May 30, 2013

Summer's here....now what?!

Summer break is (almost) here.
I, however, still have 4 more school days.

My kids are already done. So is my teacher husband. 
So I've had a lot of self-pity these last few days!

The biggest question I have every summer is...

What am I going to do with my kids?!

I have four of them. Ages 1, 3, 4, and 5.


And yes, I know the correct answer is "spend time with them." 
We do have a lot of fun vacations planned this year.

But if I am not careful, we'll be at each other's throats in no time.


So as I was thinking up my summer not-on-vacation activity wish list, 
I thought I'd share my top eight.

You might find something here to add to your list as well. 


Every summer we renew our Brookfield Zoo membership.

Last year they had the giant bug exhibit. 


I hear the dinosaurs are coming back this summer. 
Hopefully the kids won't be freaked out like they 
were a few summers ago!

We spend a few days a week there. I love it because the kids 
never bore of the animals. It's big enough that we 
can switch up what animals we see each time. 

They love the giraffes the best. 
Ever since they saw one drinking another's...
well, never mind! The reason is not that important! 
(Yikes!)


They like to fight over the map too. We've learned to just ask for 
four maps rather than have them take turns...that didn't really work!


Plus, if it's rainy, we can go into the Hamill Play Zoo 
and spend the day in there where there are a lot of crafts, 
exploration activities, petting and holding animals, and more!






I've been meaning to try this awesome activity for awhile now!


You freeze a bunch of toys and gadgets in a pan or bucket overnight. 
The next morning, the kids have to use a variety of 
techniques and substances (salt, sand, warm water, sugar) to try 
and melt the ice to get to the toys.

Click to see the Counting Coconuts blog where I first saw this idea!


My kids love playing with the Crayola bath crayons. So I bet they 
would LOVE making these vivid, fun shaped bath crayons too.


All you need is glycerin soap, food coloring, and 
something like a fun shaped ice cube tray.

Find the homemade bath crayon recipe here.

Look how easy this is!


Some flour and stiff paper are all you need. 
You can make any shape, letters, or pictures that you want.



My kids love Sprite. This magic potion mixes clear 
Sprite with various colors of frozen Kool-Aid ice cubes. 
Watch them mix and observe what happens!




Around the Fourth of July, my kids go Glow-Stick crazy
We love buying them at the store, Michaels. 
You can get 10 or more for only $1.


Now, we happen to have a small cotton-candy machine at our house, 
but I was thinking, even buying the small bags of cotton candy 
at the store would work just fine I bet.

This verdant cottage sprouts up from four kitchen sponges 
and a handful of grass seed, with no glue required!
Find the directions for how to make this here.


A Shark Attack Party Snack is the perfect platter 
for a summer celebration. Blue jello and Swedish Fish complete this hilarious, 
but healthy idea for fun food crafts and party food platters.


Click here to find out more details.

Now....to get my pencil and get going on these activities 
so I can check them off my list!



Hope you found something fun that inspires you for this summer. 
I'd love to hear any fun ideas you have on your list. 
Just leave them in the comments below!

Til next time~
               photo signature-1.png

May 19, 2013

"What's in the Ocean?" Activities for Kids - Part 1

Find more Ocean Activities than you know what to do with for your Preschool & Kindergarten aged littles! I've included art & crafts, books, freebies, literacy activities, & more.
Last week our theme was "ocean."
When preparing lessons for our ocean unit, I have to admit that there were SO many ocean activities, books, videos, and more to choose from, that it was a bit overwhelming for me. I had a hard time narrowing down what to use in my classroom!

So we are actually going to do two weeks of ocean study this year. That way I can fit more in...I mean, it does tend to be a favorite unit every year, so I'm sure the kids won't mind! {wink}

I'm going to split everything we're doing into two different posts. I'll link Part 2 at the bottom.
By the end of them, you'll have more Ocean Themed Activities than you'll know what to do with!
And many of them are FREE!

So let's get started...
Our big questions for the week was simply, "What is in the ocean?" After learning that the ocean is more than half of our world, we wondered what on Earth is in it besides water!

We began our study with this "What is in the Ocean?" emergent reader.
It is a cut and paste activity reader, which allowed the kids to be a little more interactive with the words and kept them more engaged than some might typically be.
They to read the words on each page of the book and determine which picture needed to be glued on the page. They loved it!


Here are what the pieces to cut out look like:
Click HERE to get this reader.  

We also had a 'tickly' good time exploring octopi. What a silly word! The kids had fun saying it...and I may have too. 
We read this great book by Ruth Galloway.
Tickly Octopus thought using this tentacles to tickle other creatures was fun! However, they didn't like it at all. However, they didn't like it at all. One day, he tickled Oyster while she was sleeping. It startled her so much that she dropped her pearl deep into the ocean. Feeling bad, Tickly Octopus went in search for it and discovered he had a lot of special abilities that he didn't know about.

After we read this book, we made an octopus craft! 
To make this octopus, start out by cutting a large piece of construction paper "hot dog style" and pass one to each student. Then take that same size of paper and cut it into eight equal parts for the tentacles. Use Q-Tips to paint orange dots. Less mess, and more controlled polka dots!
While the kids were painting, I drew out some silly eyeballs. One big and one small for each kid.
No template needed. You want them to be unique, silly, and fun! 
The kids especially liked that I came to each table to draw out their eyeballs special for just them. Of course, you could have your students draw their own eyeballs as well. 
They cut out their eyes and glued them in the middle. They then attached the eight tentacles, paint side down. Using a pencil, they rolled each of the tentacles and then "squeezed" them to help them hold a curl.  

Ta-dah! It's done! 
We love how it looks when they are all "swimming" together in our room! 


We learned about a crazy octopus called the Mimic Octopus. Not only does it change color, but it changes its behaviors and shapes as well, in order to mimic other creatures in the water in order to protect itself. 
Click to see the Crazy Octopus Video!

In other fishy matters, I found EXACTLY what I needed to compliment exploring fish at Kohls! I absolutely love the Kohl's Cares books and accessories. Have you seen this charity? Each item is only $5...what a steal! 
Well, when I was there, I found Deborah Diesen's Pout Pout Fish there. 
Not just the book...but the plush as well!  
Did I mention it was only $5?!
And this bag...

What I'm really going to do with this bag, I don't know yet. But I'll think of something and the kids really thought it was cool to see! I let some of them take turns carrying it around. 

After reading the books and doing some reading activities with them, we did this adorable craft and writing activity. 
First, we traced and cut out the Pout Pout Fish pieces from the FREE template I found (see below).

Then, we wrote about that things make us pout and smile. 
We put them on black paper because in Pout Pout Fish in the Big Dark, he has to swim in the big deep where there is no light. 
They turned out great!
Click HERE to get a free copy of the fish template and writing activity! 
AND...
Here is a video of the story being read aloud online. 
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
I also found both a puppet show and a rap version of the Pout Pout Fish! 
It was fun to compare and contrast the different versions. 

Did I mention that one of the days I was feeling a little crabby? Because the next animal we learned about was really quite snappy!
Have you seen the book Clumsy Crab? Another Ruth Galloway favorite!

It comes on CD Too. 
This crab's claws are always getting in the way, until it comes time to save Octopus! It's by snipping away the seaweed that Octopus is stuck in, that helps this crab learn to value his large claws. 

While making our own crabs, we discovered the reason behind why the crab walks sideways! We also found that it's a lot harder for us to do that then it is for crabs to. 

We tried walking down the hallway sideways...
it was taking a very long time to get anywhere!

Later we made paper plate crabs. To make our crabs, we first painted both sides of a paper plate. We also painted the eyes, claws, and legs from the FREE Scholastic paper plate crab template (see below).
Then we folded the plate in half and glued the black inside the mouth, and attached the eyes, limbs, and claws. 

Now, when you do this craft, make sure to give him eight legs! At the last minute, I was trying to remember if they had eight legs plus the claws, or if eight included the claws.  After seeing different answers online, we just did six legs. But it turns out after a little bit more digging, that it's actually eight legs PLUS the claws! So ours have two more magical legs you just can't see because they're hiding behind its body. (wink)
Learned something new, didn't you?! 
See inside his mouth?
We wrote about the things that make us feel crabby and sketched them out. 
They turned out terrific! 
They are hanging in our hallway...
Don't get pinched as you walk by!
Here is the paper plate crab template from Scholastic!

Continuing our exploration of what exactly is in the ocean...
I made some ocean posters to hang around the room. Then I gave them a writing activity that goes along with it. You may know it to be called a Write-the-Room. The students walked around and wrote the poster words that they found onto this activity sheet.
 
When they ere done, I used the posters as part of our ocean classroom decorations...as well as a way for them to go back and reference how to read and spell the various ocean creature words. 
Click HERE to get these Ocean Posters with the Writing Activity. 
I also made a Singular and Plurals matching game for the kids to play. They had a TON of fun with this. Plus, it helped them master:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1c Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/.
Click HERE to get the Ocean Friends Singular and Plurals Matching Game! 

At the coloring table during recess, students got to color these awesome ocean color-by-number pictures I found!
I also brought in this snazzy, Singin' Sea Creatures 3D puzzle that I had gotten my own kids a few years ago. You can find it on Amazon.
Put on the glasses and...whoooa! It's 3D!Well, time to wrap it up for now. I've got to start preparing next weeks ocean activities. We will be focusing on the beach too next week...
...which means SAND will be involved!

I'l leave you with the phrase from Pout Pout Fish that my kids have been singing every day, ever since we read it. Maybe it'll get stuck in your head too! 

I'm a Pout Pout Fish, with a pout pout face,
so I spread my dreary wearies all over the place.

Blub.


Blubbb...


Blubbbbbb.....


Find more Ocean Activities than you know what to do with for your Preschool & Kindergarten aged littles! I've included art & crafts, books, freebies, literacy activities, & more.
             
~Til next time