In addition to the excitement that surrounds all of our Christmas activities, we are going to be exploring forests and forest animals this month. Many of the characters in our Christmas books are forest animals, so I thought it would be a great way to tie everything together.
FIND EVEN MORE FOREST THEME ACTIVITIES IN OUR
The Surprise Box
The kids were thrilled to see our little “surprise box” out by our calendar. They know this usually means something new and exciting. Inside they found trees and animals from some of our Safari Ltd. Toobs.
They all spent a long time playing with the animals and creating their own mini-forests.
Then we used our globe to review the continents we have talked about already this school year (Africa and South America). We found Europe and North America, and I told the kids we would be talking mostly about animals from forests on these two continents.
Over in the Forest Rhyming and Counting Story
Later we read Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek. This is a version of the traditional Over in the Meadow rhyme. I love these books, because they can be used to focus on so many different skills. We will read Over in the Forest many times throughout the month. Some of the concepts we will practice while using this book are rhyming, counting, recognizing forest animals, and identifying forest animals and their babies’ names. At the end of the book there are also some great pages of information about the animals and forests, so I will incorporate that into our discussions, too.
One of the things I am really enjoying about preschool at home is that we can take our school day anywhere. This week we went to the forest. Okay, it was a local park with a nature trail, but the kids enjoyed it just as much. First we explored some parts of the park that often get overlooked when all the kids can think about is getting to the playground.
They were sure we were going to see a bear. Lovey said not to worry because she was ready to protect us. This is her intimidating “grr” face. Scary, right?
After a little bit of exploring, I handed the kids a Twistable crayon, a clipboard, and a nature walk scavenger hunt paper. We talked about the different items on the paper. Then we continued on our walk. The kids loved coloring to record the items they found. I tried to have them stop for a moment and observe the item instead of just quickly coloring and walking away. We tried to use our senses and discuss the scent and texture of objects. Big Buddy really liked observing the way the ant moved.
I guess Lovey remembered that taste was one of our senses, and before I could say anything she licked the tree. Oh yes, she did! So we had a nice conversation about how it tasted, and then a short reminder that we shouldn’t taste things in the forest. 🙂
Tinker spent most of the time staring straight up at the trees. She loved just looking up at the sky through the leaves. Thanks to her we found our last object…a bird!
Learning About Animal Tracks
We also did a few activities involving animals tracks to help us learn more about the animals that live in forests.
We enjoyed reading Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints and Whose Tracks Are These? A Clue Book of Familiar Forest Animals. I particularly like that these books got the kids thinking by asking them questions and giving them clues. They had a lot of fun trying to think about which animal’s paw could have left the different tracks.
We are using many parts of the Forest Unit from 2 Teaching Mommies. After reading about animal tracks we used our sand trays to practice making our own tracks, with hands and feet. Then we looked at the animals tracks matching page and tried to recreate some of the animal tracks. The kids had fun making different tracks in the sand, but it was a bit tricky to make most of the prints.
We decided it would be fun to make up our own animal prints, so they set to work coming up with different markings in the sand. Then we talked about what kind of animal (real or make-believe) might leave that kind of track. It turned out to be a lot of fun!
Pretend Play with a Felt Set
The last way we introduced the forest was by playing with our forest felt set. I was blessed to inherit mine from a dear teaching friend. This Forest Camping Adventure Felt Set looks very similar, but it is larger and the pieces are already cut. (I can’t tell you how much time I have spent cutting out the pieces to our different environment felt sets this year.)
Lovey always really likes the felt sets. Most of the time I will leave them out in the morning as an invitation to play. She will sit for quite some time moving the pieces around and talking through her own stories.
What activities and resources do you use to teach kids about the forest?
MORE FOREST FUN WITH PRINTABLE LESSON PLANS
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This set currently includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:
1) Forest vs Ocean Animals Sorting Activity
2) Forest Animal Addition Activity
3) The Forest Emergent Reader (3 Versions)
4) Forest Roll and Graph Cube and Recording Sheet
5) “A Walk in the Forest” Math Game Board
6) Number Cubes for “A Walk in The Forest” and other Math Games (4 Versions)
7) Animal Tracks Matching Cards (in color and b/w)
8) Forest Animal Picture Cards (in color and b/w)
9) Forest Animal Pictures with Labels (in color and b/w)
10) Forest Animal Word Cards (in color and b/w)
11) Forest Animal Syllable Sorting Activity Mats
12) Forest Letter Puzzles (in color and b/w)
13) Teddy Bear Pattern Prompt Cards
GET YOUR LESSON PLANS
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.