Program : Preschool : Sample Class Projects
Cooperation and Gratitude
Our fall social studies unit culminated in a Thanksgiving feast, with each family contributing to the event. Each student was either a pilgrim, attired proudly in
black and white, or a Native American, resplendent in feathered headbands. We talked about expressing cooperation and gratitude throughout the
festivities, just as the participants at the First Thanksgiving had to do. We noticed how these qualities enrich our lives.
Presenters from the Elgin Public Museum taught us games from Native American cultures, including counting games, toss-the-button. We listened
to Native American music and experienced real artifacts. We also worked on beading projects and did some role playing. Every student and
teacher participated in many different ways, and we all grew closer as a community.
In Preschool and Kindergarten environmental education classes, one of the most exciting and dynamic lessons for the children in winter is
tracking animals through the snow. Snow has a magical quality to it for children, and one of its benefits is that it provides a living
record of what happens outdoors.
Every mouse that scurries for cover, every deer that leaps away into the woods, is recorded for all to see in the sparkling whiteness. Because
of this, winter is the best time for tracking animals and learning about their habits first-hand. While the animals themselves are shy and
elusive, their tracks are easy to find and follow in the snow.
We begin the lesson indoors with a story about wintering forest animals that shows them finding their way to shelter in the snow. We then
learn to recognize the footprints of animals that live in our woods through a memory matching game. We discuss how footprints show us where
an animal went and what it did. Then we bundle up to find the snow stories written by our own forest animals. We find and follow tracks of
deer, squirrels, mice, and dogs. As we follow in the animals' footsteps, the children enjoy guessing who made the tracks, and what happened
where the tracks cross each other.
When we come back inside, the children have an opportunity to create their own snow stories with animal footprint stamps on white
paper. Many also choose to draw their animal and its home.