Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Of Kittens and Kites

K is for ...

Little Bear woke up early this morning, so we enjoyed Bible time, calendar time, two games of memory, and a half dozen stories before the rest of the house woke up. It’s been a couple of days since we’ve worked with letters and sounds, so Little Bear counted out the date in Smart Snacks ABC Lacing Sweets. After counting them out, she sorted the discs by color, then found different combinations of numbers that added up to 16. Last of all, we used the discs to review beginning and ending sounds in words.

16 Days ...

Sorting by color ...

We wrapped up our letter Kk fun this week by reading about one of Little Bear’s favorite animals, kittens.

Little Bear practiced her cutting skills with a kitten face from the Kumon First Steps Let’s Cut Paper: Amazing Animalsworkbook. She also colored a picture of a kitten, completed a cat and kitten puzzle, played Baby Animals Mix and Match, and sang “Three Little Kittens.”

This afternoon, we headed to the park for some some family fun and kite flying.

Let's go fly a kite ...

Kk is for Kite

Kite watching ...

Kk is for Kiss

On my way ...

Counting prairie dogs ...

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Hints of Spring

We’ve had family visiting over spring break, so “school work” (or, more precisely, blogging about it) has not been at the top of our priority list this week. After a couple more days of dinosaur and letter Kk fun, though, we shifted our focus to St. Patrick’s Day today. We kicked off the afternoon’s activities with the following St. Patrick’s Day read-alouds, then headed outside for some pre-St. Patrick’s Day fun:

Today, though, we had a beautiful afternoon and headed outside for some early St. Patrick’s Day fun.

Shamrock search ...

Shamrocks ...

The girls enjoyed picking shamrocks, tossing them in the air and watching them rain back down, rolling around in them, counting them, and yes, even tasting a few. While we were enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, we found a few other signs of spring. We collected dandelions and fashioned them into a necklace, which Baby Bear almost immediately destroyed.

A chain of dandelions ...

We watched a couple of mourning doves build their nest. We examined a roly-poly. Little Bear managed to blow the seeds from her first dandelion seedhead. And, of course, she practiced writing her letters in the soft warm earth.

Nest building ...

Roly-poly

Dandelion dreams ...

One of Little Bear's favorite pastimes ...

Indoors, we began reading the story of King Saul during Bible time, practiced addition and patterning during calendar time, and built the letter Kk out of Duplos. Little Bear also completed a dinosaur tracing activity, a dinosaur lacing card, and a cutting activity.

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Of Kings, Kangaroos, and Kisses

Kaboom!

While we had a full week of dinosaur and letter Kk fun last week, we also had a list of activities we hadn’t gotten to. So Little Bear and I decided to camp out on these topics for a few more days. We’ll probably wrap up our dinosaur activities tomorrow to allow plenty of time for St. Patrick’s Day fun.

Today, we read about our Servant King during Bible time, sang “King of the Jungle,” and began learning “A Child of the King” during Bible time. We pulled out a bucket of dinosaur counters during calendar time, and Little Bear counted out the date in dinosaurs. Next, she grouped the dinos by color, found the largest group, found the smallest group, and identified two groups that were equally. Rounding out our dinosaur counting fun, Little Bear used her counters to find different number combinations that added up to 12.

Kk is for Kangaroo

We interrupted our work for fresh air, sunshine, and kickball with some of the the neighbor tots. Then, we came back in for a string of kangaroo read-alouds. We opened with a non-fiction article from Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book K, then enjoyed the following titles:

For today’s gluing project, Little Bear created a kangaroo using this template printed from DLTK-Kids.com. She broke out her alphabet stamps and surrounded her kangaroo with a rainbow of K’s.

Mommy's letting me play with lipstick?!?

Kk is for kiss

Our second round of Kk fun included The Kissing Hand, A Pocket Full of Kisses, and Counting Kisses. I dug out an old tube of lipstick (the sort that stays wet and sticky and leaves lip prints behind), and helped Little Bear decorate an uppercase Kk with kisses. As her expression show, she loved this project — perhaps because it was the first time she’d ever gotten to have “real” lipstick on her lips.

We wrapped up our day with a couple more dinosaur read-alouds, the favorite of which was a Kane Miller board book with kid-sized cut-outs in place of the dinosaurs faces. It hardly came as a surprise that our sweet baby bruiser gravitated toward T-Rex. … Of course, Big Sister had to follow her lead.

Baby T-Rex

T-Rex Copycat

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Pajama Party

While I usually insist that both girls get dressed before we do schoolwork, we  woke to cold, dreary weather this morning; and Little Bear didn’t want to change out of her warm, comfy pajamas. So we curled up in the recliner with her quilt and a stack of books, and declared today Pajama Day.

We read two different stories based on the Genesis account of creation, reviewed this week’s verse (John 1:3), and sang King of the Jungle. Our dinosaur read-alouds included the following (plus a couple of no-longer-published National Geographic pop-up books):

Dinosaur lacing

Hungry T-Rex!

I’d planned a painting activity for today, but it was pouring rain outside, and encouraging a preschooler to spatter paint inside a carpeted apartment didn’t seem like the best of ideas. So I pulled out some dinosaur lacing cards and showed Little Bear how to “sew.” It took her a few tries to get the pattern down, and she had to call for help a time or two, but she loved the activity. We’ve tried lacing activities in the past without success. Little Bear found them tedious and difficult. Today’s activity was different only in that it involved one of her favorite themes, and she happily sat and laced for half an hour.

After concentrating on a single task for so long, Little Bear needed a break (even though she didn’t think so), so we cranked up the volume on the computer and danced around the living room with The Wiggles and Dorothy the Dinosaur. I also taught Little Bear as much as I could remember of “I See Daisy Dinosaur Dancing” (a song I’ve tried in vain to find online — I don’t even remember when or on what continent I learned it). We ended with the following, sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

I love to romp and stomp and chomp throughout the land.
I love to romp and stomp and chomp throughout the land.
I love to romp and stomp and chomp throughout the land —
Oh, it’s great to be a dinosaur! ROAR!

Oh, it’s great to be a dino!
Oh, it’s great to be a dino!
Oh, it’s great to be a dino
Just to romp and stomp throughout the land. ROAR!

D is for Dino

Next, Little Bear sat down to complete a D is for Dino fine motor activity. The worksheet shown on left was designed to be used with dot markers, but we’d already done a couple of dot paint activities this week, and my little sensory-craver has been begging to do something with pom-poms. She also did an uppercase/lowercase letter matching activity and a size sorting activity printed from the same site.

"I did it all by myself!"

Her biggest accomplishment of the morning, though, came when it was at last time to get dressed. Little Bear has been working toward dressing herself independently for some time, but shirts have proven a challenge for her. This morning, she again insisted on trying to put her shirt on all by herself — and she succeeded. She was ecstatic. She begged me to take a picture so that her grandparents could see the outfit she put on “all by herself.” … Now she just has socks and snaps left to master! (We’ll be kind and not mention shoelaces for the foreseeable future.)

Digging for K's

We wrapped up our Friday morning fun by digging for K’s (our letter of the week) in Theraputty. It wasn’t quite on par with digging for Dollar Tree dinosaur skeletons outside, but given the weather, it was the closest my sick little monkey was going to get to being a paleontologist. Oh, well, she at least had fun.

The afternoon was devoted to errands and more spring cleaning, with a ReadingEggs.com lesson squeezed in and plenty of just-for-fun reading. We definitely haven’t covered all the ground I’d hoped to this week, but Little Bear has had a blast. Besides, we’ve got a rainy weekend ahead just begging for more dino-rific fun!

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I’m Thankful For … Thursday

As I’ve emptied the dishwasher, picked up after little people, processed laundry, refilled sippy cups, nursed the baby, scrubbed toilets, quieted children, taken out trash, checked the status of our tax refund, and cooked meals over the past 24 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed with the realization that most of the “problems” I face are blessings in disguise.

Those dishes I put away? Much of the world’s population lives without enough dishes to fill a dishwasher — and many live without soap or even adequate water to wash what little they do own.

The steady stream of toys and books I picked up? My children are blessed to have not only the necessities of life, but luxuries besides.

That laundry I fretted over? Mothers in developing countries don’t care whether their kids’ clothes match; they struggle just to put clothes on their children’s backs. And that dry erase marker my daughter got on her shirt while writing her ABCs on the whiteboard? While I was praying the stain would come out of her new shirt, another mother was praying that her little girl would have the opportunity to learn how to read and write. (An estimated 70 million primary-age children worldwide have no access to schooling.)

The sippy cups I refilled? Some 2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water.

The baby I nursed? Roughly 10 percent of  women struggle with infertility. An estimated 15-20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (with some researchers saying the actual percentage may be much higher). And then there are the two million pregnancies worldwide that end in miscarriage each year and the four million babes that die within their first month of life … usually from preventable illness. I’m blessed with a precious, healthy baby and ready access to medical care to help keep her healthy.

Those toilets I scrubbed? Some 2.6 billion people live without indoor plumping or basic sanitation.

While I quieted my restless 3-year-old at 3 a.m. and prayed she’d go back to sleep without waking the baby, a mother somewhere was praying that her 3-year-old would live through the night and wake to see another morning’s light.

The trash I carried out was yet another testament to the luxuries and excesses we enjoy in our modest (by American standards) life.

The tax refund I’ve been awaiting might give us a small “cushion” by American standards, but would represent several years’ livelihood to the 3 billion people worldwide who live on less than $2 per day.

While I was debating what to cook for dinner, some 850 million people worldwide went to bed hungry. In the half hour it took me to cook it, some 600 children died of starvation — one every five seconds. And while I tried to stop my 10-month-old from eating the food her sister dropped on the floor, tots in some of the world’s poorest countries were digging through garbage cans and landfills in the hopes of finding some morsel to quell the aching in their bellies.

Can you find eight dinosaurs?

With these thoughts whirling through my mind as we sat down to do calendar time this morning, I skipped our usual March on Monday/Tiptoe on Tuesday/Waltz on Wednesday/Throw the Ball on Thursday/Flit and Fly on Friday routine and instead asked Little Bear to name the things for which she was thankful. Since today was March 8th, I hoped she’d be able to think of 8 things. … She amazed me by listing people, things, and events for nearly 10 minutes. I didn’t want to interrupt her momentum, so we counted out the date in dinosaurs instead.

We continued our dinosaur theme by reading about big dinosaurs in National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs, re-reading I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, and reading Harold and the Purple Crayon: Dinosaur Days. Little Bear completed a dinosaur-themed tracing activity and practice adding numbers up to 10 using dinosaur counters.

Mouse rhymes with house.

 

Success!

As we moved on to phonics, we skipped our usual ReadingEggs.com lesson today and instead played a rhyming word matching game. Little Bear sounded out some short vowel words, then reviewed initial sounds and used picture cards to differentiate between /g/ and /k/ words (two sounds she cannot enunciate).

I’m in feverish spring cleaning mode and gearing up for a consignment sale, so the cubs were forced to entertain themselves for most of the afternoon while I sorted outgrown clothes into donate, re-sell, and keep piles. Little Bear got in on some of the down-sizing action, as I sorted through last summer’s clothes that still fit her and the clothes I’d bought ahead for her for this year. We went through outfit by outfit, with her saying whether she liked, didn’t like, or loved each one. The favorites we kept. The dislikes we set aside for donation or consignment. The like pile we cut nearly in half be weeding out everything that was nearly too small.

While purging may not be an academic skill, I want her to learn early in life that she doesn’t need to hold on to everything that comes her way, that less is sometimes more, and that second-hand selling/shopping benefits the buyer, the seller, and the planet. Besides, I figured purging clothes would pave the way for this weekend’s planned toy purge!

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Kk is for Kick

Kk is for Kick

I kept Little Bear home from ballet class today, because I didn’t want her sharing germs with a dozen other kids. But she was feeling better enough that I didn’t want to keep her cooped up inside all day either. So after Bible story and calendar time, we headed outside for some letter Kk fun.

Kk is for kindness

She’d gotten rather painful antibiotic injections in both legs yesterday, so I wasn’t sure how much activity she’d be up for. No sooner were we out the door than she remembered how much her little muscles had hurt yesterday, and she was convinced today would be no better. So, I pretended to be a throne and she pretended to be a king (Shhh! We’ll address king/queen gender issues later!) as she sat in my lap, felt the sunshine, listened to the birds, and watched Baby Bear play happily. Soon, she decided that she felt well enough to scatter some birdseed. Then, she volunteered to push Baby Bear along on her toy car. Finally, she allowed that she might be up to kicking the ball after all — just one time. … We played kick ball for the next half hour.

Kk is for kids (and another act of kindness)

After lunch and a laundry break, Little Bear crawled up in my lap to enjoy a stack of Letter Kk read-alouds while Baby Bear napped.

Kk is for kangaroo

Ten Apples Up On Top

We headed outside again after nap time, and Little Bear attempted to jump like a kangaroo. I’m not sure any kangaroo would have recognized her attempts, but she certainly gave it her best effort. Wrapping up our formal work for the day, I handed Little Bear some Ten Apples Up On Top! counting pages that we hadn’t finished during our Dr. Seuss theme unit, and she used a bingo marker to add the correct number of apples on each page.

Our day got cut short when Baby Bear took a headlong plunge off a toy and into the hardwood leg of a dining chair, necessitating a couple of x-rays. Little Bear stayed home with her Daddy while I took Baby Bear to the ER. Little Bear was exhausted, and her ear pain was flaring up again, so I expected her to veg out in front of the television. Instead, she wandered into the dining room, found the day’s untouched stack of handiwork, and completed all of it on her own. By the time Baby Bear and I got home from the hospital, I didn’t really care about worksheets. But my sweet Little Bear’s initiative made my heart sing. I am so blessed to have these children in my life and am thankful beyond measure to be able to spend these precious early years at home with them.

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Time to create some sensory tubs …

Red-handed ... or wheat-handed

Today’s award for spontaneous learning goes to … Baby Bear.

I was updating some ads on the-website-that-helps-pay-the-bills this evening, while Little Bear worked on a puzzle and Baby Bear stood beside me playing on her musical table. Suddenly, I became aware of an unfamiliar sound and realized that Baby Bear was no longer beside me. I followed my ears to the pantry shelves, where I discovered that Baby Bear had discovered a bag of wheat berries. She’d also discovered how to get the twist tie off the aforementioned bag. And as she delightedly chucked handful after handful into the air, then watched it rain down all over the shelves, the carpet, the dining table, and the kitchen counter, she was experimenting with energy and inertia and gravity … delight-directed learning indeed!

Of course, being 10 months old, Baby Bear not only wanted to feel the wheat, watch it move under her control, and listen to it clatter off solid surfaces, but she also wanted to taste it — and while raw organic wheat berries are arguably healthier than certain manufactured Frankenfoods marketed for infants and toddlers, they’re not exactly an ideal first food. So Baby Bear sadly discovered that when Mommy deems an activity inappropriate, it comes to an abrupt end. She was forced to watch from the playpen while I scooped up as many wheat berries as I could, then vacuumed up the vestiges of her brief scientific pursuits.

I think it’s time for Mama Bear to quit thinking about sensory tubs and start creating some for this little hands-on learner! Preferably ones that are at least somewhat infant/toddler safe …

As for Little Bear, the ear and respiratory infections she’s been battling for nearly two months reared their ugly heads again this morning. Five minutes into story time, she slumped down on my shoulder sound asleep. My child who naps only when sick slept for two hours, then woke with a 103-degree temperature that Tylenol didn’t seem to touch.

Little Bear felt bad enough that I didn’t really expect to get much schoolwork done today, but I carried picture books and a couple of dinosaur-themed activities to the doctor’s office just in case. Sure enough, we’d no sooner sat down in the waiting room than she crawled up in my lap and asked me to read. We began with the book How Big Were the Dinosaurs?, and she was captivated. I had a couple of other books in our activity bag, but she didn’t even glance at them. She kept going back to How Big Were the Dinosaurs?, comparing the sizes of the different dinosaurs, and asking me to translate heights and weights into Little Bear sizes. We read that one book three times over. We also talked through two different activity sheets, one identifying identical dinosaurs and one spotting differences between dinosaurs.

By early evening, the shots of antibiotics she’d gotten earlier in the day began to work their magic, and she finally felt like doing something other than sitting in my lap. She practiced tracing Kk, our letter of the week, on her Magnadoodle and listed as many Kk words as she could think of. She watched an episode of Wild Kratts that highlighted wildlife in the Australian outback. She also did a set of puzzles matching animals to their homes.

Countdown ...

When she tired of working on her own, she came back into the living room and used her stacking blocks to count 10 down to 1. She also stacked them on top of each other and discovered that she is now taller than her “giant” tower of stacking blocks.

Growing taller!

Little Bear wanted to see how her sister measured up, but Baby Bear was only interested in seeing how quickly she could demolish her sister’s tower.

We wrapped up our day with more dinosaur-themed read-alouds. Tonight’s selections included I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, Dinosaurumpus!, and a few more pages of I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about Dinosaurs. Here’s hoping my sick little dino-lover is up for more dino-rific fun tomorrow.

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Dinosaur Whimper

I’ve spent the past 24 hours battling a stomach bug, and it has not been a pretty fight. The worst of the carnage took place last night, so by this morning I was functional … sort of. OK, I was able to stand up and walk well enough to fill sippy cups and feed the cubs. But when Little Bear asked to do schoolwork?

Well, we started our day with Super Why and Dinosaur Train. It wasn’t the roaring start to a week jam-packed with dino fun that I had planned on. But, hey, Super Why is fairly educational and Dinosaur Train tied directly into the week’s theme! Actually, I let Little Bear watch Dinosaur Train because Baby Bear had gone to sleep and I hoped to catch a brief nap myself. That plan would have worked better had Little Bear not felt the need to alert me when the first 13-minute episode ended (approximately 6 minutes after I fell asleep) and when the second 13-minute episode was drawing to a close (I may have gotten 7 minutes out of that one …).

I would probably have ignored our usual hour-per-day television cap, had Little Bear not awakened me the second time with a stack of books in her hand. “Mommy, my show is over. Now, can we please read about dinosaurs?”

“Honey, Mommy still doesn’t feel good,” I replied. “I’m resting.”

“Well, can you rest with your eyes open so you can read to me?” she persisted.

… We started with a Bible story. I wish I could claim some deep spirituality that triumphed over stomach flu, but the simple truth is that words like “Jesus” and “disciples” are a lot easier to read while half asleep than words like “Diplodicus,” “Deinonychus,” and “Coelophysis.” Besides, songs always follow Bible story. I pulled up Cedarmont Kids video clips of last week’s songs and gained another 8 minutes of wake-up time.

Moving on to read-alouds, we began with Dinosaurs Big and Small and discovered that a full-grown Diplodocus would have stood as tall as 27 Little Bears and weighed as much as 600 Little Bears. Little Bear was impressed to learn that the biggest dinosaurs ate only plants and that several meat-eaters were actually her size or smaller. We also read excerpts from I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about Dinosaurs. I’d pulled this book out of my classroom materials last night, looked through it, and decided it was too difficult for my 3 1/2-year-old. She spied it today and had other ideas. Surprisingly, it kept her interest longer for as long as I was willing to read.

On a lighter note, we enjoyed Can I Have a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dad? Can I? Please!. Little Bear was relatively quiet throughout this book, so I wasn’t sure how much she’d enjoyed it or even understood of it. As I closed the book, though, she allowed, “That kid wasn’t very smart, Mommy.”

“Why do you say that,” I asked.

“Because if he had gotten a Tyrannosaurus, it would have eaten him up!” she replied. Then she added, “Don’t worry, Mommy. I’ll never ask for a dinosaur. I would be happy with just a puppy.”

Little Bear did cutting, coloring, and tracing worksheets while I fixed lunch. Then, after lunch, we headed outside for some fresh air and sunshine. There, Little Bear alternated between pretending to be a Brachiosaurus hunting for leaves and twigs to munch, pretending to be a T-Rex on the hunt for meat, and just running around.

We wrapped up our day with The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone, followed by a double-sided dinosaur floor puzzle and letter hunt. The puzzle proved more challenging than I’d expected and was not one Little Bear could do on her own. She loved working with us, though, and did a fairly good job of figuring out where pieces went once I made sure the correct side was up on each. Letters A-Z and numbers 0-9 were hidden in the puzzle, so she hunted these with Daddy while I wrangled a too-tired Baby Grumpy Bear. All in all, it wasn’t one of our more productive days, but the cubs still had fun — even if our dinosaur week began with a whimper instead of a roar.

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A Jumble of Jj Fun

Little Bear has yet another ear infection and woke with a fever this morning. Since we were housebound, we decided to read (or re-read) some Jj books and tackle a couple of activities for which we had not found time this past week. Our read-alouds included the following:


Jack-in-the-Box Jr.

Jack-in-the-Box

There was a definite jungle theme to today’s selections, so we did a jungle animal floor puzzle, counted to 100 with this jungle animal video clip, and sang and danced “The Animal Boogie.”

Little Bear wanted to make her own Jj sound box, so we grabbed an empty box, a dot marker, and a crayon and headed outside. First, we decorated the box with Jjs. Then, Little Bear and Baby Bear took turns being Jack-in-the-Boxes. (It was quite warm outside, but Little Bear chose to wear her jacket because “jacket” starts with Jj.) Finally, we went on a Jj scavenger hunt and filled the box with all the Jj items we could find. We included a jack-in-the-box, a jar of jam, jingle bells, a jet, a jigsaw puzzle, a jean jacket, jewelry, a juice box, a jungle car, and the book that inspired our Jj scavenger hunt, My “j” Sound Box.

Jj Scavenger Hunt

Making jewelry

J is for Jewelry

Wrapping up our Jj fun for the day, Little Bear made some jewelry of her own by threading Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner and shaping it into a bracelet. She insisted upon giving her first project to Baby Bear, who found the finished product quite delicious, then made a second bracelet for herself.

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Dinosaur Fun

We took a break from school activities today to catch up on household chores, tackle some spring cleaning, and cope with teething and ear infections. In between messes and tears, I also took some time to plan for the week ahead. We had a dinosaur unit on our calendar a couple of weeks ago, but it got bumped by Presidents’ Day. It got bumped again this past week for Dr. Seuss’s birthday. So as soon I mentioned planning for next week, Little Bear asked if we could finally learn about dinosaurs, and I assured her that we could.

Little did I know, however, how challenging it would be to find dinosaur-themed books. While our local library returns more than 500 search results for children’s dinosaur books, virtually every title I clicked on was either lost or checked out. Apparently, Little Bear isn’t the only kid in town who’s interested in dinosaurs! So I dug through my old classroom bins, pulled a handful of story books off the cubs’ shelves, and ordered an age-appropriate reference book from Amazon. We won’t have all the titles that I’d like, and I’ll be editing a couple of these as I read them aloud, but here’s the foundation of a fun week ahead:



We’ll be adding in That’s Not My Dinosaur when Baby Bear wants to join us and pulling in a number of other one-time reads, but the selections above will serve as our core. I’ll also be replacing some of Little Bear’s usual handiwork with the free dinosaur printables offered by 2 Teaching Mommies and presenting her with a dinosaur sensory bin. Finally, we’ll try to watch at least a couple of episodes of Dinosaur Train.

Art: Use bubble wrap to print textured skin on a dinosaur shape. Make a paper plate stegosaurus. Use toothbrush to create paint spatter dinosaur eggs.

Bible: Read the Biblical account of creation. Make creation mini-book. Memorize John 1:3.

Motor Skills: Dig for dinosaurs in sand tub. Complete dinosaur puzzles and dinosaur lacing cards.

Language Arts: Practice writing the letter Dd. Identify other words that start with the /d/ sound. Connect letters in ABC order to complete dinosaur dot-to-dot page. Complete dinosaur-themed letter match.

Math: Sort dinosaurs from smallest to largest. Use dinosaur counters to create patterns. Measure out sizes of various dinosaurs and compare to people, plants, and animals in our world today

Music: Sing and dance to “We Are the Dinosaurs.”

Science: Sort dinosaurs into plant eaters and meat eaters. Make a collage showing things that plant eaters might have eaten. Talk about what it means to be extinct.

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