February 29, 2012

Noah and the Ark: Learning the Story

Image by: Visualphotos.com 

The story of Noah, the ark, the flood, and God's new covenant symbolized by the rainbow set the scene for a fantastic and engaging language arts lesson.  Noah's story is well-known, so using it to learn language arts allows us to really practice key skills.

Does your child know the story about Noah and the Ark?  You can read it in Genesis 6-9:17.  I recommend finding a children's bible you like that has an age-appropriate version of the story.  Sometimes this even helps us adults find the gems in scripture.

1.  Read the story:  If your bible has pictures, take a "picture walk" first.  As you approach each picture, encourage your child to tell you what he sees.  You may wish to point out important things if he doesn't notice them, or you may choose to do a second "picture walk" at the end of the story and see if he discovers them at that time.

2.  Make it real:  Your child needs time to explore the story on his own and with your guidance.  Help him play with the story by recreating it.  What do you have in your home that resembles the ark story?  Maybe you could enact the whole story in the bathtub!  Do you have a toy boat or something that looks like it, such as a Kleenex box?  What kinds of things do you have two of that look alike (legos, Matchbox cars, small animals or dolls, remote controls)?  Could you use a big blue towel for the water?  I picture a bath towel swallowing up animals all arranged two by two in a three-year-old induced tsunami.  This is exactly the idea!  Let him or her play!

If the child is mostly interested in the flood right now, that is okay.  The flood is big, impressive, and important.  He is present in that.  He can see the beautiful meaning of the rainbow tomorrow.  In fact, that's just the way it probably happened for Noah.  I'm sure it was hard for him to remain faithful, trusting God that he would survive this storm.

3.  Be sure your child recognizes Noah was obedient to God.  Noah trusted God and knew He had his best interests at heart.  Noah's trust in God's care helped him be obedient.  In the same way, children trust that there parents care for them, which helps them to be obedient.

1.  Reread and summarize:  Reread the story, and then encourage your child to summarize it orally or with props.  Ask open questions to see if he recalls the storyline (main events as well as beginning, middle and end), characters, and any big picture stuff (such as the flood, dove, and rainbow).

When you ask questions, consider ways to get broader answers.  For instance, instead of, "Who was Noah?" you might try, "What was Noah like?"  This may work with your little one or it may not.  Figure out what works best for you.  Practice with open questions can help answers like, "A man," develop into, "This guy who built a really big boat, the ark.  And the rain came like this.  And the boat didn't sink.  It floated.  Then, when it was dry, they all came out and there was a great big rainbow!"

2.  Clarify & identify:  Find or print pictures of:  an ark, a flood (or stormy water), dry land, an olive branch, a dove, a man, a family, several animals (two of each), the sun, a rainbow.  Depending on your child's age, interest, and developmental level label or have him help you label the pictures.  Mix them up and have your child identify each one.  Use the pictures again later this week for retelling, and help with writing.

3.  Obtain an empty Kleenex box and paint it brown.  This will become an ark and be used later to play out the story of Noah and the Ark.

Next Time
1.  Play out the story:  In the beginning we practiced.  Now it's time for the big production to show what you remember.  You can use props, pictures, written or spoken words, actions, motions to music, the pictures we printed, or draw a picture.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Trust me, it can be very simple.  This is a real way though of putting the pieces together to create a coherent understanding in your child's memory.

2.  Use your painted Kleenex box as Noah's ark.  Use small plastic animals or toys to represent the pairs of animals aboard the boat.  Be sure to include Noah and his family as well as a bird to find the olive branch.  This can stay in the play area to be used to retell the story of Noah again and again.

February 24, 2012

We Love Pets

Photo credit Lifeofdog.com

February is a great month to learn about love and the ways we care for others.  Let's also take time to teach children about love for pets and ways to care for them.

Photo credit Tailsofbirding.blogspot.com

Explain to your child how some people use pets to help them.  Dogs assist with hunting, herding, and guarding the house.  Cats can solve a mouse problem.  Birds used to carry messages.  Can your child think of other ways pets help people?

Encourage your child play with these concepts for dramatic play or dress-up.  Children can pretend to be a hunting dog, a stalking cat, or a messenger bird!

Children can also use their bodies to move like common house pets (and think about how or if the movements are different).  Do they know how to move like a cat, dog, rabbit, fish, guinea pig, or hamster?  Do they know how to imitate animals that are not usually house pets such as a horse, pig, cow, elephant, lion, giraffe, snake, alligator, etc.?  (The Preschool Calendar, 2000)

Good Read: Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

Photo credit Caredoghealth.blogspot.com

Show how most people choose pets to be companions.  It may help to think of pets as friends, or even as brothers and sisters.  Pets make good company for playing, resting, walking, swimming.  They like to be a part of the family!  What does your pet like to do most?  Or what does your child know about the pets of your family and friends?

Instruct children about the care and attention pets need.  Teach them that pets need fresh food and water every day.  They need plenty of play, rest, and love.  Remind them that these are the same things children need, too.  You may consider having your child help you care for the everyday needs of your pet.  You can also ask your child what needs pets have that children don't and vice versa (what needs children have that pets don't).

Does your child know about veterinarians?  Has he or she been with you to the vet before?  There are many good children's books about what happens at the vet office.  Your child can also explore veterinary care in dramatic play and dress-up.  Set up a corner or just fill a basket with stuffed animals and child-friendly medical equipment (bandaids, stethoscope, play shots, white lab coat and/or scrubs, ace bandage, pretend x-ray, animal carrier, gloves -supervise this one, of course, etc.).  If you have pets at home, be sure to set guidelines regarding your child's new veterinary practice with live pets!
Good Read:  Millions of Cats by W. Gag
Good Read:  Just Me and My Puppy by Mercer Mayer
Good Read:  My Pet Dinosaur Won't Brush His Teeth by Sharlene Alexander

Photo credit Ramonaspetsitting.com

Next Time
Pets are obviously much different than people.  Talk with your children about how pets come in different sizes, shapes, colors, textures and patterns, but in a much different way than people do!  Classify the qualities you can see in pets.  Tear out pictures from old magazines or newspapers, find them on the internet, or look for them while on a walk in your neighborhood.

Assist your child in classifying in various ways or come up with your own together:

1.  Group small, medium, and large pets.
2.  Identify which pets are dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and fish.
3.  Sort white, black, brown, and yellow pets.
4.  Find curly-haired, straight-haired, fuzzy, rough, scratchy, feathered, moist, and soft pets.
5.  Look for pets with stripes, spots, and multiple colors.
6.  Sort pets by the sounds they make.  Are any of them the same?  Which ones are loud and soft; pleasant, scary or annoying?

Your child will have so much fun and learn all about comparing and contrasting animal attributes.

Good Read:  Wet Pet, Dry Pet, Your Pet, My Pet by Dr. Seuss
Good Read:  Bark George by P. Sis

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  Matthew 6: 26-27

"When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!  Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth."  Genesis 8: 11
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