google.com, pub-8985115814551729, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Free Printable Lesson Plans: free printable
Showing posts with label free printable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free printable. Show all posts

Free Printable Apple themed Fall Harvest Lesson Plans: Apple Party



Hello to all of Teacher Omi's  ( Grama's ) Omschool friends! I'm Omi to 10 going on 11 wonderful grandkids and as a former teacher and homeschool mom, I'm all about educating kids! The Omschool is 2nd gen homeschool with the grandchildren and I'd love for you to join us! Today we're thinking about one of Omi's favorite foods: apples! Let's explore some free printable apple themed activities for fall harvest lesson plans. 

We live in Michigan and in autumn, Michigan is pretty much apple central! So why not celebrate this fall harvest goodness by throwing an apple party with a potluck of apple foods, apple themed crafts and games and apple lesson plans! First the free printable apple lesson plans.

California Apples.org has a harvest basket full of apple themed lessons, games, crafts, cross-curricular lesson plans, coloring pages, apple recipes, etc. Michigan Apples has a free printable apple resource kit for homeschool parents and teachers. 

For your fall harvest apple potluck, you could make anything from apple soup to apple dumplings, to pork roast with apples (my Omi's special recipe) to Our youngest Emma's famous 9-egg apple peanut butter cake (made when she was four and complete with peelings and seeds!) Last year, I gave each member of the family a bag of apples when they went on sale preference is McIntosh). This includes children. Each was tasked with looking up or inventing an apple themed recipe. This year, we're looking for even more creative goodies. 

I've got to dash to work but I'll post more later in part two of these apple themed lesson plans (plus great-Omi's apple pork roast recipe!)

Book BAGS: preschool book-based activities, games and snacks for "Blueberries for Sal"


Hello friends! Teacher Omi (grama) here. As a former homeschool parent and special needs teacher, I'm excited to bring this passion for education forward to the next gen grandchildren. When he was 4, my eldest grandson Silas called me Teacher Omi (grama) so I'm calling this new phase of homeschooling our Om-school.

I've been putting together a series of Book BAGS (literature-based units with books, activities, games, snacks and crafts). Today's Book BAGS unit is based on the 1949 Caldecott winner "Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey. My mom read it to me when I was 4 and it's become a family favorite. We also live in Michigan blueberry country and it's coming on blueberry season, so a perfect story to celebrate. I've geared this to homeschooling, erm, Om-schooling families with activities for all ages. If you're using in a group setting, preschool to 2nd grade would be best. I'm dedicating these free printable bear lesson plans and activities based on "Blueberries for Sal" to our grandboy Lucian, bear aficionado and explorer extraordinaire. 

Begin your Book BAGS unit by reading "Blueberries for Sal." Enjoy the beautifully detailed block print illustrations of Robert McCloskey.  I recommend getting your own copy of this classic story and Thriftbooks is my go-to for reasonably priced used books. 

Note the similarities between the bear cub and his mother and Sal and her mom. Both moms are preparing for winter. Sal's mom is going to can the blueberries while Little Bear is exhorted to "eat all you can hold for winter." "Blueberries for Sal" is the perfect segue into life science lesson plans on bears and hibernation. Bear.org has a plethora of free printable bear lesson plans and activities based on bears. 

You might actually do a fruit canning project with children. Or if you're like me and not much of a home-canner, make freezer blueberry jam. Here's a freezer blueberry jam recipe from Farmhouse Harvest. Jam-making lesson plans are perfect for multiage classrooms or homeschools because everyone from the baby on up can participate. Toddlers like my Omschool littles Remus and Emmett could practice eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills placing canning jar rings on a spoon (as Sal does) while the prechoolers Juno and Ezra could be blueberry stem removers and squashers. The 4 and up crowd (Lu Bear, Milo, Lola) can get math skills practice measuring and counting. The big Kahunas like our Moses and Silas can be project coordinators. And everyone will enjoy the tasting! 

If you don't want to mess with making jam (and I confess I for one might not LOL), you can make a multitude of snacks from blueberries for your unit. How about rainbow sandwiches? Spread bread with cream cheese, slice strawberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, green grapes, blueberries and red grapes and arrange like a rainbow! Or make Super Berry Chicken Salad with cubed chicken, celery, green peppers, blueberries, cashews (or chow mien noodles) mayo and Dijon mustard. Lots of slicing and chopping for cooking skills practice. Or you could do blueberry muffins or pancakes. 

Grade one and up might also discuss how things have changed in Sal's 1948 family kitchen and what things have remained the same. Stoves for example look much the same but are fueled differently (discuss how). You might assemble a collection of "vintage" cooking utensils like a rotary hand beater, potato masher, metal cookie cutters, flour sifter and pastry dough cutter. Put these in the  sand and water table for exploration. 

A perfect game for "Blueberries for Sal" Book BAGS (bags is book, activity, game and snack) is clothespin drop which lets kids explore another old-time tool, clothespins. This was a favorite at birthday parties when Omi was young. All you need is a package of clothespins and a canning jar. Students practice eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills dropping pins in the jar. 

And for the activity or book-based craft, make clothespins into "puppet" characters from "Blueberries for Sal" and act out the story. Here's where that recycling bin I'm always on about is invaluable. Let kids forage for scraps from there and a fabric scraps bag, to clothe and fur the characters. No fur fabric for the bears? Just draw on brown paper bags! Then add faces and voila, your own puppets! 


Free cross-curricular real-life lesson plans and building projects

Hello and welcome to the Omschool! Teacher Omi (Grandma) here with more ways to get free lesson plans from everyday tasks. A good curriculum should be practical, hands-on, goal-oriented and feature real-life. activities. Today's free lesson plans come from building/ assembly projects for household materials. These do double duty in that students are creating real-life items they will use everyday and homeschool families get value added being able to cross one more project off the to-do list! Assembling building projects is cross-curricular, requiring STEM, math, tool use, fine motor, reading, following directions, process thinking and often problem-solving skills (plus probably others I've not thought of!) 

So what kind of building projects are we talking about? Well, most of us order a lot of things online and have them shipped. And even if you purchase in store, many items come in pieces and must be assembled. Furniture, shelves, containers, toys, decorations, you name it...most everything states some assembly required. And these assembly building projects make excellent free printable STEM lesson plans for students. Next time you buy something that comes in pieces, students to building projects. Usually, you don't have to write separate lesson plans or even provide materials! Everything comes right in the package! And if instructions aren't written as well as they could be, this is extra learning as students are required to "think outside the box" and come up with solutions.  What better problem-solving activities could there be?

Oh and even more value added if instructions are written in several languages. Students can learn to translate and compare words in different languages. You might have them make a chart of how different phrases, words, materials or processes are called in various languages. I suggest making photo copies of instructions for each student involved in the projects. 

The building projects example I'm using is this desk I built (or assembled) recently. Everything was labeled, parts by number and hardware by letter. The step-by-step instructions were wordless and showed pictures. Most steps were very clear but the keyboard tray assembly was not. I had to redo it several times till I got it right. The set came with tools so I had everything I needed. I would recommend using your own if possible. We used our power drill which made it easier. Older kids could be taught to utilize one if available. Let children discuss how to organize materials for easier construction (placing parts in numerical or alphabetical order). For building projects with many different fasteners, students might sort them into an egg carton. Be sure to save little zippered bags from fasteners for other repurposed uses. Also, save any spare parts in case something breaks. 

Here's a site with free printable paper buildings and structures for further STEM extension. Some of the free printables aren't working anymore (this is a really old site I used 15 years ago when I was writing lesson plans for Yahoo!) But there are enough to provide lots of printable activities and hours of learning. Stay tuned for more free printable lesson plans. 

Cats Mordecai and Moishe (not shown) were very helpful in the building project and Mord thought you would like to see him sitting on his handiwork!  



Make a pet baby tornado: fun, easy, free science activities and recycled crafts

 Hello teachers and homeschool friends, "Omschool" teacher Omi (grandma) here with easy, free recycle bin crafts for science lesson plans. Today we're making pet baby tornadoes. This science experiment is easy for all ages from toddler on up. It's perfect for a highchair craft. The pet baby tornado is free to make with items from the recycle bin. You just need water, a clean glass jar with lid and a tiny drop of dish soap. 

To find baby tornado, just shake round and round to create a swirling in the water, called in science talk, a vortex. This is the force that drives a whirlpool and also the force that is generated by the drain in your sink or bathtub. Water doesn't just fall down the drain, it swirls round and round as it goes down. 

I realized after I made my pet baby tornado video that it was difficult to see him clearly. So I tried adding a little food coloring to make baby tornado show up better. You can also add some glitter if you  have some, to show how things floating on the surface are pulled into the vortex. 



 
Extend your science fun with some cross-curricular connections. Make a book about baby tornado. Research tornados and the force they create. Draw your tornado and maybe make up a song about him (her!) 

Here are free printable tornado lesson plans from A to Z Teacher. And here are some more free printable tornado lesson plans from Teach Engineering. 


Homemade sand and water table fillers for preschool learning centers


Hello Omschool blog friends! Teacher Omi here with another post in my series on the venerable preschool sand and water table. What's a sand and water table (also called sand table)? It's a low child-sized table with tubs that can be filled with materials for children to explore. The sand table is the backbone of preschool science activities in learning centers. Early childhood special education classrooms use a sand table for hands-on, sensory, tactile stim and interactive lesson plans to build cognitive and perceptual development. 

In my previous post, we looked at sand table alternatives to the expensive models in many preschool learning centers. These homemade sand tables feature repurposed, recycled and reused materials. Select the best sand and water table alternative to fit your classroom or homeschool needs, Then use these sand table fillers in science activities for early childhood lesson plans.

Water: Fill tubs with water to make a water table. Add floating toys and bath tub toys. Here are free printable lesson plans to make homemade water and sand toys from your recycle bin. Provide different sized containers that encourage children to practice pouring and measuring. Place revolving water wheels in the water table. Add some items that sink and some that float. Use water table for hands-on exploration with the scientific concepts of flotation, water displacement, density and specific gravity. Create a "Does it sink or float?" chart. Here's a free printable chart

Bubbles: Make a simple bubble solution with water, lemon Joy dish soap and glycerin for sturdy bubbles. Add bubble making toys and every day household gadgets: apple corer, egg beater, whisk, egg slicer, slotted spoon, fork, cone shaped applesauce mill and any other safe gadgets for water science activities in learning centers.

Rocks and seashells: Fill your sand table with water and sand. Add rocks, seashells and old (sanitized) recycled toothbrushes. Children can scrub shells and rocks with toothbrushes. Shells and rocks are best seen in water, which brings out their hidden depths. Children will love exploring the intricate beauty of shells and rocks.

Shaving Cream: Allow children to squirt shaving cream into water table tub. Concentrated gel shaving cream is lots of fun because it foams up as it sprays. Teach safety so kids don't get soap in their eyes. Exercise caution with aerosol cans. It may be advisable to have an adult add the shaving cream. Encourage finger painting and drawing in shaving cream. Make sure children wash their hands after doing science activities in learning centers.

Snow: Fill the sand table with snow and add plastic sand shovels, trowel, ice cream scoop, melon baller, recycled plastic cups and containers for molding and shaping snow. Have children to wear gloves and keep several pairs near the water table.

Recycle bin paper scraps: Place scrap paper in sand table tubs and add scissor with patterned edges and paper punches. Children love to snip, trim, cut and punch paper. Exploring with paper in the sand table keeps scraps in one place. This exercise provides good practice in cutting skills, scissors skills, eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Dried beans or rice: Add plastic measuring cups, spoons and cups with pour spouts. Teach children about measurement math. Preschool children can practice counting, sorting while getting good tactile stimulation in learning centers.

Aquarium Fish tank rocks: Buy bags of multicolored aquarium fish tank rocks (the small kind that line the bottom of the tank). Fish tank rocks make excellent media for pouring, scooping and measuring. Aquarium rocks also don't draw insects like beans and rice. Beads work well in the sand table, too, but can be expensive. Explore other materials for your sand table science activities.

Picture is a very special grandson, mucking about with his homemade silly putty! 

 

Earth Month recycled trash crafts: homemade musical instruments


 Hello my fellow educators! Time to spring into Earth Month and what better way to celebrate the environment than by protecting it. And what better way to do that than to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose and what better way to do that than with recycled trash crafts? Here are "recipes" to make homemade musical instruments from the recycle bin or using found household object. Whether you teach at home, school or in a community setting, your students will love these activities. And as a former homeschool parent now in Gen 2 homeschooling with the baby grands, I'm gearing my lesson plans toward all ages including the toddlers. Juno, Emmett and Remus, Omi has you covered! 

First and simplest recipe for homemade musical instruments is to repurpose items from your pan cupboard and junk, erm, I mean utensil drawer! I've been privileged to enjoy four kids and nine grandkids and a favorite activity is a kitchen band. A funnel makes a great trumpet! An egg beater or wire whisks are great for percussion. Experiment with various spoons and metal, wooden or glass bowls to create a panoply of drum sounds. Kids can even simulate bells. 

Speaking of bells, have kids create homemade bell musical instruments using clean aluminum cans and jar lids. Smooth down any rough edges by running a can opener around the sides to press down (good job for older children). Next, pound a nail into the top center of closed end of can. Use nail to pierce a hole in the edge of the jar lid. Use recycled string or yarn to tie a loop through jar lid and then run it through hole in can. Make a large knot to secure. 

Make windchimes from recycled trash. Windchimes are very easy trash crafts to make. Repeat procedure for the homemade bell musical instruments punching several holes in aluminum cans and securing four or five can lids. Suspend them below the can so they can blow freely. 

Homemade "xylophone". Use recycled flatware (spoons, dinner knives and forks) to make chimes. Bend heads of spoons and forks so they will connect more easily. Cheap flatware works best as it is more bendable. Or leave flatware as is to create a xylophone. Have an adult drill holes in handle ends or use double stick tape to secure string or yarn scraps. Suspend from hooks attached to a flat board or 1x1x12 piece of wood. Encourage students to test sounds and arrange according from high to low. 

Stay tuned for more recycled trash crafts! Tip Junkie has a list of 28 free printable recycled trash crafts for Earth Day to take you all through Earth Month! 

Recycled trash crafts for Earth Day: Book-based endangered animals and habitats

 


April turns our minds to Earth Day, which has expanded into Earth Month. Build awareness of conservation and reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose with these recycle bin trash crafts. Today's trash crafts for kids feature book-based animals and habitats, student-designed from the recycle bin. 

Said it before and I'll say it on autoloop, the recycle bin is a teacher's /homeschooler's best friend. Making book-based animals and habitats from the recycle bin teaches students several important lessons about ecology. First, children explore animals and their habitats. If you swing these lesson plans toward endangered species, kids learn how and why animals become threatened or endangered. These earth science lesson plans have social studies connections too. 

Second, making recycled trash crafts teaches kids to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Making book-based endangered animals and habitat dioramas extends lesson plans to include art, literature, measurement math and inventiveness. Throw in Earth Day poem writing or have students compose a story about the endangered animals and you've got creative writing as well. 

For preschool students, I recommend using any of the Mousekin (Edna Miller), Leo Lionni or Eric Carle books for your book-based animal habitat diorama crafts. Research with children which of the animals is endangered or threatened and why. Both children's authors feature animals in habitats with simple drawings that can easily be created by children with items from the recycle bin. Leo Lionni illustrated his books to look like patterned pieces and scraps. 

Here are some free printable Eric Carle coloring pages and crafts to spur creativity. Here are links for free Leo Lionni resources. Not all work but some are still available. Here are free printable animal habitat activities

To make the animals, put out an assortment of paper and cardboard scraps, plastic, metal and glass packages, cardboard tubes, packing materials, mesh produce bags, foil, plastic lids, etc. Add fabric scraps, buttons, yarn, string and other nifty recycled items. Give students free reign to invent as they wish. 

Happy Earth Day and Earth Month! (The cats shown above are not endangered but they were just too cute not to share). 


Recipes for homemade crayons using recycled broken crayons


With Earth Day, and Earth Month, fast upon us, I'm looking at ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose .Making crafts with recycled materials from the recycle bin is an excellent way to teach Earth Day eco-friendly habits. Here's are activities to use up those leftover broken crayons. Repurpose them as new crayons with these simple science activities. 

Have students gather broken crayons and peel off outer paper. You'll be making new palm held crayons similar to the egg crayons. These are popular in special needs or preschool classrooms use to help children who aren't quite ready for the stick crayons. Palm or egg crayons help toddlers, preschool and special needs kids develop fine motor skills while still enjoying coloring activities. 

Once you have pile of peeled crayon pieces, spray old recycled muffin tins with cooking spray. Use mini muffin tins for preschool and older children and large ones for toddlers as mini shaped crayons might look edible to toddlers. Have students place assorted bits of broken crayons in each tin. Aim for a rainbow of colors in each cup. Help kids place muffin tins in oven and heat to 200. Heat till crayons on melted but still chunky. Swirl with toothpick while warm if you wish. Place crayon melts in refrigerator till hardened then turn out of pan and enjoy coloring.

Be sure to only use recycled muffin tins for crafts, and not cooking, once you've done this activity. This is a great way to repurpose old muffin tins and give them new life. Use these free printable rainbow coloring pages to make beautiful spring crafts. Print coloring pages and printables on scrap paper from recycle bin for green, Earth Day ecofriendly activities. 

St. Patrick's Day party lesson plans, crafts, activities to celebrate green

Here's a nifty unit of activities for St. Patrick's Day: lesson plans to celebrate all things green! I've tailored these lesson plans for classroom or homeschool, and ages toddler and preschool through grade 3. I've included St. Patrick's Day party activities, green themed food and snacks, games, crafts and printables. There are many earth science extensions for Earth Day too. 

Green themed snacks and food for St. Patrick's Day party: 

Make a green fruit and vegetable tasting tray. For hands-on biology science activities, explore plant parts of green veggies and fruits. Make a chart to show what plant part each comes from. Draw a large tree showing roots below the ground. The use these free printable coloring pages for fruits and vegetables to color, cut and paste pictures on the tree. 

Roots: sprouts, scallions (tops), fennel bulb
Stalk (trunk) celery, green onions, dill weed, asparagus
Leaves: lettuce, brussels sprouts
ts, kale, spring mix, arugula, spinach, cilantro, mint, watercress, 
Seeds: green beans, peas, edamame, 
Flower: Broccoli, broccoflower: flower 
Fruit: cucumber, kiwi, green grapes, green beans, zucchini, chayote squash (also called mirliton in southern states), green apples, pears, acorn squash

Students will enjoy making green lime yogurt pops by freezing yogurt in popsicle makers. Or freeze limeade or pistachio pudding. 

St. Patrick's party games: 

Play Red light/Green Light (basically stop and go). Extend with safety lesson plans. Discuss that green represents "safe" or "go" in online, cyber and traffic safety. Make traffic safety road signs to test children. Use these free printable traffic signals and road sign coloring pages. 

St. Patrick's Day green themed crafts

Discuss earth friendly ways to keep the earth green. Encourage kids to think reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Challenge them to make "green machines" that are both eco-friendly and green in color, from the recycle bin. 

Toddlers and preschool students will like to color these free printable spring coloring pages. Here are free printable flower coloring pages too. Be sure to print on scrap paper from the recycle bin. Use low ink settings for the most eco-friendly printing. Assemble into a poster to display. 

Have children make collages from recycled magazines of pictures of things that are green. For really earth friendly green crafts, use materials from the recycle bin. Toddler and preschool children will love finding green items in magazines. 

Plant herb seeds in recycled jar or plastic dish (holes poked in the bottom for drainage) from recycle bin. 

Earth Day green outdoor activities

Go on a nature hunt and look for spring signs of new life: nests, buds on trees, green plant shoots, flowers beginning to sprout, grass growing, baby leaves on trees. Pay special attention to things that are green. Kids should bring a nature journal where they can draw pictures of what they observe. 

Collect litter and trash for proper disposal. Be sure kids wear nitryl gloves and masks when collecting litter. Adults should collect any glass. 


Lesson plans using recycled plastic Easter eggs and egg cartons


  I love repurposing and reusing stuff from my recycle bin in new and creative ways, especially as lesson plans. Recently, my one-year-old grandson has been discovering the fun playing with empty recycled plastic Easter eggs. This has inspired me to design hands-on activities, lesson plans and games using recycled plastic Easter eggs and egg cartons. I've includes some free printable activities to supplement. 

With Easter coming up, there will be many activities involving plastic Easter eggs: candy hunts, Easter crafts, etc. You might be tempted to throw them away, after use, but don't. There are so many educational activities to use recycled plastic Easter eggs. Save Styrofoam egg cartons as well. 

I blogged in an earlier post about using plastic eggs and egg cartons from the recycle bin as preschool learning center math, sorting and fine motor activities. The good news for homeschoolers is that these make great toddler high chair activities too. Activities are easily adjustable to age. My grandkids Juno and Emmett who are 1, love stacking or "nesting" plastic egg halves, just like blocks. We work on placing eggs in egg cartons, to practice eye hand coordination, puzzle skills and fine motor. 

Challenge kids fine motor skills in egg assembly activities. The plain colored recycled plastic eggs are easier than the shaped ones like the ice cream ones shown in the picture which can be a little tricky. But it's important for development that some tasks be difficult, especially for special needs and students with autism. We teach to fear failure and frustration when we make things too easy, or do it for them. Children need challenges, to have to work at something and to try new approaches, to learn patience, perseverance and vital problem solving skills. 

Use assembled Easter eggs in science learning centers and preschool sand and water table to explore water displacement and floatation concepts. Give toddlers scooping tools to practice fine and gross motor skills in high chair activities. Special needs students will love "fishing" for Easter eggs too! 

Have kids "hide" little items or non-messy foods in recycled plastic Easter eggs. Or hide them yourself and have students predict what's inside. This teaches math skills of size estimation. 

Sort eggs in egg cartons, by color or design. Last year, when my husband and I visited our grandkids, we brought each child a set of individualized themed Easter eggs (dinosaurs, fish, desserts, sports balls and insects). Then we played an Easter egg hunt game in which each child had to find eggs in his pattern. The 3-year-olds, Lucian and Milo, were able to identify eggs that belonged in their pattern. And Ezra, who was almost two, was able to find his fishy Easter eggs by their color. Extend pattern lesson plans with free printable animal dominoes

Do an Easter egg hunt, using recycled egg cartons to place found eggs. Each child brings a dozen and finds a dozen. Once her 12 spaces are filled she "wins." A homeschool mom friend of my oldest daughter came up with genius plan. It prevents kids taking too many eggs and best of all teaches math skills. Have older kids group their eggs by two, three, four and six, to learn skip counting, multiplying and dividing. Reinforce with these free printable math flash cards

For more hands-on lesson plans and recycle bin activities stay tuned to this blog. 


Recycle bin Easter egg crafts to teach early math--with free printables


With Earth Day (now actually Earth Month) around the corner, I'm sharing lesson plans to make crafts from your recycle bin. Today we're making recycle bin Easter egg crafts to teach early math activities of sorting and matching, plus fine motor skills. These Easter egg crafts were inspired by my toddler grandchildren, Juno, Ezra and Emmett. 

As a homeschool mom, I was always looking for toddler high chair activities to keep the youngest busy learning while I did lesson plans with the older kids. Use these Easter egg crafts in math learning centers, as high chair activities or at a toddler picnic table for older more mobile preschoolers. I used one of the small Little Tikes picnic tables with our youngest. I rotated different preschool crafts and hands-on activities for her to work on. You could use the sand and water table also. 

For toddler Easter egg crafts (ages 1-2)  you're only going to need two things, which can be found in your recycle bin: plastic refillable Easter eggs and empty egg cartons. Assemble eggs for 1-year-old children and let them practice sorting into egg cartons. As they get older, children can begin assembling Easter eggs. Then at age 2-ish, they can match egg halves by color or pattern (we have some really cool ones shaped like sports balls, fish and ice cream!) These are great for developing fine motor skills. And saving Easter eggs from year to year is environmentally friendly so prefect for Earth Month. 

Also at age two, or whenever they no longer put things in their mouths, they can begin filling Easter eggs with tiny objects or shapes. Children might cut shapes from recycled cardboard or paper, to practice scissors skills. They might also use shape punches. Extend this into a fun preschool snack craft by giving them little snacks to hide in eggs (fish crackers, letter pretzels, etc.)

Here are free printable Earth Day activities and here's my page of free printable Earth Day lesson plans, crafts and activities. Lastly, here's my collection of lesson plans for Earth Day trash crafts Stay tuned for more Earth Month activities! 




Recycle bin crafts: sensory "touch and feel" animal habitat books for hands-on animal lesson plans

Want to make animal lesson plans more hands-on and interactive? Here are lesson plans to make sensory or "touch and feel" animal board books to provide tactile stimulation. Use these for preschool and special education for students with autism and special sensory needs. 

Start with my blog posts on free printable animal habitat lesson plans. You'll find loads of animal coloring pages, cut and paste habitat dioramas and zoology printables. After coloring and assembling, attach animal habitat pieces to recycled cardboard from recycle bin. I suggest cereal and food packaging weight cardboard for ease of use with scissors. Value added: these recycle bin crafts and science activities are perfect for Earth Day to practice ecology and environmental awareness. 

Next, hit up that recycle bin and fabric scrap basket for various textured materials to simulate animal habitat structures, nests and body coverings. Depending on age, have students cut or cut for them, pieces to attach to habitats and animals. What you're going for are the multisensory "touch and feel" animal board books such as babies like. 

Here are some suggested multisensory materials to use for different animal body coverings and habitat structures:
 

fake fur or carpet pieces for furry mammals (cats, tigers, rabbits, squirrels)

polar fleece for lambs, sheep and goats

felt for animals with hide, hair or short fur (primates, monkeys, dogs, horses and giraffes)

feathers for birds

straw or twigs for nests

rough sandpaper for habitats pebbly surfaces 

soft sandpaper for beach habitats

wood chips or bark for woodland and tree animal habitats

foil for snakes or fish with skin

sequined fabric for fish with scales

satin ribbon or soft plastic pieces (such as from milk jugs or dairy containers) for frogs, dinosaurs, amphibians and mammal fish (dolphins, whales, seals). Look for appropriate colors. 

straw for nests

cotton balls or stuffing for snowy arctic regions and polar habitats

corrugated cardboard for trees

burlap for toads, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, turtles, pigs and animals with rougher skin

construction paper, canvas or bumpy fabric for dens and caves (also sandpaper would work)

yarn, string, brush bristles (any kind) for lion, goats, giraffe, zebra, mule, donkey or horse mane or tail

You don't need to cover the entire surface, just a bit as multisensory "touch and feel" books do. Try include as many sensory elements in the animal "touch and feel" books for optimum VAKT lesson plans. Assemble pages in book format by punching three holes along the edge and tying together with shoelace, for added tactile stimulation. Use these for preschool, students with autism and special sensory and tactile needs. 






Cage-free Zoo Animal habitat lesson plans with free printable animal activities


I've been a teacher for 40 years and today I was going to share preschool lesson plans to make a zoo animal circus train from my early days. And I realized that lesson plans that feature animals behind bars are not really ethically, environmentally or animal friendly. Piggyback on this, a discussion with my oldest homeschooling daughter (second gen homeschool <3) how she was rethinking what she was teaching, taking kids to on zoo field trips, with animals locked in tiny, non-habitat appropriate cages. This includes aquariums and marine zoos, especially. If we learned anything from the film "Blackfish" about Tilikum the "killer" orca whale, it was the damaging effects cages have on animals. So here are cage-free zoo animal habitat and animal classification lesson plans with free printable activities. 

Visit animal friendly zoos. Happily, many zoos are redoing structures to move away from tiny cages to wide, open more habitat appropriate spaces. The Detroit Zoo and Toronto Zoo are examples. John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Mich., still has cages but new structures are more open. And even if you don't want to visit the zoo, check their website for free printable animal lesson plans. JBZ and the Detroit Zoo and probably all zoos have lesson plans and printables on animal classification, animal body coverings, adaptation, habitats and more. 

Research petting zoos. Maybe they've improved over the years, but we've had some unpleasant experiences at petting zoos. Tired, uncomfortable and even neglected animals forced to interact with mobs of people who aren't always respectful of the animals is a recipe for disaster. Pun intended, "vet" petting zoos before visiting. This includes any zoo day camps or zoo school experiences. 

Visit animal sanctuaries, nature centers, wildlife preserves and animal hospitals. Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a good example. Yes, animals are in cages, but that is for their protection. All have been injured, maimed or in some way damaged by interaction with humans. Our youngest daughter was sensitized, then incensed seeing a bobcat that had been taken captive for a wildlife circus and declawed. He is literally helpless. It's a sad but relevant object lesson on why animals should be protected, not endangered. Blandford has a beautiful wildlife preserve, nature center and animal hospital that rehabs injured animals for reintegration to the wild.  Visit any nature center or wildlife preserve near you. Most all will have free printable animal lesson plans and activities to further study. 

Make animal habitat dioramas. Use my lesson plans to make animal habitat dioramas and here are free printable animal habitat diorama cut and paste coloring pages. Teach biodiversity, animal classification, body coverings, animal tracking and more! Make animal activities VAKT and special education friendly, by adding "touch and feel" elements to habitats. Use straw, fabric, fake fur, bumpy and textured surfaces to simulate animal body coverings and nest or dwelling materials. More on that later! 




Valentine Heart Party with science and health lesson plans, activities and printables

 


Are you looking for some fresh Valentine's Day party activities, beyond the usual valentine exchange, candy blast and heart crafts? How about swinging your holiday party health themed with these fun, active, not-boring heart health lesson plans and activities?

Parts of the body lesson plans: see my earlier blog post for tons of free printable health lesson plans including human body coloring pages circulatory system printables. Use these to create a parts of the body paper bag vest or T-shirt. Younger students color cut and paste parts of the body and assemble them on a paper bag vest. Older students draw, color and label body parts on a long-sleeved T-shirt. 

Heart healthy snacks: Instead of the standard Valentine's Day fare of candy, cookies and cupcakes, why not make heart smart goodies in class? Make a shared fruit and veggie rainbow. Set up stations for students to prep food and design in a big beautiful rainbow! The rainbow diet is one of the heart healthiest there is.  Mix and match with any of these rainbow fruits and vegetables. Extend health lesson plans to include physics science activities on light, spectrum and rainbow.

RED:  strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, dragonfruit, red leaf or romaine lettuce, watermelon, radishes, grapes, pepper, tomatoes

ORANGE: peppers, carrots, oranges, mango, peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin

YELLOW: peppers, lemon, pineapple, summer squash, wax beans

GREEN: grapes, kiwi, broccoli, beans, spinach, lettuce, spring mix, kale, peas, honeydew melon, avocado, cucumber, scallions, peppers, endive

BLUE: blueberries, blue grapes, potatoes (look in tri-color blend), peppers

INDIGO: prune plums, prunes, figs, eggplant, blackberries, currants

PURPLE: cabbage, broccoli, grapes, purple carrots, purple asparagus

Heart healthy games: Engage kids in relay races, aerobics, jump rope, jumping jacks, yoga, obstacle courses, fitness stations, trampoline, stretching, windmills, "bicycles" throwing and catching and climbing. Try to avoid competition and encourage personal achievement. You can do a range of movement activities that require no equipment.

Dance party: what better way to round our your Valentine's Day heart party than with dancing? Play fun, upbeat music and let kids work off desk-time pent up energy! Songs kids love include "Hamster Dance" "Baby Shark" "Gummy Bears" "Hand Jive" and "I can make your hands clap." 

Happy heart day! 




Free Printable Heart lesson plans for Valentine's Day


Hello fellow educators, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, you're probably up to your elbows in holiday crafts. But how about some non-traditional Valentine's Day activities? Here are free printable heart (as in the organ) lesson plans. Use these for science, anatomy and health lesson plans for fun holiday connections with an educational twist. 

Coloring Home has a large assortment of free printable heart coloring pages featuring diagrams to color and label, plus anatomy coloring pages to show how the heart works within other parts of the body. The health lesson plans help students explore the heart and the larger circulatory system and why it is such a vital organ (the word vital comes from Latin, "vita" or "life.") 

The American Heart Association has loads of free printable heart health lesson plans. There are other resources on heart health and healthy habits. Here a free printables on the circulatory system and heart themed activities to help students keep heart fit. I particularly like the free downloads with printables on 25 ways to keep moving, at home and at school. 

Kids Health has free printable fitness and health lesson plans to help students understand the importance of nutrition, exercise, fitness and healthy choices (not smoking or vaping). Click around to find fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and other tools for wellness. 

Along with the frilly Valentine's Day crafts and valentine exchanges, my students studied the parts of the body in science lesson plans around this holiday. Preschool students made vests cut from grocery bags with organs of the human body drawn on. Older kids made human body T-shirts with body organs drawn on in permanent marker. There are several coloring pages from the Coloring Home link that could be used as parts of the body templates. Older students might stencil on the T-shirt, label and color the human body model. 

Younger students can get scissors skills practice, using the body parts coloring pages as color, cut and paste activities. Here are more free printable human body coloring pages for such cut and paste activities, from Exploring Nature. 

Include lots of active learning in your heart lesson plans and heart healthy snacks! Stay tuned for heart party activities for Valentine's Day! 

Healthy School Lunch Recipes: handhelds, pizza, tacos, burritos and breadless sandwiches


Juvenile obesity is a growing problem in the US and other nations. More kids experience excessive weight gain, not tween-age weight that will drop off after puberty, but life-long and are at risk of obesity-related health problems. There are some very simple strategies parents can use to help children with or at risk of obesity, without ever  mentioning weight loss. The two most important being diet and exercise. I'm not talking about diet as in specific calorie restricting. I mean monitoring what kids eat to ensure that they get maximum nutrition without extra junk calories. Here are healthy school lunch recipes for handhelds, "burritos" and breadless sandwiches to prevent childhood obesity. 

Handhelds such as sandwiches, burgers, burritos and hot dogs are the perfect school lunch food because they are less messy. And that's an important key right there. You can practice junk calorie restricting and  mess by just minimizing the condiments and using judicious condiment food swaps. Butter, mayo, jam and jelly, ketchup, mustard, dips and spreads are really not necessary in the amounts we use. Condiments alone contribute an inordinate amount to the calorie count while providing no real benefit. Some super nutritious condiment food swaps include:

cashew or almond butter (I'm a peanut butter girl, but sadly some schools have kyboshed peanut butter due to allergies. They shouldn't because it's just making allergies worse, but I digress)

hummus (look for lower fat, higher protein varieties or make your own)

salsa or pico de gallo (choose low sugar and low sodium and high veggie varieties. Eating salsa is a great potassium boost to prevent dehydration)

Some essential food swaps for sandwiches and burritos include low carb and keto breads and tortillas. So you probably know that white foods: bleached flour and sugar are the biggest problems with tortillas. Dr. Now of the anti-obesity reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" targets these on his "no white food" diet. But you can make a simple switch to low carb tortillas that provide a fiber and protein punch while still calorie restricting. Or go completely off book with breadless sandwiches wrapped in lettuce or kale leaves. 

Burritos, tacos and other handheld favorites can be reinvented in an endless number of ways for calorie restricting but also to boost nutrition. Spread almond butter on a low carb or keto tortilla and wrap around apple slices or a banana. Or spread with hummus, a little salsa and loads of fresh veggies. Or a cheese stick. Wrap tightly and slice, for pinwheels or "sushi." Speaking of sushi, why not make sushi rolls for super healthy school lunches?

Make pizza handhelds using thin crust pizza or low carb keto tortilla like Joseph's pita pockets or flax wraps or Light and Fit wraps. Spread with a little spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with low moisture mozzarella and turkey pepperoni. Make your own "make-your-own" Lunchables that kids can assemble at school. 

There are so many ways to keep kids fit and healthy without ever mentioning weight loss or diet. And add value by getting kids involved packing their own school lunches. Here are some free printable lesson plans on nutrition to help.  




Stone Soup lesson plans, activities and printables, plus Friendship Soup recipes


 Looking for interactive, hands-on activities to revive a winter weary preschool or elementary age curriculum? How about a unit on "Stone Soup?" Here are free printable Stone Soup lesson plans, activities, coloring pages, crafts and recipes for Friendship Soup from the beloved children's literature classic. 

There are several versions of Stone Soup, my favorite being the Marcia Brown Caldecott one (shown above). In this story, stingy villagers learn the value of collaboration and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when three hungry soldiers con them into to sharing their hoarded food to make a group soup. 

Begin by reading Stone Soup aloud. Children should predict what will happen using HOTS (higher order thinking skills). Kids will love the ah-ha moment when they realize, (before the greedy villagers do) that the hoarders have just been tricked into parting with food they lied about not having. 

Next, assign kids character parts and retell Stone Soup as a  play. Let children design costumes and create props and scenery from the recycle bin. Recycled cardboard fridge boxes make awesome backdrops which children can paint. Present this as a play to other students. 

After the play, serve Stone Soup (which has now become Friendship Soup) that you have made as a class. Allow students to prep vegetables or simply bring canned vegetables to reheat. Children might also prep vegetables and home. Teacher should probably bring the cooked meat if you're going to include it. Also, provide washed stones to use in soup (large ones so no one accidentally swallows). Simmer ingredients in a crockpot while doing other activities. 

Write Stone Soup recipes for process writing lesson plans. Ingredients include: cooked meat, milk, carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage, onions, salt, pepper and stones. Encourage kids into writing creatively to produce funny or silly recipes. Create cartoon strips or story boards. Make a Stone Soup word wall, using words from the story. Cooking with children and writing and following recipes make excellent math lesson plans. 

For science lesson plans, explore food groups or edible plant parts (carrots and potatoes--roots, onions--bulb, celery--stem and leaves, cabbage--leaves, pepper--seeds). Explore raw vegetable colors, textures, and structure. Draw plant diagrams. 






Free printable Year of the Rabbit CNY activities with a Chinese New Year kids book list

 


Chinese New Year begins January 22, 2023 and this year,  it's the Year of the Rabbit. Here are Chinese New Year books for kids about China, Chinese culture and bunnies! Included are free printable bunny crafts for Year of the Rabbit.

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (Ling and Eric Lee)

Buddha Stories (Demi): Buddhist and oriental fables are generally allegorical. Demi's stories are translations of Buddhist wisdom. Children can learn important truths from the follies of the animals in these stories. Buddhism is the largest religion in China. 

Zen Shorts and Zen Ties (Jon Muth): Gentleness is the key construct in Buddhism. Stillwater the Panda and his Haiku speaking nephew Koo, teach three children of the wisdom of the orient is these endearing tales.

Three Samurai Cats (Eric A. Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein) Three brave warrior cats learn the art of humility and patience from an aged Samurai cat.

The Story about Ping (Margorie Flack, Kurt Weise, 1933) Ping is an adorable, nosy little yellow duck who lives with his family of ducks and people aboard a Chinese junque on the Yangtze River. Children will delight in Ping's mischief and subsequent close call with the soup pot. Kurt Weise's delicate pictures evoke the exotic and the quaint in life on the Yellow River.

Tikki Tikki Tembo (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) The curious naming of children in Chinese culture almost causes grief in the village when little Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into the well. Almost as much fun to read as it is to hear, this is a must read for young children.

The Five Chinese Brothers (Claire Huchet Bishop, Kurt Wiese) There is a famous legend retold in many cultures about five brothers who all look alike, but each have a unique power. The fidelity of the brothers is called upon to rescue one brother from death by the combined efforts of their special talents. This is the Chinese version of the tale.

The Funny Little Woman (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) This is a kind of Chinese Little Gingerbread Man story with much silliness, chasing and three wicked Oni to outwit. It won the Caldecott Medal for children's literature illustrations. This story will enchant young children.

Here are free printable activities from kids books about rabbits and bunnies featuring favorites like the Easter bunny, Disney's HOP, Peter Rabbit, the Velveteen Rabbit and Peter Cottontail. There are lots of free printable vintage rabbits images too. 

Easter is probably the most quintessentially preschool holiday of all. Baskets, candy, egg decorating, bunnies, baby animals, spring--for young and young at heart, here are free printable Easter bunny crafts. I've included printable activities based on my two favorite bunnies Peter Rabbit and the Velveteen Rabbit, too. Parents and teachers, you'll want these for preschool classroom fun. 

Printable animal masks from Classroom Jr. Everything is more fun when you're in costume. So let's start by making a printable Easter bunny mask. Here are more animal printables from First Palette. Print on plain paper and transfer to recycled cereal box cardboard to make mask more durable. 

Vintage Easter Bunny crafts Now that you are properly attired, let's make some Easter baskets and greeting cards. The Toymaker has free printable egg baskets, bunny cards and an egg roll game (like they play on the White House). Why not make cards and baskets and fill with Easter eggs or candy and deliver to a lonely senior neighbor (wearing your mask, of course). The Easter bunny loves his older friends, too! 

3D Paper Bunny Crafts The calendar may say spring, but Easter is often cold and damp. Settle down to an afternoon of serious rainy day crafting with free printable 3D bunny-themed paper toys from Craft Jr. I'm partial to the old-fashioned diorama. 

Paper Bunny Toy Mania DL-TK, those wonderfully crafty folk, have an Easter blowout of bunny coloring pages, masks, paper ears, stand-up toys, pop up crafts and much more. I love how easy these are to make. Perfect for young and special needs children who need no-fail activities. 

Peter Rabbit fun Peter Rabbit has his own page, along with other Beatrix Potter friends. The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams) has a page on Making Friends. It's part of a complete page of free printable bunny-based coloring pages, games, puzzles, dot-to-dot, count by number and other activities. I like the felt board games and printable felt board patterns. First School has an educational Peter Rabbit unit with learning games, literature activities, writing prompts and stories. 

Happity, Hippity, Hoppity Easter! 

Chinese New Year Party planner with crafts, books, activities and learning centers


 The Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese New Year lunar calendar begins on January 22, 2023. Ring in the Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, with a party planner for your classroom, home-school group, scout troop or 4-H club. This Spring Festival party planner is perfect for any children's venue that celebrates cultural diversity. In the long dark days of January, a cultural celebration can spark much-needed light and joy. 

The Lunar New Year party planner includes the elements of a good lesson plan as well as a good party. Use learning centers for party planner activities. Divide students into groups and rotate among learning centers, giving equal time for each group at each center. Do the math for how many students per group and how long to give each group based upon the logistics of your situation. If you do the Spring Festival party planner as a whole group, do these activities in order. It is important with any children's group activity to vary the routine. Intersperse quiet and active, listening and doing activities. 

Chinese New Year touch table. Set out hands-on materials children can explore independently. This is a good activity for young, easily-bored or special needs students or to use as a filler between activities. Leave touch table up throughout the event. Lunar New Year touch table items include artifacts from China, Chinese Zodiac placemats, jade figures, pieces of ivory, porcelain, bamboo, tea sets, chopsticks, photos, garments, silk, fans, toy animals from China, stuffed animals from the zodiac (monkey, rat, pig, goat, tiger, dragon, dog, horse, rooster, snake, ox and rabbit). 

Spring Festival smell and taste table. Set out taste test samples of Chinese New Year foods. bok choy, tea, almond cookies, coconut macaroons, fried dumplings (potstickers), monkey bread (for Year of the Monkey), bunny food (carrots, lettuce and salad), egg foo yung, sushi, cellophane noodles, ramen noodles, cherries, fish, egg rolls, rice crackers, fortune cookies and candy gold coins (good fortune is the theme!) Check the international section of your local grocery store. Provide herbs in their raw state for kids to smell: ginger root, lemongrass, wasabi, saffron, turmeric, garlic. 

Chinese New Year sound table. Play recordings of oriental music in the background. Show Youtube videos of different dance, theater, art and music performances. Make simple Chinese style musical . Make drums from oatmeal containers and shakers from pill bottles and dried popcorn. Show children how to make a guitar from a Kleenex box with rubber bands stretched over the opening. Provide materials to decorate. 

Lunar New Year stories. This is the time for a quiet activity--children of all ages, even teenagers, enjoy story-telling. Dress in costume, add a few props and use different voices for different characters, you will have a spell-bound audience. If you are not comfortable reading aloud, use a story CD. Share the Chinese Zodiac story, to explain why the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and boar are so important. Provide animal masks, puppets or costumes so kid can act out story as a skit. Distribute musical instruments for children to play when each animal is mentioned. Or use a series of masks or puppets as you read the story. 

See this blog post for kids books, printables, crafts and activities on Chinese New Year. 

Chinese New year arts and crafts. The Spring Festival includes a Lantern Festival. Make a simple lantern by folding an 8 x 11 sheet of brightly colored construction paper in half lengthwise. Cut nine slits through the fold beginning one inch from each edge. The slits should be about 2-3 inches long. Open the paper. Bring the edges together widthwise and staple. The fold will open outward and the slits will form openings in the lantern. Decorate by stapling colored curled ribbon to the bottom. Here are free printable Chinese New Year crafts for children. 

Lunar New Year games: Form a dragon by making a line of children. Place hands on shoulders and follow the leader. Do whatever she does. Take turns being the leader. For older children, blindfold them. It will be anew experience to follow just felling what the person ahead is doing. Play hop monkey like leap frog. Or play Good Monkey, Naughty Monkey (like red light, green light). Sing Little Bunny Foo Foo and do the bunny hop. 

End the spring festival party with Chinese fireworks!

Health lesson plans to prevent juvenile obesity without mentioning weight loss


Increasing juvenile obesity is the elephant in the living room that everyone sees and no one want to address. More and more children are overweight and headed toward obesity. But discussing it or even being concerned about overweight kids is often regarded as fat-shaming or bullying. Here are lesson plans to prevent and treat childhood obesity without ever mentioning weight loss. 

Childhood obesity is tricky to deal with for two reasons. First, in puberty, many tweens get heavier and may even be called overweight by a doctor. But after puberty they slim down. This was my experience. Weight loss diets and calorie restricting may actually be dangerous. Calorie restricting such as the 1000 calorie diet I was put on at age 8, deprived me of nutrients needed for a growing body. It also caused eating disorder issues. Also, the extra weight is necessary for health after we lose weight in puberty. 

What is chronic obesity and what is overweight that will right itself after puberty? There are several factors. Is the entire family overweight? Is the child active or sedentary? How old is the child? A three-year old with obesity is more at risk than, say, a normal weight child who becomes overweight as a tween, as I did. This overweight period is usually temporary. And some kids are just bigger than others. 

Another issue is that overemphasis on weight loss can be a form of fat-shaming and bullying. It can also lead to eating disorders, low self esteem, anxiety and depression.  But yet, children with chronic obesity that will not disappear in puberty, are at risk of many other health problems including diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension and other issues. Movement and exercise are more difficult. 

So how to prevent or treat juvenile obesity without discussing weight loss? 

1) Food lesson plans aimed at healthy eating. Teach the food pyramid and food groups, using these free printable lesson plans.  Nutriton.gov has many free nutrition printables including recipes, My Plate activities, coloring pages, food diaries and lesson planners. Here are free printable food journals and nutrition trackers. 

2) Engage students in physical activities and active learning as much as possible. Use these free printable DEAM (Drop Everything and Move) activities. DEAM is like DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), which intersperses the school day with unplanned exercise or reading activities. I especially like DEAM because they are random surprise fun activities that get kids out of desks and moving. These might include dancing, calisthenics or active games.

3) Go off screen and hands-on. Most children spend more time watching than doing: TV, online on phones, computers and video game systems. I'm a Shipt shopper and its a sad commentary that when I drive thru neighborhoods in the summer, I see very few children out playing but TVs on or kids playing on phones. Utilize these free printable lesson plans on screen time dangers. Kids Health offers printables and resources to help kids understand why too much inactivity is harmful and how to monitor their screen time. 

4) Provide active activities in lieu of sedentary seat work and workbooks. Montessori type learning centers get kids off the seat and actively learning. Check out this blog for a gajillion learning center activities for science, math, reading, writing, social studies and more. Here are fitness activities to keep kids actively engaged. 

Will these activities end childhood obesity? Not alone. But with support, guidance, education and care, kids can learn to be their  healthiest selves.