Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NO CLASS November 24 or 26

Happy Thanksgiving!


Inside the touch box this week was a turkey feather.  Then I showed the kids some pictures of wild and domestic turkeys and told them facts about the birds such as wild turkeys can fly, the males are called toms, the females are called hens and the babies called poults. 

We then read the story “Gobble, Gobble” by Cathryn Falwell.  This charming story takes you through a year of having a turkey flock living in a girl’s backyard. 
Then it was time to get moving with a little “The Turkey Pokey”!

You put your right wing in, you put your right wing out,
You put your right wing in, and you flap it all about,
You do the Turkey Pokey and your waddle all around,
That’s what it’s all about, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!
(Continue with left wing, right/left feet, beak, & tail feathers)
The next activity allowed the kids to help my felt turkey get his tail feathers back.  We had a small group so each kid chose two felt feathers to add to my turkey.  The feather were several different colors:  red, yellow, blue, purple and green.  We sang the below song and as their color was called, they brought up their feather.
Turkey Feathers (Tune: Frere Jacques)
Turkey feathers, turkey feathers.
Colored bright, colored bright.
If you have a ___________ feather. If you have a __________feather.
Add it now! Add it now!
When the turkey had all his feathers we reviewed our colors once more with this verse:
See the turkey, see the turkey
Spread the tail, oh so wide
Tell me all colors
Pretty pretty colors
Tell me now, tell me now.
Lastly, we counted all the feathers the turkey had by signing this verse:
See the turkey, see the turkey
Spread his tail, oh so wide
Let’s count all the feathers
pretty, pretty feathers
Count them now, count them now
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…

We ended the story time by reading “TurkeyTrouble” by Wendi Silvano.  This is a cute story about a turkey who dresses up like his fellow barnyard animals to avoid ending up as Thanksgiving dinner.  He eventually comes up with a more vegetarian plan for the family’s dinner. 
This week’s craft was an adorable little turkey made from part of a paper tube and colorful paper feathers. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Native Americans

This is a tough subject to teach to young children.  My aim for this lesson was to be as honest as possible while still being consistent with Native American culture and positive.  There are lots of not-so-great “Indian” activities, songs and games out there for young children.  I avoided all of that and as a result I had to come up with some of my own activities and stories. 
In the touch box this week I had dried Indian corn kernels.  Corn was a staple food for the Native Americans that the Pilgrims met in their new homeland and those Native Americans, the Wampanoag, taught the settlers how to grow, store and prepare this food that they had never encountered before. 
Our first story was “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims” by B.G. Hennessey.  I discovered this one in my local library last fall and fell in love with it.  It is a wonderful picture book that shows the lives of both Pilgrim and Wampanoag children at the time. 

We then did the following rhyme together: 

“Pilgrims and Wampanoag”
Pilgrims and Wampanoag on three special days,
            (hold up three fingers)
Came together in friendship to eat, dance and play,
            (pretend to eat and dance)
The Wampanoag went hunting and brought lots of meat.
            (Shade eyes with hand on forehead and look around)
The Pilgrims picked berries and cooked many treats.
            (pretend to pick berries)
They sat down together and each began to say,
            (sit down)
That they were very thankful, each in their own way.

Next I did a flannel board story for the kids based on a traditional Native American story.  The Tale of theThree Sisters teaches not only how to garden, but also how to respect differences in one another and how to work together. 

I read another beautiful picture book called “The First ThanksgivingDay:  A Counting Story” by Laura Krauss Melmed.  Similar to the first book, the beautiful picture books also shows the lives of both Pilgrims and Wampanoag while counting from one to 12. 

At the end of the story time I invited the children to play a traditional Native American game.  Using the left over cobs from the corn cuff bracelets craft they were able to play a type of lawn darts and toss the cobs into the hoop.  It was a big hit with the kids. 
Our craft was a corn cuff bracelet which I developed with the help of my friendly neighborhood librarian and a friend of mine who is Native American.  It wasreally fun and turned out great. 

Sources:  Little Hands Finger Plays and Action Songs by Emily Stetson and Vicky Congdon.

Corn cuff bracelets

Our craft was a simple one for the Native American theme, but worked to teach the kids the importance corn had in the lives of the early settlers.  The Native Americans who lived in the area taught them how to grow, store and prepare the corn which was essential to them surviving the harsh winters of their new home. 

Materials needed:
Paper towel or toilet paper tubes cut lengthwise and cut into two inch sections
Various colors of Indian corn taken off the cob (I took the kernels off three ears and that was MORE than enough for 20 kids). 
Glue-school glue is fine, glue-all is better, tacky glue better yet, hot glue the best!
Your imagination!

Put some glue onto the top of the cuff.  Arrange different colors of kernels onto the glue into a pattern of your choice.  Options include flowers, lines or other geometrical designs, letters or FREE FORM! 
Put another layer of glue over top of the kernels to help them stay put.  Allow to dry before wearing. 

The Tale of the Three Sisters

I wanted to introduce a Native American story to the kids but the ones I found were a little over the head of toddlers, so this is my flannel board version. 

Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to grow the "three sisters": corn, beans, and squash.  In Native American Culture, they are seen as three beautiful sisters, because they should be planted together, eaten together, and celebrated together. 
Many a legend has been woven around the Three Sisters.  Here is one version:
There are three sisters:  Sister Corn, Sister Bean and Sister Squash.  These sisters were quite different from one another in their height and the way they looked. 
Sister Corn
The oldest sister is Sister Corn. She wears a pale green shawl and has silken hair that rustles when the wind blows through it. She grows tall and strong and allows her sister to lean on her for support.  She keeps watch over her sisters, looking for danger and warning them.
Sister Bean
Sister Bean is dressed all in green.  At first when she was young she could only crawl.  Now as she grows, she clings to and leans on her Sister Corn for support. In return, Sister Bean gives her sister the nutrients she needs to grow.
Sister Squash
The youngest sister is Sister Squash.  Sometimes her sisters call her Pumpkin. She wears a bright, sunshine yellow dress and a golden crown and sits at the feet of her older sisters.  She is much shorter than her sisters and her large leaves help keep the weeds away and the soil moist.  Her vines are prickly and help to keep unwanted animals away from her sisters. 
Together they are strong
Each of the "sisters" helps one another to grow strong and healthy.  In order to grow and thrive, they each need to be different but dependent upon each other. Each is special and each has great things to offer on her own and with the others.  There is one way the sisters are all alike, though. They love each other dearly, and when they stay together they are very strong.
Known as the “sustainers of life,” corn, beans and squash were the basic foods of sustenance for the Native Americans when the Europeans arrived in America.  Although the Pilgrims had never eaten these foods before, it was what grew well in the rocky soil of their new homeland. With the help of the Native Americans, they learned how to grow, prepare, use, and store these nutritious foods in order to survive the long hard winters.


We started our morning with bats by reading “Bats” by Gail Gibbons to learn a little more about them.  This book has an excellent overview of bats, especially what makes them so different from other animals and so beneficial. 

Next we used the flannel board to do the following rhyme.  There are many like this out there but I thought this worked best for the flannel board as there is just one setting, the cave.  This was such a hit we did it twice through.    
Little Bats
1 little bat was trying to behave.
He hung upside down from his feet in a cave.
Another bat flew in, and said, "How do you do?"
The second joined the first, and then there were 2!

2 little bats were trying to behave.
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave.
To help pass the time, they sang "Do re me"
Another bat joined the song, and then there were 3.

3 little bats were trying to behave
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave
From their cave perch, they looked down at the floor,
A new bat joined the game, and then there were 4.

4 little bats were trying to behave.
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave.
One little bat zoomed inside and did a dive.
He stayed to take a rest, and with him there were 5.

I had a hard time finding a bat song to dance to.  I finally decided to go with “Snoozers” from Sandra Boynton’s “Philadelphia Chickens” CD.  While it is not specifically about bats, it is about snoozing all day and playing all night, which I think applies (the fact that it is sung by the Bacon Brothers doesn’t hurt any)!  I turned off the lights for the second part of the song and had the kids dance with their bat (cardstock die cut) that I provided. 
Next we did a batty version of an all-time favorite “Two Little Black Birds.”  I made two little flannel bat finger puppets while the kids had two cardstock bats. 

Two Little Black Bats

Two little black bats hanging in a cave
One named Donna, one named Dave
Fly away Donna! Fly away Dave!
Come back Dana! Come back Dave!

We ended our story time with Brian Lies’Bats at the Beach.”  This book is a bit long of toddlers, but I love it and had to read it and it worked just fine. 

Our craft was a bat made from cardstock, colored and made with a bobble head. 


Sunday, October 23, 2011


After Toddler Tales this week, we were all a little wiser about owls.  We started out learning that owls are birds that fly with wings and feathers.  They are also raptors so they use their sharp, curved beak and talons to catch and eat their prey.  We also learned they are nocturnal, have very good eye sight and exceptionally good hearing. 

We then introduced ourselves to my friend Oliver the Owl using this song:

Oliver the Owl
Owl in the Tree

(Sung To: Skip to my Lou)

Owl in the tree says, who, who, who
Owl in the tree says, who, who, who
Owl in the tree says, who, who, who
Who, who, are you? (point to a child and have them say their name)
Next we settled down to read “Little Owl” by Piers Harper.  This is a sweet story about a young owl that is learning to fly and has to find the courage to get home by himself.  It is also a touch and feel book.  All the animals in the illustrations are fuzzy, which the kids really enjoyed. 

We closed by practicing our counting with a fun flannel board activity using this rhyme: 

Five Little Owls

Five little owls on a moonlit night
Five little owls are quite a sight.
Five little owls Are you keeping score?
One flew away! And then there were Four.
Four little owls happy as can be,
One flew away then there were Three.
Three little owls calling Who, Who
One flew away and that left two.
Two little owls having lots of fun.
One flew away and that left One.
One little owl we are almost done
He flew away and that leaves none.
Our craft this week was a owl mask the kids could color and decorate with feathers.  My daughter invented a new species of owl.  One that is entirely PINK! 


Most adults would rather not encounter a spider, but the kids at this week’s Toddler Tales were fascinated by them.  Inside the touch box was a large rubber spider. 

To get warmed up we sang a favorite, “The itsy bitsy spider” including a variation I learned from BBC’s “Words and Pictures” on YouTube. 

            The itsy bitsy spider went up the great big tree
            Down fell the snow and made the spider freeze
            Out came the sun and melted all the snow
            And the itsy bitsy spider had another go.

We read two non-fiction books this week.  The first, “GuessWho Spins” by Sharon Gordon gave the kids some clues as to what makes spiders special.  “Spin, Spider, Spin” by Dana Meachen Rau gave taught them how spiders live. 

Using and flannel board I recited this rhyme for the kids to help them remember how many legs spiders and other animals have.

Under a web beside a gate, a spider hangs her legs are EIGHT
Above her flies a busy bee SIX black and fuzzy legs has he           
A ginger cat goes leaping past her FOUR legs carry her so fast
A bird has TWO that isn’t many
As for a worm, it hasn’t ANY

Next we each got our own spiders (a plastic spider ring) to help us sing the song “There’s a Spider on the Floor,” by Raffi. 

For our last story I again used to flannel board to tell the Eric Carle’s “The Very Busy Spider.”  It was a lot of fun. 
Our craft this week was made with the pod of a sweet gum tree and pipe cleaners.  It couldn’t be easier and it couldn’t be cuter! 


Inside the touch box for this lesson we had a feather and talon of a raptor.  After I opened the box, I passed the items around again so the kids could get a closer look.
To start things off, we met my good friend Ernie the Eagle (a puppet) and learned to soar to the song “Eagles”by Terri Hendrix.
We then sat down to read a book about raptors which include eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and vultures.  We learned that they have sharp, hooked beaks and talons that help them catch and eat their prey.

Ernie the Eagle swoops down on little mice
To better understand how raptors hunt, we played an easy game called “Mouse, Mouse, HAWK!”  The kids quickly moved around the room as I said, “mouse, mouse…HAWK!” At which point Ernie the Eagle would swoop down on any “mouse” that didn’t freeze when I said “hawk.”  We played several rounds and the kids loved it.  By the end some of the kids, including my oldest, were moving on purpose so Ernie would swoop on them! 
Lastly we read “Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See” by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle.  While it isn’t wholly about raptors, it is a favorite in our house and I wanted to share the fact that bald eagles are an endangered species. 
Our craft was a raptor paper bag puppet. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


As the weather turns cooler in southern Indiana we learned about migration.  We learned that in addition to bird, lots of other animals including insects, mammals and reptiles migrate for a variety of reasons.  They move en masse to stay warm, find food or have babies at a traditional location. 

We started with the touch box which included a compass. 

Next we got some flight lessons from our friend Mainerd the mallard with the help of this little rhyme:
“Fly with the Birds”
Fly high, fly low
Fly fast, fly slow
Let’s dive for a drink
Let’s rest on a hill
Fly high, fly low
Fly fast, fly slow
Up, up and away!
Tired from our migration we took a break to read "Great Migrations" by Elizabeth Carney which includes amzaing photos of a variety of animals in migration. 

Next we practiced our flying some more to the song "Red-Winged Blackbird" by Debbie Carroll.

Next we did a fun flannel board story about five little geese flying south for the winter:

Five Little Geese
By Amanda Scurry
Five little geese flying in a “V”
The last one says, “Come on, follow me!” 
Down he flies to find food for his mouth
Four little geese continue flying south.
Four little geese flying in a “V”
The last one says, “Come on, follow me!”
Down she flies to take a little swim.
Three little geese ignore her little whim

Three little geese flying in a “V”
The last one says, “Come on, follow me!” 
Down he flies to have a sip to drink
Two little geese continue on without a blink
Two little geese flying in a row,
The second one says, “Are we getting close to home?”
Down she flies.  She needs a little rest.
One little goose flies on without the rest.

One little goose flying all alone.
He says to himself, “Look!  I’m almost home!”
Down he flies to a meadow of clover.
Home until he has to do it all over. 

We then read a lovely story about a girl who migrated with a flock of Canada Geese in Mick Manning and Britta Grandtrom's "Honk Honk:  A Story of Migration." 

We finished our day by making our own little paper bird to migrate home with us. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Kids love worms and it was no different at this week's Toddler Tales. We learned everything worm. We danced worm, we read about worms and how they live and we even helped our new friend Edna the Earthworm "dig" her burrow and hide from the big robin! We ended the morning by making our own worm friends to take home and enjoy a worm snack. Yum! Here is the outline of what we did:

This week's touch box really brought surprise as kids reached into a box of cooked wet spaghetti.

To get our worm wiggles out before a story we danced to “That’s What the Earthworm’s For” by the Earthworm Ensemble.

Our first non-fiction story was "An Earthworm's Life" written and illustrated by John Himmelman. An excellent story of what an earthworm does, how it lives and a reminder to NOT squish them!

Next we met our new friend Edna Earthworm. A worm made with rags wrapped around part of a wire clothes hanger and encased with several suntan knee high stockings. We put Edna on a large brown blanket that the kids shook parachute style to help Edna "dig" while singing this song:
This Small Worm - sung to "This Old Man"
This small worm, wiggly worm
She goes creeping through the dirt
With a squirm and a squiggle and a dig, dig, dig
Hide from the robin, oh so big!

Our second, fiction story was "Inch By Inch," a Caldecott Honor Book by Leo Lionni. Beautiful art and a fun story about a worm outwitting a bird.

Next, the kids met their own worm friends made a brown pipe cleaners. We danced with our worms to “Walter the Waltzing Worm” by Hap Palmer a fun tune that talks about various parts of the body that the worm dances on.
For our craft we made a burrow for our new worm friends using a small cup and paper grass.
We finished up our busy morning we a chocolate pudding and gummy worm snack! YUM!
Step by Step Childcare