Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lesson 12: I Am Grateful Animals

For each lesson I always have a few ideas that are terrible but I still think would be really really funny to do. Here are some of my nixed ideas for I Am Grateful for Animals lesson:

1. Bring in my cat, Battle, and let the kids pet him and chase him around. But I suspect once cornered by 12-14 two year olds, Battle would opt for fight instead of flight. And one kid out of the bunch is probably terribly allergic.

2. Pick up that road killed possum and bring it in to church so the kids could get a close look at a real wild animal.

3. Call up a friend of mine and asked to borrow his mounted deer head or his deer hunting X-box game.

There are a few more, but obviously they're all going in a pretty bad direction.

Really though, I love animals so this could be a fun lesson. I plan to open like I always do: reminding the kids about the earth's creation. Then tell them that Heavenly Father and Jesus created animals. I'm going to ask them about animals: Do they like animals? Do they have any animals? I'm going to tell them about the garden of Eden, that Heavenly Father put the animals in the garden and told Adam to watch over them. I'm going to talk about how Heavenly Father wants us to watch over and be kind to our animals. I'll ask them if they are kind to animals.

Tell the story of Noah's Ark. I plan to check out Peter Spier's Noah's Ark to help me tell the story. Great book! or maybe attempt to use this finger poem from the lesson book, maybe.... It's really really long so I think using the story book would be a lot easier.

Noah built an ark so big (outstretch arms);
He knew just what to do (place finger on side of forehead).
He hammered, sawed, and measured (make motions as indicated)
As he’d been commanded to (nod head).
And Noah called his family (beckon with arm)
To march onto the boat (march quietly in place)—
And, two by two, the animals (hold up two fingers)
Came aboard to float (make floating motion with hands).
The heavy dark clouds gathered (place hands above head),
The rain began to fall (wiggle fingers imitating rain)—
And all the earth was covered (make a sweeping motion with hand and arm);
There was no land at all (turn head from side to side).
The ark just floated safely (make a floating motion with hands)
Many a day and night (put hands together on one side of face),
Until the sun came out again (place arms in a circle above head)
And shone so warm and bright.
And all the water dried right up (cross arms across chest);
Dry land did appear (open arms and extend hands).
Noah’s family gave their thanks (bow head and fold arms)
That God was always near.
(Adapted from a verse by Beverly Spencer.)

I'm going to ask the kids why they think Heavenly Father wanted Noah to save the animals. Tell them that Heavenly Father loves the animals and Heavenly Father knows that animals do a lot to help people.

Brown bag 1: I'm going to tell the kids that animals do soo much for us. Here are a few items that I'm thinking off: some llama yarn from my knitting (let each child touch it), some cheese (I'll make it in small cubes so each kid can eat one), a picture of Mary riding the donkey, a toy bat (they eat lots of bugs so we don't get bit). Anyone have any other ideas? This is kind of tricky because I'm a vegetarian so I'd feel a little weird pulling out a bunch of meat or leather.

Brown Bag2: I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of knit finger puppet animals. I'm going to let each kid come pick one out of a bag and whichever animal they pick we are all going to talk about then pretend to be. After each child has picked an animal we are going to play a small game where I hold up a finger puppet and they have to pretend to be whichever animal I hold up. I'm sure this would work just as well with picture cut outs.

Some other ideas that I might do:
1. Play pin the tail on the donkey during play time.
2. Play little brown bear during play time.
3. Make three scenes: Farm, forest, house and let kids pick an animal off the wall and put it in the correct scene.
4. Sing Old McDonald. Or the What Use Are You? song.

For the craft I think we're going to make animals puppets out of brown bags. I need to go buy googlie eyes at the store today. Anyone have any other animal craft ideas?

Lesson 11: I Am Grateful For Fish

You know how sometimes you think you get a brilliant idea and you are sure it is the most innovative, creative solution and then it goes terribly wrong? That was my opening for the I am grateful for fish lesson. Thankfully the rest of the lesson went a little better.

I opened by showing a picture of the earth and asking what it was. Then I asked who made the earth and why. Then I got out a big bowl of water and asked them what was in the bowl. I let them touch it and asked them what it was. A lot of them really liked the water for whatever reason. Then I told them there was something really special about water. I said water made a very special home.

This is where the trouble began. At the dollar store I had purchase those little sponge pills that you can pop into the water and the pill disolves and a sponge comes out. I found a pack of 12 of sea creatures. Perfect, right? I let each child take a pill and pop it into the water. I told them to watch what happened, that the pill was going to "hatch." We watched and watched and watched. Nothing. Stupid cheap pills. Thirty minutes later a few of them had sort of half broken open. NO FUN.

So I powered through and asked the kids if they knew what lived in the water. I showed them a picture of a fish. Then I told about the apostles, that they were fisherman and I showed them a picture. Since it was Easter I told them the story of the resurrection and told them that the apostles were so surprised to see Jesus that they couldn't believe that he was really resurrected. I told the kids that Jesus ate fish and honey to show the apostles that he was alive again. Then I let everyone eat a swedish fish.

After that, I brought out my magnet fishing pole. I put cut out fish in a "pond"-tape on the floor in a circle. Each kid got a chance to come "catch" a fish. When they caught their fish they went to the table and got to decorate their fish with crayons and stickers.

12 kids showed up so the class was packed and everything felt pretty crazy. Some days are just harder than others. It was one child's second time in nursery so he wasn't too sure or happy about the whole experience. I was really grateful that my Mom was visiting and was kind enough to hang out with me in nursery. She has some mad skills with small children and did a great job helping that child feel okay. It was really interesting to watch. As always, my nursery assistants were life savers in a million ways.

Since it was Easter I also prepared a little Easter Egg hunt. I put two or three smarteez in each egg and hid about 30 eggs in the toys. The kids LOVED it. It was really interesting to see how the kids responded. Some were just happy to find an egg and didn't care about the candy. Some kids were ripping eggs open and devouring the contents as fast as they could claw their way into them. Other kid let the smaller kids find eggs then tried to poach them. I tried to step in to stop that. It was interesting how early you can see human nature in all its various forms.

Another thing that made last Sunday difficult is my apartment complex's internet was getting "fixed" last weekend which meant I was totally offline and now that it's back up I swear it is TEN THOUSAND times slower. I couldn't look up my lesson on the church's website and I was never given a manual. I had to free wing it. When I did look at the lesson I was sad there was so much I left out. Oh well. Everyone survived.

PS. My lousy internet situation makes it near impossible to upload images at the moment. I'll try to add them later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Song Time

On a previous post there was a question about where to find the words and songs for Primary songs. The church has put together a great feature on its website where you can see all the words to all the songs in Children's Song Book AND it plays the music too. It's PERFECT if you need to learn or "freshen up" on a song. You can check it out here.

You can also order the Children's Song Book on CD and they come with words here. I know some people love to have the CDs to play so they don't have to sing alone. I sing alone so I can speed up and slow down songs and keep things going and adapting to the class.

You can also buy a convenient pocket sized Children's song book here.

If you every want to know the words to a particular song that you see here on this blog, let me know and I will be happy to post them.

Lesson 10: I am Grateful for trees, plants and flowers

Since stake conference has put my ward a lesson behind a lot of other people, our lesson on being grateful for plants is right next to St. Patrick's day with all its four leaf clovers. So here is what I'm think of doing for Sunday:

Snack Time:
We'll eat our normal snack but I think I'll try to bake some four leaf clover cookies. I'm going to bring some green icing and let the kids decorate the cookies and eat them.

I have the book The Giving Tree but it's really sort of sad (though is shows how much trees do for us) and the book Blueberries for Sal to read to the kids. Any other suggestions?

Show the picture of the Earth. Ask them what it is.
Show the picture of Jesus. Ask the kids who it is. Tell them Jesus made the Earth. Why did he make the Earth? Because he loves us.

Brown paper bag:
In the bag will be things that come from plants. A wooden block, an apple, a carrot, a flower (for them to smell), some spices (I'll let the kids smell and maybe taste some cinnamon sugar), paper, whatever else I can find in my house that comes from a plant.

I'll pick kids to come up to the front and pick something out of the bag. We'll talk about the plant that it came from and why we like plants.

Our class tree.
I'm going to make a tree with brown construction paper. I'm going to give each kid a green construction paper leaf. I'll ask the kids something they like about plants and let them come put their leaf up on the tree. I think we'll hang this on our bulletin board. During craft time I'll trace the kids hands on different color paper and cut those out so the tree can have some flowers too. I'll let each kid put up their hand on the tree.

Tree songs:
We'll sing some songs about trees. Popcorn popping. In the pretty treetops. Leaves are falling.

Leaf rubbing
Flower puppet:
Take a small cup and poke a straw through the bottom. Have paper cut out in flower shapes that the kids can color then tape onto the top of the straw. The kids can move the straw up and down so their flowers can "grow."

Lesson 9: I am Grateful for Water

So last weeks lesson went really well. My class normally has about 12 kids show up. Thanks to the combination of the flu season and spring break only five kids came. It was soooo easy. I almost felt in control. Almost, not quite, but almost.

During snack I read them the story The Little Cloud by Eric Carle and a few of the other books. They seemed to enjoy it.

So here's a quick summary of what we did. I showed the kids a picture of the earth and asked them what it is. We've done this three or four times now and one kids every time says the moon! Then all the other kids say the moon! Then I tell them it's the earth, it's where we live and they stare at me. Then I show them a picture of Jesus and ask them who it is. Then I told them that Jesus made the Earth because he loves us.

I told them I was going to show them something really special that Jesus made. I told them to close their eyes. I had a spray bottle filled with water and I hid it under a piece of cloth and shook it. I asked the kids what they heard. Then I told the kids to hold out their hands. I put the spray bottle on mist and I sprayed their hands with the mist. I asked them what they felt. They said water! I asked them what it felt like. Then I told them to open their mouths and twisted the spray bottle to a stream and gave each of them a spray in their mouth. I said they could taste the water too. That cracked them up and I spent the next five minutes letting them feel or taste the water.

Then I asked them what they did with water. I showed them a picture of Rebekah at the well. I talked about how we drink water. Then I asked them if they ever drink water. Then I showed them a picture of people taking the sacrament and talked about how we drink the water during the sacrament. I showed them a picture of a child being baptized and a picture of Jesus being baptised and a picture of Christ washing the apostles washing His apostles feet. I let the kids point out the water in each of the pictures.

Then I let the kids sit at the table. I gave each of them a pie pan filled with a little water and a cup and the played and splashed in the water. A couple of them drank the water. They seemed to really enjoy it.

Then we cleaned up the pie pans and we did a little craft where they glued raindrops over an umbrella and drew flowers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Water Books

In preparation for the upcoming lesson, Lesson 9: I am grateful for water, I've picked out a few water oriented books to get from my library. Here they are:

Over in the Ocean: In A Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

Cloud by Eric Carle

Rain by Manya Stojic

Snow by Manya Stojic

Where the Wild Things Are by Mauric Sendak (Max rides in his boat)

Lost and Found

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub and He Won't Get Out by Audrey Wood

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion ( I LOVE the Harry books!)

Noah's Ark by Peter Spier

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats

I would like to find another book or two about the animals that live in the water. I think I'll look around when I get to the library. Anybody have any other suggestions for water books?

If you are looking for books on another topic, some great sites for pre-school age book recommendations are Surlalune Story Time which is here (she organizes her book recommendations by topic, so handy!) and Minneapolis Public libraries page here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What to Sing

Today was the first Sunday after cleaning out the toy cabinet. I was very curious to see if the hour or two of work made any difference and I was pleased with the result. Play time was MUCH cleaner. The kids found the toys they do play with much easier and GONE were the cluttered mass of plastic knick knacks spewed across the floor. Woo-hoo! Clean up time was even more manageable.

So every Saturday night or Sunday morning I find myself writing out a list of songs to sing. I then use that list to put tape on the back of the laminated pictures I hang on the wall with sticky tack for the kids to pick off. I realized it would be much easier to simply write the songs down here for me to reference. If you have any songs you do that your kids like please let me know. I would love to try them out. I would really like to learn some more church oriented songs that are still active. Any ideas?

In no particular order:

Give Said the Little Stream
We Are a Happy Nursery (modified from We are a Happy Family)
Book of Mormon Stories
Rain is Falling
Do As I'm Doing
Popcorn Popping
If You Are Happy and You Know It
Once I Was A Baby (modified from Once There Was A Snowman)
Once There Was A Snowman
I'm All Made of Hinges
I Am Like A Star Shinning Brightly
If You're Very, Very Small
In The Pretty Tree Tops
If You Chance to Meet A Frown
Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
Father Abraham
The Primary Colors

Hmm, I know I left a few out but that's normal. There are now 14 kids in my nursery. I generally have 12 show up. Since every kid gets to pick a picture off the wall, we have a pretty long singing time. That's why really short little songs like If You're Very Very Small are helpful. Even though singing time lasts a while, the kids seem to get into the songs and enjoy themselves. I think it's one of the most fun parts of nursery to them. I do my best to have hand motions or so something the kids can hold during each song to keep them involved. More on that later.