Discovering the Rainforest Floor with Experience Early Learning Curriculum
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
It has been another fun week of exploration at Green Sprouts Family Childcare with the help of Experience Early Learning. This months theme is RAINFOREST and we are well on our way! This week so far, we have discovered and investigated Jaguars, Roots, Lily Pads and Mushrooms! Our week was full of hands on activities and great discussions about each topic. Research shows children learn best through hands on experience and this months curriculum is full of activities that engage the children and encourage them to make observations, predictions and use their five senses to explore. Our classroom has been transformed into a rainforest with hanging paper vines and a leafy canopy complete with monkeys! We are excited to continue exploring through the month and I wanted to stop and share what we have worked on so far in November! Welcome to our RAINFOREST!
J IS FOR JAGUAR! (Lesson #1)
In our first lesson this week we focused on the letter J. We watched a short video about Jaguars and learned that they are the biggest cats in the Americas, weighing up to 200 pounds! https://youtu.be/b9BT7Y1NmbQ
The children used markers to decorate paper J's and bring them to life at our creative art table. This activity was a great, open ended opportunity for the children to use their artistic skills and imagination.
FOREST FLOOR STEAM SENSORY BIN
We had a great time exploring the rainforest floor on this day. The children used spray bottles with water to moisten the soil. They built forest floor shelters for animals and worked as a team to build ponds for frogs. I love sensory bin activities, they promote language development, cognitive growth and social interaction among other things. Children learn best through play and sensory bins provide a multitude of developmental skills while the children are just....playing.
SLIMY SAND RAINFOREST
I love light table activities. This activity was super fun for the kids. We poured slimy sand on the light table and added in our favorite rainforest creatures and trees!
STAMPING OUR OWN RAINFORESTS
I purchase curriculum Toy Boxes each month that go along with our themes. This month we received a rainforest stamp set in our box and used it with the suggested activity "What animals live in your rainforest?" The children spent long stretches of time at the stamp table creating.
ROOTS (Lesson #2)
Our second lesson this week was all about roots. We explored two different types of roots, the taproot and fibrous root. A taproot is a single "anchor" root such as on a yam. Fibrous roots, which are smaller and threadlike are seen in green onions and trees like the palm tree; they are shallow but strong. We learned these facts from a short video in circle time prior to starting our exploration.
The children had an opportunity to explore several different edible root types through the hands on STEAM activity recommended in the Teacher Guide Book. I expanded on this activity and we created a chart using our sense of sight, touch, smell and taste for each root type.
I helped the children open the roots with a potato peeler and we recorded our findings on the chart. This activity allowed for great observations, discussion and language usage. I find that when a lesson allows hands on learning, we gain a lot more as a group and the children interact as a team of investigators! These types of activities are always the ones which are talked about at home as well. The children were so excited to show their parents the plate of opened roots when they were picked up. The parents are then welcomed in to the discussion and conversation can continue at home.
Using our sense of smell to explore each type of root. Radish and Carrot both have a taproot.
Using our fine motor skills to twist and pluck the radishes.
SPROUT OBSERVATION ACTIVITY
Here at Green Sprouts Family Childcare, we are always excited about SPROUTS! On this day the creative art project was mixed with science which is a trend so far in the RAINFOREST theme. We used the provided curriculum materials and added our own cut sweet potatoes to "plant" and record observations. The children will be watering their sweet potatoes each day and as the next four weeks pass, we will be revisiting the observation sheet and recording our findings. The children will eventually take their sprouted sweet potatoes home and maybe they can create their own gardens! Another great example of extending our daily lessons to the families at home.
Recording observations of our sweet potatoes on day #1.
Three sweet potatoes ready! The other children in the program will create one as well so we can all do this activity together, regardless of which day the children attend.
LILY PADS (Lesson #3)
Our third lesson this week was so fun! Did you know that lily pads are the leaves of aquatic flowers like the lotus flower? We had a wonderful day creating our very own lotus flower art. The children used markers, muffin cups and paper plates to imagine their own ponds and lily pads. We watched a short video on how lily pads grow and pollinate and the children used this open ended art project to create beautiful art to take home. https://youtu.be/WPR8kxTyG9Q
Another great table top activity we worked on for this day was our rainforest journal. I simplified this activity a little bit for the developmental abilities of the children in my group. We used colored stars to count and stick on the numbered 5 and 6 pages. On the D, J and M pages we traced and wrote our letters but also glued on the corresponding letter picture. The kids were so proud to take them home to share with their grown ups. We ended up swapping our crayons for markers.
SENSORY TABLE LILY PADS
As a childhood provider and early childhood educator, my goal is to immerse the children in each theme to encourage exploration and play experiences. I love to make each theme come to life! I enjoy getting to use MY imagination to dream up fun activities to go along with the curriculum. This week I put together some fun sensory tables surrounding the STEAM activity in the teacher guide book. We used lily pads, frogs, gems and river rocks to test the sink and float ability of lily pads!
MUSHROOM! (Lesson #4)
On this day mushrooms were all the rage! We started out in circle time with a video about mushroom farming! https://youtu.be/RlDixWCfIYU
Did you know that mushrooms are not plants or animals? They are fungi and are a class of their own. They rely on a host or other source for food (like humans) and they breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide (like humans.) Plants use sunlight to go through photosynthesis and make their own food but mushrooms do not need sunlight and can grow in total darkness. Mushrooms are a lot more like people than plants!
We explored button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms using our sense of touch, smell, sight and taste in circle time. We also found a great mushroom growing kit and will be making observations over the next few weeks as we watch them grow. We will be harvesting them and cooking them in the future.
MUSHROOM MATH GAME
On this day our creative art activity was also a fun math game! I made my own game prior to our day together so we could play the math game in circle time as a group. We took turns planting and picking mushrooms (colored beads) based on the number card we picked. The kids really had fun with this, we had watched a mushroom farming video so we pretended we too were mushroom farmers. We cooked our play doh the previous day and used half of it for this project and the other half for our mushroom picking activity later in the day.
BUILDING OUR MUSHROOM MATH GAMES
The children needed a little of help from me to staple the mushrooms to their stalks. We tried tape but they fell off when the mushrooms were picked. Aside from stapling and some adult supervision with cutting, the kids were able to build their games pretty independently. I use curriculum which is geared toward children ages 3-5. For my students under 3 years, I can tailor the activities or simplify them based on that particular child's ability.
After the children completed their games, we packaged up their game pieces and play doh to take home. I included a photo copied page of the Make & Play section of the Teacher's Guide Book so that parents would know how to play the game with their children. The parents were excited to have the games go home.
I used our left over home made playdough to set up "picking mushrooms" table top game. This is a great fine motor activity! The children used tweezers to plant and pick mushrooms (colored beads) from the playdough.
STEAM ACTIVITY "MOLD"
This weeks lesson had a great STEAM recommendation called "What does mold need to grow?" We first investigated three "clean" slices of bread and then add sugar, water and our touches to them. We used the inspiration photos to talk about mold and how mold is a fungus just like mushrooms. We sealed our prepared bread slices in labeled bags and will be recording our observations as the month goes on. I expanded on this activity by making a photo copy of the observation chart from the Sprout
Experiment in lesson #2. Along with watching for mold growth, we will chart the changes like we are with our sprouting sweet potatoes.
It will be interesting to see if our sugar, water or touch bread will grow the mold mold! Check back to see our results in a few weeks!
We will see you soon as we continue to explore the RAINFOREST #ExperienceEarlyLearning
Check out some of the books we read this week!