thrift store. We try to do at least one puzzle a day together.

Cooking is another excellent way to provide natural math experiences for your child. Elle and Aiden have learned oodles about fractions and measurement while we spend quality time together in the kitchen. I especially love the Bento Box cookbooks. They are fun to make and have been a delicious way to teach shapes!

The Gamewright game Hiss is a lot of fun and perfect for counting, comparing sizes and patterning. 

Thinkfun's Clever Castle is fantastic for reading a grid and patterning.                                                                   I have been very impressed with all things Thinkfun, We have several of their logic games                              which, thankfully, all tuck nicely into a little drawstring bag. 

So...this is Aiden's math! I really try to make it as natural, fun and hands on as possible. I purchased all of the store bought items in this post on Amazon when Elle, my eight year old sweetie, was little. Aiden now loves them and Elle still uses most of them. so we definitely got our money's worth out of them. I hope this helps as you build your own math 'curriculum'. Happy counting!