Monday, March 1, 2010

Nature Book

It was beautiful today, so we decided to do a little activity outside.

Materials: Basket, pieces of cardstock, scrapbook paper, scissors, tape, laminating/contact paper, crayons, hole punch, yarn or ribbon, and a pen.

1. Head outside with a basket and go on a nature walk!

2. Have your toddler find several items that are on the ground (don't let them pick flowers or leaves off bushes- your neighbors might not appreciate it!). Try to help them find items that are different (for example, you don't want ten of the same leaves).

3. We were amazed at the gorgeous flowers that were blooming in our neighborhood! Talk about everything with your toddler!! Make observations about everything that you see.

4. Go home and check out what you collected. There are tons of sorting activities you could do with the objects (sort them into piles of leaves and flowers, sort them by size- big small, sort them by texture- soft and rough... and on and on).

5. Cut your cardstock and scrapbook paper so they are the same size (we made both 6x11).

6. Open up your laminating paper and cut pieces to fit each object.

7. Pull off the backing and place the laminating paper on top of one object. Stick the object to one cardstock page.

8. Write a simple sentence below the picture. Have your toddler try and describe the item to you to help you come up with the sentence. My son said, "pink petal," so I added "I saw a..." and then read the sentence to him while I wrote it, "I saw a pink petal."

9. Next to each object, draw a simple picture of the object and let your child color it. Older kids could draw their own pictures of the object and then coloring them. This is a great way to practice their skills of observation.

10. Cut a piece of paper for a title/cover page. I wrote the words, "Nature Book" for my son and then we colored the letters in together. After we were done, we taped the title to the front of the book.

11. Once all the pages are finished, put the pages together and hole punch the left side.

11. Thread the yarn or ribbon through the holes and tie a bow.

12. Read the book together! Prompt your child to say parts of the sentences while you are reading. I would usually read "I saw a" and then I would point to the object and my son would either say the object's name (petal) or he would say the color and object's name together (pink petal). Then I would repeat the entire sentence and encourage him to say the whole sentence on his own. Usually he said three-four of the words, which I thought was awesome.

Language Development:

My primary focus in this activity was to talk about adjectives (words that modify nouns or pronouns ). We mostly concentrated on adjectives related to an object's appearance, color, shape, size, and sound. I also wanted to work on stretching sentences so that they were 4-5 words long (I see pink flower) instead of just 2-3 words (I see flower). The best way to practice stretching sentences is to just model new words and longer sentences for your child. We also worked on learning the words same and different. This was tough. We talked about this a lot as we tried to find items that were different to put into our basket. Using an engaging and excited/animated tone and having fun while you're talking will also make your toddler enjoy this activity. Being outside and exploring a new environment is such a motivating way to learn new words.

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