Little Man loves animals and I love winter. So I thought that a Polar Animal theme was a perfect way to kick off our homeschool preschool series. Here's a peek first at our daily routine.
We all wake up and eat breakfast before big brothers get on the bus for school. When we come back inside from the bus stop, we usually spend about thirty minutes finishing up breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, and brushing our teeth. Then we're ready to start our day. I like to talk about the weather based on bus-stop observations. I usually ask Little Man what he wants to do today. And then we sit down to read at least one book. (...while I resist the urge to check my work email until a little later in the morning.)
Each weekend, I pour through our bookshelves and fill a basket with as many books as I can find related to our upcoming theme. We usually make a library run at some point as well. These books sit on the fireplace hearth and Little Man can pretty much pick any book he wants to start the day.
Our Polar Animal reading list includes the following:
Animal Babies in Polar Lands by Jennifer Schofield
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
A Polar Bear's World by Caroline Arnold
Little Polar Bear Finds a Friend by Hans de Beer
Polar Bear Arctic Hare by Eileen Spinelli
Pug Wug and Little by Susie Jenkin-Pearce and Tina Mcnaughton
The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovich
The rest of our morning generally includes only a couple structured activities and some independent playtime. After lunch, we often head outside to play in the backyard or take the dog for a walk. Then it's on the couch for quiet time, a few more books, and waiting for brothers to get home. They're always excited to see what we've done during the day and Little Man likes to show his brothers what he can do. This creates a nice distraction for the two youngest during homework time.
Here are a few of the activities we'll enjoy during our Polar Animal week:
- Cotton ball sensory bin: Fill a large shoe box with cotton balls then hide polar animal figurines inside. Show your child pictures of the hidden animals on a laptop or iPad while he digs around trying to find each one. This is a cool sensory experience and also gives you a chance to identify several animals by name. You can also provide your child clues to find each animal based on concepts of color and texture.
- Baby animal match: show your child pictures of baby animals on your iPad, etc. and ask them to match the baby in the picture to the adult figurine. This is a fun way to play while encouraging critical thinking.
- Build habitats with white playdough: with those same figurines, add white playdough to build a snowy habitat. This is a fun way to learn about where animals live. Stamp footprint trails into playdough landscapes and let your child narrate a creative story about the animal families.
- Ice skating penguins: sand and water tables can be great all-season toys. If you have snow, fill up your sand table with heaps of snow and let the kids explore, build, and march animal figures or drive small cars through the snowy landscape. If not, you can fill the table with water and hopefully it will freeze overnight. Then you can play with figures on the ice even talking about how animals must navigate snow and ice jammed water ways to find food in the winter.
- Torn paper snow storm: I don't know why, but kids love to tear paper. Give your child some white construction paper to tear into little pieces. Help your child practice self control by placing all the torn paper into a box. Draw polar animals, or place stickers onto a piece of colorful construction paper. Then invite them to glue pieces of snow onto the scene.
- Polar animal march: This is a fun game to play with preschoolers outside where they have lots of room to move around. Lead your children in a Simon Says-like game. Roar like a polar bear. Waddle like a penguin. Jump like a whale. Run like a fox.
- I have bottle caps with capital letters written on one side and lower case letters written on the other side. I'll pull out several P's and ask Little Man to sort the capital and lower case P's.
- Starfall.com has some great (free!) letter recognition games perfect for preschoolers.
- We also use printable coloring pages like these penguin and polar bear pages from DLTK.
- I also love the pre-writing pages from 3 Dinosaurs Tot Packs like the ones in this winter pack.