Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2018

Confessions from Toddler School: Penguins

Here we are on year 2 *holy moly* of toddler school! Cohen is now 2 1/2 and has a new baby brother, Avery, who is 3 months old!

In the past year of implementing toddler school I have seen Cohen's language and skills take off! I have never been so proud! Mom brag for a second, bare with me here, he can count to 20 forwards and backwards, knows all his letters and their sounds and is starting to spell and trace letters. He's also learned a few sight words! Like seriously, how smart is this kid!?

This is one of my all time favorite toddler units because Cohen is obsessed with penguins and I love seeing his face light up with all the penguin activities. 

Here's what we did this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here.

Identifying Penguins: 
My little one is obsessed with penguins. I mean obsessed. Like meltdown when we have to leave the penguin exhibit at the zoo, obsessed. So it is no shock that this was a very easy task for him! I swear he has penguin sensors or something. He has this uncanny ability to find a penguin everywhere we go. It's a gift! 😂

To prepare the activity: 
We read National Geographic Readers: Penguins! by Anne Schreiber and talked about what penguins look like (colors, feathers, etc). I really wanted to build his vocabulary with this read aloud. If your child isn’t familiar with penguins work on identifying penguins in the book as you read. Gather a handful of animals for your child to sort. These can be figurines like the ones we use (you can find those here)  OR you can print out images, find images from magazines, etc. and use those to sort! Using a piece of paper, split into penguins vs. not penguins. 

The activity: 
Model grabbing an animal and asking “Is this a penguin?” If yes, place on the penguin side, if no, place on the not a penguin side. Hold up an animal for your child and ask the question while allowing child to sort. Help as needed. It's that easy and a great way to introduce the penguin unit! 

      💡 If your child isn’t verbal yet, model nodding and shaking head to sort penguins.



Penguin Habitat: 
For our sensory activity this week we kept it pretty simple! This year we were not so lucky to have real snow during our penguin unit. So we used fake snow and frozen ice in different shapes to create our penguin wonderland! 

To prepare the activity: 
To prepare this sensory table find a variety of different sized/shaped containers and freeze water in them. Collect penguins and allow child to explore this cold environment. Bonus: Add fake snow (or real snow if you get lucky!) to add to the penguin fun!

The activity:  
Let your child explore!

💡 A fun extension of this is watching a penguin cam! There are several out there, but our favorite is this one at the California Academy of Sciences.



Label the Penguin:
Here is our little penguin from last year! He is made out of construction paper and covered with contact paper to make him more durable. All I had to do this year was add some velcro and print out body part labels! We worked on using the vocabulary and comparing our body parts to the penguins. Cohen thought it was pretty silly when I asked him if he had "flippers" or a "bill".

To prepare the activity: 
Find a penguin to use for labeling. You can make your own or use an image in a book! Read That’s Not My Penguin by Fiona Watt. Discuss what makes up a penguin and start identifying body parts and penguin characteristics as you go. 

💡I added velcro to my penguin and the labels to increase durability and make it reusable!

The activity: 
Ask child to find body parts as you call them out. “Where is the penguins _____?” Can extend further by asking them to find the corresponding body part on their own body!



Feed the Penguin:
You may remember this activity from last year! It was one of Cohen's favorites so I decided to bring it back! It is a great way to incorporate fine motor practice and content all in one simple and fun activity. 

To prepare the activity: 
Empty out a container. It can be any container! Last year I used a small frosting can, this year a cereal box. It can be any shape/size! Cut a slit for the fish to go through. Use colored construction paper to create a penguin. Make or print some fish and decide which skill you’d like to focus on (colors, shapers, letters)!

💡Laminate the fish and they become dry erase! This makes it easy to swap out the skill you want to focus on! 

The activity: 
Before starting this activity read Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups, by Tadgh Bentley and Penguin and the Cupcake, by Ashley Spires. Discuss what penguins really eat and practice feeding the penguin.

“Can you feed the penguin a (blue) fish?”
“Can you feed the penguin the letter (a)?”
“Can you feed the penguin a (square)?”

 We focused on some of the tricky lowercase letters (b,d,p,q)!



Penguin Movements:
I do not have a photo for this as it is a movement activity and every photo I attempted to take was blurry! One of these days I will get better at taking action shots but we had a lot of fun with this activity!

To prepare the activity: 
Read 5 Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice by Steve Metzger. Talk about the different movements penguins make.

The activity: 
Using the song Have you Ever Seen a Penguin? (sung to the tune Did You Ever See a Lassie?) Call out a penguin movement and have your child act it out while you sing!

Have you ever seen a penguin, a penguin, a penguin
Have you ever seen a penguin flap his wings just like that?
Flap this way and that way, flap this way and that,
Have you ever seen a penguin flap his wings just like that?

Other movements:
twirl around
sit on an egg
waddle around
stretch tall 
...You get the idea!


Writing with Penguins:
My little one has been showing a lot of interest in writing and tracing his letters lately! So what better way than to get his love of penguins involved!

To prepare the activity: 
Read Penguins ABC by Kevin Schafer and practice identifying letters/singing the alphabet. Setting up the writing activity is simple: find a tray (we used a cookie tray) and pour in some sugar or salt!

The activity: 
Pick one letter at a time. Model sliding the penguin through the “snow” to make the letters. Hold child’s hand and help them make the letters, identifying them as you go.

💡 There are many ways to adapt this to fit your childs' needs. Hold their hand, provide a letter card for them to reference, or even find a see through tray to place letters under so they can trace!



 Winter can be rough with toddlers (I don't have to tell you that) so finding opportunities to get out is key! We took this weeks theme as an opportunity to go visit the penguins at our local zoo! We were able to see the penguins, observe their habitat and see them during feeding time! It was the perfect activity to get out of the house and it tied right in with our learning for the week. Win-win!

💡 Call ahead of time to find out when feeding time is! It really added to our unit!

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here!


UP NEXT: Nursery Rhymes!