Tot School Tuesday: Weather

Teaching about weather is always one of my favorite science topics because there are so many great experiments to try.  I wasn't sure how I was going to teach about weather in a toddler friendly way without true science experiments, but I am really excited about all the fun activities we tried this week!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Weather Week:

And here is what we actually did:
Each day we read a different weather related book (or 2!).  I also had a bin with lots of weather themed books to read throughout the day so we could really talk about all of the different types of weather. Here were our favorites:

Down Comes the Rain by Franklyn Branley
Once There Was a Raindrop by Judith Anderson and Mike Gordon
Learn About Snow by Christopher Hernandez
Learn About Rain by Christopher Hernandez
Learn About Wind by Christopher Hernandez
LearnAbout Sun by Christopher Hernandez
 Umbrella & Rain Craft:
For this activity I cut out an umbrella and handle shape from colored paper and had Madelynn glue it together to make an umbrella first. Then I filled a cup with blue liquid watercolor paint, gave her an eyedropper and let her squeeze raindrops onto her picture.  We practiced a little bit before we dropped water on the paper because she had to figure out how to squeeze gently to make drops and not a flood ;)
 Eye Dropper Water Play:
This fine motor activity was super easy and fun for Madelynn.  I gave her colored water, a small sorting tray, a few cups and her fine motor dropper then let her just play however she wanted.  There's something about water play that really keeps her engaged, especially when she is able to just free play and explore.
 Cloud and Rain Suncatcher:
Making contact paper sun catchers are super easy to do for any theme and this one turned out even cuter than I originally pictured.  To prep the activity I cut out the cloud and 3 raindrops from black cardstock that I doubled up to make 2 identical sets.  I cut a small piece on contact paper and laid it on the table sticky side up. Then I stuck one set of the cutouts on the page and added cut outs for the eyes and mouth. I also set out small tissue paper squares in white and blue for Madelynn to use and let her fill in the cloud and rain drops by sorting the colors.  Separating the tissue paper squares was a bit of good fine motor practice as well as they were all stuck together from cutting. After she filled in all of the shapes, I glued the matching outlines on top of the cloud and raindrops then placed another sheet of contact paper over top to seal it. Finally I cut the excess contact paper from around the shapes and taped the raindrops to the cloud with fishing line so they would hang underneath.  A little bit more work for me in this craft but they always turn out so cute!

Dot Stamp Rainbow:
Okay so I know rainbows aren't really weather, but after talking about rain and sun I figured we'd talk a little about rainbows too. So I made this rainbow printable and lined up the stampers in order for Madelynn to use.  I also placed a color version next to her that she could look at to see what color to use next in her rainbow.
Pony Bead Rainbow:
Threading beads on pipe cleaners takes a lot of concentration so this was a fun quiet activity for Madelynn to do.  I started with a foam floral block and added pipe cleaners for each color of the rainbow. Then I set out cups with beads in each color for Madelynn to thread onto the pipe cleaners.  I helped her with pulling out the color pipe cleaner she wanted to do and then pushed them back in afterwards. Overall pretty simple and I love the finished 3D product!
 Rainbow Limbo:
To get Madelynn moving this week we played rainbow limbo. For our rainbow, I tied a string between the two columns on the sides of our dining room and tied rainbow colored scarves on so they hung almost to the floor.  Then Madelynn tried to go under (or through) the rainbow in all different ways that I called out. (hopping, crawling, bear walks, etc.)
 Umbrella Bean Bag Toss:
Madelynn still isn't the greatest at throwing, so any time I can find a game to practice throwing is a plus. For this game I opened an umbrella and set out a pile of beanbags. Madelynn and I took turns trying to throw them into the umbrella. She really just wanted to watch me throw them, so taking turns was a good compromise.
 Rainbow Scarf Dance:
We do a lot of dancing in our house so I decided why not add scarves into the mix? I piled up all our rainbow scarves, turned Toddler Pandora on our TV and let Madelynn so wild.  Super easy and super fun.
 Build a Sun Snack:
To make our sun snack I prepped cheese slices by using a small round cookie cutter to make circles, and a knife to cut small triangles.  Then I set them out on a plate with round crackers for Madelynn to build and snack.
Pineapple and Carrot Sun:
To make this snack I cored a pineapple and cut it into a round slice.  Then I halved carrots lengthwise and placed them around the pineapple in the center.  Simple, healthy and delicious.
 Build a Rainbow:
This snack was great for color sorting, and gave me an excuse to eat froot loops for breakfast all week ;)  You can grab the printable at the end of this post to do your own sorting too.
 Rainbow Fruit Cup:
Another yummy healthy snack we made this week was this rainbow fruit cup.  We always have loads of fruit in our house so this one was easy to whip up. I used strawberries, oranges, pineapple, blueberries and grapes for my rainbow colors and Madelynn devoured the whole thing!
 Weather Sensory Bin:
Our first sensory bin this week started with blue rock vase filler, a toy sun, cotton ball clouds, pipe cleaner lightning bolts, blue gem rocks for raindrops, foam snowflakes, and clear round gems for hail. I gave Madelynn this bin with a variety of scoops and cups to explore.
 Rain & Wind Bin:
This bin was filled with water that I tinted blue, little people, cups, straws, and cotton balls.  Madelynn had fun squeezing the rain out of the cotton ball clouds and blowing bubbles with the straws that I gave her to make wind.
 Shaving Cream Cloud Play:
All you need for this sensory activity is shaving cream and a tray.  I literally just put a bunch of shaivng cream on the tray and let Madelynn squish and play for as long as she wanted.
Weather I-Spy:
Using our first sensory bin for the week, I took pictures of each weather item and then had Madelynn search for them and sort them out. We talked about each type of weather as she found each piece.

If you'd like any of the printables we used this week you can grab them here:

Here is what we have planned for next week:

And the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:


The Littlest Pilgrim and other November Books Teachers Love

Well hello October, grab your morning coffee get ready for loads of November themed books and teaching ideas! 

I love all of the fun traditions fall picking, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and family walks bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets.  I also love that it means the holiday season is quickly approaching, so we are back sharing 12 perfect read alouds for November.
Do you teach about Thanksgiving in the primary grades? Professionally I've always struggled with this topic because I'm never sure what approach to take.  Do I teach what I believe most educators do and paint a rosy picture with stereotypical Pilgrims and Native Americans that is blend of fact and myth? Or do I try to help students understand the true story of Thanksgiving and the Plymouth plantation.  regardless of the approach taken, most of the historical aspect is beyond kindergarten level comprehension. However I do believe the theme of Thanksgiving, being thankful, and friendship is one that is valuable in the primary classroom. 

I think it is especially important with this topic to be purposeful with book selection so as not to perpetuate stereotypes especially Native American stereotypes. Trust me friends, this is REALLY difficult when it comes to the topic of Thanksgiving.  One book that I have found that fits the Thanksgiving theme while focusing more on friendship, and how people lived long ago is The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty.
In this book Mini, a young Pilgrim girl wants more than anything to help her family.  As she tries to help everyone in the village, students get a glimpse of the chores that typical Pilgrims would likely do on a daily basis: stacking wood, sewing, baking, hunting, gathering berries, and fishing.  Mini is sad that she isn't able to help and goes to pick berries when she meets a Native American girl and shares with her.  She makes a friend in the end and is happy that she isn't too little to make a new friend.
I like using this story for making connections because it helps students to see Pilgrims and Native Americans as not so different from themselves.  I think this sets students up to identify with these groups of people and resist stereotypes to some degree in their future learning. 

This story really doesn't depict Native Americans much, except for Mini's new friend at the very end of the story, so if you are looking for great books for students that don't perpetuate the Native American stereotype here are a few that I have found:
First Americans Series by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Children of Clay by Rina Swentzell

Want to try out this activity? You can grab the printables for FREE here!

It includes 3 levels of responses for K, 1st and 2nd grade.

But wait, that's not all! Each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tot School Tuesday: Fall

It is finally starting to feel like fall here in Wisconsin which means lots of fun traditions like apple picking, hay rides, and pumpkin patches.  This was the perfect week to do fall themed tot school activities and talk about the changing weather.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Fall Week:

And here is what we actually did:
Each day we read a different fall book.  I had a large bin with lots of books to read throughout the day, but here are our 5 favorites:
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! by Lucille Colandro
I See Fall by Charles Ghinga
Let It Fall by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Fall Sticker Pictures:
You can never go wrong with stickers, and they are great for fine motor practice too, especially the foam ones with the peel off backing.  These Fall Leaf Glitter Foam Stickers were so pretty I gave them to Madelynn with some crayons and scissors and let her create whatever her little heart desired.
Dot Painting Fall Tree: 
Painting with a q-tip takes lots of concentration and patience, both of which are great skills for Madelynn to practice.  I started by painting Madelynn's arm brown and stamping it for the tree. Then she used q-tips and fall colors to dot stamp leaves on the tree.  She got a little wild and started painting all over on the side of the page when her patience for dipping and dotting ran out, so we decided that was a leaf pile and it was time to be done with this activity.

Tear Paper Fall Tree:
For this project I printed a pretty black and white tree and let Madelynn tear fall colored construction paper into tiny "leaves" then glue them onto the tree. I find it is easier for her to tear the paper if I first cut it into smaller strips. If she is still frustrated then I start small tear for her as a guide then she usually does a great job pulling them apart.
Blowing Leaf Prewriting:
Madelynn is getting more and more precise with her coloring these days and actually tries to stay within the lines a bit so I decided it was time to try some prewriting tracers with her to get ready for writing letters. I was pleasantly surprised with how well she did. She did ask for me to help her a lot so I did hand over hand writing a few times with her to help build up her confidence to try it herself.
Yarn Wrap Tree:
I found this gorgeous wooden tree cut out in the dollar spot at target and knew I had to find something to do with it this week. I picked up some fall colored yarn and had Madelynn wrap the tree for a fun fall look. It was actually really challenging to help her figure out how to hold the yarn tightly while wrapping the tree.
ABC Leaf Hunt:
Madelynn was a big fan of our number apple hunt, so I thought we'd give it a try with letters. I printed leaves with all of the letters A-Z and hid them around the house. She used the recording sheet and a clipboard to color each letter as she found them.  She searched for about 20 minutes and even found almost all of the letters before she was tired of the game and moved on to something else.
Indoor Leaf Raking:
The leaves haven't quite started to fall here yet, so we had to practice some leaf raking indoors. I scattered Silk Leaves around the living room and gave Madelynn her Plastic Rake. This kept her VERY busy! I only wish we had enough silk leaves to make a fun pile to jump in :)
Leaf Toss & Pick Up:
Using the same leaves from above we had a little fun tossing and picking up the leaves as well. I gave Madelynn a small basket to collect the leaves which she thought was perfect for dumping over her head too.
Fall Krispy Treats:
Rics Krispy Treats are a family favorite around here. Its super easy to modify them for any theme and I love that they are easy for Madelynn to help make. For our fall themed treats we added fall colored sprinkles and used leaf and acorn cookie cutters to make fun shapes.  They didn't last long as we were all snacking on them every day!
Fall Tree Snack:
When I am planning out our snacks I try to find at least a few easy treats that I have all of the ingredients on hand to minimize my running to the grocery store.  Pretzel sticks and rods get used A LOT in our snack so I always have them on hand.  I modeled for Madelynn how to build a tree with the large rods and small sticks then gave her apple jacks for the changing color leaves.  Easy Peasy!
Fall Muddy Buddies:
Peanut Butter and Chocolate, need I say more? Muddy buddies are a childhood favorite of mine and Madelynn had never tried this sugary delicious treat so I figured go big right? We made the regular Muddy Buddy recipe you find on the Chex box and then added fall colored goodness to sweeten it up even more.  I added peanuts, Reese's pieces, mini Reese's cups, and peanut butter chips, because you can never have too much peanut butter!
Fall Snack Mix:
This was another one of those snacks where I just kind of threw in a little bit of everything we had in the house.  In this mix we used Cheerios, Kix cereal, dried cranberries, peanuts, cashews, and Rreese's pieces.
Fall Colors Sensory Bin:
For this bin I started with pinecones from the craft store then threw in lots of small red, orange, and yellow toys that I found around our house.  I printed a simple color sorting mat and gave Madelynn a sorting tray to use as well.
Fall Button Trees:
For this sensory bin I found all the fall colored buttons we had and dumped them on a tray. I twisted some pipe cleaners together to make trees and had Madelynn add the buttons for leaves.
Fall Slime:
Making slime is so much fun, if you've never tried it you are missing out! Here is the recipe I use to make our slime:
First, dissolve 1 tsp of borax powder into 1 cup of water. Next in another bowl measure out about 1/2 cup of clear glue and mix with 1/2 cup of water until well mixed. Then pour the glue/water mixture into borax/water mixture. (If you are adding color add it to the water borax mixture before combining the 2) Last, get messy! That's right use your hand to mix it all together It will start out clumpy but will come together as you mix. There will be water left over that you can toss.  Let the slime sit for a few minutes in a clean bowl and it will be even more fun to play with. For our fall slime I gave Madelynn Fall Acrylic Leaf Table Scatter and let her push the pieces into the slime as well, but you could add it in before mixing or do without. Enjoy!
Fall Pom Pom Bin:
I kept things simple for this bin. All that we used were fall colored pom poms in various sizes and mini silk leaves.  I gave Madelynn a bunch of our sensory bin scoops, bowls, etc and let her explore.

Whew! That's it, we had another busy and fun filled week. If you'd like any of the printables we used this week you can grab them here:

Here is what we have planned for the next 2 weeks:

And the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here: