Thursday, March 20, 2014

H is for House

^^^ This was a hit. Seriously the kids loved it. Golf tees, hammers and styrofoam; who knew? All four of the kids at preschool co-op were working as hard as they could to build a house. The word adorable hardly describes it. Loud, also hardly describes it. It was really loud. But still a surefire winner. 

Today was my day to teach preschool co-op, and since my Q is for Quilt post seems to be popular I'll share the outline of my H is for house lesson. Also, last Wednesday night when I was struggling with ideas for a blog post I really really just wanted to share this lesson. Then Reid started throwing up and my lesson was postponed until today. But last week when I put the finishing touches on it, I was so excited to teach it. So here it is!

We started off with our calendar time (yay for the fist day of spring!) and then as an introduction to our letter of the day we recited three common nursery rhymes: Hey Diddle Diddle (which I have a felt story of), Humpty Dumpty, and Hickory Dickory Dock. I put all the titles up on the whiteboard and asked the kids to identify the starting letter. Then we listed all the other H words we could think of. 

To introduce our theme, house/home, we read this lovely picture book. (first published the year I was born)

This book actually inspired the whole lesson. About a month ago the other moms and I were discussing what letters we have left. When one of them mentioned we hadn't done H, I quickly thought of this book and signed myself up for H is for House. It really is a lovely story. The art work is classic and oh so detailed. Also, when I said "we" read it, I do mean myself and another one of the moms. Reid got off to a bad start at preschool today and he needed a break before he was ready to get back to the lesson. I don't know if he just wanted to be defiant to each direction I gave or if he was just frustrated from the stutter, but either way he needed a break and I was glad another mom was able to step in and share this story with the well-behaved kids. 

After reading the story we did an activity I pinned on pinterest over a year ago but never forgot about. I always loved the idea of this "my place in the world" geography project. 

To prepare I simply printed out a coloring page of the Earth, a map of the US, a picture of Wisconsin, a map of Oshkosh, the name of each student's neighborhood/town, and a clipart image of a house. I followed the colors of the rainbow to make my varying size circles. I did intend to mimic the original idea, and write "my country", "my state", etc. at the bottom of each circle when the kids finished, but the moment we were done I forgot all about that.

The activity itself required a lot of gluing. I only had the kids cut out the Earth. The rest was pre-cut for them. I knew the oldest girl was a skilled cutter but that the other three would need help. I also know how much Reid loves to cut, so I figured supervising three preschoolers with scissors would be worth it. Each kid worked at a different pace and that made explaining each aspect of the project more difficult than I expected. Overall, I'm glad we did this activity, and I think they each gained something from it (between all four of them, they were able to name each of the places, even the United States, without my help).

After this we needed our snack. I say needed because at least two of the kids were complaining they were hungry (yes, one was mine). I passed out some honey teddy grahams and a sheet with four houses on it. Each house had a number and the kids were to put that number of teddy bears in the house. Two kids were eager to count bears into their houses. The two kids who had mentioned their hunger pains just dove right in and ate their bears. I love preschoolers!

Also, I had some carrots, red bell pepper slices, veggie straws, and pretzels to go with some homemade hummus! Reid does not like hummus, so I wasn't expecting the other kids to love it. But I wanted to offer it to them and share with them my favorite thing about hummus ... that you can eat so many different (healthy) snacks with it. I started them each off with just one or two of the four hummus dipping items, and then let them have seconds of their favorite items. When they said they were hungry they weren't lying; I think some spring growth spurts are coming up!

After snack time we did a fun habitat activity where each kid was able to place three different animals into the right habitat. I found the activity on Fun in First's website. The original activity has the kids glue the animals onto a chart, but I figured my kids would be all glued out. Plus, I liked the idea of printing off a visual of the habitats. So I found a picture of the arctic, the forest, and the ocean and had each child place their animal on the right habitat.

Next we read the book How a House is Built, by Gail Gibbons

Reid loved her Emergency Vehicles book, so even though the intended audience is deemed a little older than our group, I figured it would work. There is similar book for younger ages that may have been more suitable, Building a House by Byron Barton. Both are non-fiction guides to building a house.  I was torn between the two because Barton's book seemed a little too young and Gibbons seemed a little to complex, but I erred on the side of too challenging and I think it worked.

After reading this how-to guide we went to work building our own houses. Seriously, I cannot praise this part of our lesson enough. Right when we got home Reid went to work putting some finishing touches on his house. While I was putting Nell down for a nap he even took a saw to it (which did make a huge mess, oh well). When he realized he couldn't saw all the way through styrofoam with a toy saw, he took a step back, looked at the dent he'd made, and declared "I need a water pipe. This is the place for the water pipe." When Ben got home from work the two of them found some materials that would make due (Ben took the ink container out of a blue pen and used the pen frame) and stuck it in. I love it!

I really shouldn't be surprised this was such a hit. I firmly believe that kids this age learn best through play. Though I couldn't hear all of the conversation, one student even told her mom a story about who was going to live in her house. I thought it was sweet that she had a person/character in mind while building. 

At this point our lesson had only reached its 70 minute mark, but I felt the kids were at their end. So we quickly did this H is for House do a dot page, and then I gave them the option of making this letter H house craft, both activities are from The Measured Mom. Only one child chose to make a house. The rest were done by that point. Which is okay with me. I'd always rather be over prepared than under prepared. And as much as I strive for 90 to 120 minute lessons, I can accept the end when the kids say the end.  

Hedgehog, hot chocolate, honey, and hippo are just a few of the other H words I think you could build an entire preschool lesson on. I'm glad I went with home/house. Habitat would be my second choice, but really the two work together well, especially if you use the "A House is a House for Me" book. Regardless of teaching preschoolers, I'd recommend that book (which is really a poem) to anyone, and anytime you want to occupy a preschooler or a toddler I'd recommend giving them a toy hammer, some golf tees, and a big chunk of styrofoam; they'll love it, I promise. 

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