Sorry my post this week is so late – we have had a busy weekend and I took the time to deep clean my kitchen instead of updating the blog.
This week, we studied We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. This is a repetitive story that lends itself to hand motions, which is the very first thing we did. We read through the story once and then went through it again making up hand motions together. I would ask, “What hand motion would show a deep, cold river?” and they would make suggestions until we picked one everyone liked. Once we figured it all out, the kids wanted to do it over and over again. All day. All week. Even now that we’re done with the book.
In the book, it says “We can’t go over it/We can’t go under it/Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!” So we talked about over/under/through and other locative prepositions and practiced with a tunnel that we have. We practiced going over and under lots of things and talked about how some things are easier to go over or under and others are more difficult. We then used gummy bears (sticking with the bear theme) to demonstrate these prepositions. They got bored with this pretty quickly, I think because they already understood pretty well.
We reviewed our senses from the week at the beach and practiced using them to make observations. Then we talked about what an adjective is and what it means to describe something and practiced describing all sorts of things. “Gummy bears are delicious!” “My hands are sticky!” “These are squishy!” They weren’t ready for school to be over, so I let them work in some workbooks on things like patterns, colors, shapes and letters. They really loved working in these, especially when bribed with gummy bears.
On Day 2, Patrick took the kids out on a Habitat Scavenger Hunt to find each of the environments mentioned in the book (grass, river, mud, forest, snowstorm, cave) and they had a blast running around in the forest and splashing in the mud.
Maggie asked if she could take all her clothes off and run around in the river. Of course, a couple of the environments were hard to find, so we had to improvise.
Bo carried a clipboard with everything listed on it and was a little upset when they didn’t do them in order.
After they came back, we made story paintings. I pasted a paper cave in the center of the paper and separated the remaining space into five sections – one for each of the environments. Then the kids painted the environments into the sections. Green grass. Blue river. Brown mud, etc.
Bo was very methodical and painted the whole section. Maggie had much less patience. Then we glued some googly eyes in the middle of the cave for the bear in the cave. Bo was so excited to use the glue himself.
We talked about what a habitat was and went through each one and listed animals that lived in them. Bo was very excited about crayfish living in mud because he had found one when they went on their Habitat Scavenger Hunt.
Day 3 was all about Bears. Bears are my favorite animals, so I was excited about this. We filled in our animal information worksheets and practiced terms like carnivore and omnivore. We looked at photos of various species and watched some videos. We compared species and mentioned how to tell the difference, so Bo knows to look for the shoulder hump on a Grizzly bear now.
Then we talked about how we can compare things in a simile using the word “like” because I wanted to link bears and my Dad (their Papa) in their minds. My dad died suddenly in April and he was obsessed with bears (both Chicago and the animals). So, we looked at a photo of him and talked about how he is like a bear. “Papa is big like a bear and strong!” “Papa likes to eat meat and plants like a bear.” Then we talked about how symbols and images can help us remember someone. We went around the house and looked at the pictures hanging up – we have a moon painting by my Aunt Bim to remind us of our baby Luna, a bear painting to remind us of Papa, drawings by Uncle Jake and Aunta Nina’s handprint.
We practiced with other similes and I said “Bo is like a strawberry because his shirt and shorts are all red.” We then had a lesson in the difference between metaphors and similes because Bo said if he was a strawberry he’d be small and a triangle and covered in seeds. So we talked about how being LIKE something and being something is different.
We ended the day by reading several other books starring bears. There are a lot of them – even in our collection.
On Thursday, we learned all about Noah’s ark. I told them the story and we talked about a few different lessons we can learn from it. We talked about following God’s directions even when they seem ridiculous. We talked about being righteous when everyone around you isn’t. Then we acted out the story using a wooden Noah’s ark set we have.
Then I gave each of them a pile of popsicle sticks and a sheet of paper and told them to build me an ark. I didn’t give detailed instructions (although, thinking back on it now, that would have illustrated how Noah followed God’s directions well), but they had fun trying to build something that looked like an ark. Bo’s actually did look like a boat!
Then we talked about the number 2. We practiced writing two’s on the board and did a couple of worksheets. Maggie is not interested in those pre-writing activities and could not follow the lines and didn’t try to. Bo can do his worksheets completely on his own now and was done in record time.
Then I made them a couple of “counting boards” where I hot glued pipe cleaners to a sheet of paper and gave them beads to string onto them. This was intended to help them practice the fine-motor skills, but also to teach them to add by 2’s and count by 2’s. We put two beads on the first pipe cleaner, four on the second, six on the third and so on. Maggie loved threading the beads onto the pipe cleaners, but asked me not to take a picture of her while she was working. “It’s really hard, mommy.”
Bo practiced his mental math by adding two to each number to figure out how many beads to put on the next pipe cleaner. Then we took the beads off and counted how many beads we used total.
Friday was a special treat. We had spent the night at our Oa’s (my grandmother’s) house and left early to go to the National Zoo in DC with my sister Jes and her daughter Lo. We had spent a little time the night before creating a checklist of animals we wanted to see at the zoo (so we could ‘hunt’ for them), but we left that list in the car back at the house when we walked to the metro. The metro was a fun adventure for them too because my kids are country bumpkins who don’t know what escalators and elevators are.
I carried Joe and Patrick pushed our other two in our double stroller. Jes used her double stroller for Lolo and lunch (yes, lunch took a whole seat in a stroller). We saw all kinds of animals, but oddly, no bears. We did see otters napping in a tree stump. Tigers stretched out in the shade. Elephants throwing dirt on their backs for sunscreen. Snakes. Owls. Gorillas. Zebras. Crocodiles. Pandas hiding in the trees. Orangutans swinging on cables over the crowd of people. But Bo’s favorite of the day was the lion. The big male lion was up and walking around and we got to watch him take a drink, pee, poop and roar before lying down to take a nap. I’ve been to the National Zoo once a year for almost my whole life and I’ve never seen the lion that active.
It was a long day and a warm day, but it was a lot of fun. On the way home in the car, we went over our checklist and then we rewrote We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to be “We’re Going on a Zoo Hunt” and we changed the environments to animals and practiced animal noises. (What do zebras say, by the way?) Then when we got home, we drew pictures of our favorite animals at the zoo and snacked on Teddy Grahams. I had every intention of organizing a bear scavenger hunt where I hid baggies of Teddy Grahams and made them review the stuff we learned this week to get them, but I was beat after walking all over the zoo.
Originally, I was going to do Fireboat by Maira Kalman to align with the 4th of July (it’s about a fireboat in NYC on 9/11), but because my favorite place to pick blueberries put out its blueberries sign, we will be doing Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.