November started with some beautiful sunny weather that was perfect for planting some flower bulbs. The children loved the idea of "putting the bulbs to sleep" and covering the bulbs with a "blanket of soil" to tuck them in. Even though we will have to wait a long time to see the flowers, it's nice to know a surprise awaits us in the spring.
November's weather was also quite conducive to nature walks, and the spectacle of falling leaves prompted the children to bring along a rake so they could rake the leaves off the path we typically take. It was fun to work on, but there were so many leaves, we only cleared a small patch, even though the children took turns and encouraged each other with hugs.
Early on in the month we had a birthday celebration, and the child asked for chocolate cupcakes... everyone was more than happy to oblige and work together to make them. The children did a wonderful job carefully pouring, dumping, and stirring ingredients, and the cupcakes were a resounding success. They were delicious! The children loved singing "Happy Birthday" to their friend and cheering for her as she blew out her candle.
Midway through the month, one of the children spotted a very large praying mantis perched on a bush. Luckily, my gardening gloves were nearby, so I put them on and gently scooped up this amazing insect so the children could get a better look. We measured the insect and it was four inches long!
The children and I talked about how the praying mantis's color helped it blend in with the grasses, bushes, and trees it hides on while it searches for prey and noted the insect's large front legs that help it grab its prey. We spotted its large eye, its antennae, and the the wings folded across its back. When we were done looking at it, we set the insect back on the bush where we had found it.
Another one of our favorite projects outdoors involved using a board and bricks to make a balance beam and a see-saw. The children love having loose movable items available to them to create large-scale toys, and these activities benefit the children on multiple levels. While the children decide what to make, they exercise their imaginations and problem solving, and they use their gross motor skills as they move the heavy items around while developing social skills as they use teamwork.
The children were sad to see the end of sandbox season, but by the middle of the month it was time to close it up for the season, so we gathered all the sandbox toys and packed them away. The praying mantis wasn't the only bug getting ready to hide away for the winter. We found a slow-moving beetle and one of the children just couldn't resist picking it up and letting it crawl across her hand a few times.
The children had lots of fun creating fall-themed artwork. From trees with crumpled tissue leaves to...
... using legos to make corn "kernels" to...
...assembling feathered turkeys made of construction paper, the kids were engaged throughout the creative process and thrilled to see the end result of their efforts.
At the beginning of the month we collected colorful leaves to press and dry, and about midway through the month the children added them to some faces and made cheerful people with spiky hair to smile at.
The children 's artwork ended up being just as lovely and individual as they are!
As the winds blew cold and plants began to die back, our nature walks changed from being bright, sunshiny affairs to more somber and reflective at times, somewhat due to the cloudy weather.
The time to put on warm layers came, and along with it a fun range of hats and mittens to try on. Some of the children love to get all bundled up; others are frustrated by how the extra layers affect their movement, but I always assure them that the layers are needed to stay comfortable.
Despite the gloom, there were still plenty of interesting things to discover- many winter birds are returning, seed pods are bursting, and twigs and sticks abound and are fun to play with along the way.
As Thanksgiving approached, we focused on what being thankful means to us and how it feels inside when we are thankful. The children and I spent a portion of each morning's circle time talking about what we might be thankful for. Story time was also a great time to share ideas about what being thankful looks like and feels like as we read a range of age-appropriate books about gratitude.
The children's favorite circle time song was so much fun to act out and a wonderful way to learn about preparing food for a feast. It went like this:
(mimicking opening an oven door and sliding a turkey in)
We can cook a turkey,
We can cook a turkey,
We can cook a turkey
On Thanksgiving Day!
(action of mashing potatoes with one hand, making a bowl with other hand)
We can mash potatoes...
(action of stirring in a pot)
We can stir the cranberries...
(action of kneading bread)
We can knead the bread...
(action of rolling a pie crust)
We can roll a pie crust...
(folding hands in a "thank you" gesture)
We can all say "thank you,"
We can all say "thank you,"
We can all say "thank you"
On Thanksgiving Day
The children also love dancing to my version of Rachel Rambach's "The Colors of Thanksgiving" and searching around the room for the color I mentioned in the song. You can hear a clip of the lovely Rachel singing her song HERE.
We explored the yummy foods we'd probably enjoy on Thanksgiving through song, story, and more experiential means. One example involved stringing cranberries to dry for birds to enjoy later. We talked about the size, shape, color, and taste of the cranberries. They were pretty but oh-so-tart! With help from me, the children took turns poking the cranberries onto a blunt-tipped needle and the along a string. We had lots of fun with this and made quite a long string indeed, and now it has been hung up to dry and decorate our room with cheerful red, just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow.
Next month we will be like busy little elves getting ready for the holidays, and I can't wait to share the children's next adventures with you!