Before we begin, I want to define “early childhood education” (ECE) from an educator’s point of view. ECE is the education of children from birth to about 8 years old (or third-grade). While you will find mostly preschool and kindergarten plans here, all of the activities can be modified for younger or older children. I am available to help with any modification questions you may have! Simply leave a comment or join my Early Childhood FaceBook Group by clicking here.
ALL ABOUT ME THEMATIC UNIT-This unit encompasses everything that is…ME! Remember, developmentally, small children are not aware of size, growth, or time. This unit will help to introduce those concepts, along with feelings, body parts, family, and friendship.
When you see “read a story,” understand that I know your young 3 yr. old is probably not “reading.” That is ok. This is a great time to have your child look at the pictures in a book and tell you the story. This activity helps with language development, making predictions, sequencing, finding clues, and so many more developmental skills that begin to build a foundation for your child to be ready to read. The addition of puppets is a great help, also. Many times, a child who is not very vocal, will open up and speak “as a puppet.”
- A side note: Puppets are also a great way to have your young child who keeps things “bottled up” to come alive and talk. Through puppets, I have had non-vocal and shy children give voice to a puppet and tell me how they feel, things experienced, and even answer questions the child did not know! One child would NOT say her ABCs for me. The mother was adamant that the child knew them. The child kept telling me, “I don’t know them!” She got a puppet during play time and she was pretending to be the teacher. The puppet was her student. She said, “Chippy (a squirrell puppet), say your ABCs!” Well, let me tell ya, Chippy knew his ABCs! She and I had a talk. I told her how happy I was that Chippy knew his ABCs. And asked if she thought Chippy could teach her? During our group discussion that day, we talked about honesty and how important it is to answer questions honestly. And I said, “For example, if you know your ABCs and don’t tell me, you may never get to move on to a higher grade because I won’t know you can do what you need to do.” I didn’t ruin the moment with the puppet and waited a little while to address the whole group without calling fault to her individually. Had the next scenario not happened, I would have talked to her privately about it, but this is what happened. She came up to me, almost in tears, and asked if she could have Chippy for a moment. She had something to show me. I told her, “Of course!” She got the puppet came to me, and in her “Chippy” voice said, “Tell Miss Lori what you have learned!” And she told me her ABCs!! She was a shy child and trusted that the puppet could not hurt her. It have her some control over the situation, and it worked. PUPPETS are great!!
Please share your outcomes, progress, and questions on our Facebook Group: Early Childhood Lesson Plans-Gloriwirques Education. Take pictures and share with us. Many of these activities are great photo ops. When I taught preschool, I did a pictorial scrapbook for every child in my class, yes, 20 scrapbooks each year!! May was a bit hectic when I procrastinated on the scrapbooks.
There are also some projects that help our children (and us) be even more excited about this theme.
Time Capsule: The very first day of preschool, make a time capsule with your child. It will be opened the last day and the information in the capsule repeated and compared. It is such an exciting revelation to your child to see growth! To make the time capsule, I like to make it beautiful and fancy! I use a Pringles can tennis ball container and I spray paint the box with a metallic looking spray paint to make it all shiny and more like a “real” time capsule. The information in the time capsule should be:
- Photo on that day
- Hand print
- Foot print (optional)
- Any other information you or your child would like to include.
- Allow your child to write his/her name on this first day, even if it is just a scribble! Don’t correct them, today, just give them paper and pencil and say, “write your name for me!” and let them do it alone. You will have an assessment to compare beginning hand writing and end of year handwriting. Watch how your child holds the pencil. Do correct “holding” techniques need to be taught?
- all about me page This page may also be used for some of the math activities.
Repeat the information on the morning of opening the capsule.
Growth Scrapbook page: Because you will be taking the height of your child on the first day of school, this scrapbook page is simple to do and it gives a tangible way for your child to see how much growth has occurred since the first day of school. Cut out a simple flower pot shape and a simple flower shape. For the stem of the flower, cut and glue strips of green paper to match the height of your child. Make sure you leave a tab of about an inch on one end to glue into the flower pot. Fold the stem in a fan fold and stick it into the flower pot to fit on the page. You will do a second flower in the same pot at the end of the year with that day’s height. When the flowers are stretched out, your child can see how much (s)he has grown!
Rice Babies: This is one of my favorite activities from all of my years of teaching. This activity helps children see how much they have grown already. You will need a few supplies for this activity, but it is so worth the effort.
- Pair of inexpensive panty hose or a knee hi stocking in a fair skin color (you do NOT want reinforced toes)
- Rice to equal the weight of your child at birth
- Scale to weigh the rice to the ounce
- Wiggle eyes
- Cheek blush or pink marker
- Your child’s birth ceritificate and picture from birth
- Ultra sound picture is also a great resource, if available
- Baby Blanket
- Crib, if available (doll bed or some sort of plastic container will work)
- Look at and talk about the birth certificate and baby picture. Look at the weight of the child when born and compare to today’s weight. Talk about how much more (s)he weighs now than at birth. Emphasize that everyone starts as a baby. This is a concept we take for granted that all young children know, but the reality to some of them that I was a baby (and I showed them pictures of me at different stages of growth, from birth) and even Grandma was a baby (and pictures, if available), was amazing to them. This is a great time to compare photos of mommy, daddy, and the child. Look at similarities and differences. You can make this as “in depth” as you feel necessary.
- Measure out the amount of rice to equal the child’s weight, at birth. Pour the rice into the stocking and tie off, into a knot. I put the knot at the bottom and used the toe end as the top of the head. Using a hot glue gun or crafter’s glue, place on the wiggle eyes. Use blush/marker for cheeks and mouth. Wrap the baby in a blanket for your child to hold. This feels very close to the weight of your child when born. Your child now has a “rice baby.” All of my students, boys and girls, over the years, wanted to name their babies. I had a child’s rocker in my classroom and the children would sit in the rocker and rock their babies. This was the photo I used for their “rice baby” scrapbook page.
1. Talk about feelings and moods. Ask questions: What makes you happy? sad? frustrated? grouchy?
2. Have children describe experiences with siblings,friends,adult family members.
3. Discuss the appropriate way to handle feelings.
4. Talk about things your child likes and dislikes and ask why questions.
- Height: Measure the height of your child. Compare to others in the home and other objects in the home. Use concept words like: taller, shorter, longer, higher, lower, over, under, above,
- Measure feet: Use legos, unifix cubes,toothpicks, etc. to measure feet. Trace your child’s foot on paper and use this to measure with different manipulatives as “units of measure”. My foot is ___ inches, toothpicks, paperclips, etc.
- Weight: Weigh your child and compare to the weight of other people and pets in the family. Use concept words: more, less, heavier, lighter, etc.
- Fill in the “About Me” sheet in the resources section.
- Calendar: The beginning of the year is a great time to set up a consistent calendar routine. See my calendar blog on ways to teach math using the calendar. Gloriwirques also has calendar sets available. Use the Human Body Patterning set, or if you would prefer to keep up with the weather daily, use the weather set. Talk about how the weather effects us.
- Talk about sequences and routines: To help your child with sequencing skills, take pictures of your child on his daily routine, before the first day of school. Waking up and stretching, with we hair after a bath, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, play time, ready for bed, story time, etc. Print the pictures, cut them out, and have your child put them in order of the day.
- Body Part Count: Your child will count different body parts: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet, fingers, toes. Ask questions like: “How many body parts do you have if you count your eyes and years together?”
- Concrete connection: Either draw and cut out two eyes, two ears, one nose, etc. or photograph your child’s ears, nose, etc., print and cut out. Actually have him pick up the two ears, two eyes and add together. Put the pictures on the “Addition Mat” (All about me document.2)
- Extension activity: Glue the photos of the child’s body parts on the rebus story (All about me document.3). Read it to your child, and he will be more than happy to read it to you! This is a great page to copy on card stock and include in your scrapbook!
- Closet count: Count the number of coats, hats, shoes, dresses, shirts, pants, skirts, belts, etc. Make a graph of each item. Talk about which has more, less, same number,etc.
- Life size Me: Most of the time, young children have not perception about their actual size. For this activity, use the back side of wrapping paper or butcher paper. Have the child lay on the paper and trace them. Have the child color the paper with facial features that match his, color or paint on clothes, let it dry, then cut it out. Hang it in the child’s room or in a space that the child can walk up to it, and stand beside it. This is a great photo op for a scrapbook!
- Body Part Point To: Call out body parts quickly and have children point to them. Tricky ones are shoulders, thigh, elbow, hip, ankles, cheek, chin, eye brow, etc. Young children LOVE new BIG words… call out “epidermis”! When your child is taught it is his skin, and what a “smart word” that is, he will be saying it to everyone he meets.
- Use the body parts in “If you’re happy and you know it” (touch your chin)
- Talk about the weather and how it effects us personally. How we choose clothes, etc.
- Talk about why our bodies need rest.
- Skeleton: Talk about the inside of our bodies being bones. Make a macaroni or q-tip skeleton. Do an internet search of “macaroni skeleton” or “q-tip skeleton” and you will find MANY different options. This will need to be a “family project” with young children. Don’t worry about naming all of the bones with your child, simply point out head (skull), arms, legs, hip bones, ribs, spine, etc.
- Puzzle Me: Take a picture of your child and print it out on cardstock. Cut the picture into body part pieces, and have her put the puzzle together. (Head, body, arms, legs).
- NO Ink option: If you have no ink or limited on printing, find a picture of a child in a magazine. Glue the picture to construction paper, cut it into the body part pieces and let your child put it together.
v What I Like Collage: Give your child many different magazines, catalogs, sales papers, with foods, toys, clothes, etc. Have the child cut out things they like and glue them onto a piece of paper titled, “What I Like” (what i like)
v How I Got My Name: Talk to your child about how his/her name was chosen and together, look up the meaning of the name. Was there a family history behind the name?
v Feelings Face: Talk about feelings with your child. Make a paper plate face and cut out various mouths from construction paper, happy, mad, sad, surprised. (Do an online search for royalty free mouth images, if needed. I use four other paper plates, draw on the mouths and cut out into a “card”. Talk about how your family handles being sad, mad, frustrated, etc.
v Feelings: Have your child make faces of feelings: happy, sad, surprised, mad. Take pictures of each “face”. Put them on a page page with these words: Here, I am happy! Here, I am sad! Here, I am surprised! Here, I am mad! You can either cut the pages apart and put a cover on, staple together and have a feelings book, or have one page that would be a great scrapbook page. AND, your child will be able to read it!
- Me Puppet: There are two options for this activity. You can do both, or only one. Let your child use the puppet to “read a story.” You can make a whole family of puppets and listen to your child “pretend” to be you and Daddy… this can be funny sometimes and at others, it can be an eye opener to how your behavior is perceived by your child when playing without being aware you are watching!
- Option 1: Take a full body picture of your child. Print onto card stock and cut out the picture. Glue to a popsicle stick.
- Option 2: Take a picture of your child with arms held out to the side (like a T). Print on card stock or photo paper and cut out. Cut off the arms. Punch holes where the arms and legs would be and add pipe cleaners for moveable arms. Attach the puppet to a craft stick.
- What Our Bodies Can Do! : This is a language arts, science, social studies, music activity, all rolled into one! Teach your child what her body can do and also teach new vocabulary words (called verbs). Use the verbs to create sentences and make a book that your child will be able to read!
- Play an action game/song, like Hokey Pokey, Here We Go Looby Loo, Tooty Ta, etc.
- Ask, “What can parts of your body do?” Talk about hands, eyes, ears, feet, legs, etc, Try the movements as you discuss them.
- Before you start the lesson, find pictures of actions on the internet. If you are limited on printing, just show them on your screen (running, jumping, swimming, walking, sitting, crawling, hopping, rolling, etc).
- Show the pictures you found and have your child do these activities. (To make the book, photograph each activity.)
- Put the pictures, one to a page, in a Word document and have your child say, “I can run,” while you are typing the text. Print the pages, make a cover, and staple together for a personalized book that your child can read.
Just a note: Walgreens often offers their photo books for 30-50% off. With the discount, tey cost about $7-8. This would be a great one to have made into a hard bound cloth book. This would be a great keepsake and a real “book” for your homeschool collection!!
ü Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
- Advanced activity: Teach plurals with the song. Change it to:
“Two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet”
“Two eyes, two ears, two lips, two teeth”
Stress the different forms of plurals with feet and teeth.
- Footprint Butterfly: Have your child barefoot. Paint the bottom of their feet with non-toxic paint. A light coat works best. Feel free to use different colors. Have the child step onto a piece of paper with their feet and heels together. When dry, add antennae with markers or crayons or yarn.
- Paper plate Me: Have your child make a paper plate of the same facial features he has. He will color the hair color, eye color, draw a nose, mouth, etc. Yarn can be used for the hair! If your child has curly hair, simply separate the threads of yarn and it will be kinky curly!
- Self Portrait: Without helping, have your child draw a self portrait. It is ok it is is just a scribble. For assessment purposes, have him draw one again at Christmas and then on the last day. The first self portrait is great to include in the time capsule. AFTER the first one is drawn, draw one of yourself, talking to your child as you go. DO NOT FORGET TO MENTION THE NECK! The neck in a drawing is a concept that many young children just do not comprehend.
DRAMATIC PLAY- For dramatic play, allow your child to play “house” and to be a doctor, taking care of body parts.
BLOCKS – Have your child use blocks and legos to build homes, measure things, build a structure the same height as she is!
Have fun with this thematic unit!!