Saturday, October 23, 2010

Learning All About Pets

Theme: Pets
One topic that has continued to develop as a theme for what the boys want to learn about is pets.
Both Big Bro and Little Bro just adore pets of all kinds so we did a pets study of sorts,  primarily focused on pets that our family already has, including dogs, frogs, and fish, but then, we also added pets that the boys would like to have, including turtles and hamsters.
Since we had some resources to go with cats, birds, and rabbits, we touched upon these animals as pets too...

Using themes based upon their current interests gives us a way to bring the activities together for both boys but in new ways. This way, Little Bro gets to learn these concepts without it having to be a total repeat of how Big Bro learned these.
Big Bro had already learned about the parts of a fish and the life cycle of a frog, but now, we were able to revisit these concepts through doing a pets unit, keeping it interesting for both boys.

Montessori Inspired Work:
We have a set of three part cards about pets that Big Bro had already used as language work with the movable alphabet,  but then, this time, as we discussed pets, I made additional copies of the cards and the corresponding picture story starter and encouraged Big Bro to use them in new ways.
Both boys ended up cutting out a set of their own cards and made their own activities to go along with the cards. Little Bro was still able to choose to do the pets work as a language work with the movable alphabet, but it opened up new options for Big Bro...

Little Bro had some shelf work about pets where he was able to match the pet shapes to their correct homes. He enjoyed doing this work... 
For language work, Big Bro read his appropriately leveled books about pets, both independently and with me, Little Bro read his beginning reader books with me, and then, I read books to both boys, including nonfiction themed books, picture books, and longer chapter books about pets.
Little Bro also designed his own Find the Puppy book to go with our pup.
To make this book, as a fun extension after you have read Find the Puppy, have your child to make their own Find Your Pet book...
To do this, take shots of your rooms and then, have your child draw your pet. then, make copies of your child's drawing and glue each one onto its own book page. Cut flaps on your photos so that they can be lifted and your pet will be revealed underneath. Then glue the photos over the book pages and voila! Your own personal version of Find the _______(Your pet).
Little Bro had a blast making one of these!
We used the dogs that we normally have as part of our continents box for Europe as part of maps work but also as part of math work.
The boys worked together and found each dog's country of origin.
Then, from that point on, they used the dogs for different works...Little Bro used the dogs for math work, doing ordinal counting of the dogs, one to one correspondence of the dogs to little balls that he made for them out of Play Doh, and ordering them in size from biggest to smallest, etc. 
Big Bro has been working on the concept of sets and subsets, as well as greater than / less than so for his work, he used the dogs  by putting them into groups / sets such as: farm dogs, search and rescue dogs, military / police dogs, service dogs, and those considered to be toy dogs.  He made subsets that included separating out the service dogs into different types of work that they do, etc.
Then, he made sets based upon characteristics, such as those holding a toy, those showing their tongues, those showing their teeth, dogs with similar types of fur, etc. and then, he compared and contrasted the size of each set.
For a cooking project, we plan to make two kinds of homemade biscuits, one for our pup to eat and one that is meant for people to eat. Decided to wait until this weekend to make these, as I know that two kids plus a cooking  project involving flour will be a little messy but fun! Plan to let the boys use pet shaped cookie cutters for these...will have to post some photos when we do this...

Reggio Emilia Inspired Activities and Community Events, including Special Co-op Days & Field Trips
For art, we will convert the space on our lanai over to be a studio to make and create pets art projects all next week. Have been trying to get back into the groove of using the book, The Language of Art: Inquiry-Based Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings, by Ann Pelo, as both inspiration and guidance for setting up and doing Reggio Emilia studio art with the boys. But have found that what works best for us is to do one week on, one week off, with respect to setting up the studio space itself. This is because initially, we had a dedicated space to do art projects on our lanai but the boys like being out there so much to do both schoolwork and to just hand out and play out there that every other week is the best compromise for the space...
We will have materials out on the lanai for the boys to try out making watercolor and chalk pastel pets pictures, as well as clay pets. Should prove to be fun.

We have been visiting some area pet stores to learn more first hand about pets.
We had a special day with some of our co-op friends and did a "Pizza & Pets" Day.

First, we met at a pizza shop and did a little class about pets and then, we had some great pizza. Thanks to Marchello's for being good sports about letting us do a homeschool project before we had our pizza party. Worked out so perfectly though, as we had everything wrapped up by the time our pizzas were ready. We talked about how to care for a pet and then, each child drew a picture of their idea for a perfect pet and then, we went around the table and everyone shared their art and what they had learned about taking care of pets.
After we finished our yummy pizza, we walked to the nearby pet store.
The children had a fun time for the most part, although Big Bro and Little Bro learned a life's lesson: sometimes, pets bite.
Big Bro was bitten twice on his hand by Robo  / Dwarf Hamsters. He said that it only felt like a pinch, but was quite devastated to have been bitten, because he knew that this would probably put the idea of getting pet hamsters as pets to rest...and he is right, as he had not provoked them when they bit him. He was being very gentle and kind like he is naturally with all animals.
Little Bro also learned this painful lesson, only his bite and the subsequent aftermath of the bite was a bit more scary...
Since Little Bro has Von Willebrand's, when the turtle bit him on his hand, it bled and bled and bled, even though it was a rather tiny bite. Then, to make matters worse, Little Bro immediately stuck his hand into his hand into his mouth...and turtles carry salmonella, so that made us a bit nervous. Little Bro ended up vomiting around 12 hours later, so that made us worry...but it turned out that his sickness was a virus, not from the turtle bite. We took him in to be checked and they said it was not salmonella, but it made us also decide to rule out adding a pet turtle to our pet collection.
We are sticking with the pets we have and are having fun with them for now. The boys both ended up drawing pictures of their bites and we talked about what we had learned from this.

Just as we were starting to study pets, we visited the Miami Children's Museum.
Both boys enjoyed their Pet Central exhibit they had there.
Also, went to the Glazer Children's Museum, both before this unit and during this unit, to check out the Vet Clinic exhibit there, as it deals with pets as well...

We still have a few more pets related field trips in the works for next week: we are going to visit an animal hospital and a local pet shelter. Loads of real life experiences here related to pets!

For additional in-home practical life, the boys have been helping to care for our pets by feeding them and by helping to take our pup for a walk.  They helped to choose new fish tanks and new stones for our fish, as well as prepping sticks and moss for our frog. 

My awesome and very artistic cousin gave us a hand painted a vintage children's suitcase with a painting of her dog on the side. Inside the suitcase are all of Little Bro's pet stuffed animals.
He likes to take these animals out and then, with his veterinarian's kit, he pretends to be a vet and cares for the pets. Sometimes Big Bro will join in to play vet clinic with Little Bro, but most of the time, Little Bro enjoys playing this by himself.

One other material I plan to get to go along with our pets unit is made by Laughing Star Montessori called Pets Story Writing Masters.
Students trace, copy, compose and illustrate stories about pets and practice writing on lines...
Students trace or copy or compose the story. (Then) They draw a picture!

It is a neat little book of black line masters all about pets. Am in the process of reviewing some excellent Laughing Star products.
While reviewing their products, I saw that they have this neat booklet and plan to order it from them.
The products they have sent as pdf's for me to review are excellent.
Am going to run the reviews next week for all of you to read.
Please be sure to check out their website. They have some very nice free downloads  and you can also sign up to receive their newsletter. Their newsletters are great and sometimes offer some savings to their readers.
Everything I have seen about Laughing Star Montessori has been impressive, so if you are looking for some nice products, please come back next week to read my reviews and please visit their website to check their products out for yourselves.

The American Veterinary Medical Association developed a series of twelve lesson plans for National Pet Week, which is in May, but you can really use these any time of year...
These nice lesson plans, appropriate for approximately ages 4-10, can be downloaded for free and with a little tweaking, they are perfect for a Montessori inspired homeschool or classroom.

Would have uploaded more photos but got an error message that I am out of space, so will have to figure that out before I can upload any more photos or blog posts...oops!

Well, hope all of you are having a happy weekend.
We are having a good one here in the Sunshine State.

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