Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Zoom Zoom! Transportation Theme!

Every year I do a Transportation theme, which as happens with things you do year after year was starting to get boring. For me not for the kids. And I worry that if I am bored then my enthusiasm will not be where it needs to be. Three year olds are perceptive - if my eyes are glazing over and rolling to the back of my head, you can be sure theirs will too. Or that they will just start running around the classroom screaming and going nuts.

This year, I had the grand idea I would introduce large construction trucks into my transportation theme. I ambitiously planned 2 weeks, and set about researching the topic. Unfortunately, I discovered that I would need to reinvent the wheel if I wanted to talk about large construction trucks - no one had done it already. I had the fantastic idea of taking pictures of large dump trucks, excavators, bulldozers, etc. from around my seemingly always under construction neighborhood and I would present the pictures to the class. I then imagined us having animated and informative discussions about the name and function of each piece of equipment.

Then, I remembered my students were three. And that animated discussions, while always starting out on the right track, quickly degenerated into princesses or how a dog threw up. Discussions are always fun, and a lesson in raising hands, and listening while your friends speak, but would do nothing in advancing knowledge of construction trucks.

So, I stuck to what I normally do, with a few new ideas. And a fun time was had by all…

Arts and Crafts
I did the old stand-by of using cars to paint with. Roll the cars through the paint and then run the car around on paper. I made sure I had lots of different treads on the cars we used, and we discussed the differences as they painted.

I then expanded on this idea the following day by laying out large sheets of bulletin board paper over the majority of the floor in my classroom, had large trays full of paint, and then had them roll the large, sand toy-type trucks across the paper. Fun, messy, and an exercise in cooperation. I specified that they needed to keep the trucks on the paper. No rolling the paint covered trucks onto the floor or carpet. Hmmmm…how to do that? Well, buddy up with a friend and roll it to each other from across either side of the paper. What happens if you put both yellow and blue paint on the wheels and then roll it? Eventually the tracks become green - cool! The pairing up, and the color experiments were all a product of the process; they came up with these things on their own with no help from me.

After all the painting was done - we headed out to the playground with (kid safe) dish soap and sponges, and made a carwash to clean up our painty mess. Fun for the kids - less work for me!

Two ambitious projects I attempted were for the kids to create their own flying machines and boats. For the flying machines, I provided a variety of materials for them to use; toilet paper rolls, crafts sticks, buttons, ribbon, glue and multi colored masking tape. The results were fabulous. Of course, there were some kids who looked at the stuff on the table and said “Later, I am heading to the blocks”; but the rest of the kids let their imaginations run wild, and their creations were very cool. Some needed adult aid “Please make a slit in this tube so I can put in a stick”, and others just muddled through on their own.

For the boats, I provided butter tubs, straws, craft sticks, construction paper and scissors, with the instructions “Make a boat that will float” I set up a small swimming pool with water in it (outside, since I am using any excuse I can to get the kids outside) to test out the boats’ seaworthiness. It was amazing how the kids would go “back to the drawing board” time and time again until they had a boat that floated. They tested all sorts of techniques to create a floating craft with a sail. They used combinations of a variety of materials - play dough, sand, wood chips, tape, glue - to hold up the sail in the butter tub. A successful model used a combination of sand and play dough to hold up the sail which was taped to a straw.

We used large cardboard tubes (like you might find throw rugs wrapped around) as tunnels for the cars. We held them at different heights to see if the height of the tunnel affected the speed of the car that was going through it. Of course, this scientific data could only gathered after numerous discussions about how the tubes were not swords, clubs, extensions of our arms, antennae, flamethrowers or a device with which to hit your friends over the head.

“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” I love this book! And the kids love it too; some taking very seriously their job of not letting the pigeon get behind that wheel. Of course, there is always the one or two children who think the pigeon should get his way, but once I remind them what the bus driver said (I flip back to the first page of the book and reread it) they usually get on board. (Check out http://www.pigeonpresents.com/ for more pigeon fun.)

Silly Fun
We played “Red Light Green Light” on the way to and from the bathroom. Great fun - the kids especially liked when they didn’t stop for the red light I wrote them a “ticket”. They also liked going really slooow for the yellow lights.

So, if anyone has any wonderful ideas involving big construction trucks send them my way!

1 comment:

Missy said...

This is an excellent blog by an excellent teacher. I got so many ideas and I think you are doing a fabulous job. Your students are lucky, indeed.