May 16, 2012

Plants Around Us

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Read Plant Secrets written by Emily Goodman and illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes.  This is a fantastic book:  great pictures, simple text, highly informative and also fun to read!

We are doing a lot of Thinking Maps this week!  I have described a few of these before, but if you have questions, please email me or take a look at their website for further explanation.  I learned about these maps while I taught kindergarten, and they have been the most amazing learning tool.  There are eight maps that work for all subject areas for (almost) all ages.  This is wonderful for students because it helps them organize their thinking more simply.  There is a way to use every map to explore any idea or concept.  In doing so, you explore the idea or concept thoroughly and with great depth.

To help children understand the plant growth process, make a flow map of plant growth from seed to fruit.  To do so, make or draw something like the picture below, but with a fourth box.  Prompt the children to remember the details from the story.

How do plants start?  What happens next?  Then what?  What happens last?

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You could even use fives boxes, the fifth one being a seed again, to show the cyclical nature of plant growth.  Alternatively, you could just draw an arrow from the fourth box, underneath the other boxes and back to the first one to show that the cycle repeats.

Art:  Obtain a small terra cotta pot for each child.  Cover work surface with old newspapers and arrange 3-5 colors of acrylic paints with a separate paint brush for each color.  Instruct children not to mix the colors because otherwise all the colors will turn brown.  Encourage them to paint the pots as they wish.

If you are a teacher, be sure to mark the children's names on their pots.  A piece of tape inside the pot would be ideal.  This way you don't have to turn over a pot with still-wet paint to find out to whom it belongs.

These pots would make excellent Mother's Day gifts.  Tomorrow we will plant seeds in them.

Read The Empty Pot by Demi.  This is a beautiful story with a timeless moral message.  The illustrations are rich in detail.  You will be captivated by the devotion and courage of the boy Ping.

Character/Faith:  We all want children to know goodness and honesty are treasured, revered, and rewarded.  This story depicts the way goodness and honesty also often require fortitude and courage.  I can't spoil the ending.  You will have to read it for yourself.  The ensuing discussion will surely come naturally.  Ask the children about times it took courage for them to be honest.  How were they rewarded?

Art:  Allow children to paint their own flow charts of plant growth.

Next Time
Read Peter Spit a Seed at Sue written by Jackie French Koller and illustrated by John Manders.

Oh, my goodness - this story is such a fun read!  I hope you aren't mad for the seed-spitting ideas it may plant in your children's heads.  As made clear at the end, it is all in good fun!

Enjoy this book on a Friday as you savor the soon-to-be weekend.  There are wonderful words and illustrations in this story.  Talk together about your favorites, which parts were funniest, where you were surprised, and so on.  Enjoy!

More watermelon-themed lessons are coming your way in this weeks math lesson.

Art:  Create a masterpiece with oil pastels and thick art paper.  Portray your favorite fruit or vegetable with vibrant colors and the characteristic thick, greasy, textural lines of oil pastels.

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