March 19, 2012

All About Ark Animals

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Skim the pages of a picture book with a variety of animals, such as Children's Animal Encyclopedia by Sally Morgan.  Discuss the animals, their habitats, their appearances, their sounds and so forth.

Using a variety of animal stickers, with the sticker backing still attached, cut the stickers in half at the abdomen.  Mix up the pieces.  Give your child an opportunity to match the pieces together, forming the original animals.  Mix up the pieces again.  This time use the stickers to form new imaginary animals on a sheet of paper.  Choose your animal combinations carefully (hippo upper, lion lower; rhinoceros upper with bird feet; dolphin head with lizard body) and apply the stickers to the paper when ready.  You may even want to color in a habitat backdrop for your new mysterious animal creations.

Discuss whether or not Noah was scared on the ark because of all the animals.  How did he feed them all?  Were they his friends?

Good Read:  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Read Animal Babies on the Farm by Vicky Weber or a similar title about animals and their babies.  The aim is to learn that colt is to horse as calf is to cow as chick is to chicken.  You can achieve this end with pictures, stuffed animals, and other objects or toys at your disposal.  You can even compare animals and babies to parents and children, and God and all of us.

When I taught Kindergarten our school was fortunate and wise enough to have invested in Thinking Maps, a wonderful learning tool.  The main premise of thinking maps is to use the same eight graphic organizers to help students understand concepts in all content areas.  The Thinking Map for analogies is called a bridge map, and it is extremely helpful.

Without going into too much detail (I think it would be hard to describe, and the idea certainly belongs toThinking Maps) you can use the same bridge concept at home or in your classroom in this way:

1.  Obtain objects to represent the items of your comparison (i.e. colt and horse, calf and cow, chick and chicken).  Start with at least two sets of items, and add more as your child begins to understand the analogy more clearly.

2.  Using the living room floor, or even better -kitchen tiles, you will create something like a matrix.  It sounds more complicated than it is!  In the area you've designated (based on the size of items you are using), set the colt in the upper left with the horse directly beneath it.  Place the calf in the upper center with the cow directly beneath it.  As your child understands the analogy (top item is baby, lower item is its parent/adult version), continue by putting the chick in the upper right with the chicken directly beneath it, and continue growing the matrix as you come up with more examples.  

Your words go something like this (pointing to the items): "A colt is a baby horse.  When it grows up we just call it a horse.  A calf is a baby cow.  When it grows up we just call it a cow."

It goes both ways.  If you prefer, put the adult/parent/mother animals on the top row with their corresponding babies directly beneath them.  Say this: "A horse is mother to a colt.  A cow is mother to a calf.  A chicken is mother to a chick."

3.  To add a literacy component to this activity, write the words or let your child write the word to identify each animal.  Note cards work well for writing the words, and can be reused for other activities.  Definitely save them for the farm unit coming in November!  Insert the words into the matrix by having your child place it next to the corresponding animal.

Next Time
When all of the animals were on the ark they shared the same habitat.  God made them to live in many unique places though, and when they got off the ark they surely returned to their appropriate homes.  Using your animal encyclopedia as your guide, discover answers to the following questions for various habitats such as jungle, desert, forest, grassland, ocean, lake, river, arctic climate, and mountains.

Which animals live in the ____________?
What does it look like in the __________?
What plants grow in the _____________?
What is the weather like in the ____________?
What do the animals eat in the ____________?
Where do they find water in the __________?
What do they use for shelter in the ___________?
Do the animals that live there have anything in common?
What are the differences?
Can you answer the same questions about your home or habitat?

Noah's Ark ART

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Paint an empty Kleenex box brown to be an ark.  Use several shades of brown to obtain at look similar to real wood.  After it dries, fill it with two of various animals or other pairs of like objects such as Legos, crayons, cotton balls, etc.  Be sure the size of the objects is not small enough to cause a choking hazard if your child is under three years old.

Cut out a large ark shape from paper.  Allow your child to use animal shaped sponges to stamp animals inside the ark.  Encourage (but don't demand-keep it light) your child to stamp them two by two.

Next Time
1.  Best done outside, paint the heavy rains that caused the flood.  Attach a large sheet of white paper to an easel or clothespin to a chain link fence.  Dilute blue paint in water to a drip-able consistency.  Clothe your child in a paint smock (and possibly yourself, too).  Explain that we are painting the paper only to look like the heavy flood rains.  Paint the rain by either a) drenching a paintbrush in diluted paint, holding at top of paper and allowing it to drip and drop down naturally, b) fill spray bottle with diluted paint and spray the rain on (explore with different angles of the spray to the paper for various drip effects), or c) dip old toothbrush in diluted paint and swipe finger across brush ends being carefully to point the ends towards the paper.  How does it look?

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2.  Cut two large pieces of paper into arc shapes.  Using red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet paints, model for your child how to paint a rainbow.  Starting with red, paint it all the way across the top portion of the arc.  Follow in a similar way with the remaining colors.  It's not as important that your child puts the colors in the correct order, as that he recognizes that the rainbow is a beautiful gift from God so we will remember his promise of hope.

March 1, 2012

Two is a Pair, But Zero is Nothing

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Counting two:  Noah was obedient to God.  He brought two of each animal on the ark.  Even though Noah had to count simply "One, Two" there are many ways we can count with two.

-If your child is very young, counting to two is perfect.  Count to two for him and encourage him to count to two for you.  Count two cars, two plates, two leopards, two feet, two ears, two hands, maybe even count two years old!  So many things to count to two!

-Part of counting is knowing which number comes next, but the other part is understanding one to one correspondence.  This, of course, is the real point of counting anything.  Help your child understand each number he says corresponds to exactly one thing he counts.  Assist him in pointing to or touching the objects he counts.  It helps to be slow and deliberate at first.

-If your child is ready, try these variations:  count by twos (two, four, six, eight) - practice two to two correspondence and use snacks such as dried cranberries, nuts or M&Ms to assist you; identify and write the digit two (2) and the word two (two); discover what numbers are less than two and what numbers are more than two.

Two makes a pair:  Counting to two is a pair, not a pear silly (whoa, homophones will be another lesson entirely!), a pair!

-Explain to your child that a pair is when you have two of the same thing together: a pair of zebras, a pair of llamas, a pair of earrings, a pair of pants (each leg is technically a pant...same for underwear, I think!), a pair of pigtails, a pair of twins, a pair of eye glasses, a pair of pillows, a pair of kittens, a pair of scissors, a pair of friends.  Reference "pairs" in Genesis 7:8.

Good Read:  I think there must be a Dr. Seuss book about pairs, but I cannot figure out the title right now.  When I do, you will find it here.  If you know, please add it to the comments.  Thanks!

-Go on a hunt for pairs.  Look in your home or classroom and your yard or playground.  Older children can go with a partner -as a pair- and can record their findings in a math and science journal.

-Now that they know for sure what a pair is, tell them that a couple is also two of the same thing together!

Next Time
Zero is nothing:  When Noah, his family, and all the animals were in the ark, God used the flood waters to destroy all the remaining humans and animals.  No people or animals were left, zero.  Explain to your child that zero is less than one, it is nothing.  For all intents and purposes -at this age- there is nothing less than zero.  Unless your child is incredibly advanced, there is no reason to explain negative numbers at this age.  Whew, thank goodness!

Good Read:  Zero Is The Leaves On The Tree by Betsy Franco
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