Thursday, April 4, 2013

Classifying Dinosaurs

(38 Months)

We've been learning and playing with dinosaurs for the past couple of weeks.  It's really been fascinating watching them.  I am so impressed by how quickly they are able to process new information.   They learn the correct pronunciations of dinosaurs faster than I do (I need to keep looking at the pronunciation key until I have the dinosaur name memorized- they have it memorized the second or third time they hear it!).  They are able to distinguish one dinosaur from another: "Look here's another stegosaurus, they have a lot of large plates on their back!"  "The ankylosaurus has a heavy bony club-tail."  "T-Rex is my favorite!""Mommy, maiasaura dinosaurs were great mommies, they took good care of their babies." "Look, the triceratops moms and dads are protecting their babies from the tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs."  Seriously!  Why was I reading only fiction when they can absorb so much so quickly?  It truly is amazing.

While we are reading about dinosaurs, we pause to identify that particular dinosaur's specific features (teeth, feet, horns, plates, neck and tail shape and length, number of legs).  We use that information to help us differentiate one dinosaur from another.  When I was a teacher, I used a lot of real-life experiences to help provide a concrete description for my fifth grade students.  I still apply that same method with my little kidabunks.  Diplodocus had unsharpened pencil shaped teeth - I took out a box of unsharpened pencils and stuck them in play-doh to show my little loves what the teeth looked like.  Brachiosaurus was a little larger than a two-story house, so during one of our walks we stopped by a two-story home and marveled about how tall the brachiosaurus was.   One of tyrannosaurus rex's teeth is as long as a large banana.  The longest horn on a triceratops is about the size of a two-year old child.

I decided to try a formal assessment to see if they were able to classify dinosaurs into two categories- herbivores and carnivores.  We flattened out some play-doh, and made dinosaur tracks.  Then the kidabunks looked at the tracks and pretended they were paleontologists to identify what type of dinosaur made the tracks.  They knew!  They had so much fun making tracks, covering them up and then making them again.
Wild One then created a game, where we had to find which dinosaur made his tracks.  So brilliant!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Helping Around the House

(38 Months)

Today Wild One helped Grandpa change the legs in their table.  My babies are growing so fast, their legs were getting squished under their table, so we switched out the short table legs for longer ones.  Wild One helped Grandpa unscrew the short table legs from the table, remove the screws and short legs and then replace them with the longer legs and thread the screws.

Later that day, Little Miss and I went plant shopping.  Of course she chose the first pink flowers she saw.  We didn't even get into the store when she started pulling plants off of the shelves.  It was so precious, she kept running from pink plant to pink plant, "this one, this one."  Then they planted - oh the mess.  How I wish I had a backyard with grass- it wouldn't have been so messy.  Focus on the experience - they planted!  Then they watered.  We all admired the beautiful new plants.  Then I cleaned.

Play-doh Letter Fun

(38 Months)

Little Miss loves play-doh.  C'mon, who doesn't love playing with play-doh.  She loves squishing and pressing molds into the play-doh.  She loves adding Mr. Potato Head accessories into the play-doh.  She loves making pancakes and muffins for her babies out of play-doh.

Today we decided to practice rolling the play-doh into snakes or ropes, and then form the snakes into capital letters.  My plan was to practice the letters with just horizontal and vertical lines (E, F, H, I, L and T).  Little Miss had her own plan (as she frequently does), she wanted to create the letters in alphabetical order.  She's only three and she's already so determined.  Oh boy!

I used sidewalk chalk to draw the letter on her picnic table and offered her the chalk to trace the letter.  Next, we created rolled snakes out of the play-doh.  Creating evenly rolled play-doh snakes are still hard for us.  I was proud of Little Miss for practicing again and again, even though she was frustrated at times because the snakes would sometimes split apart in the middle.

For the first few letters, I gave her the appropriate number and lengths of snakes.  She carefully placed the rolled play-doh on top of the chalk letter, "squishing it together" at the corners to form the letter (I love how she describes what she's doing).

As we neared the letter E, she started creating her own lengths of snakes, and if they were too short, she would tear off a piece of another snake to complete the line or curve.  She continued working all the way through the letter M, and then she asked if she could stop.  I was thrilled that she kept happily practicing letter after letter.  We gladly put away the play-doh and she began building with blocks.

I'm so proud of her.  I love my little (sigh, big) girl.