Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Fall is the time for colorful leaves, cooler afternoons, and pumpkin picking! I had originally planned to do some actually "farming" in the yard by building a raised bed where we could plant some pretend or real plants. My plans fell through and we did some different activities instead. Unfortunately, the two weeks we spent on fall- and farm-themed activities weren't all that well received. I'm going to share the activities anyway because I think there were some fun ideas that others might enjoy. :)

Practical Life

Cutting Play-doh

We love practicing to cut with play-doh. We have a pair of play-doh scissors (that came in this Animal Duffel Bag) and plastic knives, as well as a Play-Doh Fun Factory Press that makes all kinds of long shapes for M to cut up.

We also explored pumpkins (see this post), planted pumpkin seeds, threaded some pumpkin seeds onto a necklace, and baked pumpkin cranberry oatmeal muffins!


Farm Sensory Bin

I pulled together a quick sensory bin filled with coffee grounds, a popsicle stick "fence," beads and pom poms for seeds and crops, and some construction equipment as farm machinery. This was a big hit, especially with the boys who came over to play, but M enjoyed it a lot too and came back to it several times throughout the week.

M hasn't been interested in any transfer activities lately, but she spent a lot of time filling a small cup with coffee grounds to pour into the back of the dump truck. I guess she just needed a good reason to transfer...

Farm Play-doh

This activity was thrown together when M didn't seem interested in anything else. I gave her some homemade play-doh (recipe), colored play-doh to make vegetables, beads for "seeds" to plant on her farm, and some pet houses from her dollhouse.

She enjoyed planting her "crops" in rows and having the little bunny ("Peter Rabbit") run through the garden and make tracks in the dough.

Scented Play-doh

I really wanted to make some scented play-doh after I saw it on Learn Play Imagine. Despite the fact that I mixed a TON of each spice into the dough, most of them didn't exactly come out very strong. I created a matching activity so the kids could smell the spices and the play-doh and see if they could guess which ones matched, but the scents weren't really strong enough to make that possible. The play-doh was still a big hit, and the kids had a great time playing with it in the new Play Doh Barnyard Pals set I bought for our unit.

Pumpkin Prints

I got this great idea from Toddler Approved. I cut up some pieces of an old pool noodle so I had some round pieces for the pumpkin and some smaller pieces for the stems. I put out orange and brown paint, and gave M the option of painting the paint onto the noodle with her paintbrush, or dipping into the paint. She decided she preferred painting the surface of the pool noodle, and she also decided that she preferred to paint the stem onto her pumpkins with her paintbrush.

Sorting Animals

The idea for this "puzzle mix-up" game came about because I didn't have any farm animal figures. I wanted to do a sorting activity where M could sort a pile of animal figures into "farm animals" and "not farm animals," but I didn't have any farm animals! I remembered that we had a farm animal puzzle, and figured I might be able to make that work.

M hasn't shown a lot of interest in her puzzles lately, but she almost always plays with the puzzles that they leave out on the tables at the library. I thought that she might play with some of her own if I put them out where she could see them and made them look a little more interesting. I was right - she actually enjoyed this puzzle mix-up game that I created. It was so simple - I just took all of the pieces from two different puzzles - a farm puzzle and a jungle puzzle - and mixed them together in a container. She sorted out the pieces and decided if the animal belonged on the farm or not.


Farm Word Crayon Rubbings

I have been seeing many bloggers doing crayon rubbings lately - especially leaves. We also played around with some texture plates that we used for crayon rubbings at the Children's Museum a few weeks ago. I decided to make our own crayon rubbing "plates" by using my hot glue gun to write some very basic words on index cards. I don't think anyone actually did this activity - M certainly wasn't interested - but I thought it was pretty cool...

F is for Farm

This was another activity that was not a hit. I created a farm scene with some stickers we had, as well as some mini popsicle sticks to make a little fence. I thought it would be fun for M to create her own farm scene, then put a title on top so she could remember that farm starts with the letter "f." I even brought out some glitter so she could trace the letter "f" in glue and add glitter to it. Nope... not a hit.


Farm Animal Counting

I found some farm animal stamps in our collection, and created some really basic number sheets for M to stamp onto.  She loved this when we did it with ocean creature stamps, but wasn't interested this time. She may have actually liked it better if I used larger numbers - she already has 0-5 pretty well mastered.

Counting and Comparing Quantities

We did a Counting Candy Corn activity at our friend's house (see the fall post), so I decided to take it one step further and add a sorting / comparing quantities element. I bought a pack of the candy corn variety pack (the kind with regular and chocolate candy corn as well as candy pumpkins). I gave each child a baggie with three pumpkins, six regular candy corn, and eight chocolate candy corn. After they sorted the different types of candy, they put the piles in order from least to most candy. M especially liked eating her candy when she was finished!

Cultural Studies / Science

Pioneer Day

A local farm was holding "Pioneer Day," during which they had old farm machinery and vehicles from the early 1900s on display. Most of the machinery was working and we were able to walk around and see demonstrations of old corn huskers, saws, hay balers, and tractors. They also had a corn grinder, and a huge tub of ground corn that M though was the biggest sensory bin she'd ever seen!

We watched a women in period costume spin cotton into yarn, compared different types of old tractors, and M got to sit in a car that was made about 100 years before she was born!

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