Well, spring has finally really arrived, and it was actually 90 degrees here today! We are so glad that it has finally warmed up, and the kids have been really living it up outside in the bright sunshine. Our PTA even sold snow cones to the children after school today as a fund raiser, which I thought was pretty smart and great timing.
Last weekend I finally got my fish tank all set up and the tadpoles purchased and safely settled into their new home, and the kids are incredibly excited about them, and have been watching them every day for signs of them turning into frogs. I have some frog and tadpole books set up near their aquarium, so they have really been pouring over those books and looking at the little tadpoles very carefully, and comparing them. It seems like a very good science activity to me!
This week, I am going to share some of the butterfly themed activities we have done over the last month or so. I hope you enjoy them! As for me, my Spring Break is starting on Saturday, so I am looking forward to that as much as anyone. We may not get to do anything special, but I really don’t care; I just want to REST! And I hope that all of you hard working folks out there get to do the same sometime soon.
1. A Caterpillar and Butterfly Art Project
It seems that there must be a hundred different ways to make a butterfly, and this butterfly pattern may just be one of twenty that you already have! But in any case, I thought that I would share it with you here, just in case there are any beginners out there that might not have stumbled across something like this one yet. The caterpillar involves mostly just snipping the corners off of pre-cut squares to form the circles that make the head and body pieces. The legs and antennae are pre-cut for the children. The both projects are really quite simple, but usually do not wind up on our bulletin board because usually have the kids make an Eric Carle knock-off type of book called the Hungry Kindergarten Caterpillar that we got several years ago from Kinderlit. Both projects wind up in there, although the caterpillar that is done in that book is a lot more work because the children finger paint the paper ahead of time before you cut it up. So there is no reason to make yet another caterpillar! Please note, though, before you go searching for that particular book on their website, that they no longer sell it due to copyright reasons, since it is just too close to the real Eric Carle book.
I have to also say that it is SO MUCH prep work, that each year I consider NOT making it, but it makes such a great display at Open House that I always just do it. But I WOULDN’T if I didn’t have an aide helping me out, that’s for sure!
2. Coffee Filter “Tie Dye” Butterflies
Here is another fun project that we do every year. To do this, you will need some coffee filters and some liquid water color paints. We use Colorations brand from Discount School Supply. Put the paint into the bingo bottles that they sell. I think that these are just like the Do A Dot paints that you can get at other craft supply stores, though I haven’t tried it with these at all myself. I also use the gigantic coffee filters from the same website, but smaller coffee filters from the grocery store are less expensive to use because they require less paint, and of course, cost less to purchase.
This is what the children do:
A. Have the child write his or her name in a small print on the outside edge of the coffee filter with a pencil first. If you use a marker, it will just dissolve when you add the paint. Fold up the coffee filter into fourths or fifths.
B. Starting with a light color of paint such as yellow or orange, have the children dab a little bit into the middle of the filter, right at the point of the filter where you folded it.
C. Be sure to have them soak the filter fully until the paint shows through to the back of it, and there are no more white spots left on it.
D. Continue with different rings of color until you have the entire coffee filter soaked.
Optional: Take a paper print of the filter before it dries.
This is really fun and highly recommended! BUT- it is easiest to do it if you are using the smaller filters. Otherwise, everyone needs a very large piece of paper to make the print. All you have to do is lay the wet filter down on a (sort of) clean, dry table and press a white sheet of regular copy paper down on it. Have the child press hard and rub it with his or her hands all over. Then pull the paper up, and voilá! You have a print of the coffee filter that dries just about instantly! We don’t do anything special with those prints; we just send them home. But I am sure there are some creative people out there with lots of great ideas on how to use them. Let us know!
E. Hang the filters out to dry somewhere. They look really spectacular while drying, and tend to attract a lot of attention!
F. When dry, have an adult cut trace and cut them out, remembering to add the child’s name somewhere with either a pencil or a permanent marker, since it will likely be cut off when you cut out the butterfly. (We figured this out the hard way!) I am providing you witha a larger butterfly pattern here, just in case you need one. (Link) Have the children add sticker for the eyes, and then draw eyeballs and a body shape on them with a marker, if you like.
G. Laminate the finished butterflies, if you can. They really pick up the sunlight! I always hang mine from the ceiling in my classroom and put them up for Open House. I love the way they look!
3. Butterfly Addition and Subtraction Worksheets
A few weeks ago, I gave you all a free download of a Butterfly and Ladybug Addition worksheet that I came up with. If you interested in looking that again or are just joining us, here is the link. There was quite a bit of great feedback on those worksheets, and so I made up a complete set of them and we now have them posted for sale on my website! Check it out here!
4. Spring Addition and Subtraction Coin Toss Activity
I know I mentioned this activity once before way back in January, but we have now started to use it this year, and the kids are LOVING it! My class has now been working on the subtraction part of this activity for about a week. This is a lot like the Jelly Bean Addition/Subtraction activity from the same blog entry, but instead of beans, you use coins that you decorate with spring objects on one side. They toss them, and that helps them come up with an addition or subtraction problem. For example, the child is given six plastic gold coins that have foam chick stickers on one side, and nothing on the other side. If three chicks come up and three blank sides come up, then the child colors in three chicks and crosses out three. Then they write the equation 6 – 3 = 3 in the boxes provided.
There are chicks, flowers, bees, ladybugs, butterflies, bunnies, etc., etc., etc.! It is really fun for them, and the children can work at their own pace. Some teachers have told me that they just drew the little pictures on poker chips rather than bought foam stickers, etc. I highly recommend this activity, since the children love it and do seem to learn from it. Plus, it makes lesson planning SO EASY! They can just continue with it for lots of days in a row. We plan on doing the Spring Subtraction “Toss” activity on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other butterfly worksheets that I mentioned in section three above on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It works out, and it is very easy!