March Madness!! No, I don't watch college basketball; I just love the month of March! There are a few months of the year I just adore, and March is one of them. The first of March means SPRING is coming!! Little green leaves are popping out from leafless winter branches, daffodils and tulips are beginning to sprout their leaves and buds, days are slowly getting longer and warmer, birds are returning, its time to start planning and prepping the garden, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated, and the first day of Spring is upon us!
I used this first day of March as a platform to expose Em to the concept of calendar months. Lately her curiosity has peeked as she now at 3&1/2 is finally understanding our cultural holidays, and we have more scheduled events in our life: We go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, tumbling class on Wednesdays, grocery shop on Wednesdays, Playgroup is on Friday, her Birthday is June 20th. Plus, she just really seems to "get " holidays now. Santa is a forever presence in our house :)
This consistency in events is what children, especially toddlers and babies, crave! It helps them feel secure because routine is established when events are predictable and ordered. When Em was a baby, I was a very vocal parent-meaning I always narrated our day to Em: It's "changing your diaper time", "eating time", "snacktime", " booktime", "bedtime", "playtime"," time to go to the store","mommy or daddy has to go to work time", etc. The word "time" may seem over done, but words like this can be very powerful. Babies begin to tune into these words. It helps children track their day and plus it promotes language development.
So, back to calendar months. Our calendar and culture are dominated with celebrations and holidays. Therefore, to introduce calendar months, I used our culture's celebrations. I used the following visual aid to introduce months to Em. Visual aids are a great tool to exercise the spatial intelligence. I acquired this in my teaching days. It is really easy to replicate though. Go to any local learning store or dollar store and look for a large poster board with Calendar months, or you can even make one yourself! Purchase stickers that represent each months major holiday/event/theme. I suggest snowmen and snowflakes for January, Hearts for February, Leprechauns,rainbows, &gold for March, bunnies&eggs or other religious symbols for April, flowers for May, butterflies and bees for June, fireworks for July, sun and sunglasses for August, apples and sunflowers for September, halloween stickers for October, Thanksgiving icons for November, and holiday icons for December.
March holidays are St Patrick's Day and the first day of Spring. I consider the first day of Spring a celebration in its self, therefore, I chose not to introduce it until March 21st. Instead I focused on St. Patrick's Day, the color green, the shape of a clover, rainbows, and leprechauns and their symbolic myths.
First, I made a display of a few items and decorations.
I then brought Em out to the kitchen to show her the calendar month sign hung on the door. This helped peek her curiosity as to what we were getting ready to do. I wanted to start with something she was familiar with. I pointed out how there were heart stickers on the calendar. I then talked about how that month was February. I stated a new month has started now called March. I pointed at the word. I then pointed at the stickers and explained the shape is called a clover. I told her clover grows in our yard. I then brought up St. Patrick's Day and the iconic symbols that go along with it. (She faintly recognized the words because we had already briefly discussed this holiday because when St. Valentine's Day was over, she asked "what day comes next mom?") When I told her what a leprechaun was she looked at me foreignly. We then went to the previously arranged display to further peek curiosity and also furthermore explain the myth of a leprechaun.
I started by narrating a March poem. I use the poems from Maurice Sendack's Chicken Soup with Rice. The first couple times I read the poem I only read the words. I then add in a few cute hand gestures to the narration of the words( I should make a video of this but right now I'm too tired). Soon Emery will be joining right in with me :) She loved the wind coming in the door!
Next, I narrated this leprechaun poem. I have hand gestures for this one too. By this time she was fully engaged!!
Both these poems are now hanging on our refrigerator for further reference.
We then did a book look of our bedtime story in which we would learn more about leprechauns. This is a great read about a little boy leprechaun searching for 10 clovers so he can acquire his pot of gold from the Leprechaun King. It's an interactive book that gets your child using their spatial skills as they hunt for the hidden four leaf clovers right along with the main character. It had a great intrapersonal lesson about never giving up and discussed the iconic symbols of leprachauns: gold, rainbows, four-leaf clovers.
Her letter and word curiosity has really kicked into full gear lately so naturally she was fascinated by the Happy St. Patrick's Day sign. I decided to turn it into a linguistic game with a little "I spy" a letter. At the end you get a glimpse of my little character I am blessed to spend my days with!!!
We finished by playing with an upcoming craft and decorating the house with this constructed centerpiece.
Stay tuned! The next couple weeks will be filled with our March Madness activities, first beginning with the theme of Leprechauns, clovers, &everything green, and then on to our SPRING theme!
This is a self-portrait Em took of herself. I am always snapping the camera during our adventures so of course she has a desire as well!