This week we celebrated Earth Day by learning about our earth, recycling and ways we can take care of our planet. We also learned about night and day and the earth's rotation.
We made these lovely tie dyed coffee filter earths to decorate our classroom door by using markers to color coffee filters then used eyedroppers to drop water on them to make the colors bleed together. We often use coffee filters to color, then use a spray bottle, so this was a little different for us. It turns out that mastering the eyedropper is a little tricky, but great for our fine motor muscles.
We needed some extra fine motor practice and thankfully, I was able to find lots of ways to incorporate these skills into our theme. One morning, we tore blue and green construction paper into little pieces and glued them to paper plates to make the earth.
Another activity we did to work on fine motor skills was making mobiles of the sun, moon, earth and stars. The friends traced different sized lids to make the sun and earth and used large lacing buttons to trace and cut stars and a moon.
We decided to move Wee World to a shady spot so the friends can play where it's cool and reclaimed the little patch outside our classroom door for our garden. We spent the week cleaning out the bed (the friends had transported lots of sand and rocks into Wee World) and getting it ready for planting. I've said before that I am extremely challenged when it comes to flowers and plants. Honestly, the garden doesn't stand a chance, but I try every year. Maybe this year will be the miracle year where something sprouts! (fingers crossed!)
Finally, on Thursday, we planted a ton of seeds in the patch. The kids had a lot of fun sprinkling seeds and covering them up.
We went on a "garbage hunt" to clean up any litter we could find.
Our large group activities were a lot of fun this week. One day I had a giant poster sized sun in the middle of the rug. We faced the sun for day time, then turned with our backs to the sun for night. This quickly became a game of "Night and Day", similar to red light green light.
I've mentioned before that we really don't do worksheets in our class. There are, however, some really great ones out there, so I've found creative ways to use the ones I really like. Sometimes I'll make file folder games or learning centers from them. This worksheet I found in my files, collected from somewhere in internetland was designed for the kids to cut the little boxes and place them in the appropriate column. I enlarged it, put it on bulletin board paper and gave the friends the cards. One by one they each got to come up and determine whether the item could be recycled. We the class had to agree or disagree. This turned out to be pretty fun and the kids were really using their thinking caps!
On another day, I placed a large paper pond in the middle of the rug. We filled it with fish and turtle manipulatives to simulate pond life. I then walked around the pond like I was having a big picnic and began throwing "clean" garbage onto the pond.
Soon, the pond was fully covered in garbage and we couldn't see any of the animals. We talked about how this was harmful and how quickly the pond got very dirty even though it was only a few pieces of garbage.
Each friend got to pick up a piece of trash to help clean our pond. Soon the pond was clean and the friends decided the fish and turtles were happy again!
Our Show and Tell this week was quite impressive. I understand the importance of show and tell, but I struggle with the "toy" issue. I encourage the friends to bring in something theme related other than a toy, but often that's all that shows up. I have participated in several good discussions this year and really plan to work on this next year, but with only a few weeks left, I'm just resigned to letting it go. I do, however, really try to promote (not really brainwashing :) bringing in something to share that relates to our theme. This week, a few friends really got creative. A few brought in recyclables like paper towel rolls and newspapers and that sort of thing.
One friend brought this really cool shopping bag made from recycled plastics. We read the tag and talked about how the trash was made into something that is earth friendly, all because someone took the time to recycle. We also talked about the images on the bag and why they are earth friendly symbols.
One of the friends made this really cool music shaker from a milk jug and rice!
And one of my friends (my Little Author, Linny) make this beautiful recycling bin. I love her labels and that she worked so hard to make it all by herself!
Notice the green recycle arrows and the happy earth!
And last, but not least, here are some of the great books we read:
The Earth and I by Frank Asch has beautiful watercolor illustrations and a simple message.
Earth Dance by Joanne Ryder also has bright illustrations and is one I include every year.
I recently got Not A Box by Antoinette Portis from Scholastic. Very simple and cute and gives lots of creative uses for a box in imaginative play.
Here are some of the other great titles we read this week.
I'd love to hear what you were up to for Earth Day ~ feel free to leave a comment or a link to your Earth Day activities!