Friday, November 1, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Human Body Theme (Preschool/PreK)

Last year in preschool when T and I did a unit on our bodies we studied how our bodies work and generally celebrated being alive. You can see the post here.

Recently I became more aware that T, although wanting to be independent, was doing his best to avoid some things that help keep his body healthy. Like blowing his nose. He preferred sniffing everything back in over blowing it out. Eating. It's normal but he was starting to prefer dairy and carbs for snacks over anything else. I knew we had to do something and this year's preK human body theme was the perfect opportunity.

I'm linking this post to Montessori Mondays at Living Montessori Now .

PreK Human Body: Taking Care Of Myself

Our activities were set up in baskets on shelves. T could access the activities whenever he wanted. By some activities I had sequencing cards. Most had a book or two sitting next to it that was also related. The bottom shelf had baby's toys although one of T's activities managed to sit there as it was baby safe.


Dressing Myself


On the bottom shelf I put a couple dressing activities. Out of the basement I'd retrieved a couple pieces of T's baby clothes. There was a tiny shoe from when he'd started walking and a pretty blue Hanna Andersson sweater. The sweater to practice buttoning. 

T was a little reticent when he first saw this shoe sitting on the dressing tray. While baby picked it up and played with it time after time he let it sit there. Finally I picked it up. I invited him to come sit with me. He watched as I carefully loosened the laces and slowly, deliberately tied it again.
"May I have a treat if I try?" he finally asked me.
I agreed he could earn a little prize (little prizes often mean stickers, which are very desirable around here).
So he tackled it. Earned his little sticker. And from then on he returned to practice tying the shoe time after time after time.

As you can see you don't have to buy anything special to practice tying a shoe. Any shoe will do. It's just easier if it's not on the child's feet at first.

I don't know how many times we've read Ella Sarah Gets Dressed. It's definitely a family favorite. If you've followed this blog you already know that as I've mentioned it at least twice before. It's the story of a little girl who knows exactly what she wants to wear, which is different from what everyone else in her family wants her to wear. She gets dressed all by herself.

If you want something even more different take some time to read The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. Perhaps years ago you used to watch Reading Rainbow on PBS. Then there's a chance when you turn the pages you might just remember the story of people getting dressed for work.

Small World Get Dressed is another interesting book. It is filled with photographs of children from all over the world dressed in many different kinds of clothes. The photography is beautiful. The text simple. It's a delightful book you may find yourself opening time and time again.


There's something about blowing noses that has greatly disturbed T. That's what even prompted this particular take on the human body in science. He just has baulked at anything touching his nose. To make it as attractive as possible I used the box that's normally our Bible story treasure chest. At the store I picked up colorful fabric scraps. They were being sold as quilting pieces. In our house though they became fun, colorful handkerchiefs. When this didn't quite do it I also grabbed a bike horn. That did it! Suddenly the nose blowing practice became so much fun.

I Am A Booger...Treat Me With Respect is a bit on the gross side as it does have illustrations featuring mucus. However it is effective. Magic School Bus was also enjoyed.

The dental activity was really easy to put together. An unused toothbrush, a cheap set of chattering teeth (costs under $5), and a set of floss is all that's needed. Everything was arranged on a white plate, which seemed to make this particular activity particularly attractive to T. It also had sequencing cards. We read a couple books about teeth. One was simply At The Dentist  which is a very factual look at what it's like in the dental office. We also read the let's-read-and-find-out book How Many Teeth A couple fun fictionalized books about dental appointments your children might also enjoy are The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, The Tooth Book by Dr Seuss, and Little Critter Just Going to the Dentist. T particularly enjoyed The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums though, which had attractive colorful illustrations and interesting information on teeth from birth to adulthood to care and disease. 

This was our hand washing activity.
I kept it in a plastic bin due to the real water. It actually took a little work to track down all the pieces at the right price. The tiny bucket and pitcher I found at Hobby Lobby. I also added a wash cloth from our linen closet and more sequencing cards (in case you're wondering all these sequencing cards came from a teacher's supply store). He really enjoyed carefully pouring the water from the tiny pitcher into the small tin pail, carefully dipping his hands in the water so it (hopefully!) wouldn't spill, washing all over and then drying on the cloth. 

Over the course of this unit we read three books on handwashing.  Germs Are Not For Sharing and Germs Make Me Sick were pretty effective at helping him understand the whys behind constant hand washing. And sanitizing. If you're like me you keep hand sanitizer around and offer it a lot! By far though his favorite was a book I was initially sceptical about when it was brought home from the library. He was so sad when we eventually had to return Wash Your Hands by Tony Ross. We probably read it more times over the course of our human body theme than any book. It's fiction, and is the story of a little princess who gets frustrated by all the adults constantly having her wash her hands.


Another great puzzle find! Are you familiar with Ravensburger? If not you should be! I grew up with their games and puzzles. They cost a bit more but are durable, fun, and very educational. I got a good deal on this human body/exercise puzzle on eBay. Many of their smaller puzzles are like this one, where you see a different picture underneath in a sort of x-ray vision. 

T is a boy who likes to climb. Gymnastics is providing wonderful exercise for him! He can practice a bit at home too. He also does a bit of yoga. It's both healthy and calming. We really enjoy the videos by Namaste Kid.

Keeping some healthy, active toys around can help too. In our growing collection of outdoor active toys we have a jump roap, Frisbee, football, T-ball set, and trike (soon bike) to ride.

Some books to enjoy:
The Busy Body Book
From Head to Toe
Tai Chi for Kids
The ABCs of Yoga
My Amazing Body
Animal Exercises
Preschool Aerobic Fun CD
Moving With Mozart CD

Healthy Food

There are a couple games your child might enjoy while studying healthy food.

For the activity center I provided play food, a couple plates, forks, and tea napkins. Turned out there are at least four different activities you can do with the play food.  One is simply sorting unhealthy food vs healthy food.  

The second takes the sorting a step further. Read the book Eat Healthy Feel Great by William and Martha Sears, pediatritian and pediatric nurse co-author husband and wife team. The book is full of all kinds of wonderful, useful information on why what we eat impacts how we feel (and how well we stay). It divides food into three categories. Red light food is food you really shouldn't eat much of if at all. Yellow light food would be sometimes food. These foods offer a little bit of nutrition (like calcium in ice cream) but a lot of bad too (the sugar in ice cream for example). Finally your dark leafy greens, whole, unprocessed grains like quinoa, etc fall under the green light foods. Food you should really be eating all the time. So the second activity can be sorting the food into red, yellow, and green light piles.

We also tried creating balanced meals. Well, balanced as a tiny plate with play food can get! You can see fruit, vegetable, grain, and protein on his plate.

Play shopping is another fun related activity, and instantly ties in with math. Set up a pretend grocery store. Try shopping for that balanced meal you want to create. 

Field Trips

We visited a farmer's market one day. On another I had him choose healthy food for a meal at the real store. Great way to involve him at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

Of course, if it's the right time of year visiting a farm or even starting your own garden is another wonderful healthy food activity!

Looking Back...

I think now I missed one important component to this theme. Rest! In addition to hygiene, good food, and exercise, the body needs rest. If I were to add it back in I'd do the following activities:

*Read: The Sleep Book by Dr Seuss, Sleep Is For Everyone Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science, Time for Bed by Mem Fox, and the caldecott book Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue
*A doll with eyes that close, box or doll bed, little blanket
*A nap mat/sleeping bag/pillow pat
*A sleep mask

linking up at the Preschool And Kindergarten Community


Jolanthe Erb said...

Tying a baby shoe is a great idea for practice. :)

LC said...

It's just the right size and so much cheaper than buying a special show tying toy.