Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quick as a Cricket Lesson

Lessons on the fly, because that's how I do things. I start every fall with big dreams of structured, daily lesson plans for my preschool kiddos. And every year around mid-October I realize that daily life creates many more opportunities for learning. I like to talk (I know, most of you are shocked at this), so we talk. We talk a LOT at Laurie's Little Sprouts. We talk about colors when we're coloring, when we're eating (because fruits and veggies naturally lead to color conversation) and when we're looking at the colors in the sky. We talk about letters. We sing. We read. We play. WE bake. We create. We learn how to treat our friends with kindness and respect. We learn manners. So what's left? Not much. I don't think I need a lesson plan or a big planner full of lesson plans in order to teach. So the other day I was really excited about where our day took us. I couldn't have planned it any better.

 I am fortunate that the Early Childhood program in my community offers literacy bags to local daycare providers. Every two weeks I get a new literacy bag filled with approximately three books. The bags often include a Putumayo World Music CD. Sometimes it includes learning games or some sort of manipulative. Last week our literacy bag contained "Quick as a Cricket", a book that I loved reading to my son when he was little. While I was reading the book to the daycare children, The Boy entered the room and exclaimed, "Hey! I remember that book!" I love that. The book also came with little stuffed animals. A little strip of Velcro is attached to the back of each animal so that they can be used on a story apron or story board. I don't have either so I improvised. 

I dumped out the animals onto the kitchen table and the kids played with them during the first reading of "Quick as a Cricket". After I read, we discussed the animals that each of the kids had and we talked about our favorite animals. See, once again TALKING.

During the second reading each child received an equal pile of animals. As I read they'd hold up the animal in which I was reading about. I intiated this by reading, "I'm as quick as a cricket"....(pause).....(no response)........"Who has the cricket?" Finally, a kiddo would reply with excitement, "I HAVE THE CRICKET".  I would set the book on the table so that the child could match up her animal with the book. The kids had so much fun with this very simple activity. The kids were learning listening skills and didn't even know it. 

After the second reading, I pulled out a few of my animal magazines and instructed the kids to make their own "Quick as a Cricket" animal collages. As the kids looked for pictures of animals, we discussed what characteristics or temperaments that each animal may have. We talked about if we'd ever felt quick as a cricket or as loud as a lion. (Hey, not only are we talking but we're learning language skills and the use of descriptive words!) The kids worked on their scissor skills, as well as their gluing skills (why do they always want to put the glue on the wrong side?). 
Crazy like a monkey.
Busy as a beaver.
Kiddos decided that seal looked happy.

Although I did a little guiding, I tried to get the kiddos to think of descriptive words for their animals. Sometimes a lot of guiding was needed. The more examples I gave the easier it was for the kids to start shouting out ideas. 

A day or two later, while reading the book, I'd let the kids fill in the blank as I read "I am as quick as a ......." or "I am as strong as a _____". This not only helps in listening skills but also memory. Besides the kids love seeing who can respond quickly and correctly. They like to talk just as much as I do. Hmm. Guess I'm a good teacher. Of talking. 

Anyway. One book and we had fun, fun, fun. I love "going with the flow" kind of teaching. 

Note ~ I found that Lakeshore Learning sells both the book and the matching animals.

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