Monday, April 30, 2012

From seeds to plants and everything in between...

Last week we began our unit on seeds and plants -- my all time favorite unit of the whole school year!  I am not yet following the Montessori Botany album, but instead am adapting the way I have taught this unit in the past to a more Montessori style!

I always start this unit off with the study of seeds, since that is where plants come from.  Then, I move on to the parts of a plant, etc.  So, last week was all about seeds - where seeds come from; the parts of a seed; what seeds need to grow, and how seeds grow.  Next week we will begin learning about the parts of a plant.

Books we read this week:

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan

First, we learned about where seeds come from.  I made up a tray with 6 different fruits & vegetables on it.  During circle time, I cut each fruit/veggie open so that the kids could see the seeds inside.  We discussed that seeds come from plants and that each of these fruits and veggies grow on some sort of plant.  Unfortunately, I missed taking a picture of the tray of fruits & veggies, but I'm sure you get the basic idea!

I also made a sorting/matching work from the free seed and plant matching cards from Montessori Print Shop.  I added small plastic containers of each kind of seed depicted on the cards.  The child lays out the small containers of seeds in a row at the top of his/her rug, then matches the seed picture cards, and finally matches the corresponding plant picture cards.  Below is a picture of this work:

I also added magnifying glasses so the kids could have a closer look at the seeds.
 After we learned about where seeds come from, we went on to learn about the parts of a seed.  I used the free parts of a seed 3-part cards and "My Parts of a Seed Booklet" from Montessori Workjobs.  I also soaked some lima bean seeds in water overnight so that I could open them up the next day to show the kids the parts of a seed.  Again, I introduced these things during circle time.  Below are pictures of these works:

Parts of a Seed 3-part cards with magnifying glasses and soaked lima beans.  The kids could open up the lima beans to discover the parts of the seed inside!
"My Parts of a Seed Booklet"
One of the kids working on the seed booklet!

As we were learning about where seeds come from and the parts of a seed, we were busy doing the funnest part of all - actually planting seeds!  We planted lots and lots of seeds!  First, we planted grass seed using this fun idea from Mrs. Marcy's Preschool - scroll down her page until you see the silly faces on clear plastic cups.  Yup, that's right, we planted grass seed in clear plastic cups, cut out funny faces, and stuck them to the front of the cups.  Once the grass grows we will have funny faces with "hair!"  Below are pictures of our grass seed projects:

I'll post updated pics once they start growing!

We also planted lima bean seeds in clear baby food jars.  The kids filled the jars with dirt, stuck a finger down the side of the jar to make a hole for the seed (so we could watch the seed grow through the glass), put the seed in the hole, gave them some water, and put the jars on the windowsill.  Below is a really bad picture of the jars by the window.  My phone takes really bag pics when there is a lot of direct sun light.

Next, we planted each of the seeds from the seed sorting work I mentioned earlier in this post - in what else but a fish tank!  This was an extra project for anyone who wanted to participate - and most of the kids wanted to get in on it!  Below is a picture of the fish tank with the seeds planted inside:

From left to right - sunflower seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, pumpkin seed, poppy seeds, sesame seeds,  flax seeds, and fennel seeds - I put a label with the same of each seed above where it was planted.

But, we didn't stop there!  The kids were so excited about planting seeds in the fish tank that I brought out all of the kinds of bean seeds that I have and we planted each of those as well - on the other side of the fish tank!  Below is a picture of the bean seeds planted in the fish tank:

From left to right - lima bean, black eyed pea, kidney bean, black bean, pinto bean, great northern bean - again, I labeled each one.
 The last thing we planted were basil seeds.  We planted these using peat pots and peat pellets instead of potting soil.  The kids liked watching the peat pellets expand with water!  Below is a picture of one of the kids planting the basil seeds:

The 3's class kids also did an additional project involving 20 night crawlers - yes, I mean those big worms used for fishing!  We made a worm farm using a giant glass jar, potting soil, sand, and gavel.  First, I put in a layer of gravel on the bottom of the jar.  Then, the kids scooped in soil and sand in alternating layers. I then covered the jar with construction paper to block out the light so the worms would come right to the edge of the jar to make their trails in the dirt.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the worm farm before I covered it with paper to block out the light, but I didn't.  I guess it's easy to miss stuff like that when you are in the middle of a bunch of excited kids!  Finally, we added all 20 worms to the top of the jar.  Below are some pics that I did manage to get during the process:

Picking up the squirmy worms to put in the jar!
Look at that pile of worms!
The finished product!

Waiting for those worms to dig their way down!  It actually took them almost 24 hours to all go down into the dirt.  And, yes, I was worried when I left school that they might escape and be squirming all over the classroom the next morning!  But, they were not!

 Well, that's it for today!  I will post more later this week about our seeds and plants unit.  For more fun ideas for your classroom, please check out my Lesson Plans to Pots and Pans Facebook page!

I am linking up with Montessori Monday via Living Montessori Now!

Montessori Monday

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day: Part 3

As usual, at least at my school, there is always work on the shelves that is not related in any way to the theme for the week.  And, that is what I am going to post about today!

Pouring water with a funnel.  I've also used a larger pitcher than I have in the past - but the kids were able to handle it very well, even the younger ones!
Spooning rice and pouring with a teacup.
Tweezing spring erasers.
Geometric solids sorting cards extension from Chasing Cheerios.
Counting jewels into plastic egg carton.

Earth Counting book using the free printable offered by Living Montessori Now.
Sorting spring erasers.
Here are some pics of the kids at work:

Tongs with plastic Easter eggs.
Mystery Number - - small plastic eggs.
Sorting spring erasers.
Adding book from Karen Tyler's class through World Wide Montessori Online with colored bead stair.
He came up with his own pink tower/brown stair extension!
Check out what one of my 4's class kids wrote all by herself!  These are her clues for her show & tell.
It says, "It has pretty shoes.  It have pretty clothes."  I was totally blown away when her mom told me she had sounded out the words and written them all by herself!

Unfortunately, my supposedly "smart" phone neglected to upload most of my photos from last week automatically through Google + like it is set up to do.  So, I only have a fraction of the photos as I normally do - which is why there are not very many photos of the kids at work in this post...  oh well, it seems to be working again this week.  So, hopefully next week I will have more photos to post again!

If you are interested, please check out my Facebook page - also called Lesson Plans to Pots and Pans. I have started posting links to the ideas I find online on my FB page.  If you like what you see, please consider "liking" my page!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day: Part 1

With Earth Day this past Sunday, our main focus last week was on tangible ways we can all help take care of our planet every day, not just on Earth Day.  So, similar to what I have done in previous years, I brought out my reusable grocery bag containing everyday items we use and more earth-friendly alternatives.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of this bag of goodies, but I did not.

Here is a list of what was inside:
* plastic baggie (ziploc type)... reusable plastic container
* paper lunch bag... reusable lunch box
* roll of paper towels... cloth dish towel
* plastic water bottle... reusable water bottle
* plastic grocery bag... reusable grocery bag
* traditional light bulb... florescent light bulb

After I presented each set of items, I reminded the kids about what happens to garbage that we throw away in a garbage can.  In other words:
1) throw garbage in the garbage can
2) bring garbage can to the curb
3) garbage truck picks up garbage
4) garbage truck brings garbage to the garbage dump (pointing out that a garbage dump is on the earth)
5) garbage at the dump makes our earth dirty

Of course, the light bulbs were the one exception to all of the other items.  In this case I explained to the kids that traditional light bulbs use lots of electricity.  That electricity is made mainly from burning coal.  And that burning coal puts lots of yucky stuff into the air we breath and makes our earth dirty.  On the other hand, the florescent bulb uses much less electricity - which uses less coal and therefore does not make the air we breath and our earth as dirty as the traditional light bulb.  And, as an added bonus, since florescent bulbs use less electricity, they also cost less to use!

In addition to our discussions of tangible ways we can help keep our earth clean, we also had some really cool earth-friendly projects!  In the 4's class we made earth crayons out of old blue & green crayons.  And, in the 3's class we made cookie cutter shapes out of recycled paper from a paper shredder and coffee filter earths.

4's Class: Recycled Earth Crayons:

First, the kids sorted out all of the green and blue crayons from the box of old crayons we had in the classroom.  I set this up as a work for whoever wanted to participate.
Then, we soaked the crayons in water and peeled off the paper wrappers.  We started this work inside, but the kids were so into it we brought it outside during our play time!
Next, the kids broke the crayons into small pieces and put them into a small muffin tin.
Here are the crayons in the muffin tin.
Then we put the muffin tin in my toaster oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes - we do not have access to an oven at our school...
Here are a few of the kids watching the crayons melt in the toaster oven!
Here are some of the finished Recycled Earth Crayons!  I think they turned out pretty neat!

3's Class Recycled Paper Cookie Cutter Shapes:

We started with some shredded paper that my mom gave me from her office at work and soaked it in water.  I made a flour and water paste, split the paste into four equal parts, added a different color food coloring (because the paper was almost all white) to each bowl of paste, and then mixed the paste with the wet, shredded paper. 

The kids chose a cookie cutter shape and a color of the shredded paper and paste mixture.  Then they pressed the shredded paper and paste mixture into the cookie cuter shape, removed the cookie cutter, and let the shape dry for a couple days on a piece of wax paper.
Here are some of the finished Recycled Paper Cookie Cutter Shapes!  Pretty cute, huh!
Well, that's it for today!  Keep an eye out for more posts this week about our Earth Day fun!  And, for more great ideas, check out my Facebook page, also called Lesson Pans to Pots and Pans!

I'm linking up with Montessori Monday via Living Montessori Now!

Montessori Monday

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day: Part 2

We did so much for our Earth Day theme that I decided to break it up into more than one post!  So, today I am going to focus on the new Earth Day related work that we had out this past week.

Reusing paper grocery bags to make woven paper placemats!  I cut one of the long sides off of a paper grocery bag, folded it in half, and cut strips in the paper - stopping about an inch from the edge.  I also had some scrap book paper that a previous parent gave me, so I cut that into strips that the kids could use to weave into the paper grocery bag.
This is recyclables sorting using the free 3-part recycle cards from Living Montessori Now!
Here are a couple of my kids sorting out the recyclables!  They did it perfectly!
Recycle 3-part card work using the same recycle 3-part cards mentioned before from  Living Montessori Now.
This is Paint Your Own Earth work from My Montessori Journey.  You can download the earth printable for free!  I was amazed at how well the kids did with painting within the lines and painting the land and water appropriately!  And, so many of the kids wanted to try this work!

I will post Earth Day: Part 3 later this week!  Please check out my Facebook page -- also called Lesson Plans to Pots and Pans -- for more fun ideas!  And, if you like what you see, please consider "liking" my page!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catching Up: Spring is in the Air!

Last week I posted about the new Montessori inspired spring work we did.  But, since I posted mid-week, I was only able to write about some of the things we were doing.  Now that I have been able to consistently post at least once a week, I need to get into more of a consistent pattern of posting - in other words, either posting about previous work or future work, not in between.  And, since I am not all that great at planning far in advance for my units, I think posting previous work will work best for me at this point in time.

So, this week will be a catch-up week!

"Spring Rain" project - the 3's class kids drew pictures of themselves and then added rain drops using blue paint and their fingertips.
4's Class playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" on the lawn!
4's Class kids sorting out green and blue crayons for an Earth Day project.  I will post about this project in my next blog post!
Practicing writing some words (and names)!
Practicing writing letters!  I am amazed how much the kids like these letter practice sheets!  These are from Making Learning Fun.
Working with the geometric solids extension cards from Maybe Montessori!

That's it for now!  Check out my facebook page at Lesson Plans to Pots and Pans for more ideas to use in your classroom!

I am linking up with Montessori Monday through Living Montessori Now.

Montessori Monday