On the shelves above is a collection of animals from different categories. I made place cards to put behind the animals so the girls could actually categorize them even when they are just cleaning up & putting things back in place. This gave me opportunities to teach as they put something back so it didn’t really feel like a lesson but more of a discussion. I found Lily correcting Maggie’s work when she would take a frog from the reptile pile & add it back to amphibians. There are mini activities to do as well though not all is out. For spiders I have a book which describes their body parts placed in a tray with three part cards matching. This allows them to explore something more about different animals. There is also a version of this with birds etc. I have a few sets of vertebrates & their parts and invertebrates selected & out. On our shelf in the living room (not pictured), I have bird displays out matching games like match the male bird to the female of its species….the bones of the bird versus the outside. I have the chicken life cycle out as a reminder of how birds become birds. And plenty of books to reference the types on the cards available.
We have started the process of discovering the animal kingdom. More & more the girls have asked me about the human body & how it resembles animals. Maggie asks me about feelings and whether a dog has a heart like we do. She wonders about animal emotions, how they are happy, if they are afraid & do they miss people. Little by little they answer their own questions as they watch Timber (Lily’s service dog) wag her tail for a cookie which shows her version of happy. If thunder rolls and Timber moves in close as she often does during a thunderstorm the children see worry and fear in her eyes. Quite often Lily will give Timber a pat on the head during these moments and reassure her, “It’s just a little rain Timber.”
So I brought together every plastic animal I could in the girls collection of toys we’ve accumulated as animals are a favorite. I made some labels of each category in the animal kingdom & on one set of place cards added pictures to help reference them for easy matching. We laid out the cards on the floor & the girls went to work matching animals to categories. Surprisingly, the girls were very good at telling me whether an animal was a vertebrate or invertebrate. Maggie took notice of insects and crabs realizing their skeletons were on the outside of their bodies as opposed to bones internally. She made this observation on her own where I only supplied the word exoskeleton. The girls are understanding far more than I did about creatures at this age & it is fun watching them understand themselves through understanding life around them.
So we have done insect life cycles & reptile & amphibian & birds. We have not discussed a mammal life cycle yet where animals give birth to their young. I will pick out something common like a dog or cat in the future to introduce this. Shortly after we will start the human body & its parts in layers. Not many photos are below of our introduction. I was too hands on & excited the kids were learning to photograph.
Above you see the girls reading over a workbook together. We work with workbooks. I like to pull sheets and subjects, themed activities that pertain to whatever we are learning. They are great for working on handwriting skills and writing in general. They keep the girls focused when reading a book is getting boring we can switch to a quick worksheet and still fulfill reading.
I bought the common core workbooks for the girls some time back as I wanted to keep up with what traditional public schools were doing with kindergarteners. When I received the books in the mail I was floored by the material in it. It was foreign to what I learned growing up. Short stories were the first thing on page 1 and at the time the books were read, Lily couldn’t sit still to hear the whole story. I knew she could answer the questions. So I broke it up in sentences. But it required putting it together as a whole to answer the simple questions that followed the story. It was just too much. Maggie listened & did well with the story & questions, but she disliked handwriting at the time because it was too difficult so I put those workbooks on a shelf. I brought out the fun ones. The scissor cutting skills and color by number. I mixed those with math & reading & writing etc. Recently, I took out those common core workbooks as we are reading often and asking questions about the stories/books we read. I thought I’d copy a page and read it to them for practice. The girls noticed the workbooks & immediately took interest. I read the story first. Lily read it missing only the words that were difficult to pronounce that aren’t the casual words we use everyday. Maggie could answer every question on target. Lily did too. I’m amazed everyday. The best part? They both stayed there. Still as little statues Sat. Watched. Listened.
To follow their storytelling interest I took out a set of cards made by handwriting without tears that is really just simple stories in 3 part cards. One side is a picture the other is the story to be told that as it is in 3 parts, it can be sequenced out by the child, which focuses on sequencing, storytelling and memory as well as attention & listening skills. Both girls did great listening & retelling the story. Lily required minimal prompting. And all I did was repeat what she had just said & she immediately moved on to the next card to be placed. Lily wanted to place them in the blue board as opposed to the magnetic board. It wasn’t easy but she problem solved them falling over & out by placing them on top. I’d like to do more stories like this but maybe make them on a ring, slightly smaller and in a card/laminated fashion so they can be written on too.
Because everyone needs to play with playdough.