Monday, December 1, 2014

A Natural Holiday: Preschool Style

This morning we had our last session of Nurturing Acorns, our nature preschool group that meets once a week. We had a small group, yet enjoyed meeting with everyone throughout the fall! 

We started by writing and drawing in our nature journals, adding a picture of the child to help remember our special time together studying spiders, trees, nocturnal animals, and more! Then we made paper strip Christmas trees (Thanks Mommy Savers!), talking about the children's trees at home, shapes, and colors. It was great glueing practice! One family recently went to Eby Pines for their tree. What great memories and a fun way to get outside!

Later we went out to the larger open space for a little holiday action! I love these Christmas action cards from Oopsey Daisy. We marched like a nutcracker, melted like a snowman, twirled like a snowflake, and spread our branches like a tree! I love using action cards like this from preschool to at least 12 years old, depending on the audience! 

We have a very young group (mostly 2-year-olds) so tried playing with the play dough while we read a few stories. I love seeing what they come up with. As additions, we had letter stamps, so some spelled there names. We had a few wooden and foam trees, red wooden beads, holiday pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks, and more as loose parts add ins. 

We had more books available, yet these were some of my favorites for this time of year, such as The Snow Tree , 10 Christmas Lights , Counting to Christmas , and A Wish to Be A Christmas Tree. I also really like all of Jan Brett's books for wintertime (affiliate links). Many of these books talk about evergreens, animals in winter, and natural decorations. In The Snow Tree, I like how the various animals help decorate the white tree with something colorful that is related to them, like the Blue Jay's feather. In Counting to Christmas, there is obviously an emphasis on counting, but we also see the girl making and giving back to the animals nearby and decorating a tree outside. In A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree, the animals remind the large tree how it is a home to so many animals and they decorate it each holiday season. 

Outside, we went on a special holiday hike, taking Christmas items from my "magic" bag and trying to find them in the woods. I based it off this fun activity from Woodland Trust Nature Detectives. They have GREAT stuff. It's based out of the UK, though, so some things use different names. I also often take their great ideas and modify it a bit. This scavenger hunt was very text heavy for preschoolers, so I found objects for many of the items and put them in my magical bag. Outside we found twigs shaped like reindeer antlers, logs like yule tide log, something white like Santa's beard, and more! 

It was a fun way to get outside on a chilly morning and celebrate the holidays!

For snack inside, we had snowman string cheese and cucumber snowmen, complete with red pepper scarf and raisin eyes and buttons! They were just right! We also worked on a paper chain to help decorate the nature center. 

We also did pinecone weaving (Thanks for the inspiration Rainy Day Mum!) and holiday pattern blocks. They're always fun! I like the pattern block templates from PreKinders

Everyone was interested in making a holiday treat for the birds, spreading peanut butter on pinecones and rolling them in bird seed. We changed out many items in the sensory bin to make it more like the holiday time as well!

One girl even set up the puppet theater area like our books where the animals decorated the trees! I loved how she applied the story to her play! She always has a great imagination!