Friday, October 29

Popcorn Unit for Preschool

We've wrapped up another month of preschool activities at home and, as promised, I'm sharing them with you.  I received a lot of hits for the apple unit for preschool last month, so I hope this popcorn unit is just as helpful.  Refer back to the apple unit for more instructions on some recurring ideas.  You'll also need to put your glue sticks away and pull out your white glue for this one.

Popcorn Unit for Preschool

Verse: John 4:35(b) (NASB)  "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest."  Create hand motions for the keywords.  (Behold!:  Do a fist pump with your arm.  Such a fun way to start.  Say:  touch your lips.  You: point to each other.  Lift: point to your eyes and bow your head and lift it up as you say the next few words.  Look:  shade your eyes with your hand and survey the room.  White: hold your arms out wide and circle them in together as you gather the 'harvest.')  Then explain to them that corn is a grain that has to be harvested.  (Remarkably, there are no verses about popcorn in the Bible). 

Letters:  P (popcorn), K (kernel), Q (queen). -- all voiceless sounds.
Use 9x15 construction paper.  Cut out a large chunky letter.  Your child will be decorating each letter with things that start with it.  After he does this, I attach it to a different colored full size sheet of construction paper, and write the capital letter, the small letter and the word underneath it.
P -- we popped some popcorn and glued the white kernels all over the P with white glue.
K -- glue a zillion unpopped kernels to the K with white glue. If you have Indian corn kernels that adds some interest as well.
Q -- Since Q is so hard to put words to I put it in this unit because we read the book Popcorn at the Palace and tied it into the story.  I printed out photos of the current and pretty recent reigning queens as well as some crown clipart.  He cut them out and glued them to the Q after reading the story.

Food Ideas:
  • Pop some microwave popcorn.  Let him watch.
  • Pop some popcorn on the stove with oil.  Let him stir.
  • Make cornbread.
  • Pop some popcorn (either method) and add different seasonings.  We liked cinnamon sugar, but you can also do Parmesan cheese or something spicy if you like that.
  • Make popcorn balls.  I make them like you make Rice Krispie Treats with marshmallows and butter, but you can use your own recipe.  When the balls were put together they were cool enough to let my son roll them in chocolate sprinkles. 
  • Eat sweetcorn for dinner.

Books and Activities
1. Copy Pop. Clap a short, simple rhythm and see if your child can copy it. If it's too easy, add to it.

2. Colored Kernels File Folder Game. Find a popcorn piece of clipart and copy and paste it six times onto a piece of paper.  Then make photocopies on colored cardstock:  1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 pink, 1 purple, 1 green, 1 orange, 1 white.  Cut them out.  On 3 red pieces write "r" "e" and "d."  Spell out all the other colors in the same way.  Create a file folder game by stapling the back side of a file folder to the front side of another one, making a "page" in the middle.  Create 8 pockets out of colored construction paper  clearly writing the name of the color on each one. Tuck the popcorn pieces into the pockets for storage.  To play, pull out the pieces, point to each letter on the pocket and have your child find the matching letter, putting them in the correct order to spell the word.  They don't need to know that they're spelling, just that they're matching (or sequencing).

3.  Flannel stories.  There are a lot of good popcorn flannel board stories found online to do with your child.  One easy one is to cut out five yellow triangles and do this one:
Five popcorn kernels sitting in a pot
They snuggled together and got very hot
They danced all around with all of their might and
Out popped a kernal all fluffy and white
Four popcorn kernels...
You just can't practice counting (backwards) too much.  I incorporate other rhymes regarding corn/corncobs  as well.

4.  Make the Big Letter 'P'. 

5.  Kernel Counting.  Make a workpage with 5 numbers down the left side (whatever numbers you want to work on) and down the right side put five empty circles.  The child can simply use white glue to fill the circles with the corresponding number of unpopped kernels.

6.  Letter Bingo.   Print out a blank bingo card.  Slip it into a page protector.  With a dry erase pen, fill in the spaces with the letters you've worked on so far.  (We had done A, L, W and P).  Write the letters again on the white board or a piece of paper and point to them as you call them out.  Let him erase one letter each time until he has a bingo.  My son always wanted to erase all of his letters -- which was just more good practice for him!

7.  Growth Cycle Cards.  Create 6 sets of cards.  Each set of cards should have a graphic of 1. a popcorn kernel, 2. a corn stalk, 3. an ear of corn and 4. a popped kernel. Adhere each set to 6 different colors of cardstock (choose the colors you want your child to practice) leaving a border around the edge. You can use these in several ways.  First, teach your child the growth cycle of corn (from kernel/seed, to stalk, to an ear and then popcorn.  This is basic science. If you want to get more specific, choose different images, because a popcorn ear of corn looks very different from a sweet corn ear).  Go through each set of cards telling him the growth sequence.  Once he understands it, mix the cards up and have him put the sets in order again.  He can also match the images and make stacks of them, or match the colors. You can play "go fish" with the cards or even concentration.  Use them over and over again.

8.   Raccoon Mask.  Kids love pretending to be something.  Copying the cover of the book, we made a mask out of a paper plate, paint, construction paper and elastic.  With my first son, we then went through a cornfield maze.  My third son, just wore it around the house -- for about a minute.  And then we turned it into his costume for Halloween with gray sweats and a fuzzy striped tail.

9.   Fingerprint Corn.  Using yellow ink, have him stamp his fingerprint in rows on some white construction paper.  Then cut it into a corn cob shape.  From green construction paper, cut out husk leaves and tuck the ear behind them.  Tape some dental floss to the top for "silks."

10. Make the Big Letter 'K'.

11.  Indian Corn Sequencing.   Purchase some real Indian corn from a craft or grocery store.  Let your little person push the kernels off the cob into a bowl.  Separate them out into the different colors (brown, red, yellow, etc.). Then pick up a few kernels and create a pattern such as brown, brown, yellow, red then start over with brown and let him continue the pattern as long as he can.  Start with a new pattern and do it as many time as he has interest.

12.  Canister or Frame.  Use white glue to affix either Indian corn or yellow (or both) kernels to the item.  You can put a pattern on it if you like.  We did my son's initial.  When dry, coat it with Mod Podge.  It could become a gift for grandma.

13.  Make the Big Letter 'Q'.

14.   Kernel Timbrel.  You can put two pie plates on top of one another, punch holes in the edges, fill them with kernels and tie ribbons through the holes to keep the tins tightly together. Or you could hot glue them together.  Let them actually play with it, as annoying as the sound is. ;-)

15.  Corn Husk Doll.  Make a doll like "Victoria" in the story.  Use the husks from your Indian Corn or you can buy some separately at a craft store.  Find some instructions online that suit you.

16.  Colored Popcorn Dragon.  You'll need to print out an outline of a dragon head and get your hands on some powdered tempura paint. You'll only need about a quarter of a cup of one or two colors.   Pop some popcorn and, in a zip lock bag, shake to combine about a cup of popcorn with the powdered paint.  Let your child glue the popcorn to "Dexter's" head with white glue and then thoroughly wash their hands.  No eating this popcorn!

17.  Corn Cob prints.   We used those cobs we exposed for painting.  Cut them into about three inch pieces, let them roll them in paint and stamp or roll them on paper.
18.  Dice Counting.  Have a bowl of popped corn, a die and a movie popcorn bag or bucket ready.  Let your child roll the die and put that many popped kernels in the bag/bucket.  Keep going until they can't stand not eating the popcorn any longer. 

As always, review letters daily and back up your letter learning with other activities. Letter Bingo is a great re-useable and changeable activity as is the Monster Munch I mentioned last month.  I also have little booklets for each letter that my son can color in.  There are a zillion things you can print out from online resources just like it.

Tuesday, October 26

What to Do with Equipping

I read a little book yesterday that stated and restated the concept of just doing what you can to help others.  Whether our impact is big or little is moot; it's the attempts that seem to make the most impact sometimes.

My life philosophy the past six months or so has been along the same vein.  As I've sought to "live a life of no regrets" I've been more faithful to obey the small, inner promptings -- those feelings that in years past proved to haunt me if I didn't follow through on them -- without predetermining what the outcome should be.  The truth is, I can't know the outcome, I can only do what I think is right.

Putting words to the principle I've been intentionally living out, the middle of this little book said this: "Perhaps I need to grab hold of the reality that what God has equipped me to do, he has invited me to do."  That's where I'm at.  The days of trial and error in my own areas of gifting are passed. I've tried many, many, many facets of ministry and I know which ones give me joy, which ones give me pause and which ones give me the the heebie-jeebies. Therefore, I do not continue to force the issue.  I know my strengths and I work within them, hoping that they'll just get stronger as I do.  This means I've whittled down my list to a very select few areas that I know I am equipped for and because that equipping is already there, I move with those promptings.

This is at odds with an oft quoted modern proverb, "God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called."  I don't know where this quote came from, but it single-handedly derailed my service efforts for years.  So, nervous was I that I no longer had a "call" and was no longer qualified for service that I made very few attempts to work within my strengths.  I did other things, behind the scenes things, took on support roles, joined bandwagons and took very little risk. I daily hoped that not only would he equip me, but he would, once again, call me.  It produced many unsatisfactory days...years.

These are two very opposite and yet trust-filled statements.  One has you on your feet and one has you on your knees.  But...

...waiting on your knees has a place and maybe, even, a time limit.  How long do you stay there before you rise up again and go and be? I've been and I've seen friends paralyzed by the continual act of prayer without action.  Praying just to double-check direction sometimes turns into second-guessing God rather than trusting and that's yet another hole to throw yourself into while you wait for the slave caravan to pass by.  Keep moving.  He put you in the position you're in because you are already, in some way, equipped to be there.  Moses, Mary the mother of Jesus, David, Simon Peter, others... seemingly ill-equipped were exactly the opposite.  Perhaps the equipping was hidden to them.  Yet one more reason we need community around us to help define and redefine where we should be -- as they all did.

God could use anyone, but I think he's much, much smarter than that, and he's always more than one step ahead.  Trust him and steward well what you already have and know and are.

Monday, October 25

More Fall Reading

Here are a few additions to my reading list.  I actually put even more on hold at the library this week.  I've finished three from my original list and two from these new additions.  So far, the two I strongly recommend are Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by Henri J. Nouwen and Just How Married Do You Want to Be?: Practicing Oneness in Marriage by Jim and Sarah Sumner. 

I'm still whittling down the Amazon wish list (and yes, Mom, I'm updating it as I read them).  The Elisa Morgan book was my newest addition to the list and it turns out that dh had it in his office.  The How People Grow book was the very first book I had added to my wishlist back in 2001 and dh's teammate just bought it for him to read.  The Ortberg book is also one that dh is reading for an upcoming TNL series.  Just as soon as he's done I'm sneaking that one away too.

I'd love to add Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace by Anne Jackson to my list if anyone has a copy I can borrow. I'm working to bring her book tour to Denver, but I should probably read the book first.

Just How Married Do You Want to Be?: Practicing Oneness in MarriageHis Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your MarriageShe Did What She Could (SDWSC): Five Words of Jesus That Will Change Your LifeThe Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of YouHow People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal GrowthStreams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian FaithIntroverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted CultureI Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth

Thursday, October 21

Salt Dough Maps and Now What?

When I was a kid in the sixth grade I had to make a salt dough map of South America.  When my oldest was in first grade we made one of our state, which was Washington.  Now my middle son is making one for his homestate of Colorado.  Since Colorado is essentially a rectangle, B got the easiest assignment of all of us.

I had him paint it to show elevations, label about 20 places, landforms and neighboring states and then create a key, scale and compass rose.  He answered a series of about 16 questions such as, "Which state does the Arkansas River flow into?" and, "What direction to the Rocky Mountains run?"

I think he enjoyed the project.
Now what do we do with it?

Monday, October 4

My Contented Son

Since we've begun this new reality with J in a charter school and B & S at home our days are...quieter.  In his classes my active-alert child is receiving the over-stimulation he thrives on, while at home I can actually hear the needs of B & S, hear B read aloud, hear S tell me his view of the world.  We're all in a good space right now.

B is doing really well.  His reading progressed wonderfully over the summer. He's taking on projects with cooperative determination.  He's responding to our read-alouds with all kinds of appropriate emotion.  And when we're done with the activities of the school day, he takes off for the backyard -- hitting crabapples over the fence with a bat (so sorry, neighbors!), cutting down weeds behind the garage, riding his scooter, playing with the hose.  And I feel his peace. 

In the process I believe he's finding out who he is: who he is outside of the shadow of his brother, who he is as an older brother to S, who he is in his faith, who he is in nature.  It's a great time to be B right now.  And I'm glad that I have more bandwidth to notice and truly enjoy my contented son.