Friday, February 8, 2013

Chinese New Year

If the children get down Spanish vocabulary early, which these around-3-year-olds have been working on, then we work on Mandarin Chinese here. So Chinese New Year is a holiday we really get behind.

In my 3-year rotating curriculum, we spend a week on Chinese New Year every 3rd year. This year was it.

Our daily topics:
Monday - Where is China?
Tuesday - Symbols of China
Wednesday - Life in China
Thursday - Animals of China
Friday - What comes from China?

Books we used:

Crafts - This is a craft intensive unit.  
A lot of what we talk about during the week relates to Good Luck. This is a pre-writing worksheet I created. You can download it for FREE by clicking on the image.

Since 2013 is the year of the snake, I created the pattern below, again FREE for download by clicking the image. 

We cut out letter S snakes and decorated them with google eyes and a red forked tongue. Since we hadn't used markers in awhile, that was what used to decorate the snakes. After coloring them, we cut out and glued on our letter s sight words: see, she, said, some, soon, say, saw, stop.

We played around with some things that came from China - dominoes, a compass, kites and our tanagrams.

The Chinese lanterns worked fine motor cutting skills. These were done with teacher-assist scissors since this group is relatively young and just beginning to work at cutting independently. We were short on time, so they used the marker that were out to decorate these as well. Given time, we would have added some gold glitter and bling items.

We painted some good luck goldfish. This worked color mixing, following direction, fine motor skills, and brush work.

We made dragon masks and held a dragon parade.

I love this little dragon mask printable that I got from Nick Jr.'s Kailan, because it is simple enough for older preschoolers to cut out without too much trouble, but detailed enough that they look really great. Unfortunately, it seems to have been deleted from the website, but similar ones are available at Kaboomu and itsybitsyfun.  

I cut strips of tissue paper in the colors they requested for them to add as streamers to their dragon masks. Older children could do this on their own, but tissue paper is a little difficult to cut, especially when you are not quite or barely over three.


We did some fan dancing to traditional Chinese music. I created a Traditional Chinese station on Pandora, and we listened to it through out the week. We also heard a lot of Yo Yo Ma.

We used a darling coloring page of a little Chinese boy and girl with lanterns from Activity Village UK. Click link to get the high resolution PDF from them.

Happy Chinese New Year coloring page - children celebrating Chinese New Year

We also used a map of China that I had from, but that is now a paid site. If you are a member, they have some great printables for China.

Videos - We watched a few. A couple favorites that were on Amazon, free with my prime membership.

 Ni Hao Kai-lan Season 1, Ep. 10 "Happy Chinese New Year!" 

It's Chinese New Year, which means a big feast, red envelopes, and friends and family all together! Kai-lan and her friends are thrilled because this year, they are old enough to carry the huge dragon costume.

Ni Hao Kai-lan Season 1, Ep. 13 "Hoho's Big Flight"
Today's the big lantern festival to celebrate the end of Chinese New Year! Ye-Ye gives Kai-lan some lanterns for her and her friends to decorate.

And this one on YouTube. Taoshu Chinese New Year Special


We also watched some traditional lion dances on YouTube. Just snippets so they could relate it to real life and actual people and places.

We learned to count to 10 in Mandarin using this song I created.

yī - èr - sān, sì, wǔ
This is how I count with you
 liù - qī - bā, jiǔ, shí­
This is how you count with me!

1 一 
3sān 三 
4 四 
5 五 
6liù 六 

This is a great Youtube video for pronunciation.

We practiced our colors in Mandarin, especially red, hóng sè 红色, the color of luck. Here's a good Youtube video for learning the colors.

Since we learn Mandarin here, we say Gong Xi Fa Cai, rather than the more commonly used phrase in America, the Cantonese saying, Gong Hey Fat Choy.
Tags: Chinese, New, Year, Chinese New Year, holiday, preschool, daycare, child, care, kindergarten, template, gliff, printable, free, freebie, craft, painting, activity, activities, video, book, books, snake, sight words, reading, art

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Body - Week 1 Body Parts - Day 2 Muscles

Tuesday - Muscles
Teaching Elements for today are:
  • We each have muscles
  • Our muscles are necessary for us to move
  • Our muscles are elastic
  • Our muscles grow to help us get stronger
  • Our tongue and heart are muscles
  • We have voluntary and involuntary muscles
Beginning Discussion - Focused on the elements above and exploring our bodies to feel our muscles and moving to test out our theories.

Language - We worked on our movement sight words: play, on, see, look, run, in, up, into, ran, jump, down, went, came. We mixed them up, created commands, and acted them out.

Math - To test our strength, each child pushed down on a scale to see how much force they could apply. 

We graphed the results and discussed who had more, less and same. The child had to locate their correct number and initial on the graph. If older, they would have colored in their own bar.

 Then the children combined forces, used teamwork and saw their force doubled.

Science - We discussed how muscles are like rubber bands in that they stretch. To demonstrate, the children used their muscles to pull and release a large rubber band to see how this might work.

To check out just how stretchy a rubber band could be, we experimented. Each child chose a rubber band from our rubber band cache, held it at the end of the ruler and stretched it out.

First we sized the rubber bands to determine who would have which number on the graph, working ordinal count. We graphed the results, again with each child finding their corresponding number on the graph. We discussed the outlier of the big rubber band and how the different sizes of rubber bands compared to their stretchiness on the graph.

Fine Motor - Painting with rubber bands in a variety of ways. I gathered several rubber bands together looped a piece of tape through them and up along the end of a pencil, then secured more tape around the pencil to hold them in place. Mr. G was into the pouncing effect that looked a lot like fireworks. Miss A was into the dragging technique that produced an interesting path of lines across the paper.

Gross Motor - Using an exercise band with ankle/wrist straps that make excellent holding handles, the children learned to use their muscles to work their balance and strength against one another for some tug-o-war. It took them a few minutes to get the coordination down, learn to squat a little for balance, and to use their core muscles more than their arm strength to hold their position or pull back. First one to move forward lost and another child took a turn. They really liked this.

For a simple activity, it was enlightening how much it worked their gross motor skills.

Music/Fingerplay - I couldn't find ANY songs or finger plays for muscles, so I made up my own. You have to pause a little on the last line for THAT and MY to make it smooth.

My Muscles [Farmer in the Dell]
Original song by Little Stars Learning

My muscles help me move
My muscles help me move
I’m so glad that my muscles help me move

A muscle pumps my blood
A muscle pumps my blood
I’m so glad that my heart pumps my blood

A muscle lets me talk
A muscle lets me talk
I’m so glad that my tongue lets me talk

Books - We read our big book Head to Toe by Eric Carle and acted out the different movements, using our muscles and discussing which ones we used for each activity. Since this is a common book for us to read, we didn't lose anything by working through the story.

Video - We used this video throughout the Our Body theme. For today, we watched the episode Flexes It's Muscles.

It was a really fun learning day. The children were very engaged and picked up many tidbits of information, even ones that I thought would be over their heads.
 Tags: science, body, my, anatomy, physiology, muscles, preschool, daycare, child, care, prek, kindergarten

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Our Body - Week 1 Body Parts - Day 1 Skeleton

January always begins our introduction to body parts with the little ones and body parts in Spanish to the older children. In my 3-year rotating curriculum, this year it also means delving into the actual body...
  • Anatomy
  • Five Senses
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Dental Health
This first week we look inside. We begin to formulate the concept that there are processes working within us that are important and identifiable. Our daily schedule is:
  • Monday - Skeleton
  • Tuesday - Muscles
  • Wednesday - Digestive System
  • Thursday - Respiratory System
  • Friday - Circulatory System
Monday - Skeleton
The teaching elements for today are:
  • We each have a skeleton
  • Our skeleton is necessary to give us form
  • Our skeleton lets us move, but some moves are limited, and joints
  • Our skeleton is made of bones and cartilage, properties of each
  • These can become damaged and will repair
Beginning Discussion - Focused on the elements above and exploring our bodies to feel our bones and moving to test out our theories.

Language - Are skeletons scary? That question produced a variety of responses and I asked them each to justify their position.

Math - We counted some the number of joints in our hands and the number of bones in some pictures.

Science - We studied x-rays of our skeletons and other animals and poked and prodded our own bodies to feel what was underneath our skin. We felt up spines, collar bones, hip bones, ribs, skulls and joints.

Fine Motor: Dog bones make wonderful dominoes. One side is sight words, the other is colors, differentiating for the two age groups I have going on.

Gross Motor: We watched The Skeleton Dance, one of our favorites, [a few times] and followed the actions.


Music/Finger Play: 
Parts That Bend (tune: BINGO)
My arms have parts that bend and move
Every time I use them.
Shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
Shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
Shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
And this is how I move them!

My legs have parts that bend and move
Every time I use them.
Knee, ankle, heel and foot
Knee, ankle, heel and foot
Knee, ankle, heel and foot
And this is how I move them!

My trunk has parts that bend and move
Every time I use them.
Neck, back, waist and hips
Neck, back, waist and hips
Neck, back, waist and hips
And this is how I move them!

I'm made of parts that bend and move
Every time I use them.
Shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand..
Knee, ankle, heel and foot.
Neck, back, waist and hips
And this is how I move them!

Book(s): These two are a little old for them, but I own them for my son and they made great reference books. We mainly studied the visuals and read a bit of the text.

 Your Skeleton and Skin

This was our story book for the day.

Sensory: I save all of my large beef bones, boil them and clean them completely. We use these for our dinosaur digs, Halloween, and this unit. The children get out their magnifying glasses and study them and feel them.

If older, they could play with some 3 foot plastic skeletons I purchased at the dollar store during last Halloween. However, at just around 3 years old, I feel those are too flimsy to last more than 30 seconds with this group.

But I do have a large plastic skeleton that has some wear and tear and even though s/he is in parts, and missing a foot due to a long-ago pet, the pieces are sturdy and life-size and they can really get a good idea of what is going on with their skeletons.

Most items are left available throughout the unit for exploration during free time. Many of these blog pics were taken during those occasions. 

Tags: science, body, body parts, skeleton, anatomy, physiology, bones, theme, unit, preschool, childcare, child, care, daycare, prek, kindergarten