Another month just zoomed by... 2020 is _____ I don't even know...you fill in the blank however you want :). However, despite all the chaos, the August #monthinmoments calendar is actually done EARLY, so lets dive in! My aunt is one of my most frequent users of these calendars - she has been since the very first few which were NOT the simple versions I create now :). This month, she requested cool ways to play (it is SO hot in VA and NC where we live!) and all things bugs. With the pleasant ruckus cicadas make, my kiddo's obsession with chasing pretend fireflies, and the heat, these were perfectly timely requests! I also know my nephew (who's maybe really a second cousin, but whatever...) LOVES the book Dragons Love Tacos by Rubin and Salmieri so I included that too :). This month, I'll provide a bit more detail about the materials we're using this month than I have in the past because a few will be used over and over and over again throughout the month. My hope is that this will give us and the kiddos in our life the confidence to lead play and to play independently with these tools, which I hope will be helpful as we head into a new terrain of work-school-life for many of us.
Download this month's calendar here!
The Topics: This month is a little looser on daily themes (Tea Time Tuesday, Science Saturday, etc), but I kind of stuck to them because when I combine those daily themes with monthly topics it becomes easier to plan a calendar (for example, if you combine Feelings Friday + rainbow rice play you have fewer rabbit holes for your brain to go down than if you just were planning for Feelings Fridays). I wanted to be transparent about this planning tactic I use because I know many teachers and parents are facing A LOT of overwhelm this year and might be doing more planning (or drastically different planning) for play and learning than usual and I think this is one way to ease that a bit - segments in a day, categories for a month, are easier to plan for than wide open space.
Play themes for this month center on insects, stream play, and dragons! How do these seemingly random topics fit together? Honestly, this month, it's through the materials. HG and I LOVE searching for rice "insects" and making insects out of forest putty and random art or natural materials. Forest putty is SUCH a handy tool for creativity and calm! Right now, our very favorite place to be is down a shady trail hanging out in a stream. At this stream, we found clay that our best friend started rolling into balls which then HG picked up. You can actually identify soil types based on how the soil behaves when you roll it in a ball - this led to one of the Science Saturday ideas :). Rolling spheres/balls and cylinders/snakes is a fun way to talk about geometric forms and introduce some pottery/fine motor/coordination skills. Squashing clay balls is similar to flattening dough for tortillas which then tied into Dragons Love Tacos. So... with this seemingly hodgepodge collection of topics, you'll get to see:
Multiple opportunities to practice making different shapes with clay and putty
Repeated use of a homemade magnifying glass to look closely at items
Frequent visits to a stream near you (or a mini watershed you make if you're not near a stream)
Different ways to look for and observe insects using multiple senses
Chances to invent critters, critter homes, boats, and more - our best inventions come from iterations of design
Unique ways to talk social-emotional learning in a tough time
The Tools: Like I mentioned, there are a few critical materials to this month's calendar that I think will become well-loved tools! Here are the tools and some tips:
Forest putty: I LOVE the recipe for dough from Tinkergarten. I used to make no cook salt dough and, y'all, that stuff is nasty compared to this :). We love to dye and scent ours with tea - we usually use raspberry :). I ALWAYS have a stash of this on hand in our fridge. We use it for making feelings faces, sculpting cats and dragons, connecting materials to to make new critters, creating pretend food, shaping land forms and making three-dimensional maps. Seriously, this stuff is just the best.
Rainbow rice: Y'all... I guess I'm just really lazy because I never add vinegar to my rainbow rice. I just use dye and shake... But, here's a real tutorial on making rainbow rice. We're using this to do one of my favorite camouflage models. You shake some rainbow rice out over a brightly colored surface and then see who can find the most critters fastest. However, once you use rainbow rice, you don't want to stop (especially if you happen to be a three year old)... so we're also using the rice as sprinkles, an art tool, and more :).
Jar magnifying glass: This is one of my favorite tricks - I learned it working in a science center in college :). Simply place jar over what you want to magnify, add a drop of water on the base of the jar (which is up toward your face), and you've created your own magnifying glass! I love this strategy because it is easier for kiddos to keep the jar on the ground/just above what they're looking at rather than up by their eyes which actually makes it really hard to see what you're magnifying.
Mini watershed: If you don't live near a stream, make your own! Ball up some paper, lay it on a cookie sheet. Cover the sheet with aluminum foil and tuck it in/press it down over your paper mountains. Prop one end of the sheet up on a book or rock so that gravity will help water flow downhill in your model. If you are using this option and want to still float boats, you could use bottle caps as boats or float your boats in a bathtub.
So, are you ready for a month of meaningful moments together? I can't wait to see what you create and hear about what you learn! Please share by using #watchwonderbloom and by tagging @watchwonderbloom!