We are finishing up our Story Book Journey of Summer Days and Summer Nights this week. This book has given us the opportunity to explore our world in and out of the classroom with a close look at insects, birds,bees, frogs, ponds, lemonade and other summertime fun. We wanted to share some highlights of how we wrap our curriculum up in a book, and let the magic unfold.
Our classroom was transformed to a summer wonderland, with flowers and and spring green throughout. One first favorite for the children was the lemonade stand, where children were busy throughout the days, creating new drinks and selling them, sharing lemonade with hungry gardeners or the summer theater crowd. Many enjoyed coming up with new recipes. At different points during this SBJ the children had real food items to cut, such as lemon rind, lemon balm, basil and rosemary. This provides a multi sensory experience and builds confidence in small muscle skills as they use the plastic knives to cut and chop. Several days, we made real lemonade with the children, and they “sold” it to parents. Other days, they cut wooden slicing fruit and still others, we provided just abstract material, to expand divergent thinking. Examples include yellow Legos being used for corn or orange cubes used to make carrots. If not given specific items, children learn to create with what is around them. This is increasingly difficult in a day when toys come from TV shows.
The puppet theater was another busy area. Children were excited to participate in puppet shows, with caterpillars, lady
, bees, butterflies, frogs, and more. Children had opportunities to act out a story the teachers told or read, or to invent their own stories. There were always several children who would watch these stories, waiting for their turn. This gave them the chance to be in the spotlight as well as be an audience member.
Insects were in every part of the classroom. One set up, with blocks and silk flowers, showed the layers of ground, with flowers and butterflies on top, and worms and bug in the lower levels, Children could tend to the flowers, pulling weeds, or play with the worms and insects “underground.” There was an “ant hill,” where children could move the ants to the different “rooms.” A poster showed how ants have different areas for egg laying, caring for larvae, storing food, collecting trash, etc. We used scientific cards to show children real pictures and of different insects, to give depth to their play. The children dawned costumes and went through metamorphosis, crawling on giant leaves and hiding in a giant cocoon before emerging with wings. They were bees, flying from flower to flower, collecting pollen, and bringing back to the hive, or doing a bee communication dance, to indicate the direction of the pollen. With spiders, children did a range of act outs from the simple Itsy Bitsy Spider to creating costumes for the seven spider siblings and putting on a productions of Anansi. Other act outs included: George Shrinks, The Hungry Caterpillar, The Busy Spider, The Littles, The Busy Bees and more.
Our sensory table was a frog pond, a worm and dirt table and a bean and bug table at different points throughout this SBJ. Children used the pond to act out the 5 Green and Speckled Frogs song, and use the frogs to search under foam lily pads for insects in the water. Little people in boats joined this play, and the children acted out the book, Jump Frog Jump.
Art creations included spider webs, birds nests, birds, lemonade stands and puppets. All following the children’s ideas from the SBJ.
At circle time, one favorite was to do bug charades, where children chose an insect to act out while the others guessed. This afforded the opportunity to look closely at the different characteristics of each creature. This SBJ included trips to our garden and walks to the stream to look for insects and to collect cattails. It was another fabulous journey throughout.