Saturday, September 18, 2010

Preschool - Houses

This week's theme was supposed to be spread over two weeks, but I didn't think we needed to spend that much time talking about houses.  However, there were four distinct themes I did want to cover, so this week has four days of school rather than three.

Day 1: Parts of a House

We started out the day with a basic line drawing of a house.  I asked him to name the different parts (walls, floor, ceiling, roof, windows, door, chimney, etc.) while I pointed at them.  This lasted about two seconds since he knew them all.  I was going to show him pictures of different kinds of houses that people live in around here (apartments, trailer, house) but I was too lazy to pull them up on the internet.  Yeah, it was one of those days.

Then we played a little game where I would describe a room in the house and he had to guess what it was.  I had to be pretty obscure so he didn't guess them right away.  Like for a bedroom I said that the room had blankets rather than saying it had a bed, and so on.

Next I had put different pieces of doll house furniture into a bag.  He had to reach in a pick one up and guess what it was by feel.  Then he had to tell me what room in the house that piece of furniture would go.  With a girl I probably would have spent time putting the furniture into a doll house, but Alex isn't a girl, and we don't have a good doll house.

Next we read In A People House.

This book is fantastic!  The illustrations make me want to look at them for hours.  The story covers different houses people live in and animal houses and nonsense houses too, like a glove is a house for a hand.  This book actually would have made a good summary book at the end of the week since we'll be talking about all these different houses throughout the week, but I didn't want to wait.  Maybe we'll read it again at the end.

I was going to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but I'm beginning to learn that Alex has a two book at a time limit, so we skipped it.  He knows the story so it was no big deal.

Next we played a game where we pretended to be furniture.  I had to show him an example or two before he really got into it, but he really enjoyed this.  We used our bodies to make chairs and tables and beds and couches and lamps and more!  A good moving game for a crazy little boy.

And then to finish up our day, I made a little house book ahead of time and had a page for each room of the house where Alex drew in the furniture for the room.  I gave him the option to cut the furniture out of an IKEA catalog, but he chose to draw.  When Ella got home from school and insisted on doing one too, she chose to use the magazine.  Here's what they looked like:

It's just three pieces of computer paper folded in half with a house drawn on the front and then cut to shape.  I poked two holes in the fold with a screw (because that's what I had on hand) and then threaded a string through the holes and tied it on top.  I labeled each page with a different room, and that's it.

Day 2: How a House is Built

We started by talking about all the different things houses can be built with--wood, brick, rock, cement.  If I was supermom I would have pieces of each of them for him to feel and see, but see above excuse about being lazy.

Instead of trying to explain myself how to build a house, I chose two books to do it for me.  We read At a Construction Site:

And Building a House:
If your kid is really into trucks and construction, than the top book is excellent.  Lots of detail and all the trucks are named and labeled.  It talks about building a community center, not a house, but the idea is the same.

If your kid is fine with a general overview, the second book is fine.  We didn't need to read both, and I think Building a House would have been plenty.  He liked the pictures in it better because they were simpler.  He could tell easier what was going on in the pictures.

Then we sang The Wise Man and The Foolish Man.  Since we had just talked about what a foundation was from the book and pointed it out on our house, he totally got what the song was about.

Then for fun we read This Is The House That Jack Built:

It has nothing to do with building a house, but it was a fun read.

I had really looked forward to our activity for the day.  I thought Alex would love it.  I got a cardboard box and a box of nails and screws and gave him a screwdriver and a play hammer (I didn't trust him with a real one and the play one was plenty sturdy to hammer into a box) and showed him how to hammer and screw.

He basically was like, This is it mom?  We're not building a house?

He was disappointed that there was no purpose to his hammering and screwing.  He was more concerned with what was inside the box (nothing) than hammering.  I finally relented and untaped the box which I had taped shut to keep the flaps out of the way.  Once he could see the nails and screws sticking out inside the box he had a bit more fun, but my guess is he only stuck with this for ten minutes maybe.  I think Ella would have had a blast with this and I'm sure other kids will too.  I think maybe I'll try it again another day and see if it interests him more.

I had thought about building graham cracker houses, but since we would be building a food based house the next day, I decided not to.  But once I saw how disappointed he was with the box, I wish I had made up some frosting and let him build a "real" house.  Oh well.

Day 3:  Other Kinds of Houses

We started our discussion today by reading Houses And Homes.

This book does a good job of showing different types of houses that people live in and discussing the different materials they are built with.  Alex was entranced by the idea of people living in a house made of mud.  The book only shows houses that people live in currently, so tipis and igloos aren't covered.  We talked about how it would be hard to not have the money to live in a house like ours and to have to like in a hut made of scraps.  And we talked about how we would dress different depending on the type of house we lived in.

Next we read the book Storm Maker's Tipi.

It talks in detail about how to build a tipi, and then it talks about a legend behind why the Blackfoot Nation paints their tipi's a certain way.  So it's both a nonfiction type book with a story, a nice blend.  And in the back of the book is a page you can copy to make your own paper tipi.  So we did just that.

Alex colored the tipi the way he wanted it to look, then I cut it all out and he helped glue it together.

It also fits perfectly on your head like a party hat.  Not that we know or anything.

Then on to more building fun.  I got the book Building an Igloo.

It goes through step by step with pictures on how to build an igloo.  We got sugar cubes and followed each step to build our own igloo.  Alex loved this.

We glued it all together with royal icing like you'd use for gingerbread houses.  I helped with the icing, but he did most of the rest.

He ate far too many sugar cubes while building.  And of course Ella had to come home from school and build one too.  And then she took the box and nails from yesterday outside and nailed away forever, just like I said she would.

Day 4: Animal Homes

Ella was home to play with us today.  We started by reading the book Animal Homes.

It's a great overview of different animals and their homes.  I think there could have been a little more variety in the types of homes, there were a lot of dens and burrows and not so many caves or other such things, but the information given is good and the kids liked lifting the flaps.  We talked about what it would be like to be the different animals and live in the different types of homes.  We spread a sheet over the space between the couch and the coffee table and all crawled underneath and talked about living in a den or a burrow.  While we were under there we looked at the book My First Book of Animal Homes.

It's a toddler board book, but each page is divided in half with an animal home on top and and animal on the bottom and you have to match them up.  We used it sort of like a game.  There were a lot more different types of animal homes in this book than the previous one, like caves, water, tree, dog house, barn, etc.

Then for fun we read The Biggest House in the World.

The snail dies in the end of the book, which the kids had to stop and ask about, but it has a good moral of not wanting more than you need.

Then it was art time!  I made homemade playdough, with a recipe I found online and didn't save the link to, and then I helped the kids build animal homes.

We built birds' nests with lots of eggs, snail shells, beehives, ice burgs, and more!

And that brings our Homes week to an end!


Andrea said...

You are doing such a great job! And Alex is such a boy, he wanted to build a house! My boys would have been the same way!! These are great lesson plans.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the's just a realistic lesson that i ever read...very useful...and i also wanna do the same. tq!

Anonymous said...

This is excellent! Exactly what I was looking for to teach my preschool boys about homes this week. Love the books you chose, the activities, and how you broke down the days into sub-themes. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Love your format!!! Very creative and child oriented - perfect for children and home preschooling. You make it look so easy!

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