Our Mother Goose Time curriculum for the month of January is “Going on a Safari.” What little kid isn’t fascinated by animals–especially large animals like lions, giraffes, primates, and elephants?!?!
Included in this month’s package were adorable animal counters in red, blue, yellow, and green. They have a played a central role in the lessons for almost every day and my kids are loving them. I am still trying to find the perfect balance of covering objectives in the teacher’s guide and allowing creative license! Six months into Mother Goose Time and I am constantly learning.
For example, during our initial encounter with the manipulatives, the kids immediately sorted them by color. I asked them if they could think of another way to group them and they stared at me blankly. I immediately began listing other possibilities: type of animal, size, etc. Three days later, the activity ‘Animal Classify and Sort’ provided great questions to help guide children’s ability to discern different manners of sorting, without just listing categories for them. It was a missed opportunity to hone those early critical thinking skills. Oops.
On Day 4, the manipulatives again took center stage. One of the activities was called ‘Count the Animals.’ We discussed what happens at a watering hole and why water is important–drinking, bathing, and temperature control. Then I gave the kids the animal counters and a bowl of water. To my surprise, they were initially hesitant but once I reassured them they could play, their imaginations went into over drive.
They lined the animals up by colors in a line and made them wait turns to drink water.
My daughter meticulously bathed several while my son wrapped them as a towel, turned blanket, for bed.
At one point, the towel served as a stable and all the animals were put up for the night.
This occupied them for a long time, until, without any prompting from me, they shifted into clean up mode. They attempted to dry the animals and worked together to put them back in the bag. Then they shifted their attention to the water everywhere. With towels in hand, they proudly tried to wipe up the water. Before I knew it, they were wiping down door handles and “cleaning” throughout the house! We never even got to the actual counting part of the lesson but I am sure there will be future opportunities to review counting skills.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Roger