My month of teaching continued this week at co-op. The whole month I’m focusing on the theme of Autumn/Fall, and so far I’ve covered apples and leaves, and this week we learned about pumpkins.
First, we read Pumpkins,by Ken Robbins. I chose this book because of its nonfiction appeal and because it covers the life of a pumpkin from seed to jack-o-lantern, but it’s also got fabulous photos in it. Last week we read leaves by the same author, and I must say, I’m going to search out more of his books, I really like the way he writes and makes these simple topics incredibly interesting. One of the things I love about teaching this age is that they are SO eager to share their own little stories- relevant or not- with me. It was hard making sure each one got a chance to tell me about pumpkins, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, etc, and even though we only have 9 students, trying to keep the “talk time” equal was challenging!
Then, I had to read Five Little Pumpkins. It’s been a favorite October nursery rhyme/fingerplay/story/whatever you want to call it of mine since I first learned it an ECFE class way back when Elliot was 4 months old.
Taking a cue from that story, the craft for the morning was making 5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate. Using a potato for a stamp, they kids stamped 5 pumpkins in a row then left them to dry until later, when we’d fill in the pumpkin faces and install fences.. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this step, I was too busy trying to keep 9 2-5 year olds from getting orange paint all over the place. Maybe someday I’ll remember to click as I go!
For our next activity, I wanted to try something new: center-based learning. I had 3 activities I wanted to do, but none of them were really large-group based learning. So I divided them into groups of three and had them rotate through the three centers. This is where having a co-op is fabulous! I’ve got 4 other moms there, happy to help out! Three moms manned the centers and I was able to help out and take pictures!
Station One: Fall vocabulary Memory. I got them from HERE. I love, love, love Jolanthe’s site (ok, I’ll admit that I’m strange referring to her by first name when I’ve never even met her, I’m just on her site so much I feel like I know her!). I can not tell you how many of my ideas have come from there (too many to count!). The Read, Build, and Write cards (station 2) came from there, too! Here the kids played a game or two of memory using the picture vocab words.
Station Two: Read, Build, and Write! Using the same fall vocabulary, each child got to pick a word and glue it on their mat. Then they got to stamp the letters of the word, and then finally got to write it. I chose this activity because it both the preschoolers and the kindergarteners work on valuable skills. The preschoolers, though far from being able to read big words like pumpkin, squirrel, and leaves, are able to practice letter-matching by finding the letters they needed to build/stamp their word. Their letters may not be perfect, but they took great pride in attempting to make their pencil strokes look like the ones in the word, AND they got to do the EXACT same lesson as their older siblings/friends. That makes them feel VERY cool. The kindergarteners are beyond letter recognition, but they’re working on beginning, middle, and ending sounds, vowel and consonant blends, letter order, writing whole words and letter spacing.
Station Three: Roll and Graph! I got the cube and the graph from this great site (another one of my favorites, she’s got some great ideas for homeschool organization). In this activity, they had to roll the cube and record the pumpkin that landed up until one pumpkin landed up 10 times.
After the centers, we re-grouped on the carpet and we went through the 5 Little Pumpkins story again, this time using sentence strips, a pocket chart, and a felt board to tell the story. I love this age because they are SO eager to help tell the story! They loved helping me get the sentence strips in order and my little felt board pumpkins on their gates.
I had hoped the paint from our 5 little Pumpkins craft would have dried by now, but it was still a bit wet. So, I just had them glue the fences on (black strips of paper), and take them home to draw on their pumpkins faces later.
I wish I could have seen everyone’s finished product! Elliot’s is adorable! It’s neat to be in that stage, after years of scribbles, to actually have them make something that looks like what it’s supposed to!
Here are some pics of them putting their fences in place: