May 3, 2012

The Sky Above

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This week we learn about the sky.

Start by reading Sophie's Window by Holly Keller.  This is a cute story about a bird learning to fly.  It can also be used to introduce the concepts were studying this week.

Print pictures of the main concepts in our Sky unit:  sun, clouds, rain, wind, storm, bird, shadow.  Use sentence strips or index cards to write and/or have the children help you write these words.

Note:  Please remember that it is perfectly acceptable for preschool and kindergarten children to copy a word you have written.  It still counts as them writing it!  Writing words is very much about copying symbols.  This helps children learn to form letters.  While doing so, they relate the letters to the sounds they hear in the word (which helps them develop a capacity for phonetic spelling), and they relate the word to the context around them (the story, the discussion, the pictures) which develops schemes of meaning in their brains.  All of this works to develop literacy.

Encourage the children to mix up the pictures and words, then match them.  When they are familiar with the words and their corresponding pictures, you can make it more difficult by making it a memory game.  Turn over all the pictures and words.  The first person to have a turn flips over one picture and one word. Are they a match?  If they are, the first person gets to have a second turn.  If they are not a match, the next person gets a turn.

There are many ways to engage with the sky.  The most simple is to go outside, lay face up on the earth and gaze at the sky.  Take note of all that you see and hear:  clouds, wind, birds, bees, and so forth.

While outside, see if you and the children can make shadow puppets with your hands.  They are easily seen over a pale smooth surface like concrete.  Spend time playing with shadows and all the things the children can create in the shadows.  You may appreciate the story Moonbear's Shadow by Fran Asch.

Science:  Today we emphasize the sun and we want to be sure the children know begin to understand the sun's role in the water cycle.  This book and this experiment are great ways to introduce the concept of the sun causing evaporation.

Art: For an art experience today, try painting the sun.  Use a large piece of white paper, large child-friendly paintbrushes, and a variety of shades of yellow:  gold, mustard, canary, primary, pastel yellow, etc.  I think finger painting would also be an awesome way to create the sun.  Big sweeping motions by fingers loaded with paint can bring warm texture to the creation.

Remind children of the way God created the light, the sun.  We have a creative God who loves us tenderly and has seen fit to bless us with the delights of sun, sky, clouds, shadows, and rain.

Today we continue studying the sky with an emphasis on clouds.

Read: Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld.

Ask children to tell you about Cloudette.  How did she feel?  What did she want?  What happened to her?

Make a bubble map (this is another Thinking Map) to describe what they learned about clouds while reading this story.  To do so, get a blank sheet of paper.  Put one circle in the middle and write "Clouds" in it.  Each time a child tells you something they learned about clouds, draw a line coming out from the center circle.  Write the description information at the end of the line and put another circle ("bubble") around it.  Perhaps the child or you can draw a small picture next to the word or phrase to illustrate it.  Then you can display the bubble map and children will be able to "read" it even if they can't literally read all the words.

Read It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw.  Go outside, lay down in an open space, and stare at the sky again.  This time pay close attention to the clouds.  Do the children see shapes?  What do the clouds look like?  Do they notice how they change?

Science:  Review yesterday's book, The Magic School Bus Wet All Over:  A Book About the Water Cycle written by Pat Relf and illustrated by Carolyn Bracken, emphasizing the parts about cloud formation.  Clarify as necessary, then use this experiment to create your own cloud by illustrating the concept of condensation with the children.

Art:  Have children choose one or two cloud forms they saw while outside.  Using a piece of blue construction paper, glue and cotton balls, recreate the cloud formations.

Next Time
We've explored sun and clouds.  Now it's time for rain!

Read First Rain written by Charlotte Herman and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter.

Answer questions and comments about the story.  There is richness to it in the way it uncovers aspects of culture study and science.  We will study those more in the proceeding lessons.  For now, we will introduce a little math and vocabulary.

When it rains, we hear a variety of words to describe how much it rains.  The terms "sprinkle", "rain", and "pour" are very common.  Print pictures of these types of precipitation.  Write the terms on sentence strips or index cards, and match them to the pictures.  Introduce the words/phrases "a little", "middle", and "a lot".  Encourage the children to identify which picture represents a little rain, a middle amount of rain, and a lot of rain, pointing to each one as appropriate.  Give each child a turn.

What other words to the children know to describe rain?  They might offer words like "storming", "raining cats and dogs", "thunder and lightning", and so on.

Science:  We have one more science experiment this week.  Utilize The Magic School Bus Wet All Over to review the concept of precipitation.  The Water Project, which is the website noted (linked) for the previous two experiments, does offer one for precipitation, but I think it is inappropriate for young children.  It involves a tray balanced on trash cans over a burner; a good visual for sure, but it is intended for older children.

I'm trying to think of a great way to illustrate precipitation for young children, something that even shows all the forms of precipitation, but I don't have it yet.  The good thing is this is the part of the cycle most apparent to children.  The water cycle also includes collection, which is the term for available water in lakes, streams, ponds, oceans, rivers, puddles, and so on.  Children also have experiences with this part!

Art:  It's time for more drip painting with water colors.  Use an easel or the method described in the "Next Time" section of this post.  Use a small paintbrush this time and liquid water color paints (These can be diluted slightly to last an even longer time. They are awesome and provide very vivid colors!).  Hold the brush at the top of the paper and allow the color to drip down.  Children can use all one color or a variety.

Cooking:  In honor of learning about Israel in First Rain, prepare plates of vegetables, cheese, figs, and dates for a snack today.  Help children identify the foods they know and the ones that are new.  What do they look like and feel like?  How do they think they will taste?  Encourage children to nibble away and try the new foods!

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