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.

game · math · STEAM · topic

Monday Math– game boards

Games are a great way to work on many different learning skills with children. I love when I can get a lot of learning in and they don’t see it as learning, just as having fun. Today I created a simple game board. I made it in the shape of a snail since we are learning about pond ecosystems this week and the shape of a snail lends itself easily into a game board shape.

game board

I find that children who do not play games at home struggle to count on a game board. They want to count the space they are on as 1 and then the space in front of them as two. If you did this, then every time you roll a 1 you go no where. When I teach children to count on a game board, we start with 0. Zero is the spot you are standing on and 1 is the spot in front of you. This does two things… it gets you to understand how to count on a game board, AND it reinforces counting from zero instead of one.

Here are a few simple ways to use the board to practice math skills.

Simple Version

Start at the snails head. Roll a die on your turn and then move forward that many spaces. The first person to get to the inside of the shell, the finish spot, wins. As we say in class… easy peasy! This skill works on counting forward 0-6, recognizing the common dice configuration of the numbers 1-6, taking turns and playing a game.

Skill based

count and move pieces

Create cards that your child can use to practice a skill. I created counting cards with items you would find in a pond ecosystem. The child would draw a card and count the number of items on the card. If he/she gets it correct they then move forward that many spaces. This allows you to practice counting items beyond 6, work on varied configurations of counted objects and much more. If you want to work on numbers higher than 10 you could have the child count the number of items on the card and then if they get it correct roll the die and move according to that so you don’t move through the game too quickly.

This same game board can be used for any number of skills. Practice letter recognition, matching shapes, and any skill you want. Create game pieces that show the skill you wish to work on and then move around the board as you get the answers correct. You can even do it with various level children by creating different skill cards for each child. So a 3 year old might work on recognizing shapes and colors, a 5 year old might work on counting items from 6-12 and a 7 year old might work on addition facts. This way they are all working on skills they need to practice, can play the same game and have an equal chance of getting the answers correct.

story · topic

Sunday Topic– pond ecosystem

Before everything in the world was shut down, I had begun the set up for teaching about pond ecosystems. This is one of the preK standards in the state of PA. We already learned about bodies of water. Now we need to focus on ponds.

As I have mentioned in the past, when working with preK kiddos do not be afraid to use large/technical/scientific/mathematical and other terms…. they kids love them! So here we go… what is an ecosystem? An ecosystem is an environment and everything that exists there (living and nonliving). We learn about the fact that all the things that coexist in an ecosystem maintain a symbiotic relationship… they need each other to survive. Yes…. this is the way I teach. I do not expect my students to master the understanding of these terms, but they love to learn them and when they encounter the terms again they will be familiar with them.

Tune in on Tuesday for more about the pond ecosystem!