Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Plants Need to Grow

For the opener, I will read another book on plants that in more scientific.  After the story, we can post our ideas about "What Plants Need to Grow".  I am hoping for answers such as water, sun, dirt.

1st activity will be soil exploration.  I will have different soil samples that Indi and I dug from around the yard (you can bring some soil samples too if you like...maybe about 2 cups soil of each)  I want the kids to take note of how each one feels, smells, looks, etc.  I was thinking we could try putting them in order from the sandiest (lightest) sample, to the densest and heaviest sample (like from sand or silt to clay).  I don't want a ton of samples...just 3 or 4.  I have plenty of heavy clay in my yard and I have some nice garden soil and compost. I have sand in the sandbox I could use.  If you have anything in between you want to contribute, feel free...otherwise, no worries.  I think we will have enough.

Making hypotheses...Which soil will hold the most water?  Since plants also need water, it is important that soil be capable of holding water like a sponge. We can have them pour a measured amount of water on the sponge, then lift the sponge to see how much was absorbed and how much is left over in the bottom of the dish.  Then we can pour the same measure of water on each or our soil samples placed over a piece of mesh to see if each sample absorbs more or less thatn the sponge.  We can then place them in order from the least to the most absorbant.  Then make a hypothesis as to which soil might be the best soil to grow plants in and why?  Is there such a thing as a plant getting too much water?  not enough? (I don't think we will make it through all of these questions with each kid...but you see where I am going I think).

Break for snack, water, and stories.

Plant a bean seed in 3 types of soil...sand, clay, and humus/compost mix.  Observe at home...which one grows the best.

I thought we could try flower pounding for an art project if we get to it.  I have a book here on it and we can go outside and pick some dandelions and try it out if we get there.

We need to add ideas to our board after we do our "lessons" and observations.
Obviously lunch needs to happen at around noon.  What do you want to do for lunch?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our First Day

Our first day together was a big success.  We did a lot of what was planned, but unable to do everything.  I figured as much though.  I purposely planned more than we needed *just in case*.  I will post photos soon.  I think all three kids were engaged and had a good time. 

One thing I had forgotten to do and now realize that I need to, is to make sure each of us has a large water bottle upstairs.  We were all exhausted by the end of the day, but I think much of it had to do with dehydration.  I didn't realize this until everyone left and I was sooooo thirsty.

I am already beginning to get ideas about our next meeting.  I think I would like to focus on what plants need to grow and then focus on soil.  We can examine 'living' soil and plant another bean seed in various forms of soil-sand, compost, humus, and clay perhaps.  We can make hypothesese about the porosity of these substrates and experiment by pouring a measured amount of water through them to see how they drain.  I am sure by then I can come up with a lot more on soil as well.  I know I would love to build a mini worm bin at some point but that might not come until the 3rd day and we can use the worms as a tie in between soil and insects and other critters (sort of a good bug/bad bug day if you will).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lesson Plan for Day 1 Things That Grow

begin at 10:30 ish-11:00  Opener, KWL, Being a scientist, Seed Sort, and Hypothesis (upstairs classroom)

5 minutes- read an opener TBD  book

5 minutes- adapted KWL chart  corkboard or something else to serve as a bulletin board, index cards, markers, simple plant graphics for vocab, something to pin up cards

10 minutes- Being a scientist-observation and hypothesis (see and guess), to use a magnifying glass. provide several different kinds of seeds of varying shapes, sizes, and color...document questions and comments as child observe with magnifying glasses  3 magnifying glasses, seeds of various shapes, sizes, and colors

5 minutes-  Seed sorting and diagram introduction. Allow children to sort seeds as they see fit show a simple Venn diagram and briefly show how seeds can be sorted. This is a trial activity as they may simply not understand the Venn diagram at this age, but if they don't, it will serve as a good intro for the next time we use one.  Large Paper with Venn Diagram, seeds from previous activity

5 minutes-  Making Hypotheses (guessing) Provide pumpkin seeds, apple seeds, bean seeds,pea seeds, sunflower seeds, and orange seeds. Provide pictures of the plants that are grown from these seeds and ask the children to guess which seeds grow into which plants. Make sure there are enough for each child to have their own set up. Ask them why they guessed the way they did.  Pumpkin seeds, apple seeds, bean seeds, orange seeds, pea seeds, sunflower seeds, color pictures of a pumpkin vine and pumkin, apple tree and apple, orange tree and orange, pea vines and peas, and a sunflower plant

11:00-11:30 Art project and Clean-up (upstairs classroom)

20 minutes-  Seed art, skill gluing. Allow childen to design a mosaic using seeds and glue. Show them how to apply glue and beans as in this project 
Cushion time to finish whatever we need to finish, read a book, clean up or whatever  A LOTof Glue (Elmer's), paintbrushes, 5 nice pieces of cardboard, dry beans (kidney, black beans, peas, lentils etc.) of different colors and sizes, simple designs we can quickly and easily draw for the kids, pencils 

11:30-12:30 Lunch and Play (backyard and patio)
60 minutes-  Lunch together and playtime outside. I would like to make an obstacle course that day too and the kids can play on it. I am looking at what motor skills need to be practiced. This site has a lot of good ideas. I think I will have some stuff on hand and build part of it and allow the kids to design one or two other elements.  Interesting stuff to make obstacles, lunch (I think I will make something  that I can incorporate lots of seeds into such as beans and weenies, trail mix, seeded wheat bread or corn bread, and some fruit.  I would prefer to eat family style...what do you think?)

12:30-1:00 Plant seeds and Hypothesize (backyard and inside)

30 minutes-  Plant some seeds outside in pots. Plant some in regular pots and some bean seeds in glass so that you can see underground what is happening. Take pictures of this daily and post on blog. Make sure each child can take a pot home too. Place one pot in a dark closet and have children make a hypothesis about what will happen, record.  Bean seeds and other large and easy seeds (peas, sunflowers, and anything else they might want to try), seed starting soil, hose and end sprayer, tray, watering cans, spoons for scooping dirt, large old dish for holding dirt, glass jar, observation booklet for drawing what you see (for us to assist), notepad and pencil

1:00- Close, KWL additions, and possibly another book (upstairs classroom)

5-10 minutes-  Closing...a time to add to our KWL chart and possibly read another book if there's the time or desire

*Be prepared to take home mosaic art and potted seeds with observation booklet

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lesson Plan for Day 1

I used an online lesson planner to show you our schedule, but I can't totally get it figured out.

This is the link, but I am not sure you can access it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Links of interest for Co-op time and homeschooling

Online lessons and quizzes

Online reading

Online connections

for older students

Curriculum thread on Well Trained Mind forum

Open Court Resources, plans, units, etc.

Building a co-op,TX

Awesome Curriculum and Planning site

My new favorite homeschooling blog

Another one, with an awesome math this

Milky Swirls

and some more...

Homeschool Message Boards

Curriculum Reviews

Things That Grow- Initial Thoughts and Notes

For Day 1, I would like to try starting out with some What do I know and What do I Wonder time.  In school they called it a KWL chart (what do you know, what do you want to know, and at the end...what did you learn).  I always found KWL's to be a little strange however because most young children do not really understand the 'W' portion.  To keep the pressure off, I find it easier to ask simply what do you know and if any wonderings come up during that time, I write them down as a question to be answered later.  I will probably make a new bulletin board in my spare room for these ideas to live.  I am going to need a big piece of cork board however so if you have any around that you can spare, please let me know.  I do plan on writing the ideas down initially and then adding some simple graphics to make the ideas more accessible to the children.

The question I am putting out there for the first day (since we won't have had a previous discussion to pull from) is "What does a plant need to grow?"  For simplicity sake, I will be focusing on light, water, and soil.  We will talk about seeds briefly and spend some time looking at various seeds.

Seed sorting (size and color emphasized)
Seed guessing...what kind of plant comes from which seed.  I will have them make some guesses about which seed grows which kind of plant using the picture on the seed packet.  Do larger plants come from larger seeds?  Do smaller plants come from smaller seeds?  Does the size of the seed determine the size of the plant (sunflower seeds are great to pair up against something like zinnia seed, but I would also like to put perhaps some apple seeds out to show that the size of the seed does not always determine the size of the plant that will grow from it).

Indi does not have a lot of experience with glue and I may try to incorporate a gluing activity here depending on where things are at.

So from there, what do we do with the seed?  How do we make it gow?  Can a seed grow if we just leave it out the table for instance?  Does it need something else to help it grow?  Can we place it in a glass of water to make it grow?  Does it matter where we put it while it grows...a dark closet or near a window?  I want to jot down any ideas they have right, wrong, weird....whatever.

At this point, I would like to go outside and do an activity to get their blood moving and have some fun as well as tie in a needed skill.  Indi needs help with fine motor skills so I thought I could do a race of sorts where they have to race to a stop where they would use a spoon to spoon potting soil into a small cup, then run to another point and pick up a bean seed with padded tweezers, run a small obstacle back and place the bean seed in the soil...with help, spoon more soil over the bean, and water in.  Once they are finished, their job would be to cheer on anyone else who was still working.  At this point I do not know if this is over ambitious for this group.  I can make adjustments as needed the day of though.  There are 2 skills addressed in the standards that are practiced of them being fine motor skills and another being the ability to follow a sequence of instructions.

We would end here and play and have lunch.  After lunch they could play a bit more.

After some play time, I thought it might be nice to have some time to share other ideas with each other that we do during the week with our kids.  Right now the most fun thing we do together is the Right Start Math.  It might be nice to try to do part of a lesson with the kids so that you could see if it is something that interests you and to see if your kids are receptive to it.

The last thing we would do on this day is talk briefly about the bean seeds we planted.  We could do an experiment to see what happens if we put one of the plants in a sunny window and another in the dark.  Keeping everything else constant as far as keeping the soil moist with plants need light?  It would be nice to have them document their seeds on a daily basis to share with the group the next time we meet.  This can be done with photos or drawings or notes dictated to you by the kids.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Welcome to Our Little Co-op

A co-op is all about cooperation.  For us, this means cooperation between moms and children to come up with ideas for themes, activities, lessons, extensions, and field trips.  Generally speaking, I am a leader type so I have no problem guiding the ship when need be, but this is not my goal.  As time passes, I hope to see a real balance of ideas, teaching styles, and information from a variety of perspectives.  We ALL have a gift and we all have something to bring to the table to teach our children something new.

To get things rolling, I took the liberty of setting up an initial schedule and theme along with a plethora of ideas on what to do with this theme.  My vision is to let the children be our guides in all of this meaning that we watch and listen to find out what themes seem appropriate for the time.  What will excite them?  What do they want to know?  What do they want to do?  For our first theme to get the ball rolling, I have chosen "Things That Grow".  It is broad enough to allow plenty of wiggle room, but does give us enough direction to do something cohesive.  Given the season and interests of my own son, this seemed like a good place to start.  After two months with this theme, we can decide together whether we need more time with this theme, whether or not it might need to be more focused, or if it's time to get a new theme all together.

As discussed, our meeting times for now will be every other Friday beginning in April. Times are from 10:30am-2pm, but this is not set in stone.  Please let's discuss if a better time will work for you.  I chose this time because Casey will be napping during most of it.

April 1st
April 15th
April 29th
May 13th
May 27th

So there are 5 commitments here and hopefully that won't be too difficult to do.  As time goes on, we can discuss whether we would like to meet each week or every other week.  As it stands now, I know I might prefer to meet each week for consistency sake, taking a week off after every 3 or 4 weeks so as not to burn out.

Here is a list of ideas I came up with along with some links and references.  PLEASE do not hesitate to send me more ideas.  We certainly do not need this huge list, but hopefully it will be a good place to look to find an idea that you feel comfortable doing with the children and that you think will resonate with them.

I expect that the first few times we meet might feel a little weird because we haven't done this before.  I think it's imporant to know this ahead of time so that we don't throw in the towel after one or two dates.  That being said...I am really excited to do this and I really think the kids will enjoy themselves.

Suggestions for Co-op time:
make mini worm bins
dig in the garden
grow seeds in pots
grow seeds in a bag
“dissect” the soil..scavenger hunt in the soil
use seeds to make a mosaic
cook with veggies
fruit salad
embroider a fruit or veggie
obstacle course (to kee your body healthy and help YOU grow)
plant a tree
dissect a flower (vocabulary: stem, leaf, petal, stamen, pistil, pollen, etc)
leaf prints
earthworm hunt
hatch ladybugs
hatch butterflies
insect idendification...helpful bugs and harmful bugs
blind taste game to identify fruits and veggies
check out related books from library to share
tie dye using plant dyes
make paper using things from the garden
visit the botanical garden in Grapevine
go on a nature walk and see how many trees we can identify or flowers, etc.
some links to a few of the hundreds of lesson plans that apply to this theme ( I do have a membership here so we can use this!)

Below is a link to the Conneticut Framework and Standards for preschool.  This is helpful to look at and see how much your kids have mastered already and which things they have not.  It might help us narrow down the types of activities we do or atleast give us more focus within any activity.  Please let me know what items you think your children need to focus on.   I have one with notes about Indi here at my house.

Hopefully this will help you feel confident in getting started with something.  I will be happy to lead on April1st.  After the first day you can let me know if you would like me to lead a few more before you give it a go or if you feel ready to lead the next go around.

Just a note about activities....I think for now, whatever activity we choose to do as a leader that week, it needs to be our individual responsibility to make arrangements or get supplies etc.  Certainly if you don't have a certain item that you need for an activity...ask me if I have it first before going to hunt one down, but in the end, it will be your (or my) responsibility to make sure everything is ready and supplies are available for the activity you have planned.  Likewise, if there are tasks that you need the other person to do or assist with during our meeting time, them this should be talked about ahead so the other person can plan ahead.

We can have lunch together of course and I haven't thought about how this should happen yet, but I am sure we can figure it out.