Most posts are written after I complete an activity with the Clubhouse Kids. I love to share not only the materials required for a craft, but the way the kids handle those materials. Their reactions, "FitKid Tips", and when I snap the camera at just the right moment.. a priceless facial expression. To me, that's the stuff that really matters. That's the material that can really inspire you to create not only the latest and greatest activity, but to create a memory. It is in the process... in the laughter, the mess, the attention, the play, that is where the actual learning happens. When I post, I want the posts to reflect that above all else. Go make a memory, see how the children react, note their facial expressions, have FUN!
That being said, I also realize that many months have Holidays and posting all of the activities we do after said Holiday isn't exactly helpful. Who cares about the Groundhog a week after his day? So, from time to time I will write posts with a brief overview of what the next few weeks have in store for the Clubhouse Kids. Hopefully that will prove to be helpful in any specific planning around events.
For the shortest month of the year, February sure is full of a lot of themes and Holidays. It would be a really long post if I were to tackle them all so here's a brief review of some.
February 2nd is Groundhog Day... and the perfect day for shadow play! We will be making our own groundhogs using toilet paper rolls and this template. A range of brown paints, and "fur" will be available for the kids to use to paint and decorate their very own groundhogs, and then we will head outside to see if our Arizona groundhogs see their shadows or not! We are blessed with plentiful Sunshine in our Arizona Desert, so finding spots where we can see shadows is definitely not a difficult task. We will find our shadows and then we will chase them, trace them, engage in a groundhog shadow puppet show and go from there. The best thing about working with this age group is allowing their own curiosity, questions and comments to drive an activity to where it may go next. Lesson Plans are useful, but I never let them override where a Preschooler's imagination may take us! Also planned, a "throw the groundhog back into his hole" game with beanbags and a board with a hole in it.
There are quite a few adorable printables for Groundhog Day available from so many wonderful blogs as well. We will be using this one during Circle Time. I love the adorable graphics and have cut out and laminated each word so that we can put the poem together, one word at a time while using the pictures to "act it out".
National Green Week starts February 6th, and technically it is much longer than a week, it runs through Earth Day in April. It's easy to select one week during that time to focus on Environmental themes. Here at the Clubhouse we always say "Take care of ourselves, the Planet, and each other" and I often have activities that revolve around that "motto". We won't officially kick off Green Week until later in March though, but for those that want to start earlier, the Green Education Foundation has a wide variety of activities and ideas for students ranging from Pre-K through Middle School. From posters to contests to book ideas, check it out here.
February 6th is also the last day of the Chinese New Year, known as the day of the Lantern Festival. Perhaps Chinese New Year activities from last month have you feeling completely done with lanterns, but we sure have a fun activity planned. We will focus on the Sky Lantern. With a bunch of helium filled balloons on hand to be our "lanterns", we will carefully paint our wishes on the balloons, and then let our wishes go up, up and away. I am so looking forward to the facial expressions when we do this one!
February is also National Children's Dental Health Month. I visited a local Children's Dentist and got lots of free goodies for the Clubhouse Kids, including new toothbrushes, yay! We will be using those new toothbrushes, and also completing a 2-3 day long activity that will involve a couple of hard boiled eggs. Basically, a hard boiled egg represents a tooth. We will discuss how the hard shell of the egg is similar to the enamel on our teeth. The kids will get to tap the egg (carefully) and then tap their teeth to see how both are hard. Like the shell protects the egg, our enamel protects our teeth. Also, both are white. We need to brush our teeth in order to keep them hard, clean, white and healthy. Then, pouring vinegar into our jars, I will explain how that is just like the bacteria/acids that build up in our mouths. What do we think would happen to our teeth if we didn't brush them? Let's see! We will put the hard boiled eggs into the jars and seal them tight, leaving them in the Clubhouse Classroom on display. Two days later, out come the "teeth" that haven't been brushed so everyone can see what happened. We will definitely share the results on this one!
Also for the Month of February we have National Library Lover's Month, a great opportunity to visit your local library. We will be looking at printed pictures of libraries from all over the World (a simple Google search provided me with a variety of images to choose from), discussing how we "treat our books", and of course doing a lot of reading!!
Speaking of reading, we have a good one for President's Day (February 20th). Not only does it touch on Abraham Lincoln and what he accomplished as President, it also touches on being confident in what you look like and who you are! I do enjoy the book, but I must warn you.. I do not read the last page of the book. There's a little adult humor there at the end, and although the kids probably wouldn't get it, I do. So that page has been glued to the back of the book and *presto*, it doesn't exist. My apologies to the Author, but the way I read it the book ends with the boy who looked like Lincoln getting elected as Class President. Overall the book is great, there's also a page in this book full of teeth (great way to tie in Dental Health again) and it mentions the Civil War and the end of Slavery, which is a great way to tie in yet another thing February is celebrated for...
Black History Month. Using large cardboard boxes we will build an "Underground Railroad" and discuss Harriet Tubman and how she helped her friends to Freedom. This leads us to many conversations about friendship, and another good book, pictured here being looked at by my Son before bedtime. It is the story of how Martin's little friend no longer wants to play with him because of the color of his skin. One of the most important concepts I like the kids to understand about Black History Month (and all the time really) is that we can all play together, no matter what color we are or how our abilities differ. It wasn't always like that, and a lot of people had to work hard for equality. At this young age, I like to focus on that over discussing how many different Famous African Americans there are. We can discuss who invented the stoplights when we do a traffic theme, or who developed peanut butter when we're working on food groups! (Garrett Morgan and George Washington Carver, by the way.)
At this point you may be wondering why I have yet to mention the most lovable event of all, Valentine's Day (February 14th). Well, there are just so many ideas to choose from for this one, the possibilities are endless. People have entire Pinterest Boards dedicated to this theme. Love is definitely in the air! After looking at so many different options, we settled on a few I know the Clubhouse Kids will love and I found a free pack of printables that I love. I don't just print and hand out worksheets around here, but I absolutely love when I find a set of worksheets that give me something to work with, and these absolutely do! I have cut, laminated (my favorite, you all know), added extra materials and created a Center for the Clubhouse Classroom that I will set up before Valentine's Day and leave out for the rest of the month. That being said, it is an entire post all in it's own which I am excited to share, this weekend... I promise.
Let me wrap this up now by saying that February is also Responsible Pet Owner Month, with February 20th being Love Your Pet Day.
February 21st is Mardi Gras, another colorful and fun one to celebrate.
Told you February was quite full for such a little month. It's a good thing we get an extra day this year.. February 29th being Leap Day! Now with a name like that you know the activities are going to be good.
Learning, having fun, making memories and enjoying February is what it's all about around the Clubhouse. The posts will keep coming, as I share with you what we're doing and what we have yet to do. Let's all enjoy this jam packed month together!!
Shadows and Tooth Decay and Abraham Lincoln.. Oh my!