We seem to have finally rid our house of a truly nasty stomach virus so it’s back to business as usual for us. Maybe I’ll get a break from 3 am loads of laundry from running out of clean sheets 😉
Anyways, since we recently planted our backyard vegetable garden, we have been using that as inspiration lately. Here’s a peak at what we’ve been up to.
Getting our hands dirty
Now that the garden is planted, it’s time to take care of it. The garden is watered daily and weeded a couple time per week, both great ways to get kids involved in the project. M is always enthusiastic about watering (because what kid doesn’t love to play with water?!) and while she does help pull weeds, she usually loses interest in it after a few minutes.
Living vs. Nonliving
To help the kids understand why we need to take care of the garden as well as all living things, I pulled out this book for story time one afternoon. It does a really good job of keeping things understandable for this age and I love that it uses real life pictures as examples.
After we read the book and talked about the different characteristics of living items vs. nonliving items, we put our newly learned facts to work. I taped a large piece of drawing paper to the table and drew a line down the middle. Each side was labeling living and nonliving, respectively.
I put out a stack of old magazines and the kids went through the pages, tearing out pictures they found of living and nonliving things. After making a big pile of pictures, they glued them down into collages in the correct category. I think the concept of collage was slightly lost on them as they did not want any of the pictures overlapping at first, feeling it would take away from their hard work of selecting them to begin with. But when they were done, they had a perfect visual aid to help them remember what we learned.
We immersed ourselves in books
The more we start to dig into specific topics, the more confident I am in knowing that books really are the best learning material. Everything else (the worksheets, crafts, games, etc) is supplemental. I requested a handful of books on the topic of how a seed grows from our library and I have to confess, I feel like I’ve stumbled onto the best kept secret. Except, it’s not really a secret. I have started compiling a list of the books I would like to use and requesting them online from our library. Doing this allows me to access all the state libraries that use the inter-loan system and the best part is, I get an email when they are ready for pickup, already marked with my name waiting on a shelf.
I realize this is not a new concept and most people are probably scratching their heads wondering why the is so amazing to me. I knew this was one of the services the library provided but I had never used it. Going to the library with two kids makes it virtually impossible to stroll through the shelves looking for specific books or simply looking for inspiration. Requesting them online ensures I have the books I want while still getting the most out of our time at the library.
My favorite was The Cat in the Hat’s Oh Say Can You Seed because it really goes into detail and uses all the correct terminology. However, I think most of it went right over M’s head.
The best book for her age level was Growing Vegetable Soup as it translated to our own garden almost perfectly. I see a pot of vegetable soup in our future 🙂
I can see the desire to write in M often lately but her fear of now knowing how to properly write a letter has caused her to be hesitate to even practice. (The perfectionist in me will take the blame for that character trait). Knowing this, I haven’t pushed writing practice much in the last few weeks, instead encouraging her to write letters or draw shapes she is already confident with as she plays.
Awhile back I had picked up this ABC’s dry-erase board in Target for $1. I have been giving it to M lately along with the dry-erase marker but no direction. She will usually concentrate on tracing a handful of letters and then move on to drawing a picture or whatever else suits her in that moment. It seems to be helping build her confidence in writing.
Since the dry erase board was going well, I suggested doing some tracing worksheets this week and she jumped at the chance. She worked on a handful of garden themed sheets that included tracing lines in different directions as well as tracing the first letter of words.
To work on the concept of sorting, we played a game that had the kids sorting objects into two categories – flower and vegetables. Most of the objects were pretty obvious, which made it easier for them to realize they needed to be sorted. Added bonus was that we practiced patience and taking turns, since we all used the same game board to sort.
Rhyming and Letter Recognition
M is still loving rhyming so I decided to work on it from a new angle. If you give her a word, she will immediately start rattling off words that rhyme. Instead, I laid out a bunch of pictures and explained that we needed to find the rhyming pairs. It was definitely a challenge since she had to find the existing word instead of just coming up with anything that rhymed.
We also worked on a few worksheets that involved selecting the correct letter the word in the picture starts with.
Even though M is a bit young to understand all the science behind growing plants, I think this will probably be a recurring theme for us this summer as we continue to see it happening first hand.