STEAM · story · topic

Weather

March is a great month to learn about weather. It is one of those months that you see ALL kinds of weather: sunny, cloudy, snowy, rainy, windy… hot, warm, cold and really really cold!

Today let’s listen to a story about the different types of weather. National Geographic Kids Weather by Kristin Baird Rattini. Want to learn more? Watch What is Weather by AnuClub.

Today let’s make a drawing! I folded a paper into thirds and then folded that in half creating 6 columns on my page. I am going to draw one picture that shows 6 types of weather! You could always do that same concept with 3 or 4 types to make it simpler.

Learning about the weather and the effects of weather are learning standards in both kindergarten and preK. We learn about how to dress for weather, what patterns can we see in weather, how plants and animals are effected by weather and more. The biggest piece is talking about how it effects everyday life.

art · story

Hats!

Today is Read Across America Day! March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and today is a day to celebrate how much his literature has helped children develop a love of learning.

I decided to focus on the Cat in the Hat’s hat! First, let’s read the story Who’s Hat is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper. This story shares many hats that are worn for different careers.

Now… let’s draw a hat that is easy to recognize… the Cat in the Hat’s hat! Follow along with Art for Kids Hub as they draw this famous hat! Or, make your own out of paper or markers or whatever creative materials you want! I made mine out of Lego.

Today is a great day to read. The best way to help your child to learn to read… is to read to your child!

art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

art · STEAM · story · topic

It’s Groundhog’s Day

It’s February 2nd the day to celebrate groundhogs!

You can:

Today is also a great day to learn about shadows! If it is a bright sunny day where you live, go outside and trace shadows with sidewalk chalk. You can go outside again later and see if the shadows have changed! A fun way to do this is to trace your child’s feet and then trace their shadow, later go out and stand in the feet outline… does your shadow still fit in the outline?

If it is too cold, ok like here in my town there is too much snow to do this activity outside today. But that does not mean you can’t play with shadows! Build something with Lego blocks, use dolls or action figures, or use other toys. Stand them on a white piece of paper and use a light to cast a shadow. Using a flashlight, you can change the length and direction of the shadows just as the sun does as the earth rotates.

art · STEAM · story · topic

More Penguin Fun

Today we will read another penguin story. This story is If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor. This fun story looks at many attributes of penguins and various activities that different penguins do based on where they live. You can use some of these facts to add onto your can/have/are chart from yesterday.

my paper penguin (he’s a macaroni penguin!)

Today we will make a penguin! A paper penguin. There are lots and lots of options on the web, or you can just provide your child with black, white, and yellow/orange construction paper and show him/her pictures of real penguins. This in my opinion is the best way to do these projects. Too often people get wrapped up in making the project perfect. They expect all the projects done in a classroom to look the same, or REALLY really similar, but why? I love seeing the size differences. The perception of what is and what is not the main features when you give children permission to be independent and do things on his/her own! So make a paper penguin… just have fun!

How can I add more learning to this craft? Easiest answer is to write. Have your child write a story about their penguin. This can be more information about the penguin OR it can be a story about the penguin. What is your penguin doing? Where is (s)he going? Think about the five senses. What can it see? Hear? Taste (what is it eating?)? What does it smell around? What can it feel?

You could have your child measure their penguin. You can use a ruler or work on non-standard measurement. How many 2×2 Lego blocks tall is your penguin? How many more cubes tall is it than it is wide? Can you find something that is taller than your penguin? Something shorter? Something the same height?

family activity · story · topic

Elmer is Unique and so are YOU

This week we will look at stories and activities that help children appreciate differences and acceptance of the uniqueness of individuals.

Today listen to the story Elmer by David McKee (read by David McKee). Elmer is a patchwork elephant that lives in a herd of all gray elephants. Elmer’s friends love to laugh at Elmer’s humor, but Elmer worries that they are laughing at his patchwork. He finds a way to change his skin to gray to fit in, but then realizes that the herd isn’t the same without Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s presence.

Elmer and his friends learn a valuable lesson… the things that make you different are the things that make you special. This is a lesson that educators work to instill in their classes. The look that uniqueness is not a thing to be looked down upon, but instead to be seen as assets.

Chat about the things that make your child special. Look at physical, emotional, behavioral and other differences. Discuss likes and dislikes. How to these attributes make you… you?

At the end of the story, all the elephants have one day a year where they decorate themselves to show their own unique differences too. (Elmer paints himself gray on these days, to still stand out in his own way). Have your child draw an elephant, or print one off the web. Write on the top of the page “I am special because I am ME” Then around the elephant write attributes that make you… you!

Finally decorate your elephant to show off these attributes. What makes you different is what makes you special, celebrate these differences.

This would make a great family project. Have each member of the family create their own unique elephants. Show that there are attributes that are similar across the family, and ones that are special and unique to each individual.

art · story · topic

Christmas Tree

When we think of Christmas, one image often comes to mind… the Christmas tree. It is believed that this tradition began in 16th century Germany. Trees were originally decorated with foods such as nuts, berries, apples and dates. Beginning in the 18th century, people began adding candles to their trees, but this was not very safe. The first Christmas lights were added to the Christmas 1895.

Let’s read some Christmas tree stories: The Littlest Christmas Tree by Janie Jasin and The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steven Kroll.

I decided to share this Art for Kids Hub video How to Draw a Christmas Tree… it is a folding surprise picture. I chose it because when the picture is folded, it is a little Christmas tree, but when opened, it is the biggest one.

Let’s work together on a torn paper picture.

  • green sheet of construction paper
  • another color to use as the background
  • glue
  • markers
  1. tear the green paper into smaller pieces. encourage your child to use their pincer grasp to hold and tear the paper (fine motor work!)
  2. arrange the torn paper into the shape of a tree, if struggling draw a rough outline on the background paper
  3. After gluing all the pieces down, pick up the paper and let any that didn’t stick fall off. Glue them back on if needed
  4. use markers (or other colors of construction paper) to add ornaments and other decorations.
art · story · topic

Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Each night, for 8 nights, families gather around and celebrate by lighting the Menorah. The Menorah symbolizes the oil that lasted long ago in the temple. After the Maccabean War, the Jewish people went back into their temple they only had enough oil for one night, but it lasted for eight nights. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. Each night, the shamash candle (the middle one) is light and from there the other candles are lit. One for each night of Hanukkah.

Families gather together and exchange gifts and a meal. They enjoy potato lakes, sufganiyot (a type of jelly filled donut) and other fried foods (in celebration of the oil that lasted 8 nights). The game of dreidel is played to try and win nuts or gelt (gold chocolate coins). And of course, they light the lights!

Learn more with from National Geographic’s Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights Starts Tonight.

This is the Dreidel by Abby Levine

Follow along as Art for Kids Hub makes a Menorah

Now, let’s make a Menorah. You can either have your child put the whole thing together on one day, or add candles from right to left each night as they do in the celebration.

cut a paper plate in half

one half leave whole, the other half cut out a triangle section for the base (you can color or paint the plate pieces or leave them white… your choice)

on the whole half you will draw curved lines to represent the “arms” of the menorah

cut nine thin rectangles from construction paper (I chose blue, but you can do white, blue, yellow, silver….)

make flames from tissue paper or yellow construction paper

now let’s light the lights!

art · story · topic

Poinsettia

Poinsettia is one of the most popular plants in the US, it even has it’s own “holiday” December 12th is Poinsettia Day. This plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala. In the winter the leaves transform into the well known red coloring with a cluster of yellow buds in the middle.

Zetta the Poinsettia by Alma Hammond

So, lets do some poinsettia fun…

Here is a direct drawing with Art for Kids Hub!

Now let’s make a paper poinsettia. Using red, green and yellow construction paper. Cut leaves out of the red and green paper. I folded both sheets into quarters and then cut two leaf shapes out of the quarter sized paper making 8 of each color, but you don’t have to do it this way. I chose to lay down the green leaves and then layer the red on top. Then I tore the yellow paper to make the poinsettia flower in the middle.

art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Let’s Build a Snowman!

Even before Frozen asked “Do you want to build a snowman?….”, building a snowman was a favorite snowy weather activity. (I found out that the first recording of building a snowman was in 1380.)

So, how do you build a snowman? Well… SciShow Kids will tell you in Do you want to build a snowman? So yes, the answer to how to build a snowman is SCIENCE! And I just have to share this favorite from my classes MooseTube’s Yes, I want to build a snowman.

And since we are sharing favorites from my classes. Here are two favorite snowman building stories: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan and All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle.

Ok… now that we have heard and seen how to build a snowman… let’s write about it.

This is the beginning steps of informative writing… how do you build a snowman? first, then, next, finally for the steps. I chose to fold the paper into four columns this time, but you could do the same thing by folding the paper into four quadrants. The goal is to break it down into simple steps. If you do not have your child doing the writing, make sure to have them articulate the steps.

This is a narrative writing based on Sadie and the Snowman. Sadie used different snack items to make her snowman’s face each time. Have your child draw a picture of a snowman and decide what (s)he would use for the eyes, nose and mouth.