Thursday, April 16, 2015

Life Cycles for Spring

DJ's grandpa Dennis has signed him up for the subscription service from Brainy Kits. We received the third set last week and it is their best one yet, by far. Although I might be a little biased because I needed to be putting together a study on life cycles but I was dragging my feet as I wasn't really sure where to start. Brainy Kits solved that for me!

The kit included:
-Life Cycle charts for:
-Cards for each phase of the above life cycles
-Sticker life cycles for frog, plant, chicken and butterfly
-An Usborne book on Tadpoles and Frogs
-A Frog puzzle
-Miniatures for the ant and ladybug life cycles
-Supplies needed to plant seeds:
   -3 types of beans
   -2 plastic cups with cotton balls
   -2 pipettes
   -ziplock bag
-Instruction booklet for 7 different lessons.
I first presented the large life cycle cards and talked through each of the stages. Then I gave DJ the miniatures. When I saw that the lot would include ants and ladybugs, I went ahead and also purchased Safari Life Cycles for frogs, turtles and butterflies. DJ loved matching the 3D minis to the charts and he'd chatter away, re-telling the story as he did it.

The Life Cycles included in the kit covered plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and fish - but not one mammal! So I decided to make my own - the Human Life Cycle. The adults are my husband and I. The fetus is my 20 week ultrasound image. The infant is DJ the day he was born. The child is DJ just before his 3rd birthday. And the adolescent is my husband when he was in high school. DJ was thrilled to discover that HE is part of a life cycle too!!
I also made the individual cards too and gave them to DJ to put in order.

He sorted through all of the cards although I didn't get a good picture of the completed set. And you can see that he insisted for the humans that the adolescent came before the infant. Hah.

Later, I presented just the frog life cycle and read the book to him. It's an awesome book with high quality photos, very detailed but clear enough to be understood by a 3 year old. The section about some fish wanting to eat tadpoles led to DJ pretending the toy tadpole was swimming around our living room looking for a place to hide. He decided that behind the shelves was their best bet.
Then he took the sticker sheet and filled in the frog environment including lots of lily pads and even a fly for the adult frogs to eat. His favorite parts were the lily pads so in the end he had the water covered with all 5 of the lily pad stickers. I had to remind him he probably wanted some frogs in the picture.

Next I presented the plant life cycle again. He sorted the loose cards and told the story of the seed sprouting roots and leaves, growing up and then adding a flower. I had to look up the pronunciation for cotyledon.  It was a new word for me.

Then we did the sticker chart together. He put the pictures on while I added the words, first the seed with rain and sun to germinate. The stickers in this photo are the seed, the 5 very random rain drops, the cloud, the sun and the 3 words, rain, sunlight and germinating.

Then sprouting and growing. The stickers he added here are one for the root, stem and 2 leaves and then a second to make the stem taller with 3 new leaves.  I'm thinking they meant for these phases to grow from the center where the seed was but DJ insisted they had to be next to the seed.

And finally flowering and growing fruit, which I assume to be a tomato. Then I asked him to point to the flower, leaves, roots and stem while I added the words. From this I learned that DJ didn't know what a stem was. That is why these lessons are in the Language album of my Montessori curriculum, it is a huge opportunity to expand vocabulary along with the life experience.

Speaking of life experience, next we brought out the seed planting activity. This was really a timely lesson for me because over the weekend DJ was eating an apple in the car and bit in to the core and yelled out, "there are seeds in my apple!" Of course, being the "teacher" I am, I said, "you know, if you put those seeds in soil and give them water and sun, they'll grow into an apple tree." To which DJ immediately yelled, "let's do that! Turn around, go home, go home!" Ack. Would an apple seed from a random store bought apple really grow?

Anyway, the Brainy Kit suggest two methods of germinating the seeds (including kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans). The first method is to put seeds on cotton balls in a plastic cup and add water and sun. The second is to put seeds on a paper towel in a plastic bag and add water and sun. It's suggested to watch for 7 days, adding water as needed, to see what happens. Given my history of killing plants with my black thumb, I'm not holding my breath, but I'm wondering what I'll say to DJ if it doesn't work out. Lucky for him he has a master gardener grandma to teach him these things!

I'll leave you now with a short video of DJ explaining the process of planting a seed. And if you're keeping track, you'll remember that we still have the sticker charts for the chicken and butterfly to do. I sense a reading of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar coming soon!

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