As I mentioned in yesterday’s forest post, we are combining many of our Christmas activities with learning about forests and forest animals. Of course, that left me with a ton of possible ideas for things to learn about this month. Earlier this school year the kids were able to observe and touch a hedgehog as part of story time at our local zoo. It was an experience that stuck with them, so I decided that would be a great animal to learn a little more about.
To begin our discussion we found Europe on our globe. Hedgehogs are primarily found in Europe, but some species can be found in Africa. I also showed the kids some pictures of hedgehogs on our iPad, and the kids quickly recalled how cute that little hedgehog was at the zoo. Before our discussion, I read some facts about hedgehogs from Animal Corner, so that I would be able to answer their questions.
One Snowy Night
I had often seen, but never read M. Christina Butler’s books about Little Hedgehog, so I was excited to include them in this study. First we read One Snowy Night. It is a sweet story about a gift Little Hedgehog receives that doesn’t quite fit, so he passes it along. It ends up being passed from friend to friend, until it unexpectedly helps Little Hedgehog when he is lost. The sequence of this story lent itself to great retelling practice. We read it a couple of times and the kids practiced telling who tried on the hat and why it didn’t workout for that animal.
As I was planning this unit I was inspired by the hedgehog craft for preschool hibernation from Rainy Day Mum, so I knew I wanted to incorporate a hedgehog craft of some sort. We started out by tracing hand prints on two shades of brown paper. To make the project go a little faster, for each child I used two stacks of paper four sheets thick. That way I could cut out many hand prints at one time. The kids fanned the hand prints out, and we stapled them together.
Then we practiced rolling a piece of paper into a cone. We trimmed the edges to flatten the base, and we taped the cone in place. Then we added a brown pom-pom nose and two googly eyes. I would have preferred some cute brown button eyes like the ones we all remembered from our friend at the zoo, but Lovey has added all of our craft buttons to her collages lately.
This was my original thought for the craft, but then one of the kids asked about his hat. Ooh, good idea, and I loved that they remembered the details from the story!
We found some red felt and a red pom-pom and made a quick red hat.
Then we attached Little Hedgehog to his cozy red hat, and the kids were happy with their creations.
One Winter’s Day
One Winter’s Day is another book in this series, and I think it was my favorite one. In this story Little Hedgehog’s home is blown away in a storm so he sets off to stay at his friend’s house until the storm passes. Along the way, he generously gives his hat, mittens, and scarf to friends in need. At the end he is surprised by how all of his friends come together to return the favor.
This story gave us a great opportunity to talk about generosity and kindness to others. Like the first story, it was also a great plot to use for practicing retelling the sequence of events. The kids could easily tell me the problem at the beginning of the story, who Little Hedgehog shared his things with, and how the story ended.
After reading this story we tried to create playdough hedgehogs. During our nature walk we collected a lot of pine needles for various projects, so I thought maybe we could use some of them to make our hedgehogs. I left the pine needles stuck together and trimmed them to about three inches long so that they would be long enough for the kids to work with. If I did this again, I would probably cut the pine needles a bit shorter.
To begin the kids practiced making a large ball, and then we pitched the front to look more like a pointy snout.
The kids really enjoyed pressing the ends of the needles into the ball of playdough. They concentrated on placing them very carefully and really focused on covering the whole surface. They were so quiet and engaged.
When they ran out of pine needles (I think they would have gone on forever if I had more), we added googly eyes and a Whopper candy nose. And Lovey exclaimed, “Um, I think it’s a porcupine, Mom.” We took a minute to talk about this observation using this short essay written by a kid about the differences between porcupines and hedgehogs. Honestly, I think I am learning as much as the kids this year! In the end we all agreed that it could be a porcupine, and decided that next time we should trim the pine needles a bit more.
One Christmas Night
The last story we read about Little Hedgehog was One Christmas Night. Tinker especially loved the glittery pages in this one. She spent a lot of time sitting and feeling the pages. In this story Little Hedgehog is getting ready for Christmas but feels like something is missing until all of his friends are there. After reading this story we talked about friendship and and things we like to do with our friends.
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