Teaching about anything creepy and crawly really isn't my forte. Truth be told I kind of freak when I see any critters running around (let's not even get into my fear of mice!).  But I do my best to suck it up and teach about things like bats and spiders every year and we had a really fun week getting into the Halloween spirit!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Bats & Spiders Week:

And here is what we actually did:
Each day we read a spider or bat themed book.  I also pulled out as many other bat and spider books as I could find to read throughout the day. Here were our favorites:

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Miss Spiders Tea Party by David Kirk
Aaaarrgghh!Spider! by Lydia Monks
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

 Spider Ring Stacking:
Madelynn loved stacking, sorting (and wearing) these little spider rings. I loved that this activity was cheap and easy to set up! Start with a few blobs of play dough, stick some straws in, pour out a bag of dollar store spider rings, and let your little one explore!
Sticky Window Spider Web:
I've been seeing lots of sticky window and sticky wall set ups from other tot schoolers I follow so I decided to give it a shot.  Let me tell you that this was probably the most engaged I've seen Madelynn in any new activity we've tried since the first day she discovered water beads.  All you need to do for this fine motor activity is tape a sheet of contact paper sticky side out to a window or wall.  Give your little some string and small felt spiders and let them explore.  It's like a sticker book that just keeps on giving.  We will definitely be doing more activities like this again!
 Spider Web Rubbing:
This activity turned out to be a little trickier than I thought it would be but we made it work with lots of hands on help from me.  I started by creating a web with hot glue on a sheet of cardstock. After that cooled I gave Madelynn a white sheet of cardstock and an unwrapped black crayon to rub over top.  Well the paper slid all over and she was quickly frustrated.  I tried taping both pages together and that helped a little, but it was still a little tricky so we ended up doing the rubbing together.

Bat Bead Bracelet:
I found these cute bat beads at the craft store and added a few Halloween colored beads to the mix for Madelynn to use.  I taped a piece of elastic to our tray for Madelynn to thread the beads on to and she created this cute little bracelet to wear for Halloween.
Spider Web Balance:
This was such a fun activity for a variety of gross motor practice.  I started with white electrical tape and created a web on the floor.  Then I asked Madelynn to balance on each line to cross the web. After she did this a few times, she got down on he ground and pretended to be a spider crawling on her web.  Then we practiced hopping on one foot, jumping, sliding and rolling on the web.
Spider Web Toss:
For this throwing game, I took some of the cheap Halloween cobweb material you can find at the dollar store and strung it across our staircase.  Then I gave Madelynn some glittery plastic spiders to throw.  The web is so sticky that even if the spiders barely touched it they stuck, so it was easy for Madelynn to feel successful.
 Spider Web Obstacle Course:
While Madelynn was sleeping I used white streamers and created a huge spider web in our dinning room. I choose to make it there because the chairs were really useful for making the web zig zag up and down and all over the room. I told Madelynn that she was a bug that had to fly through the web without getting stuck or the spider would eat her. Honestly Madelynn thought this game was fun, but actually enjoyed tearing the streamers down more than crawling through them.

 Fruit Spider Snack:
Madelynn helped make this snack by threading the raisins onto the toothpick legs.  Then she proceeded to decide she doesn't like raisins and just ate the grapes.  Sometimes you just can't win with a toddler, haha.
 Spider Snack:
To make our spider webs I laid pretzels out on a plate and used melted white candy to connect the pieces. I also found these cute little wafer spiders to sprinkly on top.
Bat Snack:
For this bat snack I filled a snack baggie with Halloween themed grape gummies and added a clothes pin that I colored and glued eyes to.
Chocolate Bat Snack:
This snack was my favorite because I had to eat a bunch of leftover chocolate ;) I started with a chocolate HoHo in the middle.  Then I broke apart chocolate bars for the wings.  Next I used a Hershey kiss for the head, added mini chocolate chips for ears, and candy eyes to finish off the face.
 Spider Web Sensory Bin:
Our first sensory bin this week was made with the same web we used for the spider toss game. Getting the spiders unstuck from the web was quite the challenge and great for building those little hand muscles.
 Spider Ice Sensory Play:
This activity was really messy but a lot of fun for Madelynn. I spread some shaving cream webs out on our tray and then added black ice spiders that I made using a shaped ice tray I found at Dollar tree and black food coloring.
 Save the Spiders:
This bin was all about fine motor practice.  I wrapped our sensory bin with yarn, then dropped the spider rings inside.  Madelynn had to rescue the spiders with her tongs by reaching through the webs.
 Bat Sensory Bin:
This bin was made with orange ring and black bow tie pasta shapes. The bow tie pasta made such perfect little bats. I planned to make counting sheets for this one but ran out of time, so we just had free time with this one.
Bat Light Box:
I don't really have an official light box, but I found these battery powered LED lights in the Target Dollar Spot so I threw them in an empty Sterilite container and put our clear IKEA tray on top and it actually worked pretty well. I wasn't sure what I wanted to use since this was our first attempt at using a light box, so I started out with a few bat cut outs on top. When that really wasn't holding Madelynn's attention, I  poured our bat sensory bin on top too for her to play with. She had fun making the bats fly through the night sky and pretended to give them all eyes too.
If you'd like any of the printables we used this week you can grab them here:

That's it for this week. We are busy with more Halloween fun for now. 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:


January:

February:

September:

October:
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:


Sept:
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 brings...apple 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.
And to grab even more reading response FREEEBIES sign up here!

FREE Reading Response Pages!




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