The Earth: Endangered Species & Habitats

This is our last week focusing on the Earth.  The kids have really enjoyed the month long unit.  Although, I'm always ready to move on to the next unit by the month's end.  I must admit, I'm in the middle of writing the kids' syllabuses for next year, selecting text books, and writing IHIPs, as CSE meetings are just around the corner.  It has been suggested to bring all of that with me when I go, in hopes for a better experience with the district etc.  So, a little less time has been spent preparing my week's worth of activities.  Hopefully next week I'll have a bit more time.
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English:
Upper Letter Writing Practice
We've done this activity before but everyone loves it, which is a HUGE deal when it comes to writing, because well...  Not a single kiddo in this house enjoys writing in any way. Dinomite writes his letters next to the ones already written.  Bulldozer and Princess, trace the letters already there.

Lowercase Letter Writing Practice
Not only do they work on uppercase letters, but also lowercase letters.

Though not shown here, I do want to mention, besides the activities I share here each week, all three kiddos have work time in the morning.  Dinomite has a journal.  Mommy writes a simple question every day, relating to the theme of the week and month.  He writes the answer to the question.  There is also space in the journal to draw a picture to go along with the question and answer.  It has taken a long time for Dinomite's anxieties to lessen, in regards to this task, but with incentives, reinforcers, and a lot of cheering, he's doing fabulous.  Writing and drawing are two of his least favorite things. Dinomite also does his reading in the morning.  He's now almost finished with his second set of Bob Books.  Oh how I love them!  We read a the same story each morning, until he reads through it with no errors or questions, and then move on to the next one.  Usually this only takes two or three days at most.  Then we use a simple School Zone workbook so he practices his skills and gets a little bit more writing in.  Usually Dinomite can only handle doing 2 pages of the workbook, at his grade level, before he's burned out, but still, that's enough. The whole process takes about 30 minutes in the morning.

Bulldozer and Princess just do pages in their workbooks, usually five, as their workbooks are much easier, and they don't have any other work.  Starting in July, they'll each have a writing task to complete in their own journals.  Of course it will be age appropriate.

 Endangered Species Cards
I am not one to spend any money purchasing cards and printables online, as I just don't have the funds to do so right now.  Almost everything you see on my blog is free.  However, I did splurge on these cards.  This activity includes two sets, both were 10 cents each.  Yes, you read that right!  Each set was 10 cents!

Though some of the animals are not technically "endangered," they are threatened etc.  The description cards are wonderful, although definitely written for an elementary aged child.  I went through each card with Dinomite, reading them aloud.  Then we worked through all the big words.  It went very well. For Bulldozer and Princess, matching pictures with names will be sufficient.

Source:  These cards are available at Montessori Helper.  Click HERE for the second set.

Math:
Introduction to Clocks
Dinomite worked on learning how to tell time earlier in the year, but I've noticed he's forgetting.  Bulldozer and Princess have never worked on telling time.  I've hesitated putting an activity on the shelves regarding time, just because only Dinomite can work on it.  That was, until today.  I just happened to glance at our telling time flash cards as I had just finished going through some fun manipulatives a relative gave me. I love it when ideas come together!
Step 1:  Matching the time on the clock with the time on the card.
For Bulldozer and Princess, the whole purpose is to introduce them to the clock.  They are to make the hands on clock match the clock on the flashcard.
Step 2: Identifying the actual time in numbers.
Once they've done so, they can turn over the flashcard and look at the time.  Mommy and Daddy are doing this with them for the first little while, to help them learn how to say time. Then hopefully they'll be able to do it on their own.

Dinomite is to match the time on the clock and then without looking at the back, tell the time correctly.  He can then look on the back to see if he is correct.

How Many Endangered Species Are Left?
Mommy and Daddy spent a lot of time researching endangered species this weekend and came across a list of the top ten most endangered species. After looking up numbers, to see exactly how many are actually left, we created a graph activity for the kids.

The information sheet includes pictures of each animal for the kids, so they know which one is which.  All they have to do is find the number, if they can't read.  For Dinomite, we included less than and about phrases  he has to interpret.

Once the graph is completed the kiddos are asked to tell us about it.

Source: I created this printable as part of my Endangered Species Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Hundred Board
This week we're introducing the Hundred Board.  The front side of this board has all of the numbers, the back side has empty squares for Dinomite who doesn't need the numbers.    I'm so excited to finally have a board of my own.  (It came as part of a manipulative pack a relative gave me.)

Endangered Animals Sorting & Patterns
We did this activity a while back, but last night I thought of it again, when I realized that most animals in the package are endangered.  The kiddos sort a few of the crackers, and then practice making patterns with them.  This is one of Bulldozer's favorite activities, especially when he gets to eat the broken ones.

Source: This idea came from Squidoo.

Geography & Science:
The Ocean Habitats
I have been trying to come up with ways to teach the kids the 5 oceans.  There are very few songs out there that include all 5, and well just so little info out there in general.  A while back I stumbled across these cards.  This week I decided to pull them out again. If nothing else, they will help the kids identify the names of the oceans, and notice the many creatures that live in the oceans.
Source:   I found this activity at bogglesworldesl.com.

The Earth:  Continents & Oceans
In attempt to review our continents and once again work on learning our ocean names and locations, I brought out our maps to color and label using the Montessori continent colors.  I included a map of the world, so the kids could find the oceans, to know where to label them.

Sources;  The map coloring page is at Crayola.  The continent cards were part of an animal activity we did a while back.  They can be found at Walk Beside Me.

Dangers to Healthy Habitat Match Up
In an effort to try to help the kids understand why animals are endangered, I created Healthy Habitat cards and Dangers to Habitat cards. The kids were asked to match the cards up.  Each habitat could technically be affected by each danger, however for their little minds, match ups made the most sense.
So far, they've really liked the cards.  Two out of three kiddos have commented on how sad the dangers are and want to do something about it.  I'll admit it was a very sad activity to put together, but one they really do need to understand to make a difference.

Source: I created these cards as part of my Endangered Species Printable Pack 1. For your free copy. click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Food Chains of the Grasslands
My kiddos are very familiar with the food chain in regards to the Grasslands of Africa, so I didn't make up cards to match up, but instead put a basket full of animals with some plant life.  I ask each kiddo to explain the food chains to me and tell me who eats what and who. They do a fabulous job!

Practical Life/Sensorial:
Ocean Animal Maze/Puzzle
A friend gave us this little activity, so I figured this week was a goo time to try it out.

Arctic Sensory Bin
My kids love sensory bins, and I just couldn't resist including a couple this week, my first being the Arctic sensory bin.  It includes several Arctic animals as well as several different kinds of white and blue beads, gems and stones, cotton balls, and plastic glacier figures.  The best part was that all of it was on hand in our house!

Oil Spill Rescue
This is one of my favorite activities of the week and a great visual way to teach kids about oil spills.  I loved that it included so much fine motor skill work!
Mommy initially covers all of the water animals up with black play-dough.  It is then the kiddo's job to rescue them all, removing all of the "oil."  The kiddos enjoy the process so much, that they decide to cover the animals with play-dough and rescue them again!

Rainforest Sensory Bin
I must say, I was pretty pleased with how this sensory bin turned out, and again, all of the contents were available at our house already.  The bin includes:  several rainforest animal figures, a variety of green and blue beads, green pom poms, plastic plant life, brown popsicle sticks and green popsicle sticks.  Dinomite really enjoyed playing with it today.

Blind Folded Endangered Species Identification
My kiddos don't really enjoy having their eyes covered, especially Bulldozer who is so visually oriented. However, they are liking this activity so far.  We study the animal characteristics, then I blind fold the kiddo.  Once I know they can't see, I spread the animals out on the floor in front of them.  They pick one up at a time and try to identify the animal.  It's working pretty well I must say!

Art:
How to Draw a Whale & Elephant
Lastly, I included an art activity.  Dinomite and Princess seem to really enjoy the step-by-step drawing cards.  This week I included an elephant and a whale.

Sources. The elephant cards can be found at How to Draw 200 Animals.  Click HERE for the whale cards.

For those interested in the Endangered Species printables, click on the link below:


Next week we start our Human Body Unit!  I'm excited and nervous, but I'm sure we can do it!

The Earth: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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This week our studies are focused on the theme: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!  The kiddos have really been enjoying the activities.  Besides Earth Day themes, I threw in a few splashes of Spring.  It finally arriving here where we live.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Play-Dough Mat
All three kiddos have weak hand and arm muscles and are in OT because of this, (and several other things).   Dinomite knows how to write all of his capital and lower case letters. Bulldozer and Princess, not so much.  (Although Princess can write a lot of her upper case letters.)  I love how working with play-dough helps them strengthen these muscles and helps them learn things like letters and such at the same time.  Our letter of the week is R.

Source: I created this printable.

Days of the Week Identification, Abbreviations & Sequencing
One of the kiddos favorite circle time songs is "Days of the Week."  Not only do we sing the song, but we watch a little music video as we do it to help with the kiddos need for visual cues and learning.  We also review them as we do calendar every day.  My hope is that all three kiddos can put the words in order along with numbers by the end of the week.  The abbreviations are for Dinomite, as he's ready to be introduced to them.
Source: I was an inspired by an activity I saw online, however it was a writing assignment, not a match up.  
I created these cards.

Introduction to Suffixes
One of Dinomite's IHIP goals this year is to learn his suffixes and prefixes.  Well, we've done almost everything else, except this, so it's time.  However, learning rules and applying them to writing is quite difficult for Dinomite.  Applying rules like this to reading is a little easier for him.  In fact, he seems to get confused often when he sees the lettter "s" at the end of a word, and especially "es."  So here's our intro activity to suffixes. The activity does not include the endings -ing or -ed.  Those will come next.  (Once I figure out how to present them so he'll understand.)
The activity printable is actually two activities in one.  There is no way Princess and Bulldozer are going to understand all the rules of suffixes, so for them this is just a simple singular/plural match up activity.  They're enhancing their vocabulary and observing what letters are different etc.  Princess really liked it today.
Dinomite will separate the matched cards according to rule and ending.  My hope is as he studies the letters of the cards, he'll start to feel more confident with the concept and then we can work on writing etc.

 Source:  I created these cards.

Color-By-Size Recycling Bins
The kids have been begging for a coloring activity for a couple weeks now, so they were thrilled to see this activity on the shelves.  Dinomite chose it first thing and was thanking me endlessly for a chance to color.

Source:  I found this activity as part of a free Earth Day Packet at Royal Baloo.

Recycling Bin Addition
This activity includes 3 blue recycling bins along with several addition problems you sort into the bins.

Another one of Dinomite's IHIP goals is to learn his addition and subtraction facts. He seems to do really well with addition and likes it.  Princess is actually enjoying them too.  As long as she has the counters, she can get the answers correct.  Its' not going to be long before she starts memorizing them.

Source: I found this activity as part of a free Earth Day Packet at Royal Baloo.

Recycling Bin Subtraction
Dinomite is just starting to feel confident and comfortable with his subtraction facts.  Hopefully with more practice he'll have them by the end of the year as planned.

Source: I found this activity as part of a free Earth Day Packet at Royal Baloo.

Sorting Trash
It's been a while since we've had a scissors and glue activity.  Princess did fabulous with it today, not needing any help to cut, sort the pictures, or anything.  It's amazing all she's capable of at only 3 years old.

Source: I found this free printable at All Students Can Shine.  (You may have to scroll down a little to find it.)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This week I wanted to find a way to really teach the kids the difference between reducing, reusing and recycling, so I designed a sorting activity (with some pretty cool pictures) I might add to help them out.  Dinomite chose it first thing off the shelves!  I was very excited.  Bulldozer joined us as we went through it for the first time.
Dinomite's work.
There are some item cards that could be used for more than one category, if you really wanted to get technical, but for preschoolers and one in kindergarten, they worked great! 

Source:  I created these cards.

Extended Family Match Up & Grouping
Wednesday is my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary.  The entire extended family is going out to dinner with them to celebrate.  Since we live quite far from most relatives and it's very difficult to attend any big events with the boys' autism and food allergies, the kiddos really don't know many people in their extended family.  We're attempting this event because it's fairly short and simple.  We're all sitting in one place for a short time, and then we're done.  The restaurant offers allergy friendly choices for the kids, and I've received permission from the restaurant to bring food for Dinomite since he won't eat but his very few sensory friendly foods.

We're continually going through the plan of events at every meal (where they're captive), in hopes that they'll remember how it will all go, and at least help ease some anxieties leading up to the event.  We've talked about smells and noises etc.  However, it's the people that's our biggest concern.  I made this activity a few weeks ago, and brought it out again this week, just focusing on my side of the family.  Hopefully they'll each go through the activity at least a couple of times before Wednesday, so they'll not be as nervous about the people around them.

Recycling Sensory Bin
Bulldozer has been asking for a sensory bin.  It took a while to come up with this idea, but I LOVE how it turned out.  One may not be able to tell the contents of the bin from the picture, so I'll elaborate.

Shredded/Torn Construction Paper
Shredded/Torn Tissue Paper
Shredded/Torn Magazine Paper
Shredded/Torn Poster Board
Square Cardboard Box Pieces
Baby Food Jar without lid
Flat Clear Glass Beads
Circular Clear  Glass Beads
Aluminum Foil Squished into little balls (so it won't be sharp to the touch)
Small Tomato Paste Can, with wrapper taken off
Mini Plastic Water Bottle with lid taken off

I'd love to add a few more items, but I just haven't come up with any I like yet.  The kids love it just the way it is, especially with the addition of the baby food jar and water bottle. They poured and stuffed and shook,etc.  It was great!  And the textures... with all the different types of paper products, there are so many things to feel.

Food Compost Sorting
We started composting last year, not in the way one might think, but a very simplified version with one purpose.  There are a few wood chucks that live in the area.  They love our flowers, previous gardens (we don't even try to have one anymore), and garbage.  It has been 6 years since we moved here and there's really no way to get rid of them.  There are several of them all up and down the street.  Last year, after trying so many other ideas, I decided I'd try to befriend the animals, in hopes that they'd leave my flower beds alone.  We dumped our compost safe items in  a destroyed bed of flowers on a daily basis.  Sure enough, they loved them AND left my flowers alone.  The kids have named the wood chucks and they really have become part of the family, as they come out to eat about the same time we eat dinner.  So, thanks to the wood chucks, our kids have learned about compost!

I couldn't resist adding a food sorting activity to help them learn what's okay and what's not okay to compost.
We celebrated Earth Day today by leaving our first compost for the wood chucks this year.  I'm sure they'll be happy as always.

Reducing Energy Use-Air Drying Clothes
In keeping with our them this week, I wanted to teach the kiddos a practical life skill that would help them help the environment.  We don't have a clothes line as we live in the right part of the city where clothes would be stolen, if we did hang them up.  The kids had such a fun time trying to hang up clothes.  Dinomite even went as far as learning how to fold them up when he took them down and placed them back in the basket.  Bulldozer was so proud of his work, he showed his OT when she showed up.
Dinomite's work.
I used newborn sized clothing so it would be easy for the kiddos to manipulate, including items:  pants, shorts, shirt, jacket, dress, and socks.

Spring Butterfly Dropper Activity
I've been saving this activity for Spring, and couldn't resist adding it this week.  I used purple water in the dropper, especially for Bulldozer.  His favorite color is purple to the point of obsession.

Arranging Flowers
Yet another Spring activity, I couldn't resist.  Actually the flowers were decorations for Sunshine's adoption party last weekend.

Flower Bead Stringing
Again, with flowers, because of the season.  We just had snow fall here on Saturday, so I guess you could say I'm really trying to bring on Spring, if not outside, than at least in our minds.

Spring Pencil Sharpening
As the year is coming to an end, I've noticed we're running short on pencils.  Since the kiddos love sharpening them so much, I figured I'd give them the task of preparing them for use.

Finger Paint, Hand Painting Earth Art Activity
Our art project for the week is this beautiful palm print Earth, surrounded by finger print people.  I love how it incorporates so many things.  The kids will receive some sensory input as they paint their palms and fingers the proper colors, in preparation for leaving prints on the paper. They'll mix paint as they select specific colors they want for their finger people.  Then, once all has dried, they are able to draw hair, faces, etc. on their fingerprint people. I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Source:  I found this porject at Meet the Dubiens.

Musical Instruments
The kiddos are always begging me to use the musical instruments, so I figured I'd give them some free time with them this week.

Decorating Recycling Bins
Princess decorating her bin.
Our last project for the week, we actually did today.  The kids decorated recycling bins for our back porch. We have always recycled, it just hasn't been as organized as I'd like it.  As I've been sorting and getting rid of bins of clothes in our attic, there just happen to be three empty bins available for use.  SCORE!  I thought about the kids painting and really beautifying the bins, but knowing they'll be on the porch and it snows here at least 50% of the year, I figured crayons would be my best bet.  They LOVED the activity. Even Sunshine, almost 18 months joined in with her own bin.
Bulldozer decorating his bin.
Dinomite's bin. I am so impressed with his art work!
Princess' bin.
Bulldozer's bin.
Next week we continue our Earth Unit, learning about endangered species.  I'm super excited!

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