Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dolphin Crafts and Activities for an Ocean Theme - Preschool

For DIY flash cards, sight words, and getting started with a preschool ocean theme lesson plan, please visit Ocean Theme

After exploring crabs at the start of our ocean month, we moved onto dolphins! 

Dolphin Educational Activities

I like to start each introduced ocean creature with an information sheet which I print on card stock and then laminate with contact paper so we can keep it around all month without too much wear and tear. Click on the photo to download and print this one!
Show the info sheet to your child and then ask them questions about what you've just read. ex- "What does a dolphin like to eat?"
You can also have your child pretend to be a dolphin by making dolphin sounds and jumping like a dolphin would out of the water. 

Recommended books: 
Dolphins / Weber, Valerie
Wow! Ocean! / Neubecker, Robert
Dolphins / Lindeen, Carol

Dolphin Count and Match

What you will need:

What you will need: (makes 20 dolphins)
10 different colored and or patterned scrap booking papers
contact paper

First, cut out the dolphin from the free printout. Next, fold your first piece of scrap booking paper in half so that the white of the paper is showing and the pattern/color is on the inside. Take a pencil and trace a dolphin on the paper using the template. Fold your other colored papers the same way and put two more under the first and cut out the dolphin. This will limit the amount of cutting by giving you 6 dolphins with one cut. Repeat until you used all your paper and have 10 pairs of dolphins. Cut out all the numbers from the printout above and tack one to each dolphin. For lasting use, laminate them with contact paper. You can make so many games out of these!

Dolphin Songs

Swimming in the sea  

Sung to: "Doo-wa diddy diddy"

There I was just swimming in the sea

singing oooo wah diddy diddy dum diddy dee

All the sudden there's a dolphin next to me

singing ooo wah diddy diddy dum diddy dee

                                                                      She swam fast
she swam fast
she dove deep
she dove deep
she swam fast dove deep
Hey this dolphin's pretty neat!!
do wah diddy diddy dum diddy dee

Dolphin Family
Sung to: "Adam's Family Theme"

When they get into the notion
They jump out of the ocean
With tail fluke locomotion,

The Dolphin family
Swim in the sea, eee eee
Swim in the sea, eee eee
Swim in the sea
Live in a pod
Swim in the sea, eee eee

I bet you didn't suppose
Their blow hole was their nose
And in and out the air goes

The Dolphin family
Swim in the sea, eee eee
Swim in the sea, eee eee
Swim in the sea,
Live in a pod
Swim in the sea, eee eee         

and our favorite....

Stained Glass Dolphin 

What you will need:

Dolphin template
Contact paper
Tissue paper
Permanent marker

Draw a simple shaped dolphin on a piece of white paper and cut it out to use as a template. Place your template on your child's table and lay out a nice sized sheet of contact paper over the top of your template (sticky side facing up) and tape the corners down. Set out a bowl with cut up tissue paper in your choice of colors. (We used light blue and purple.) Have your child stick on all their "glass" and try to get them to stick it over top of the dolphin template they can use as a guide. Next, seal the tissue paper in with another piece of contact paper and use the dolphin template over top to cut it into the dolphin shape! You can use a permanent marker over top to put in details like an eye and mouth :) I used a hole punch at the top to slip a suction cup hook through so we could hand it where the light was showing through. 

Online Dolphin Activities 

Create a dolphin picture. I loved this because it ended up being a really great activity for working on computer skills with having to click and hold the mouse to drag the creatures into the ocean. (Click on photo to try it out!) 

Color the dolphins! Nice and simple, click a color with the paintbrush curser and click on various parts of the picture to color it. Awesome for color recognition and computer/mouse coordination. (Click photo to try it out) 

Online resources: 

Cute dolphin game (demonstrates cause and effect)  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crab Crafts and Activities for an Ocean Theme - Preschool

The first ocean creature I brought out for or ocean theme month was the crab. For the month we have learned about the fiddler crab, king crab, ghost crab and spider crab and we have done so many fun activities and crafts, I thought id share! (For getting started on an ocean theme lesson visit Getting Started)

Toilet Paper Roll Crab

What's better than to use something you always have around the house? Don't throw away those empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls! They can be turned into anything... like this cute crab!

What you will need:

TP roll
Pipe cleaners
Paint (we used watercolors)
White glue
Googly eyes

Let your child paint the TP roll and then set aside to dry. When dry, use a hole punch on the ends of the roll so you can thread the pipe cleaners through to make his legs. Make 2 holes in the front for the claws and form some pipe cleaners into little loops and thread them through. Last, glue on some googly eyes! Very simple and your child will love it! 

Sandpaper Crabs

What you will need:

Sheet of white paper
Googly eyes

Make a few crab shaped cutouts from the sandpaper to give to your child to color. Encourage them to press hard with the crayons and cover as much of the sandpaper as possible. When they are finished coloring, lay the sandpaper crabs crayon side down on a piece of white paper and iron (without steam) for a couple minutes making sure not to burn the paper. Lift the cutouts and voila! It will look like you've used stamps on the paper. Your child can then glue on some eyes for decoration if they like :)

Handprint Crab

What you will need:

Blue and white construction paper
White glue
Googly eyes
Red paint (we used tempra) 
Tissue paper

Cut up your desired colors of tissue paper into small chunks. (We used light blue and purple)
Next, lay out a sheet of blue construction paper and cover the surface (or let your kids) with a glue stick and let them stick the pieces of tissue paper on. Set aside to dry. Lay out a piece of white construction paper, and paint your child's hand with the paint and let them stamp it. Do the same with the other hand and have them stamp it again on the opposite side so it looks like the crab. You can then glue on some googly eyes on the thumbs. After the crab is dry, cut around it and paste it on to the ocean collage they made! So cute and "hands on" :P

Crab Counting and Matching

What you will need: (makes 20 crabs)
10 different colored and or patterned scrap booking papers
contact paper
Hot glue
googly eyes (if you haven't noticed, we really love using googly eyes!)

First, cut out the crab from the free printout. Next, fold your first piece of scrap booking paper in half so that the white of the paper is showing and the pattern/color is on the inside. Take a pencil and trace a crab on the paper using the template. Fold your other colored papers the same way and put two more under the first and cut out the crab. This will limit the amount of cutting by giving you 6 crabs with one cut. Repeat until you used all your paper and have 10 pairs of crabs. Cut out all the numbers from the printout above and tack one to each crab. For lasting use, laminate them with contact paper and use a hot glue gun to glue on the eyes! You can make so many games out of these!

Educational Crab Activities

I made this crab info sheet using red construction paper and then laminated it with contact paper so we could keep it around for learning purposes and word recognition. I've made a much cuter one that you can print by visiting Crab Info Sheet.  I would suggest printing it on card stock and then laminating it. 
Show the info sheet to your child and then ask them questions about what you've just read. ex- "How many claws does a crab have?"

Another activity I like to do with Lucy is to have her pretend to be a crab. I ask her to show me how a crab walks, and how a crab eats. I lay out her morning snack and ask her to eat her snack like a crab and she pretends she has pinchers to eat it with :) 

Recommended books:
Crabs / Rake, Jody Sullivan
Beach combing : exploring the seashore / Arnosky, Jim

Crab Songs

We're Little Orange Crabs 

Sung to:
"The Farmer in the Dell"

 We're little orange crabs
 Who live down by the sea,
 And where we do go
 We're quick as quick can be.

 We're little orange crabs
 Who like to run and hide,
 And when you see us walking by
 It's always side to side.

Five Cranky Crabs 

Five cranky crabs were digging on the shore.

One swam into a net and then there were four.

Four cranky crabs were floating in the sea.
One got tangled up in seaweed then there were three.
Three Cranky crabs were wondering what to do.
One dug a deep, deep hole. Then there were two.
Two cranky crabs were warming in the sun.
One got scooped up in a cup. Then there was one.
One cranky crab was smarter than his friends.
He hid between the jagged rocks.
That's how the story ends.

Mr. Lobster and Mrs. Crab

Mr. lobster and Mrs. crab 

pinch and snap all day 

Mr. lobster and Mrs. crab 
pinch and snap all day
with a pinch pinch here and a snap, snap there
here a pinch, there a snap 
everywhere a pinch,pinch(snap, snap)
Mr. lobster and Mrs. crab pinch and snap all day.

Online resources for crabs:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preschool Ocean Themed Lesson Plan - Getting Started

To get started on our lessons plans, I decided to pick a theme that we we do for the whole month. This month we're doing "Ocean."
I spent probably no less than 60 hrs making everything ahead that I could for the month so that I wasnt having to do it every single evening and we could just be set to go. This post will cover the basic materials that apply to the whole month (and even other months and plans following) that you can prepare and make yourself.

I'm a list maker. I have to be as organized as possible whenever doing something like this. My list went something like this:

1) Sight words to use: Ocean, Water, Sand, Waves, Swim, Shark, Starfish, Octopus, Crab, Dolphin, Fish.

We were going to be using these sight words all month and hopefully be able to keep them around for review later, so I needed to make them toddler/preschool child proof. Off to the store to buy a roll of contact paper I went! To make these sight words yourself, you will need:

Contact paper
Construction paper
A printer
glue stick

Download and print from the sight word links I have provided (Or you're welcome to make your own) and cut each word out individually. Next, slap on some glue stick glue and tack each word to your desired colors of construction paper. (This isnt just for making the word colorful, but it adds some thickness and durability to it.) Cut around each of those, leaving a colored frame around your word. Lay down a piece of contact paper, sticky side up, and place as many words as you can fit onto it. Cover the top with another sheet of contact paper, cut around all the words once again, and there you have it!

These are so nice and durable and best of all, can be wiped clean. When I was making these sight words, I also made a set of upper and lowercase letters separated by color so that Lucy could work on letter matching. (links above will give you the alphabet sheets to print)

Lucy practicing letter matching with her sight words

The list continues...

2) Flash cards

I love making flash cards. Iv done it since Lucy was about 7-8 months old, and shes been very keen on learning from them ever since. For our ocean theme, I took the creatures we were going to be learning about and tried to come up with a few different kinds so that she could see that there was more than one type of a creature. The cards show as follows:

SHARKS - great white shark, blue shark, hammerhead shark. (there are 2 images on the great white)
DOLPHIN - Pink Amazon dolphin (2) and a Bottlenose dolphin (2)
CRAB - Fiddler crab, King crab, Spider crab, and Ghost crab
STARFISH - Beaded starfish, Sunflower starfish, and Atlantic starfish
WHALE - Killer whale, Humpback whale
FISH - Blue Tang, Clownfish, Puffer fish, Koi, and Goldfish (Koi and goldfish obviously are not ocean, but Lucy sees these kinds of fish on a semi regular basis so I wanted to include them just because)
OCTOPUS - There weren't enough that looked recognizably different enough to include more than just the one card for us. 

The images on the cards were found on the internet and since I am just using them in my home as personal use, I will not be including a printable for them, as they are not mine. (there are so many resourses all over the internet with great pictures you can use!) I sized each one to 3x5" and had them printed on card stock. I then typed out and printed all the names of these guys and pasted them on the back before laminating all the cards. These along with the laminated sight words are awesome cause anytime I do a craft with her that's related, I can just keep these things out through the day without worrying about anything getting on them. 

3) Sensory table 

For our ocean themed sensory table I couldnt very well have Lucy playing with a giant table of water in the house and not expect some sort of damage. She just turned 3. Like 2 days ago. Im fine with kids getting messy, but no freakin way.. lol. I decided to simulate ocean water instead by dyeing rice blue using the rubbing alcohol and food coloring method.  
After the rice had aired out and dried, I added small sea creatures and sea shells, all of which were purchased at my local Dollar Tree. I keep a cheap little hand vac in the playroom and it cleans up any fallen rice just fine. 

4) Matching and counting activities

I have a huge box filled with colorful and fun scrap booking paper that Iv never gotten around to using for scrap booking, so I made great use of it this month for our matching and counting ocean activities. I made fish, dolphins, and crabs. To cut down on scissor time, I folded the papers and put about 4 sheets together before I cut so that Id get 4 pairs at once. I laminated everything with contact paper so it would last us through lots of play and used some google eyes on some just for fun. The number fish have printed out numbers that you can print from the link and use for any kind of cut out for counting and number recognition. 

5) Library books

The easiest way I have found to do this is to reserve whatever you want online with your local library, and then all you have to do is pick them up when they're ready. Huge time saver! Here's a list of what we picked up or already had:

Crabs / Rake, Jody Sullivan
Starfish / Hurd, Edith Thacher
Starfish / Trueit, Trudi Strain
Dolphins / Weber, Valerie
Sharks / Weber, Valerie
Puffer fish / Rake, Jody Sullivan 
Octopus opposites / Blackstone, Stella
I'm the best artist in the ocean / Sherry, Kevin 
Beach combing : exploring the seashore / Arnosky, Jim 
Octopus / Spilsbury, Louise
Whales / Gish, Melissa
I'm the biggest thing in the ocean / Sherry, Kevin 
Wow! Ocean! / Neubecker, Robert
Dolphins / Lindeen, Carol
Whales / Weber, Valerie
Clown fish / Lindeen, Carol
Fish is Fish / Lionni, Leo
The Fish Book / Angelfish, Christopher
In the Swim / Florian, Douglas

What was great about some of these books was that they have many of the sight words in them and its been so cool to see Lucy recognizing and reading them now! 

6) Coloring pages

I always like to keep her flash cards/sight words around

Coloring pages are something I like to call fillers. Its a hands on, quiet activity and usually not too messy if you're just using crayons.  You can google free coloring pages for kids and find pretty much any subject you're looking for but I did create a few of my own drawings you can download and print. I have a small 3 ring binder I like to keep everything in once I print so I can just grab it at any point. 

7) Gathering online resources

This step took me a little while to try to find things that were age appropriate and there's just so much out there, it was hard to narrow it down. Bellow are a list of links I gathered for online interactive activities and videos to fit our theme.

 I have organized the following pages for ocean creature specific activities!
 crabs, dolphinsfishsharks, and starfish

As you can see, this is a pretty big undertaking as far as time is involved! Looking for a kit like this to be delivered to your door, ready made, and ready to use? I have some exciting news! Brilliant Bundles Preschool Ocean Kit will be available in mid June for pre sale before going online and in stores! I'm going to be one busy busy bee! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Every Day Activities For Early Preschool

Getting a routine down with your child is the most important thing you can do when starting any kind of at home teaching curriculum. It allows them to expect what's going to happen at certain times of the day, and in my house at least, a schedule just makes everything run more smoothly and helps to keep my plans organized. My main goal when starting these lesson plans with Lucy was to try to develop a sense of structure and discipline with her while at the same time we're having fun and learning!

Morning starts with a healthy breakfast. After that, Lucy can expect that we will take down our oversized calendar and sing "Days of the Week." She sings along with me, and as we sing, I point to the days on the calendar. Once in a while she requests that I dont sing (I dont blame her lol) and that she can watch the video on mommy's computer instead :)

After we review our days of the week, we talk about what the date is that day. When starting out this month, we also decorated special days in February like Valentines day where she got to put on heart stickers, and her birthday (which is TODAY! how fast time goes...)

After calendar time, we move right into weather time. Lucy uses a step stool at the window to look out and we observe whats going on outside together. I ended up finding some weather themed window clings which is really nice to have her be able to recognize the weather outside and then she gets to put the decals on the window every day accordingly. 

Next we play a really fun weather game called "Dress the Bear." I lay out 3 very different outfits and ask her to chose which one the bear should wear if he wants to go outside today. 

After this, I usually give her a print out to color for the related weather. 

Iv drawn a few of my own weather pages that you can download free and print to use with your kids! Nothing too fancy but they wont mind! pages are formatted to print 11x8.5 landscape.

Calendar and weather time in the mornings take us between 30-45 minutes tops. I like to add pattern and shape play to our routine activities in the morning because it's a wonderful brain builder and anything like this that you can fit into your mornings is best because your kids will not only absorb, but more importantly, retain the information better. 

To make your own reusable activity like this you will need:

1) Construction paper 
2) Contact paper
3) Scissors

To make our pattern board, I printed out the digital image of the squares I made which you can DL and print by clicking the above link. I cut off any access paper I didnt want and lightly glued a piece of black construction paper behind it and cut around so there was a black edge. This just makes it a little more stable than just a think sheet of printer paper was. Next I cut a piece of contact paper, laid it on a flat surface sticky side up and placed the pattern board cutout face side down. Cut another piece of contact paper to go over the top, trim your edges and you're done! (with the board at least) :P

For the shapes I used different colors of contact paper and folded a color into fourths, traced the shape I wanted a few times (since theyre small) and cut cut cut. LOTS of cutting but folding your paper first will cut down on a little of that by giving you multiple shapes. I then layed out a huge piece of contact paper to try to fit all these little shapes on in one go. If youre not used to using contact paper, it may be easier to do these a little at a time with smaller pieces of contact paper cause it can get really messy and bubbly fast if youre not careful. 

Use these templates to draw out your shapes if youre concerned about getting them perfect. (I freehanded our shapes and on some, wish I had used my template lol)

(The 3D shapes will require that you draw a little on the paper cutouts to make them look 3D)

Have fun!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Clearing away the Cobwebs

Two year olds: Can't live with them, can't live without them!
This is my excuse for why the blog hasnt been updated in way too long, but I'm back, happily :)
It's also the excuse for why all the work I have done on the Brilliant Bundles interactive video project has been in hibernation as well.

Update: My daughter, Lucy will be 3 years old in two weeks! (I cant believe how fast that goes.) She's a happy, healthy, and very active little girl with a good head on her shoulders to boot. If you're just joining my little blog, I am a single stay at home work at home mom. Pretty much the work at home part can only start after she goes to bed and so sleep is not really my thing.

This should say "Next American Idol" :D

Update #2: I found out in January that Lucy was accepted into the class I wanted her to be in for preschool in the fall!!! I worked at this school for about 8 years in the infant, toddler and preschool classes so it makes me really happy and excited that she'll be with all the people I've gotten to know, love, and trust over the years, on top of it being an incredibly great school to begin with. 

So this got me thinking. Do I need to do anything to prepare Lucy for preschool? What is it that she should know/be able to do before entering an environment that is completely different than that of our home life and schedule? There was one thing that stuck out to me as being potentially problematic. It wasnt that she can't socialize. Lucy is the definition of social. (I feel like if I dont teach her soon that in some situations, it may not be ok to hug, pet, and try to kiss EVERYONE she meets, we're going to get in some sort of trouble.) It wasnt that she's lacking in language, manners, or an inability to use any motor skills, or that she wasnt potty trained yet (5 months strong now yay!!) 
It was simply that I had never really set  any strict rules on her having to sit in one place while she ate the whole time, and I've never had a problem with her leaving one activity to do another before I thought the activity should have been over. My worry was: "Man...they are going to have their hands full with this one cause the first time they tell her she has to sit down and not graze while she has a snack, she's going to flip and probably throw some sort of fit!"

The thought of that was enough for me to really sit down to try to think of a solution. 
Our day used to go something like this: Shed wake, Id struggle to get out of bed. Finally Id get up, make her breakfast, and turn on the tv while she ate, hoping to get at least 15 more minutes of half awake rest on the couch. Shed graze and then demand that I get up and play with her, which of course I did. After that, really there was no schedule at all. Wed find things to play with around the house, go on outings, or shed run errands with me and Id spend the day feeling like a zombie from being up so late working the night before. By no means was I neglecting her during the day. She definitely had reign of the house and what she wanted to do, we did, but I realized while I was around her and playing with her during the day, I wasn't actually engaged in the day, or really even fully engaged with her because of how independent shes become, leaving me time to get a couple things done in the office while she played in playroom (which is in my office) or get laundry or cleaning done while she ate her lunch. This wasnt working for either of us. She NEEDED a schedule, and as it turned out, so did I.

In the last week and a half of January, I embarked on a mission to come up with one. The first night, I did nothing but research, and gathering of project ideas, pictures, printouts and online videos. I decided I should just pick a theme, and make the entire month center around that theme, adding new projects and information every couple days. An ocean theme stood out to me not only because of how much  you can do with it, but because Lucy has some mad love for anything that swims. This started out as a way for me to help keep her engaged and busy during the day (and me as well) and to try to introduce the idea of a schedule to her while also making it educational. If theres one thing Lucy loves, its learning!! But me, being the over achiever perfectionist that I am, ended up spending at least 50 hours putting together our plan and making all the cutouts, games, getting custom flash cards printed...etc. 

And so here's the best part: Since I have spent so much time putting this together, (and enjoyed every minute of it) it would be a shame to go to waste after we are done with the month and not share it with anyone who is interested! I LOVE sharing anything and everything I can that I think would help, inspire, or  educate and motivate. 

So the new Brilliant Bundles project is complete DIY monthly themed lesson plans (can be for ages as young as 1yr even all the way to kindergarden level) that you can follow along with! 
(I do still plan on the interactive handmade dvd project but that will come together when Lucy is old enough for me to be able to have the work hrs needed for such a huge undertaking) 

We are now almost half way through our February Ocean month and I have documented our projects and progress on my Pinterest Board

This post was an informational about whats going on, and within the next few days I will start on posts for each individual project for the month with pictures, examples, resources, and complete DIY directions!