Puppets- through the primary years

Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.”

As a former Early Childhood Educator this was the foundation of all activities and lesson plans in the classroom, children naturally learn through play when exposed to materials that stimulate imagination and creativity- which is now implemented in my home as well.

Recently I have noted how the use of puppets has really impacted my sons learning. We visit the library regularly (as most homeschoolers do!) and each time he borrows a puppet to take home. I didn’t think much of it at first….but, now I see that they are very influential and a useful vehicle across the curriculum!

  1. They create critical thinking.
  2. Foster creativity and design
  3. effective tool in writing and vocabulary
  4. Science and Research-STEM
  5. Provide a focus for play
  6. Art becomes active-drawing and constructing
  7. Emotional development and empathy
  8. Responsibility

With every puppet he borrows, he comes up with a name for it. He has so many questions about their habitat, life span, and diet etc. that we end up on the computer researching all about it! -(critical thinking,science, research, vocabulary expansion)

Through his play with them he ends up making lists, building habitats and making signs- he becomes attached and responsible and takes care of each puppet while it’s at our home. -(focus for play, art, writing, constructing, responsibility and creativity)

Simple, sweet and effective! So far he has borrowed such animals as: crow, turtle, penguin, otter, groundhog, an owl and more!

He says ” Puppets are fun because I can pretend to be them and control them!”

 

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Drawing and Writing

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building a crows nest using math

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A good read here:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09575146.2010.529425?journalCode=ceye20 “Observations of active learning in class Two classroom types were observed: traditional approach and an active learning/play-based approach. In the traditional approach the children were engaged in many actions, including listening; looking; chanting responses; giving answers; counting, adding; measuring; making number stories; identifying words, letters, sounds and rhymes; rehearsing tasks/skills; responding to behavior rules; using the interactive Smartboard; assembling; tidying; waiting; and demonstrating disengagement. In the second classroom type, the play-based/active learning, observers noticed the children giving answers; negotiating roles with others; ordering words or numbers; copying patterns and drawing pictures; listening to stories and songs; using the computer or Smartboard; practice reading; did jigsaw puzzles; building with construction materials; measuring, counting, and adding up; lining up, clearing up, moving around. More signs of disengagement were observed in the traditional learning environment. “

Above and Below the Pond

We decided to head out to investigate at a local nature center today! It’s finally warm out and we’ve been reading about pond ecosystems above and below the water. So, what better way to spend the morning than seeing and exploring what we’ve been reading about!

These are some of the books we’ve been taking a look at:

0505151236We were able to see turtles, wild flowers, fish, skate bugs, owls and geese.0505150956

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

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Two character that were very entertaining!

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Wood Frog Class!

Now that all the snow has been gone for about a week and a half, the wood frogs nature class was finally a go!

These are some really neat frogs! They dwell in the northern most climates and can shut down their bodies for the winter months and then “bring themselves back to life” in the spring.

At our class today we all headed down to the vernal pool and though the frogs were quiet, we did get to see eggs and some spring growth happening. Liam had learned in the forestry class a few weeks ago that if you count a sprig of pines, you will then be able to name the type of pine tree it came from. Meaning 5 pine needles= a 5 letter word= WHITE- white pine.

counting pine needles

counting pine needles

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

Looking for frogs

Looking for frogs

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

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eggs floating on the surface of the pool

eggs floating on the surface of the pool

Winter Nature Walk

Today was one of those days where sitting and concentrating was NOT going to happen! They had a lot of energy and after trying a few planned lessons and threw my hands up and said- get your snow gear we are going out for a walk!

We headed out just as the snowflakes started falling! It was so pretty and the boys were able to catch as see the geometric shapes in the snowflakes as they landed. They were so excited, it was the perfect kind of snow for a hike.

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We headed out and just went down the street to a place called Barn Island. We walked through the marshes and saw some birds and continued catching snowflakes. It didn’t take long for the boys to find the ice under the snow patches and begin to explore!

They tried to break it, slide on it, dance on it, and observed how the water moved underneath and the ice and how they could eventually use the broken ice pieces as a tool to break the rest of the ice! They had a blast and discovered quite a bit about the ice and observed changes from when we were there in the fall.

They got more out of their day here than at the kitchen table for sure!!

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Catching Flakes!

Catching Flakes!

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"look how it cracks!"

“look how it cracks!”

Ice Dancing!!

Ice Dancing!!

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“Look at this one! It’s overflowing and coming out on top!”

Digging in with "ice picks"

Digging in with “ice picks”

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Photo Collage of our Fall Field Trip

We headed out to Haley Farm to see some foliage and explore some nature by hand since we have been reading about it all week! Not the sunniest day to go, but we enjoyed our nature walk just the same- drizzle and all, we got to see and explore a lot! Seeds, Leaves, Deer, water,reeds, marsh and puddles!

Observing the foliage and seeds

Observing the foliage and seeds

Pretty Purple

Pretty Purple

boys will be boys- sword fighting with reeds!

boys will be boys- sword fighting with reeds!

Liam found and opened up a seed to find it smiling!

Liam found and opened up a seed to find it smiling!

Lots of seeds here!

Lots of seeds here!

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The puddle player!

The puddle player!

Wildlife Refuge Walk/Photo Contest Prep

Beautiful morning for a shoreline hike, perfect temperature and clear skies! We headed out to a local National Wildlife Refuge and found an abundance of beauty everywhere we looked! The boys were on the look out for photo ops, they are interested in entering an amateur photo contest put on by our states refuges.

I handed my camera over to the boys and they found more than enough to take photos of! We were also able to spot some wildlife as well as beautiful flora and both boys were able to identify most of them, as well as some lovely landscapes.

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Liam spotted this yellow finch and was so excited!

This is trip #1- they want to go again and take some more and then pick their final choices.  Feel free to leave a comment on your favorites! :)- Not all of these are entry possibilities, but figured we’d share them since it was so pretty there today!

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Ocean view!

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Crab enjoying his lobster dinner under the sea!

Birds on rocks

Birds on rocks

Golden Rod

Golden Rod

 

Yellow Finch on the branch

Yellow Finch on the branch

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beautiful berries

beautiful berries

landscape lovely-ness!

landscape lovely-ness!

Camping Unit- Day 1,2, and 3

This week’s Unit study is themed “Camping.”

Language Arts:

Youngest: I focused on the letter “C” as in C is for Camping! I wrote out Camping and Canoe on the white board, and we came up with a verbal list of “C” words. Then it was his turn to practice writing “C” within the square shape. Day 2, we talked about rhyming words and learned the words to the “Moose Song” we found. Day 3, The boys came up with the idea to write a short skit about Owls in the forest.  They found costumes and put on face paint, rehearsed together and put on a little show!  Being the youngest at 4 yrs old.,  he worked on memorization skills!

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We then read ” Just Me and My Dad” by Mercer Mayer, a story about a boy and his Dad on a camping trip. (one we read often)

 

Oldest: My oldest has an art journal we use to combine spelling and art. He likes to draw/paint and the whole process of “writing” goes a lot smoother this way! First, he used watercolors to paint a camping scene as I read Camping Poems to him from “Toasting Marshmallows- Camping Poems” by Kristine O’Connell George.

Once he completed his art, he wrote in this weeks spelling words. We noticed his Bee poem from previously are re-read that poem as well.

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He also worked on Grammar, filling in a Mad-Lib story, titled: A Spooky Campfire.

Day2, He did copywork, copying a poem from the book.

Day 3, He chose to  do some creative writing and wrote/ directed a little skit about Owls in the forest! He did a great job with it, and helping out his little brother!

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Math:

Youngest: I grabbed the bag of Geometry shapes I have and asked him to grab all the triangles (tent shape) and group them together.  He did, and noticed a Hexagon in the pile and then asked to use those pieces too. I said, Let’s stick to triangles for now and after you can use any shape you’d like. He started putting the triangles together and in his eyes, it became The Falcon Millennium! So, we went with it! I asked, how many triangles did it take to make “the falcon millennium?” Five, was the answer- So, I said.. How many total groups of Five did you make? Quickly he replied : “3!” I was impressed! 🙂  Guess I need to “up” his math!

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Day 2, We went to a near by swimming spot and dug holes together. I say this was his math, because he had to keep digging to find the right perimeter to fit himself inside the whole! This is what I consider Living Math at this age/stage!

Day, 3- I took out the package of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, and we worked on patterns together. Ex: chocolate, chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow- repeat! We did this both horizontally and vertically.

Oldest: Going with the camping theme, I chose to focus on Geometry this week, concentrating on Angles. (tents) We have done Angles in the past, but I thought a review wasn’t going to hurt! We watched this great video called, Types of Angles, Suess Song on YouTube. Then we looked for Angles around the house!

Day 2, we took out the white board and drew and measured angles! He really enjoyed it and drew all different degrees to measure with his protractor.

Day 3, we worked in his new math workbook- Math for a Living Education and then watched Cyberchase, All the right Angles.

Social Studies:

Together; both boys looked at a map of the U.S. that had National Parks highlighted.  My youngest, loves maps and looked it over for a while. My oldest, I asked him to pick 20 of them and write down the Park and the State in which it is located in. They got a kick out of few of the names.. I think “Death Valley” was their favorite name..go figure!.

Day2, we all read the story The camping trip that changed America; Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and our National Parks

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Science:

Together;

We viewed a short video titled, Should we control wildfires? Quick but, very informative! They loved it and learned a lot, now they know, fire can be helpful!

Day3, We took the Marshmallow Challenge! Can we sink a marshmallow??!!

It was very hard! They tried several different ways: poking holes in it, submerging it, tearing them up, and pounding on them! Just as it looked like we were not going to succeed, I read a hint (from Steve Spangler Science)  to break off a small piece and roll it in cornmeal….success! Two marshmallow’s  sunk! Great lesson in Density!

Art:

Youngest: First craft of the day was to mold a playdough canoe and see if we could get it to float in the tub. Next, not on the lesson plan, but, his idea; and it came out awesome was a diorama of a campsite with things from around the house!

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Oldest: Going along with National Parks..I showed him pictures of the Joshua trees, mostly because I think they’re so cool looking! Using tin foil I asked him to try and sculpt similar looking trees! He did a great job, they look neat.

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Music: We listened to the songs This land is your land, this land is my land! My youngest happened to pick it up a the library the other day- it went perfectly with our unit!

 

 

Adventures that-ROCK!

Today we packed up the backpack with a bunch of supplies and headed out to a local state park.  We went to Hurd State Park, also know as “split rock”  In the granite ledges of the split rock are veins of feldspar which was once mined extensively in Connecticut.

Liam has been studying the industrial revolution and reading a book about mining the past few weeks, so I had the idea to go explore rocks!rocksin the backpack: safety goggles, hammers,cloth,magnets,notebook, paints and brushes, paperbags and insect repelant.

What did we learn: rocks and minerals,  some of CT.’s history, navigation, seasonal changes, geography, navigation,  reading and math skills and team work!

As we entered the park, Liam was in charge of reading the park map as I drove. Of course, Luke chimed in too. We found our parking space at the head of the trail and I had both boys take another look at the trail map and tell me which direction we needed to head to be near the Connecticut River.

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We headed down and found  a beautiful spot to set up our materials. After grabbing their brown bags they headed over to collect rocks at the rivers edge.

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Once they had collected all the rocks they wanted, they came back to the picnic table to investigate! They broke them open using a hammer and had a blast looking at the texture and colors on the insides. We also checked to see if any had any magnetism to them…they did not.  Luke proceeded to paint a few of his and then measured all of his rocks.

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Luke spent time exploring in a variety of ways, while Liam really enjoyed breaking open all his rocks and said he found some  crystals and lots of pieces of mica in his!

We had a quick picnic after they were through exploring and headed back to the car and  over to the Split Rock trail.

Luke was our leaded and pointed out the yellow trail mark to us. Along the way they both spotted a woodpecker, frog and granite and more mica, plus a few other goodies!

Great fun and lots of learning! And…I love how they looked with their safety goggles! 🙂

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Winter Hike at Salmon River and Day Pond State Park

Yesterday we headed out to go hiking with our Happy Homeschool Hiker group. The weather turned out to be perfect, being mostly sunny and not as windy as it has been with high’s in the upper 30’s .  I t was a pretty big turn out as everyone in the group was able to make it to the hike. We started at Salmon River by the covered bridge, it was recently restored and one of the last covered bridges in Ct.

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We walked through the bridge to the trail head and it didn’t take long for all the kids to start throwing rocks into the river, breaking the iced edge.

 

The bridge had a few windows inside to look out and view the river.hike bridge

 

 

 

 

luke bridgeriver hike

 

 

 

 

We headed up the trail along the side of the river, it was a little bit snow covered and pretty steep. The older children are really great about helping out the younger ones. Everyone was hiking and pointing out plants and rocks along the way, small conversations with each other- it is truly fantastic how well all the children in this group get along, help each other and have fun with made up games along the way.

hikeWe reached the look out at the top of the trail and then headed back down to the cars. Next up was a hike not to far down the road at Day Pond State Park. As we arrived at our next hike, all the kids were so excited to see a man ice fishing and that they were too allowed to go out on the ice. This was the first time on a frozen pond for a lot of them being that our winters have not been that cold lately. A few wipe outs! After feeling it out and getting accustomed to the slippery underfoot, they had  great fun running and sliding on their feet. A few enjoyed some popcorn while waiting for the others.

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After some free time we headed down the next trail. It was a bit muddy and many spots had water running through, covered in ice. It didn’t take long before a few adults and children started to grumble about being wet and cold. The sun was starting to hide behind the trees at this point so we did about half the trail and turned back.  Hopefully next week we’ll head out again!gangsnow hike