Today was the day for penguin play. As a friend pointed out, penguins are not from the arctic but most preschool units you look at have polar bears and penguins right along beside each other holding hands. If you remember my teaching philosophy you know that fact is actually mute since I am not “teaching ” those types of things anyway. I use themes as a vehicle to help the children master skills that are age appropriate . When we are talking about polar animals my lesson plan objectives are not to see how many facts I can pour into the kids about polar animals and how much they can regurgitate out to me at the end of the unit. I use the wonder and the fun of things like penguins to build a stronger foundation of skills that will actually be needed when they leave me and enter the world of kindergarten. Knowing that penguins eat fish is a fun fact but wont change a child’s readiness for kindergarten.
But …. rolling a dice and feeding a penguin goldifsh crackers will be helpful. With this activity the children learn turn taking, following directions, counting, one to one correspondence. fine motor activity and social interaction. And oh yeah.. they will probably remember that penguins eat fish.
The game we played outside might remind them at some point that penguins waddle and scoot around and dont have strides like we make when we walk. My learning objectives for this game were social interaction, building community, gross motor, turn taking, problem solving and following directions . And oh yeah… they will probably remember that penguins waddle.
We did an exploration of the colors black and white. We charted what we know about things that are black and white. The kids had a pretty good list. This activity caused them to use their cognitive skills to think about things in their life that are white or black. They learned the print has meaning . They learned that if everyone talks at once no one can be heard. This brought up discussions of differences in people ( skin and hair ) and choices like clothing colors. We also might know that many penguins are black and white.
We took out the black paint and did an art project. ” Paint me something with the black paint. Dont cover the whole page or your name.” We learned to manipulate the brush to create. We learned if we don’t follow the directions and cover our name we wont know who the art project belongs to. We learned there are sometimes reasons our teacher gives us direct instruction. We used our imaginations to make something from nothing. We used our fine motor skills since one day those paint brushes will be exchanged for pencils. We used our powerful voices to explain or describe what we had drawn. Again, we might remember that sometimes penguins are black and white.
There are just a few examples of the themed activities we do every day . My intent or my goal is not to teach the ” theme.” It is to support each child where they are and help them to the next step in an age appropriate way in their journey to kindergarten readiness. Today… we used penguins to get ready for kindergarten.