The following set of activities is part of our monthly theme on planting, growing, harvesting, and eating fruits and vegetables. Overall, we attend to, observe, talk about, and try to understand nature and the changes that occur during summer time. Our cherry picking school field-trip is the ultimate reward and we were all looking forward to it with great anticipation and delight.
We engaged in all sorts of exploratory activities from paying a visit to the nearby rice paddy where we spotted the tadpoles in the water to going on a snail hunt after the rain had stopped and relying on serendipity to bring even more amazement such as when we noted how graciously the raindrops decorate the spiderwebs.
We also did some creative work for Father’s day – a bookmark decorated with a unique leaf print and a ribbon.
In this particular unit, we learn about the prepositions up, down, and around, the opposites push and pull, long and short, first and last and try to apply them within the planting, growing and picking up of plants context and then transfer the knowledge to new situations. We read “Up, Down, and Around” by Katherine Ayres and the beautifully illustrated book “Water” by Frank Asch. We talk about and organize the life-cycle of plants by coloring the stages from the first (seed) to the last one (plant). When our turn to water the school plants comes, we observe and talk about the vegetables that grow up and the vegetables that grow down and how the ones that grow up have changed.
During our Physical Education time, we hold races and keep a record of the first and the last. We also have a rope-pulling contest and once again practice the words and phrases from the unit.
Teamwork and Wonder
Marble painting can be an exciting art activity for early age kids who feel totally flabbergasted by the wonders of the world. In the first step of this set of activities, I focus on teamwork and collaboration in order to help the students build this critical life skill. Along with a buddy, we give the zebra its black stripes by rolling marbles covered in black paint. It’s impressive to see the amazement and enjoyment of kids when the stripes start “appearing”. Some could not hide their astonishment at the effect of paint-covered marbles and exclaimed “How cool!”
Since we worked in pairs, we ended up having one final zebra per couple. I photocopied the original zebras and provided every pair of kids with a copy of their own work. Thus, every kid ended up having a zebra to work with in the subsequent activities.
Adding the Details
On the next day, we went outside and picked some flowers and grass (while practicing the new word “pull”). From them we made our own natural paint brushes. During our class time, we dipped the “paintbrushes” in the green paint and added some grass. It was my first time seeing kids at the age of 2 and 3 stay intensely focused for such a long time. Looking at their one-of-a-kind “paintbrushes”, their eyes were filled with wonder and excitement. The objective of such out-of-the-box tactics is to nurture children’s innate ability to use many objects with imagination and skill.
When all the zebras got their stripes and some grass, we hung them on the wall in a random order. Now, it was time to find and match the zebras with the same stripes. The children had a great opportunity to exercise their capacity to see the similar zebras among the different paintings.
The final activity presented an opportunity for children to exercise their capacity to observe the attributes of objects and to note similarities. We went on an adventurous walk to find things with a black-and-white pattern such as that of the zebra (or at least close to it).
When you design activities for your students, your major objective is integrating the element of surprise and wonder. Only then, can you have children learn new things and skills.