Summer Break Curriculum: Ocean Life



1st month of summer



Summer break is about halfway over here in Louisiana!  If you are just now joining our summer quest to never hear the phrase, “I’m bored,” please go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 of our summer learning curriculum and activity schedule.  On the right hand column, you will see all of the summer schedule posts neatly organized for you to have quick access!

WEEK 5:  OCEAN LIFE

So I apologize for the delay in the post about Ocean Life. I’d love to give you my reasons (my computer crashed so I’m having to sneak around to borrow one and we went on a vacation) but no one wants to hear those!

The kids had a great time learning about Ocean Life despite the fact that they never really showed too much interest in Finding Nemo – I’ve tried… what’s not to like about it?  But as you all know, kids tend to have their own opinions about things no matter how much we try to mold their little minds ;-).

A

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nywho, our favorite activity from the week was our Ocean Life PUPPET THEATER!  This activity was super cheap and was instant entertainment for DAYS!  It is also a great way to encourage storytelling which increases skills in reading comprehension, writing and illustrating stories (this skill starts as early as kindergarten) and oral communication.

Materials:

Painters Tape, poster board, scissors, long skewers/craft sticks, 1 blue and 1 yellow plastic table cloth, black sharpie marker

To make the puppets, I used a foam board.  YOU, however, should NOT use a foam board.  

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That sucker was a pain to cut out all of the fishy shapes with all of the twists and turns.  I ended up breaking most of the fish when cutting them out and had to play “doctor” to fix them all back together (great tie-in to our Community lesson).  Just use 1 white poster board and it will save you time, energy, and unnecessary frustration.



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I drew the fish onto my board using a black sharpie.  The kids painted the fish and then went down for their naps (good timing on my part so they didn’t have to wait for the paint to dry).  I cut the fish out and taped the long skewers to the back of the fish.  (I ran out of skewers and used Popsicle sticks for the starfish, crab and crawfish* since they don’t swim too far from the bottom of the ocean anyway).

*I understand that crawfish are not normally found in the ocean, but as they have been raised in South Louisiana, my kids insisted we have a crawfish in our puppet show.



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After nap time, the kids could not WAIT to put on the puppet show!  My daughter’s room was the PERFECT theater because 1. she had the audience (stuffed animals galore) and what show would be complete without an audience? and 2. her closet made the perfect stage for the show!

We took the blue table cloth and hung it with tape from the clothes rod, and the 2nd table cloth (we used blue and taped yellow tissue paper to make “sand” but just using a yellow table cloth would be so much easier) was taped across the doorway of the closet at door knob level. This gave the kids enough space to crouch under and behind the yellow (sand) curtain and in front of the blue (ocean) curtain.

James had the idea to make a sign with the title and performers names and hung it on the closet doors for all of the audience (stuffed animals) to see.  He also had the idea to use one of our lamps as the spotlight and designated his Mimi to be the lighting technician.

There are several different ways you can perform plays with your kids!

1.  REENACTMENT:  You can take a story that your kids know really well (a great one for this theme would be The Rainbow Fish or even Finding Nemo) and  your kids can reenact the story.  To simplify this, you can make sequencing cards for your kids to act out:

1.  Nemo and his dad lived in an anemone.

2.  Nemo swims out to sea and is captured by the scuba diver.

3.  Nemo’s dad and Dori search for Nemo and meet a lot of friends on the way.

4.  Nemo makes his great escape.

5.  Nemo and his dad are reunited.

2.  MAD LIB:  You write a short story out and leave blanks for the kids to fill in.

Once upon a time there was a fish named name.  He was color and color.  His best friends was name the ocean animal.  Together they liked to activity.

3.  NARRATE:  You can narrate the story and the kids can move and talk for the puppets.

4.  STORY WRITING:  This is great for older kids!  Your kids write the story and include a beginning, middle and end!

5.  TAKE TURNS WRITING THE STORY:  Each person adds a new adventure to the story!   Things can get a little crazy here!

Person 1:  “Once upon a time there was a fish named Bob.”

Person 2:  “Bob loved to swim to the middle of the ocean.”

Person 3:  “He made lots of friends along the way.”

Person 1:  “His best friend was a starfish named All Star.”

Person 2:  “All Star loved to play basketball in the water.”

As for my kids?  They preferred to #6, JUST PLAY!   Sit back and see what your kids come up with!  This is my favorite and each of my kids had such different ideas for the puppets that they each took turns playing puppeteer and audience member.  They loved watching what the other came up with and would build off of each other’s stories!  I love how these little minds work!

James’ story was great (says the biased mommy)!  It was about a little fish who met a shark who wanted to eat him.  All of his fishy friends decided to go talk to the shark to stop him from eating their friend.  They offered him a peach instead.  The shark enjoyed the peach so much that he never ate a fish again and the little fish and the shark became best friends.  The play was called “The Fish, the Shark and the Peach” (fitting).

Leyson’s story took place in the river (Mr. 3-year-old wanted to create his own setting) and his fish spent the whole time swimming up and down the river.  And then the rest of the time his play sounded very similar to big brother’s play.

CRAFT TIME FAIL:



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Another activity we did was a near-complete failure.  I say near-complete because the kids could care less that it didn’t work as it was intended.

My kids and I ATTEMPTED to make sensory-bag fish bowls.  We cut out a hole in a paper plate and glued it to another paper plate – then decorated the plates, of course.  We filled plastic zip-lock baggies with blue hand soap (gel probably would have worked better) and put small plastic fish inside.  Then we placed the bags inside of the paper plate hole and made “fish bowls,” but yeah, they didn’t work.  The kids DID enjoy squishing the fish around in the sensory bags!  But then they started leaking because Mommy bought the cheap bags.  ::womp womp::

Here is the craft that gave me the idea to make a sensory bag, but I should have just stuck to these directions instead:

“Read it again, Mom” has so many great book ideas, songs and crafts for this theme!

Some Of My Favorite YouTube Playlists

Whether, like me, you are somewhat homebound with a newborn, or you have other reasons that you need to get your kids moving (rain, heat, an injury, etc.). I wanted to share some great movement videos for young children.  My kids spend at least half an hour enjoying some of the videos I have shared below.

We only have one TV in our house, but it happens to be one that has “Apps” like Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, etc.  This makes our den my all-purpose room for sure.

My favorite playlists for MOVEMENT are:

PattyShukla’s action and movement songs

Have Fun Teaching’s fitness songs

and for

Sing -Along :

Super Simple Song’s “Easy-to-teach, Easy-to-learn Songs for Young Learners”

Harry Kindergarten’s class songs

If you subscribe to any of these channels you will discover LOTS of great educational songs too.  Have Fun Teaching has some really fun songs that makes associations with the letter formation of the letters, the sounds, and words that start with that sound.  And of course Sesame Street is so great too!

PLEASE share your favorites in a comment so I can add some new playlists 🙂

My kindergarteners loved these videos so don’t rule them out until you put them on for your kids.  They are great to coincide with learning about the body to reinforce body parts and the importance of exercise.

Here is a little clip of my little ones and a friend enjoying “Jump” by Patty Shukla.  Yes, we let them jump on the couches for this one…. I know some moms are going crazy, but ya know…. To each his own 🙂

Graffiti

A precious First Grade Teacher that was a co-worker of mine used to have bulletin board paper taped to her desk and it was a writing center that she called her “Graffiti Space” for her student’s personal artistic signatures.

The idea stuck with me….especially as a mommy of a little one who thinks that every wall should be his personal masterpiece.   I have really drilled it in Sean Patrick’s head that we only write on paper because of all the times I have found his hidden messages on the walls, his body, my couch, the tables, etc.

Tonight, I encouraged him to do just that… to write on paper, but on a LARGE area that I designated as his Graffiti Space for the night.



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It was as simple as this…



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He helped me tape the paper to the windowsill and the baseboards…. this was a great spot for him because it is in his playroom and mr. clean magic erasers agree with my windowsills and baseboards 🙂

I laid out crayons, markers, and colored pencils and let him pick and choose whatever writing tools he wanted to explore with.

We had so much fun!  He would scribble different images and tell me what it was afterwards.

We made rainbows, a special message for daddy, the sun, people, and a lot of other free-writing squiggles just to talk about different ways to form lines (up, down, back and forth, around and around, side to side, etc).  

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This kind of activity makes writing fun for Sean Patrick, and that is honestly my main learning goal for him.   I just want him to know how fun writing can be!

Gotta love his fashion sense…

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We left if up on the wall so that he could continue to “fill the space” and add any new ideas when he was ready.

 

Food Fun

Hi!  I’m Casey from Kidspired Creations!  I have been a guest blogger a few times on The Mommy Teacher am very excited to now be co-blogging with Jessica!  I am a former Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten teacher and am currently a stay-at-home Mom of 3 little ones ages 5, 3 and 10 months.

I have to admit that despite my best attempts, not all of my Mommy Teacher moments get the best reception from my kids.  I think if I say, “Let’s make a pattern!” one more time, my 3-year-old might throw a toddler tornado-sized tantrum.



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Yes, my kids can get burnt out on lessons from this Mommy Teacher; however, I know how to win them over every time:  food, particularly pizza.

I recently saw a recipe on Pinterest that involved cutting zucchini in half long ways, carving out the insides and filling them with various deliciousness.  I decided that these “zucchini boats” would make great pizza crusts!   This idea perked interest with my kids so quickly that I couldn’t prep fast enough.

Zucchini Boat Pizzas

-Ingredients:  zucchini, pepperoni, mozzarella, pizza sauce

-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut zucchini long ways and spoon out a trench on the inside.  Spread a few spoonfuls of pizza sauce inside.  Fill with mozzarella cheese.  Top with pepperonis.  Place on the oven for 15-20 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Easy peasy… and so delicious that even my super-picky 3-year-old was digging into the “green crust.”

Here are the different skills we covered while making our pizzas:

Math

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– Sequencing: “What is the first step to making our pizza?  What comes next?”

– Measuring:  “How long is our zucchini?  Let’s measure in pepperonis.”

– Adding:  “Our pizza needs 3 pepperonis.  There are 2 pepperonis on the pizza now.  How many more do we need to add to make 3?”

-Counting:  “How many pepperonis are on your pizza?”  How many pepperonis are there all together?”

-Multiplying:  (for the school-aged child)  “If we have 3 pepperonis on 10 pizzas, how many pepperonis are there all together?”

-Time:  “Our pizzas need to cook for 20 minutes.  Let’s set the timer.”

Motor Skill Development

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-Pouring and spreading the sauce with a spoon

-Sprinkling the cheese using our fingers

-Using the pincer grasp to separate the pepperonis

Language Skills

-Sequencing Vocabulary:  first, second, next, then, last, before, after etc.

Health and Nutrition:  Learning about making healthy choices by substituting with fresh vegetables and what food groups are being included in dinner

Following Directions and Recipes:  Following step-by-step or a series of directions is different than following one direction at a time.  “So, I put the pepperonis on first right???  No?  Well, what do the directions tell me to do?”  You can take this a step further than I did by drawing or writing out the recipe for your child to have a visual to follow.

Social Behaviors:  being a happy helper in the house!  It is important for kids to take ownership over household tasks and doing it with a happy heart!

* * *

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My kids do not like to try new things, but since they made the dish themselves they were eager to dig right in!  More surprisingly was my 3-year-old who didn’t shed any tears before his taste test!  That’s quite an accomplishment at our dinner table!  Everyone was happy… even the baby who got pureed zucchini that was scooped out of the middle of our boats.  Bonus!

 

 

Plate ART

I threw out the uppercase  A-R-T  in the title of this post because even though my friend and I had a blast decorating plates with our kids, the following images do  NOT show plates that you can eat from or really even wash.  They will be on a plate stand in the kitchen most likely 😉



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My friend Allie and I are both 24 weeks pregnant, we both have a two year and a half year old, and we both have a one year old (this was not planned by the way).  So, we have had a sleepover this weekend to let our crazy worlds come together for a few days.  It has been so sweet, and funny, and crazy of course.  We decided it would be fun to let the little ones do an art activity together.

We found some pefect small, white melamine plates at Target and purchased some colorful sharpies, we headed back home to let our little ones decorate away. (PS – we learned the hard way that the bamboo melamine plates we found at Big Lots were a NO GO!  Just trust me on this one.)

My friend Allie can write really cutesie and I can NOT write cutesie at all so she personalized all of the plates for us.  Thanks Allie ! 🙂



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We threw aprons on the little ones and let them color on their plates….



Decorating Around Names



Then, we threw aprons on the one year olds and let them color on their plates (without their names on them), and we found out that this actually worked better to write the name AFTER coloring.



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This next low-quality shot is just showing that I traced my little ones’ hands on the back and wrote the date.



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I had originally intended to make dinner plates, but it didn’t quite workout that way.  And after researching melamine and the process of making dinner plates, I was even more happy with the final product as a keepsake.  We wanted a fast and funky activity to do so this was perfect for the weekend.   But I found this if this is your kind of thing….. http://www.ehow.com/how_6913770_paint-melamine-dinner-plates.html  –  I’m sure I’ll make this happen in the future too 😉

Once again…here are my two kiddos plates…..up close and personal:



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I am happy with the way they turned out!



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