Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Social Fun

Today Aidyn spent the better part of the day playing with his cousins Julia and Susie. They talked, laughed, played hide-n-seek, and poked around on Mother Goose Games. Aidyn showed Julia all his favorite games including Jack Be Nimble, Babies Tap 'n' Type, and the Cow that Jumped Over the Moon. At one point, we all watched the classic Sesame Street African Alphabet song. Throughout the day, Ladysmith Black Mambazo played on the cd player. Right now, Aidyn is going down for a late nap while watching Anansi. We plan on going to our mini-goal destination this Saturday, and I have an idea to end Africa month with a diarama of our craft animals.

I also need to plan out next year's curriculum. With a wonderful adventure-destination in mind, next year is sure to be a blast!

Monday, June 29, 2009

African Books

Today Aidyn and I got some couch time and read through some new books. First we read two zebra books entitled Naughty! and Gorgeous! by Caroline Castle and Sam Childs. The illustrations were adorable and the storylines were very understandable to a preschooler. We also read Shanti by Maartje Padt and Mylo Freeman, and I found it to be such a touching little story. Aidyn enjoyed the suspense of what animal was "popping out" next. Finally, we read an African story called Honey...Honey...Lion! by Jan Brett. The illustrations were superb and realistic, so Aidyn and I took the opportunity to name some African animals while reading the story. Embedded in the tale was a also a lesson on the importance of sharing and karma. Throughout our reading, we were reintroduced to Aidyn's new vocabulary word, savanna, and a host of animals that live there.

For the remainder of the week, I have similar-themed coloring pages for him to color and more African music to listen to. I also picked up an Anansi dvd collection to further familiarize him with that tricky spider character.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prize for Reading

Since Aidyn completed five books of required summer reading, he was awarded a little prize for his efforts: a cute couple of coloring pages and crayons. When we went grocery shopping afterward, he proudly tucked his crayons in his back pocket and made several references to them. First thing when we arrived home, he colored his pages and showed them to his grandma, his daddy, and I. I'm so glad that he has artistic interests. Moreso, I am delighted that he's practicing the early stages of handwriting and letter-writing through creative art. Soon enough, his little finger muscles will be ready for tracing! Interestingly enough, he's still ambidextorous; he uses both hands at different times to do everything from coloring to painting to digging. He comes from a family of mainly right-handers, but it is true that David's father is ambidextorous as well and even used to (and perhaps still does) draw identical pictures with both right and left hands simultaneously.

African Crafts and Books

This morning, Aidyn and I worked on an elephant craft. I had saved a toilet paper roll and found elephant templates. First we had a mini-lesson about how white makes colors lighter. In this instance, we changed black to gray. Aidyn painted the tp roll gray while I cut out elephant body parts such as the head, legs, "hands," tail, and I also cut out an added peanut. When Aidyn finished painting, he colored all the body parts while we talked about where some elephants live and referenced picture books. While still waiting, we read We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns. It was such a sweet little counting-adventure book and, in the back, were pages filled with Tanzanian facts and animal words translated to Swahili. I added those words to our Swahili poster along with our Swahili numbers. Afterward, we read Anansi's Party Time by Eric A. Kimmel. The story of Anansi has its roots in African folklore. We also flipped through Look Book by Tana Hoban for our picture book requirement for summer reading. Finally, when everything dried, Aidyn glued on the body parts and I helped direct. We talked about elephant characteristics and their special appearance. When we were done, Aidyn ran and showed his grandma and proceeded to "teach" her all he learned.

Later, Aidyn made a savanna picture. Yesterday I created a base for the project. On a sheet of construction paper, I added yellow construction paper grass and drew an acacia tree in the background. I found some African animal templates, printed and cut them out. So Aidyn colored them and glued them in the scene where he saw fit. Meanwhile we talked about a certain kind of landscape in Africa called the savanna and how they have these tall, thin acacia trees. We also hunted for Africa on our globe and ran our fingers over the mountain ridges.

He went down for a nap while watching How the Leopard Got His Spots, narrated by Danny Glover. It's also a folktale from Africa. During the last week, Aidyn also watched Africa-related videos such as Children's Stories from Africa, The Lion King, and Tarzan.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Video Staple

Everyday since launching African Month, Aidyn and I have sat down, watched, and sang with this video. Aidyn's mama is a vintage video nut, and this one fits our theme as well as the respect for nostalgia. I find Kermit's ABC song amazingly beautiful, and I hope that translates into wonderful memories for Aidyn in the future.
Excite the
Glade, in my
Heart how
I do
Jump like the
Listen to the
Music so
Nice the
Rests the
Under the
Vine tree at the
Water's side and
X marks the place 'neath the
Yellow moon where the
Zulu chief and I did hide.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Virtual Safari

The other day, Aidyn and I went on a "virtual safari" thanks to our special edition of The Lion King. Within the second disc is a cute interactive program featuring Timon and Pumbaa reeling through the African safari. So we played along. Aidyn decided all the turns to make, and he named all the animals we encountered along the way.

He also watched The Lion King, and I reiterated where lions are from. He has also seen Go, Diego, Go: Safari Rescue, and he brushed up on already-familiar African animals such as elephants, prairie dogs, and hawks.

I picked up more African books at the library and have a zebra craft idea to work in.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

African Dunk

This morning, Aidyn and I made a lion craft to officially kick off Africa month. Basically I took an old soap box, taped it shut, and showed Aidyn how to paint it. While he painted the box, I cut out shapes for the lion's head, legs, and tail. We waited for the paint to dry and Aidyn glued the limbs on the box thus creating a soap box lion. He decided to name him "Babu," and we talked about how he lives in Africa and grew a mane when he became a daddy. Looking at pictures of younger male lions and lionesses, we discussed who has a mane and who doesn't.

Afterwards, we read many Africa-themed books such as The Sleepy Litttle Lion by Margaret Wise Brown, Moja Means One by Muriel and Tom Feelings, Emeka's Gift by Ifeoma Onyefulu, Kente Colors by Debbi Chocolate, and we browsed through the Eyewitness: Africa text. With Brown's book, we were able to bring up the subject of manes again, as our sleepy little lion had yet to develop one. With Kente Colors and Emeka's Gift we absorbed some African culture and words unfamiliar to us. With Moja Means One, we test-drove some Swahili words. In these books and with our globe at home, we identified the continent of Africa as well. All of these activities were done while we listened to Putumayo Kids: African Dreamland on the cd player.

I am excited to have started off African month so positively and creatively. So far, Aidyn seems enthusiastic about the subjects we've covered. We can't wait to learn more!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Africa Month

Theme: Africa
Music: African Music

Goal Trip: African exhibit at Haggin Museum

This month's theme will take us to the continent of Africa. We will not only explore the animal life that roams the area, but we'll learn about African culture, music, and language. We plan to read some books about the Swahili language and learn some new words. African music will play randomly throughout the month, and we'll watch videos about African life.

This month marks the end for our current destination-based curriculum. After this study concludes, we will review what we've learned so far, and then we are ready to jet to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The rest of the year will be spent continuing unit studies (only without a marked destination), and I plan to include units on specific authors (Dr. Suess, Beatrice Potter, Maurice Sendak weeks!), activities (karate, baseball, etc), and other stuff. I will also be building the curriculum for next year; we have a grand plan for our apex destination!

Bugs in the Garden Synopsis

Although this month was more of a review, Aidyn still learned new things. Throughout the month, we read really sweet books about both bugs and gardens. Our favorites had to be The Very Quiet Cricket and Zinnia's Flower Garden. We also created some bug crafts, played with bug models, and Aidyn even ate bug-themed foods. Exploring local gardens, Aidyn added many new plants' names to his vocabulary and was introduced to common garden tools. Additionally, this month I learned to compost and Aidyn involved himself in the process. We're still dying to add worms to our heap and watch them attack the food!

We also took in some side experiences at our local library: once we saw a ventriliquist and recently we heard a very animated storyteller.

As an ending project, Aidyn and I crafted an outdoor bug-'n'-garden scene. On a sky blue piece of construction paper, I added a strip of green construction paper and cut the top so it appeared to be grass. After I added a yellow sun, Aidyn applied bug and flower stickers everywhere. It was a great time to review who went where. Do flowers go on the sun, in the sky, or in the grass? Does this caterpillar fly in the sky or crawl on the ground? Where does this tomato grow?

On the whole, we had a blast this month!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Yesterday Aidyn, his daddy, and I went to the library's first summer program featuring a ventriloquist. He was a zany and educational performer, and we all had a blast watching his antics. Afterward, Aidyn played on the playground with a zillion children and then we called it a day. : )

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bug Play

Yesterday I picked up a small set of bug toys for Aidyn. We scattered them on the table, played with, and talked about them. For some of the less familiar insects, we flipped through our Eyewitness Insects book for further pictures and details. Playing around with these figures proved a valuable learning lesson for us both.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dirt and Bugs

Over the past two days, Aidyn has been helping me with our compost. I introduced it to him on Sunday morning and he watched me dump new kitchen scraps on the pile. He was a captive audience to my turning the compost and he then helped me gather dry leaves for the top layer. This morning, he helped me add pine needles, weeds, and tiny fistfuls of dry leaves and watched again as I turned it in. Later we sat on the ground near our sandy soil and "crunched" dirt rocks. We even found a few colorful pebbles and alloted them to their own pile. Later we took a small side trip to the park and Aidyn ran around with a troop of fifth graders. On the way, we spied bugs, picked flowers, and sang our phonics song. Hungry, we arrived home and I fixed Aidyn some butterfly toast. I toasted a slice of bread and cut it diagonally. I arranged the two halves so that they looked like butterfly wings. Cutting a strawberry in half, I created a head and constructed antennae. I made a blueberry body and used sliced strawberries for wing decorations. After I drizzled some honey over it, Aidyn scarfed it down with enthusiasm.

A couple days ago, we also took in the books Bugs by David T. Greenburg, What Does Bunny See? by Linda Sue Park, and our favorite among the three, Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham. We also signed up for our yearly summer reading at our local library and are looking forward to their upcoming programs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

OSH tour

This morning, Aidyn and I toured our local Orchard Supply Warehouse--notably, the garden section. We walked through the outdoor aisles of plants and touched and smelled many flowers, leaves, cacti, and shrubs. Aidyn daringly examined the big water fountains (which he called "mountains") and slipped his hand on the streaming water. Next, we looked around at the garden tools and I explained most of their names and functions (Aidyn liked the weedwhackers!). Later we went to the library and checked out more books on bugs and gardens.