Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Play to Learn-Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

This month's program followed the book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear by Bill Martin, Jr.  When we plan these programs, we try to pick books that kids might be familiar with.  It also helps if we have a large quantity of books.  With this program, we were able to pull our picture book copies, our board book copies, and our easy reader copies.  My favorite warm fuzzy moment of these programs is when parents and children are sitting around reading the book together.  This session we ran 6 stations.

Station 1: Reading the book and doing the flannelboard
I like to pull every copy we have available in a variety of formats for this station.  I made a flannelboard version of Polar Bear, Polar Bear and duplicated it.  The kids LOVE this.  This tends to be one of the favorite components of story time and kids love the fact that they can play with it, move the pieces around, and touch the board.

The pieces are made out of felt with puffy painted details.  I used a combination of Accucut dies and my own patterns to create the animals.  (Hint-If you ever have a weird animal, like a walrus or a peacock, photocopy the illustration in the book and use that as your pattern.)  We also have a Polar Bear, Polar Bear storytelling set from Lakeshore Learning, but it is no longer available on their web site. 

At this station your child is practicing reading, which encourages them to learn how to read on their own.  By sharing reading with your child, you are helping them to develop vocabulary and comprehension, nurturing a love of reading, and motivating your child to want to learn to read.

Station 2: Make a nametag
I used Microsoft Publisher to find the various animals to make nametags.  We ran 4 nametags on one 8-1/2x11 piece of cardstock and had them precut and punched for the kids.  The kids wrote their name below the animal, strung the nametag, and wore them for the program.  It also helps if you have a piece of paper with all of the kids' first names written out.  While they can't always spell on their own, they are pretty good at following along.

At this station your child is practicing writing.  Learning to read and learning to write go together.  Your child is recognizing letters and how they are formed.  They are strengthening hand muscles so they can eventually write smaller letters and longer sentences.  Think of it like exercise!

Station 3: Make a polar bear puppet
We used the polar bear patterns available at and precut all of the parts for the kids.  They glued the head and body to a paper bag.  To add an ECRR2 component to the project, we had rhymes for the kids to take home and act out with their puppets.

Rhyme: Polar Bear, Polar Bear
Polar bear, polar bear, turn around.
Polar bear, polar bear, make no sound.
Polar bear, polar bear, touch your toes.
Polar bear, polar bear, touch your nose.
Polar bear, polar bear, show your paws.
Polar bear, polar bear, hide your claws.
Polar bear, polar bear, reach up high.
Polar bear, polar bear, wink one eye.
Polar bear, polar bear, say good-night.
Polar bear, polar bear, shut your eyes tight.
Polar bear, polar bear, wake up now.
Polar bear, polar bear, take a bow.

As children create their puppets, they are working on their fine motor skills, which strengthens their hands.  By saying or singing the rhyme, your child is working on listening skills.  Songs slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words and help children learn new words.

Station 4: Make an animal headband
To help the kids imitate the book, we made animal headbands as their disguises.  Sadly, there were no patterns available so these were all created by hand.  We offered the choice of a zebra, flamingo, elephant, or peacock headband.

These turned out really cute and the kids loved making them.  By making our "disguises", we are playing with the story, which promotes comprehension.

Station 5: Color matching on the magnet board
The goal of this station was for kids to match color name cards with color square cards on our magnet board.  I created cards out of cardstock and laminated them.  Half were color squares in different colors (red, yellow, green, etc.).  The other half were the color names written out in their color.  For example, red was written out as RED.

As the child matches the color to the word, they are learning that words have meaning.  Colors are a great way to show kids this as most kids learn colors around the same time they learn their abc's.  By writing the word in color, you are helping them to recognize the word for that color.

Station 6: Polar Bear Shadow Match
The children matched the color animals to their shadows inside the folder.

As the child finds the match, they are learning that animals have shapes, which helps them to recognize that all things have shapes (such as letters and words).  By making this a game, they have fun and get to "play" with the story. 

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