STEAM · story · topic · writing

Mushrooms

This morning I went to go check on my garden and there were sooo many mushrooms. There are mushrooms in the grass too. As you can guess we’ve had both rain and heat lately. I decided that it would be a good day for you to get out with your kiddo and learn a bit about mushrooms.

Let’s start with some science about these fun-guys… Fungi: Why Mushrooms are Awesome from SciShow Kids

Here is a fun story, similar to Jan Brett’s the Mitten, Mushroom in the Rain adapted from the Russian of V. Suteyev by Mirra Ginsburg. How many animals can take shelter under the mushroom?

Did you find any mushrooms in your yard? Can you count all of them? How many different types did you find?

Now create a picture. You can create a picture of one of the mushrooms you spied in the yard or the one from the story. What do you think would fit under the mushroom. Be realistic or creative in your answer.

family activity · STEAM · topic

Natural Resources

April 22nd is Earth Day. This is day to celebrate the natural resources we find on the earth and how we can help take care of them. Today let’s look at what natural resources are and how we use them. Start by watching this video about natural resources.

Have your child brainstorm a list of natural resources you use every day. Think about what you can do to help protect and preserve these resources. Did you include air, water, soil, trees/plants, animals? Did you think about the fuels we use for our vehicles, to warm our houses and more?

Have your child draw a picture or two of things (s)he can do to help preserve and protect our natural resources. There are many simple things that your child can do even without your financial support, picking up trash, recycling, turning off electricity and water. As a family you can plant trees and plants, create a composting pile, use public transportation/bikes and walking to use your own vehicle less, and so much more.

STEAM · story · topic

Bumblebee

Are you enjoying learning about insects? Today let’s talk about BEEEEESSSSS! Bees! While often people are afraid of bees, honey bees or bumblebees are very important to our world. Let’s learn more. Today’s story is Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton.

Want to learn more? Check out these videos:

Are you willing to give bees a chance? What will you do to help the bees?

Children need to learn that they can help. Often times children want to help the environment and other causes, but can’t figure out what they can do. Help your child brainstorm ways that (s)he can help the bees. Can they help plant flowers? Can they make and hang a bee box? Eat local honey?

STEAM · story · writing

Dragonflies

Today we will learn about one type of insect, a dragonfly. Let’s listen to the story Are You a Dragonfly by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. Then head over to SciShow Kids (Super Strong Dragonfly) to learn some more dragonfly facts. Just for fun, listen to the song D-D-D-Dragonfly by Pinkfong.

Now… let’s draw a picture and write some facts!

Teaching your child to create a can, are, have chart will assist them in collecting facts. This also becomes the start of writing paragraphs about the topic. When learning to write, provide your child the sentence starter and have them complete the fact “Dragonflies are _____. Dragonflies can_____. Dragonflies have____.” As they get better at writing and understanding the format of writing, they will then begin to use this format in their own informative writing process.

STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic · writing

Head, Thorax, Abdomen…

This week we will learn about bugs! First let’s watch SciShow Kid’s Inspect an Insect. Think about bugs you know… are they insects? Remember an insect has an exoskeleton, 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs. Here is Dr. Jean singing a song about insect body parts.

Now let’s draw and label an insect. Which type will you draw? An ant, a beetle, a walking stick, butterfly, dragonfly?? Make sure it has a head, thorax and abdomen, only six legs and an exoskeleton.

Children love learning about the world around them. Learning about items found in nature and discovering the fascinating facts about these items motivates children to learn more. This lesson taps into a child’s natural curiosity about why things are what they are. What fits into the category of an insect and why? Learning to draw detailed pictures and label them will help with later studies in science. The incorporation of music helps to connect to additional levels of learning, fun and so much more.

math · STEAM · story · topic

What is Growing Inside This Egg?

Today we will continue to learn about eggs! Our story What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada, uses riddles to learn more about various animals that are hatched out of eggs. At the end of this recording, the teacher provided the directions to an activity for her class, but this can be done by your child at home. Cut out an egg shape. Now glue that egg shape onto a sheet of paper. Use this egg shape to make an adult animal who lays eggs (turtle, bird, frog, octopus, spider etc…). Then have your child write a fact about this animal.

Do you need more facts about oviparous animals? Watch this power point video made by Mattahunt Elementary School about oviparous animals and their eggs.

To extend our learning today, lets do some math! Here are a few ideas.

Draw simple nests on a sheet of paper and have your child roll a die or a pair of dice to find out many eggs to draw in the nest. Do not want to draw nests? That’s fine… not all eggs are in nests! You can draw egg cartons, a line to draw octopus eggs, etc…

Another fun addition or number practice would be to cut out a variety of eggs and write numbers on the eggs. Then provide your child with dominoes. Have your child sort the dominoes so the addition fact matches the number on the egg.

Ready to go beyond that? Practice greater than, less than and equal to with the number eggs you made above. Teach your child that the symbol eats the bigger number. But, make sure you also have your child read the number sentence to you. Many children can set up the fact, but then struggle to state what the number sentence says. 9>3 nine is greater than three. 1<8 one is less than eight.

math · STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Eggs

Today let’s look at some animals who are hatched from eggs. Can you list some? Did you think of any that are not birds? Let’s read the book Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller.

After listening to the story, make a circle map of all the animals that lay eggs that you remember. So many things come from eggs. How many did you remember?

How to extend the learning…

  • hide small animal toys or pictures in eggs and then sort them by animals that come from eggs and not from eggs. Create a simple T chart for use of sorting.
  • Go on a walk and keep a tally chart or write on a T chart all the animals you see and if they come from eggs or not.
  • cook eggs for breakfast, lunch or even dinner!
  • looking to challenge your kiddo? write the names of all the animals they listed on the circle map on small sheets of paper (or just cut them off the chart from earlier). Now have your child put them in alphabetical order. Or, sort the words by beginning sounds. Or by the number of letters in the word. Or by animal type. Or….

Ok… so what is my child learning??? Not only is your child learning about the animals that are hatched from eggs, which in an of itself is a big topic, but they are also: classifying, counting, sorting, observing, discussing, debating, exploring, and more!

By having your child record the observations made you are having your child recall information and then organize the thoughts onto the chart, this is not only a science skill, but also a pre-writing skill (as in before you write, not just before you are able to write). Both the circle map and the T chart are graphic organizers. Sorting, counting, tally counting are all math skills.

By going on a nature walk and observing you are connecting the learning to the real world around you and helping extend the learning. Did you come across any animals that your child did not know where they should be classified?

The use of the plastic eggs and toys brings in an additional element of fun.

STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Meteorologist

Today we will continue to discuss the weather. Let’s read the story The Meteorologist in Me by Britteny Shipp. Summer Winter loves the weather. She loves to learn about the weather, watch the weather reports on the news and even dreams of becoming a meteorologist when she grows up. Others around her question her desire to become a meteorologist, but her mom always tells her “you can do anything you put your mind to, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise”.

Let’s take a virtual field trip to learn about some of the tools that a meteorologist uses.

Now let’s watch SciShow Kids Be a Weather Watcher and learn about how you can be a meteorologist too!

Today, pull up your local weather report. I really like weather underground’s features, but there are lots and lots of weather sites and apps to choose from. Set up an opportunity for your child to be the meteorologist for your backyard. Using the information they learn from the weather site, using their powers of observation and whatever weather tools you have around, have your child predict the weather for today.

Today’s activity is full of learning! You obviously get science in the learning about weather. Math if you begin looking at the patterns of weather and the numbers associated with it. Social skills in speaking and from the story standing up for what you believe in, as well as in the dramatic play of pretending to be a meteorologist. Social studies in learning about a career and what is needed for that job. So much learning, while having so much fun!

math · teaching thoughts

Addition

Most kindergarten classes are taking on addition at this time in the year. Addition is more than just memorizing facts. Often times families help their child memorize facts and then the child does not want to do that work behind understanding addition concepts. While this is not a huge deal now, it might be later on.

Educators have recognized the need to teach mental math, that is what “new” math is in the early years… mental math on paper. We teach children to not just memorize, but think math. You will see there is a lot more story problems and very few facts sheets.

Now this does not mean that we do not want children to memorize math facts, but we want them to understand the thinking behind the facts too.

For example instead saying solve 4+5, teachers might say: There are 4 large books and 5 small books on the table. How many books are on the table? We want to see the children move from drawing 4 large books and 5 small books and counting each book to moving towards 4+5=9.

For this fact, they might say:

  • Put the big number in my head and count up from there 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • that they know that 4+4 is 8 and one more is 9
  • Or they may say that 5+5 is 10 and one less is 9.

While these steps might seem like a lot to teach and learn, it is actually how you do mental addition. Look at the numbers you have, determine a fact you know and manipulate the numbers from there. We talk about making the facts less messy. Later they will learn to break down numbers into 100s, 10s and 1s and then use this breakdown to add.

Ok… so what does that mean for me as a parent? I encourage you to get your child to manipulate math facts. Tell them number stories and help them illustrate the answer. Challenge them with multiple addends. Look at addition as anything that means more.

  • 6 birds are in the tree. 4 more land on the branch. How many birds are in the tree now?
  • There are some children in the room. 3 have on jackets and 7 have on sweaters. How many children are in the room?

They also will need to solve facts with missing addends

  • There are 4 pink candies and some yellow candies on a plate. There is enough candy for 9 children to each get one piece. How many of the candies were yellow? 4+__=9 (four pink and how many yellow makes 9 pieces is this fact)
  • 10 children line up to get a drink of water. Some have their own water bottles and 2 need to get a cup. How many have their own water bottle. 10= ____ + 2

Present facts as number sentences with the answer on either side of the = sign. Use symbols to represent the missing fact piece. Often you will see a box used, but try to use other signs too, this will help later when getting into harder algebraic equations.

family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Cookies!

Who doesn’t love cookies? I love cookies. I love to eat cookies. I love to bake cookies and I love to share cookies. Here are two “stories” from the same author about cookies, sort of? These books are more of a dictionary of sorts… each page defines a word such as considerate, cooperate and other life lesson words. The author ties these words to enjoying cookies.

Sugar Cookies, Sweet Little Lessons on Love and Cookies, Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Krause Rosenthal

I love to introduce children to cooking and baking. My own sons were in the kitchen helping starting around age 2. Check out this post from BBC goodfood on kitchen skills by age. Remember as always, age suggestions are just suggestions, you know your child best and there may be things they are ready for before the age suggestion or maybe they aren’t ready yet. But it gives you ideas of what kiddos can do in the kitchen.

Here is a link to a cookie recipe on my other blog. It is very simple and young children can help with almost every step. Cake Mix cookies Have your child help you choose the cake mix flavor, think about mix-ins and frostings to go with your cookie flavor. Then let them help. The can easily pour the mix into the bowl, pour the eggs and oil out of a measuring cup (I crack the eggs into my liquid measuring cup to make it easy for children to pour them in) and stir. Older children (5 and up) can also often help scooping the dough to form the balls. Younger children (and up) can help flatten the dough before baking.

While the cookies are baking, have your children write our recipe cards. Talk through the steps of making the cookies. Don’t worry if they don’t get all the steps. The key is to get things in the right order. You can’t put the frosting on before you bake the cookies. You can’t bake them before you mix them.