art · STEAM · topic · writing

Topic Tuesday- Pond Ecosystems

Today’s post is going be a bit of a rambled mess, but bear with me I’m trying to give you a variety of things you can do at home with your kiddo.

As mentioned on Sunday, an ecosystem is all living and nonliving items in an environment. Their existence is symbiotic in that they help each other live, survive and thrive!

This is a two step process. You can choose to just do that art part, or just do the chart… or do both. They also do NOT have to be done in one sitting or on one day. (read all the way to the end for a fun gross motor pond challenge)

pond illustration

art–Have your child craft a pond scene. Here are some ways to do this….

  • In my class we often do paper collage work. I provide the paper for the background and any other large colors they’d need, such as for this I would provide a large sheet of white, a half sheet of blue and a quarter sheet of green to each child. Then I have a milk crate filled with scraps. They pull papers out to do any and all items they want to add into the picture.
  • But since I’m home and don’t actually have construction paper here, I drew a pond picture. Use whatever medium your child enjoys using while drawing
  • You could also have your child paint, print pictures on a computer or even learn to do some photoshop work, with your help.
  • Want to challenge your child, have him/her label the items in the picture. Remember the different levels of writing and that is should not/will not be spelled in book spelling. Even getting just the beginning sound is great at this age!
T-chart of living and non-living

Learning to create charts, lists and other ways to organize and group information helps children put their new information into a manageable configuration…. plus they will learn to do this when they get into elementary school. When we do this at school, it is typically done whole group with the teacher doing all the writing. Providing illustrations helps connect to the printed words to the meaning (they don’t care if you can’t draw… the worse the illustration the better sometimes).

Create a “T-chart” to collect information on the living and non-living items you can find at a pond. You will have to get creative for the non-living, but there are quite a few.


Topic Tuesday- Arachnids

As I mentioned on Sunday, research and fact finding are a favorite for children who are preK age. This is why they ask so many questions. They want to know more and more and more. While I’m showing you how we do this using arachnids, you can choose to pick a different topic such as your child’s favorite animal, food, sport, form of transportation or any topic that fascinates your child.

When searching for videos on youtube, I typically put in the topic for kindergarten or for kids. Such as when I searched up the video today I searched arachnid facts for kids. Next look over the video. I look for facts, visual interest and sound quality. You get to see the same sources over time and know the quality of the videos.

Put the close captioning on. Yes, this sounds strange, but it is a great way to connect the printed word to what is being said. You may not realize how often your child will notice the close captioning and see words they know or begin to make that connection between a word used over and over in the video.

Watch the video all the way through. Now lets go back and review the new information. Here are a few ways to do that.

Can Are Have chart

Can, are, have (need) charts are a way to put the facts you know into quick sentence forms. Your child will provide knowledge about the topic in the form of Arachnids are spiders. Arachnids have 8 legs. Arachnids can hunt their prey

Topic Web

This is just a collection of thoughts. You web off the the main topic and then can expand from there.

Illustration facts

Have your child draw illustrations to show what you know. In this case they could draw a detailed picture of one type of arachnid and then be able to use that to show that they have 8 legs, 2 body parts, can paralyze their prey etc…


One of the best ways for a child to show what he/she knows… is to talk about it. Have a conversation where you pull information and facts that they have seen in the video. Can they make connections between what they knew already and what they just learned? Do they have more questions?

This activity can be the jumping off point of more research. Do you want to learn more about the same topic? Did your child leave with new questions? Would they like to learn about a similar topic or something totally in a new direction. This is a great way to encourage the why questions your child already has and show him/her how they can learn more about these topics.

STEAM · story · writing

Topic Tuesday- Insects!

Children love insects. Who doesn’t enjoy learning about those flying, crawling, pesky and cool critters? This is a great opportunity to teach your little one about doing research… yes, you read that correctly. Even 4/5 year olds enjoy doing research. They love learning facts. But, here is my suggestion… skip wikipedia… go to youtube! There are so many videos made for children that teach about anything and everything.

E- KWL Charts - The Amazing World of Teaching
KWL chart
A Bug's Life | Insects preschool, Insect activities, Insects ...
can, are, have chart

Have your child choose one insect (make sure it is an insect and not an arachnid, we will work on those later). Create a KWL chart (what I Know, what I Want to know, what I Learned). You can either write in the chart for him/her or have them draw illustrations to help remember what they put into each section. Another great learning chart for child is a Can, Are, Have chart. This can be started before you research, you might be surprised what your child already knows about the insect of their choice. Have him/her state ________ can ________ (caterpillars can become butterflies), ________ are ________ (ants are little), ________ have ________ (flies have wings).

After you have worked together on this research, you can have your child draw and write about the insect. In my classroom, we often take the information off the Can, Are, Have chart and make it into a class book. Each child chooses one fact and then draws and writes about the fact. This is an easy sentence to write as they have already stated the sentence Ants have 6 legs, with an illustration of an ant.

Hey Little Ant is a fun story to read with children. If you do not know this story, I encourage you to read it and then get chatting about it. The story is a conversation between a boy and an ant. The boy is explaining why it should squish the ant and the ant is trying to explain why the boy should not. The book ends with the question still up in the air. Have your child draw a picture of what he/she would do if he was the boy. Would they squish the ant or walk away? Why? (This can be taken into either an opinion or persuasive writing direction depending on how you word the starter, see below)