Friday, February 25, 2011

Cheerios Bird Feeder

The idea here is that you are making simple bird feeders, while working on the children's fine motor skills by having them thread Cheerios onto yarn. This sounds simple, but like everything involving children... it is not as simple as it seems. :)

Here's what you'll need:

  • Colorful yarn
  • Cheerios
  • Small bells
  • Glue
The important part is the preparation. You will need to cut the thread to the length you want, and tie the bell onto one end. The bells provide a stopper for the Cheerios, and are supposed to jingle if a bird picks at the string. Here's where it gets tricky. Most yarn is just too soft and thick for little fingers to thread a Cheerio onto. Either you will need to be careful to buy stiff thread or maybe twine, or you can do what I did. I applied school glue to the ends of the strings - rubbing it in with my fingers - then hung the strings up to dry. Once the glue was dry the ends of the strings were hard enough to act as needles for the children to thread the Cheerios onto. Also, you have to make sure you are using "real" Cheerios. The cheap generic brands tend not to have regular sized holes which can create frustration for the children.

Once you have everything prepared, the actual activity is super easy. I took the kids outside so I could leave it to the squirrels and birds to clean up any mess. I placed bowls of Cheerios in the center of the tables, and let them thread as many as they wanted onto the string. Once finished, we hung them on a tree outside our classroom window so we could see if any birds ate from our feeders.
I don't think the birds have figured out that these are food yet..
If nothing else, it looks really pretty. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Animal Books

This is a project to help improve the children's motor skills (cutting , folding , gluing, and stapling), but even more so, it is meant as a literacy activity. Through this project the children created their own books with pictures, and told stories to accompany the images. This is a tall order for three year olds, but the children proved once again that they are capable of doing amazing things with just a little bit of scaffolding.

My kids are still in the early stages of representational drawing, and I really wanted to work on their cutting skills, so I made this animal sheet. It has a number of animals for them to choose from, they just have to follow the lines with the scissors to cut them out. I made it this way because they have a tendency to snip around the edge of the page, and I wanted them to start cutting through the paper.

Click here to download the animal cutting sheet

All of the images were downloaded for free online.*

Next, I helped the children fold two pices of paper and staple them on the fold to create a book. They pasted the cut-out images, one to each page, in the book. I placed wax paper between the pages to keep them from sticking together. Once the glue was dried, the children could color the images.

Finally, I asked the children to name their books and tell me stories based on the pictures that were inside. I was very impressed with their stories, and wrote them on the inside of their books. Here is an example of one of the the books.

The child wrote:
Cow is moo.
Duck is quacking,
and dog is ruffing.
And the elephant is swinging his trunk,
and the seal is going in the water.

There is another story one of the children wrote:
My giraffe reaches out his neck and get leaves,
and my seal swims.
My snake does climb to trees and he goes like this on the ground (acted out :) )
Doggie licks and we pet him.
My turtle's my friend too.

I had another one who sang all of Old Mac Donald, and another who named her snake lion and her gorilla princess, and said they liked to play games on the computer. :)

All of them were original and soo cute. This activity is definitely a keeper.

One caveat....
I gave myself 2 days for this project, but it took much longer. I still haven't gotten all of the children to dictate stories to go along with their books, but most have. I would reccomend that you give youself a couple weeks to work on this while doing smaller daily activies.

*Web sites