Penguins!

We're having a ton of fun learning about penguins! It's wonderful teaching pre-k because they haven't done any of my favorite activities yet - there's no downer like preparing an activity and then having a kiddo yell out "Oh we did this last year!" Since my littles are brand new to school I get to expose them to everything :)
We've been dancing to the Penguin Dance by Jack Hartmann and the Learning Station's version - the jury is still out on which one we prefer - some kiddos love sticking their tongues out while others like making the penguin noises!
In our sand & water table we practiced perseverance by trying to melt ice! I prepared 3 containers of ice for the table, with blue, white and green gems of varying sizes and a Penguins TOOB like this one:

I froze the water in stages so that the materials were spread through each layer - that gave the kiddos incentive to keep working because they could see there were more things still embedded further down in the ice. I added a touch of blue food coloring to some of the layers, for visual appeal.
I used a Sharpie to write letters on each gem, but for some reason most of the letters washed off in the ice/water. When first frozen the letters showed up just fine, but by the time the ice melted all of the letters mysteriously vanished. Sad to think that the mighty Sharpie was conquered by cold water! I'm trying to think of an alternative or what I did wrong that the Sharpie came off so easily, if anyone knows of something else that will stay better please let me know!
I picked up some tools at the Dollar Tree for the kiddos to use to explore the ice. The basters are great for exercising little hands, as are the squeeze bottles. Wringing out the sponges was a lot of fun and again, great for fine motor skills! The kids explored friction while using the scrub brushes. I chose not to use salt - mainly because with the cold weather we all have dry hands and I was thinking the salt water would sting any little cracks and "owies". I also wanted the kids to have to work for a while at melting the ice to build up their patience, so we'll have to do a ice melting experiment with salt at a later date!
I included some cheapo wash clothes from Walmart so that they could wipe up any spills quickly - although we discourage splashing and try to keep the water in the table, there's always some drip. One of my rules is that the kids have to be able to clean up their center by themselves, so it's their job to make sure the floor is wiped up, all the sponges are wrung dry and the bottles emptied at the end of each center time. This gives them more ownership over the center and materials - you're less likely to be wild with the sand or water if you know you have to clean it up. It also makes the custodians less likely to complain about our sensory table!
After center time was over each day, I scooped up the remaining ice and refroze it. This was partly to ensure each child had a chance to explore the ice and also to teach perseverance - they couldn't get all the gems and penguins out in one go and had to keep coming back and working at the task. It took us 3 days to get all of the ice melted!
Once we had enough water in the table from the ice melting, I stopped filling up the squeeze bottles and the children had to fill their own using the tools at hand. They tried wringing the sponges over the bottles, using the ice cream scoopers or just dipping the bottle sideways through the water, but they soon learned that the basters were the most efficient method for filling the bottles!
On the 4th day I added some Styrofoam "ice floes". I didn't have any Styrofoam laying around at home so I had to purchase a sheet of it at Hobby Lobby - in the future I'm going to be saving every scrap of styrofoam I see because holy moly it was $8 to buy 1 sheet! No wonder companies charge so much for shipping and handling if that's the going rate for packaging materials lol!
The kids do love playing with it though - soon our penguins were laying "egg" gems and slipping and sliding on the "ice". The tools still come in handy as well - nothing like using a squeeze bottle to make it "rain" on the penguins!
 
We've played a lot with my Penguin Rhyming game. I always introduce it in whole group by passing out the cards and having the kiddos walk around to find their match. Once we've played it whole group a few times it goes to a center and the kiddos practice matching up the rhyming pairs. Then we did our cut n paste sheet so I had a quick assessment of who was still having difficulty with the concept. Most of my kiddos are good at rhyme recognition and are able to work on rhyme production now!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Penguin-Rhyming-Match-up-1625127

If you'd like to win your own copy of the game, rustle up a comment below and tell me your favorite thing to put into your sensory table!

1 Rustle Up A Response!:

Amber said... Reply to comment

Jennifer,

I ran across your blog while looking for Pre-K sight words. I am not an elementary teacher, in fact, I am a secondary math and science teacher. I have a three year at home that I find educational resources to use with him, hence the Pre-K sight words.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a fun, straight-forward blog! I am excited to try the penguin frozen blocks with my little guy! Your Styrofoam floats remind me of a Curious George episode that my son watched the other day, where he discovered that some items float on water (buoyancy). The showed students afterwards creating floating cities. I might extend your floating ice berg ideas to include buoyancy. :)

Thank you for the awesome resources!

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