Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Preschool Lab: Growing Things

This is our last week of storytimes for the spring and I held Preschool Lab on Monday. This month, we explored how things grow and we talked about tadpoles and frogs, seeds and plants, and caterpillars and butterflies. Here's what we did: 

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello - our standard opener, a signal to kids that we're ready to start, and a chance to move a little bit to get some wiggles out. 

Book: A Tadpole Grows Up by Pam Zollman. This easy reader nonfiction book goes through all the stages in a frog's life, from eggs to tadpoles to frogs. I didn't read every word, but we went through each page and talked about how the frog was changing. We talked about amphibians and how they are different from fish. I like using books with photos, and we talked about what a tadpole looks like. 

Book: Ten Seeds by Ruth Brown. This book counts down from ten as ten seeds are planted and creatures begin eating them or accidentally destroying them on each spread. I like this book because it clearly shows what is happening underground (roots growing) and then what the plant looks like above ground as it grows. This is a great book for pointing out the parts of a plant (roots, stem, leaves, bud, flower). 

Song: Ten Little Flowers (Tune: Ten Little Indians). I learned about this song from Storytime Katie and I use it because it talks about what plants need to grow. We match actions to words and it gives the kids a much-needed chance to stand up and move a little bit. 

One little, two little, three little flowers
Four little, five little, six little flowers
Seven little, eight little, nine little flowers
Ten flowers in the spring
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
So they'll grow up tall!

Felt Story: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I used my flannel board set purchased from Lakeshore Learning. This is a familiar story to many kids and it's great for talking about the life cycles of butterflies - from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly! I wanted to use this felt set because I left it up as one of our stations, but you could also use the print book or pop-up book!


After our storytime (about 20 minutes), I let everyone break up and visit whichever stations they wanted. While the kids stayed seated, I briefly explained what each station was and I let families know they could spend as long or as short as they wanted at each station and when they were done, they were free to leave. I'm going to be doing preschool science programs all summer and I need to insert a line about early literacy and talk, sing, read, write, play in my intro. I think it will encourage parents to get involved with what their kids are doing and talk more!

Plant a Seed: I purchased all the materials for this station for about $15. We had 11 kids and TONS left over. I purchased peat pots, the smallest bag of potting soil I could find, and marigold seeds. Kids scooped soil into their pot, placed a few seeds in the pot, and covered the seeds with soil. In the take-home packet, I gave them additional instructions: place the pot in a sunny spot and the flowers should sprout in about 2 weeks! I provided bags (left over from last year's Summer Reading Club) for them to carry them home - I could just imagine people getting dirt all over their cars!

Sticky Table: Parts of a Plant: The sticky table is an idea I found on Pinterest via Teach Preschool and one I'm sure we'll use again! Tape contact paper sticky side up on a table. Provide felt pieces and let the kids built their own flowers. This is a great activity for encouraging them to use new words like seed, root, stem, etc. I provided sunflower seeds, yarn for roots, and felt pieces. The sticky table will hold the pieces in place, but you can move them around, pick them up so another kid can do it, etc. I only put a piece of tape on each edge, but it is pretty darn sticky, so when we do this again I'll actually put tape all around the edges. 

Tadpoles!!!! I'm lucky to have a friend who gets tadpoles every year in his defunct swimming pool. We went out last weekend before the program and caught some tadpoles for the kids to observe. I put out magnifying glasses so kids could get a closer look. After the program, we released the tadpoles back into the wild. No tadpoles were harmed in the making of this program!

Felt Board & Life Cycle Toys: I left out the pieces for The Very Hungry Caterpillar on the felt board and I put out the Life Cycle Sequencing Kit, purchased at Lakeshore Learning. Kids really enjoyed handling the plastic figures and we had some great conversations!


For their take-home project, I sent home the pieces to make this butterfly life cycle with pasta, found on The Thoughtful Spot Day Care. I did not include real leaves and sticks since I was prepping in advance, but I drew leaf shapes on scraps of green construction paper and included strips of brown construction paper that represent leaves and sticks.