Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WINTER THEMED ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLERS




Winter is a fantastic time for learning! There are just so many changes taking place in nature every day. For us New Englanders, we are approaching our 2nd Blizzard this year! This is the perfect time to talk about the words “Cold”, “Snow” and “Weather”.

I am a preschool teacher for Toddlers. I have a class full of 2 year olds and in addition to making the children feel safe and loved, I have to plan curriculum on a monthly basis to help develop important skills. The following is a list of activities I’ve applied to my classroom which can be used by teachers and parents alike!

LANGUAGE AND LITERACY:
Singing is a wonderful way to teach verbal skills. In my classroom, we teach new songs every month and sing them daily during our circle time for easy learning. Here is a few Winter Themed Songs:

HATS, MITTENS SHOES AND SOCKS
(to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”)

Hats, Mittens, Shoes and Socks
Shoes and socks.
Hats, Mittens, Shoes and Socks
Shoes and socks.
Pants and belt and shirt and tie
Go together wet or dry
Wet or dry!

THIS IS THE WAY WE DRESS FOR WINTER
(to the tune of “The Mulberry Bush”)

This is the way we dress for winter,
Dress for winter, dress for winter.
This is the way we dress for winter
Because it’s cold outside.

We will wear our snowsuit today,
Snowsuit today, Snowsuit today
We will wear our snowsuit today
Because it’s cold outside.

We will wear our boots today,
Boots today, Boots today
We will wear our Boots today
Because it’s cold outside.

We will wear hats and mittens today,
Hats and mittens, hats and mittens
We will wear hats and mittens today
Because it’s cold outside.

WINTER IS HERE
(to the tune of “The Muffin Man”)

Can you feel the wind blow cold?
The wind blow cold?
The wind blow cold?
Can you feel the wind blow cold?
Winter is here.

Can you see the darker skies?
The darker skies?
The darker skies?
Can you see the darker skies?
Winter is here.

Can you see the trees all bare?
The trees all bare?
The trees all bare?
Can you see the trees all bare?
Winter is here.

MATHEMATICS:
COUNTING THE SNOWMAN GAME
Materials:
Paper
Crayon
20-40 small paper snowmen

At the top of a piece of paper I drew a large bubble number (2, 3 or 4). The children were first given a crayon and asked to color in the number. Then, with the help of a teacher they counted and glued the corresponding number of snowmen underneath. This was a great counting activity that introduced early math skills.

SNOWMAN PUZZLE
Materials:
Snowmen made out of Card Stock and cut into large shapes to form a puzzle

This snowman puzzle is easy to make and can be laminated for durability. I made a few for my classroom and asked the children to take turns creating the snowman. The kids loved it! This is a great morning activity for when your students are just arriving.

SCIENCE AND EXPLORATION:
WATCH THE MELTING SNOWMAN ACTIVITY
For this lesson, I simply grabbed some snow from the playground and built a mini snowman on our sensory table. Then I placed it up on a shelf so we could all observe how fast the snowman melted! This was a lot of fun. One of my students asked throughout the day, “Miss Michelle, what happened to the snowman?”

EXPLORING WITH SNOW
For this activity, we just filled the sensory table with snow and let the children explore with cups and spoons. We talked about how “cold” it was and why it melted.

ART:
DRESSING UP THE CHILDREN
Materials:
Small drawing of a child (you can use a paper doll)
paper hats, mittens, coats, scarves and boots

After a discussion of what types of clothing are worn in the winter and the importance of staying warm, the children were given paper hats, mittens, coats, scarves and boots to “dress” their paper dolls. It’s important to know, that this age group will not necessarily glue the appropriate clothing in the correct places! That’s okay…it’s important to let them create on their own.

WINTERY SCENES
Materials:
Blue construction paper
Q-tip
White paint

I asked the children to create snowflakes and with a little white paint on a Q-tip, they all went to town! I think it was the novelty of using a Q-tip instead of a paint brush that made them so excited. Every student of mine LOVED this activity.

PHYSICAL: FINE AND LARGE MOTOR SKILLS:
The above activities; Wintery Scenes, Dressing Up the Children and the Snowman Counting Game are all great for Fine Motor Development. In addition, this month we explored with Shaving Cream! After a few squirts of it on a table, the children drew circles/designs with their fingers and practiced scraping it off with a small windshield scrapper. We talked about how the Shaving Cream was “white” just like snow.

The following activities are excellent (and fun) for Large Motor Skills:
THROWING THE SNOWBALL AT THE SNOWMAN ACTIVITY
Materials:
A paper snowman, approximately 1-2 feet long
3 Rolled up Socks

Here, I attached the snowman to the wall (at my students eye level) and asked them to throw the snowball (socks) at the snowman. I gave them 3 “snowballs” and after the 3rd throw it was time for someone else to have a turn. This was fantastically fun and held their interest for quite some time!

SHOVELING SNOW ACTIVITY
Materials:
A kids size shovel
3 folded and tied up bed sheets

The bed sheets were gathered on the floor of our classroom and the children were told that it was snow. They were then asked to “shovel” the snow from one side of the classroom to another. As with the above lesson, this was also a taking turns activity.

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL:
The above activities; Shoveling Snow; Throwing the Snowball and the Snowman Puzzles are all lessons in “taking turns” a very important social/emotional skill.

TEACHERS AND PARENTS
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS! PLEASE SHARE...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Little Nippers Top 10



I have to say that I don’t agree with some of the children’s literature out there today whose main character is a precocious elementary grade-schooler who does nothing except complain about their parents, teachers and siblings. Shouldn’t reading be about imagination? I much prefer the imaginative tales of my youth than the jaded cynicism that seems to have overcome popularity. The following is a list of Classic Children’s literature that are both clever and inspiring. Each book is written for readers ages 9-12 however they are equally enjoyable to younger children if read out loud.

LITTLE NIPPERS TOP CHOICES:

Charlotte’s Web
Written by E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to this story on CD. As a child, I read it multiple times but this recording read by the author himself is beautiful. The story of a very lucky pig that is first saved by a compassionate young girl and then by an ingenious old spider, has once again brought me to tears. It is a moving and eloquent story about growing up, friendship and loss. Charlotte’s Web is a classic that should be on everyone shelves.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

“There are five children in this book: Augustus Gloop, A greedy boy; Veruca Salt, A girl who is spoiled by her parents; Violet Beauregarde; A girl who chews gum all day long; Mike Teavee, A boy who does nothing but watch television and Charlie Bucket; The hero.” So begins the celebrated tale of Willy Wonka, the Oompa-Loompas and that famous Chocolate Factory. I must say, that I’ve never been a fan of this story until I read the book. Both feature films, the 1971 release with Gene Wilder and the remake in 2005 with Johnny Depp seemed dark and disturbing. The book portrays Willy Wonka as eccentric and less sinister which I find more appealing. Also, the Oompa-Loompas morality songs are rich with profound messages and I think their significance is lost in the movie. My favorite song is the last one about the dangers of letting your children watch too much TV. Instead, they recommend to read, read, and read!

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Written by Scott O’Dell

There are no illustrations in this book but Scott O’Dell’s powerful description of survival and strength brings forth vivid images. When the village people of an Indian tribe leave the island to sail east, a 12 year old girl is left behind. While she waited for a ship to return, she had to forage for food, fight against wild dogs and build her own shelter. This is an unforgettable story of bravery, endurance and spirit like no other.

To view Little Nippers Top 10 list in it's entirety, click on the link in the sidebar under:
TOP 10 Classics