Jungle Explorers!

My preschooler recently saw Disney’s “The Jungle Book” and pretended he was Mowgli for two weeks straight, so when I asked him what he wanted to learn about it made sense that he chose the jungle. A jungle is technically a very dense, usually tropical forest- but it isn’t always rainy. Since rainforests can also be jungles, we tied them into this week’s learning too! Don’t forget to swing on over to my toddler post “Two Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!” for some fun jungle themed art and play ideas like a jungle vine obstacle course and painting on tropical leaves!

Literacy:

-ABC hunt with binoculars: First we made some binoculars by taping two toilet paper tubes together with duck tape, hole punching the center, and stringing yarn through it so they could be worn on our “expedition”. Then I wrote upper and lowercase letters on sticky notes and hid them all over the living room and kitchen. My little jungle explorers used their “binoculars” to find the letters, we identified them, then put them in order to make sure we had them all. We sang the alphabet while pointing to each letter when we were done!

-“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” tree: We started by reading the classic story “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”- I love how the whole alphabet is printed at the beginning and the end of the book. At the start of the story we always sing our ABCs as I point to each letter, then at the end I say each letter and sound as my little echoes me. After reading, I gave my little a tree trunk and leaves I cut out from construction paper (though in hindsight I should’ve drawn them and let him cut them out himself!) and letter stickers and let him make his own coconut tree! We reviewed the letters again as he stuck them down. I got the idea from We Heart Crafty Things!

-Palm tree letter recognition: I made palm tree trunks and tops out of construction paper using the letters in my little’s first and last names. On the trunks I wrote the letters in lowercase and on the tops I wrote the matching letters in uppercase. I had him spell his name with the trunks, then match the capital letters on the tree tops to the correct trunk!

-J is for Jungle: Make some J’s on a page with dots, pop the sheet in a page protector and have your little practice writing the letter with a dry erase marker.

-Storytime: Here are some of the jungle books we enjoyed this week!

Math:

-Counting on leaf activity: I believe this was a printable available at Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten, but since my printer is down I just drew a copy and cut leaves out of construction paper! LoL You can use any numbers you want, just make sure your leaves have numbers that allow your little to “count on” (ie. if the first leaf is 6, they would add 7, 8, and 9 after it!) This is a great way to build number recognition and counting skills, but it’s also a pre-skill activity for the addition strategy “counting on” (ie. 5 + 6 instead of counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 they just start at 5 and count 6 more!)

-Animal cracker graphing: Anytime you can tie in food to learning, littles are all about it (at least mine are!) so when I saw this activity on The Peterson Party I knew we had to try it! Since my printer is down, I made the graph by folding a sheet of paper in half lengthwise, then in half again, then folding the bottom up about an inch. I traced the lines then drew each animal I wanted him to sort at the bottom. Next I gave him a bowl of animal crackers with just those animals in it (let me tell you- animal crackers are not as jungle friendly as I thought! LOL I had to pick through cows, lions, bears and rinos to get the animals I wanted! Even then, I had to settle with a zebra and a hippo as two of my animals because there weren’t enough that actually live in the jungle- but I digress!) After he had sorted them on the graph paper, I asked him questions about his graph like: Which animal had the most? Which had the least? How did you know that? Were any the same? We also discussed how graphs are an easy way to quickly compare the amounts of things because you can see the differences and don’t have to count them!

-Barrel of Monkeys: This game is really fun and also practices counting! I got it for like $8 at Walmart! You dump out the monkeys in a pile then pick them up to make a monkey chain one by one by only holding on to your first monkey. You count the monkeys as you go and whoever makes the longest chain before losing one wins! It also works on coordination and fine motor skills!

-“The Great Kapok Tree” animal tally: We read “The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry and as we read we tallied up the animals in the story. When the text didn’t give us a number, we counted the animals in the picture. I did the tallies but I explained to my little how they work and how to count by fives then ones to add them all up. Another great rainforest math story that works on number recognition and counting is “Over in the Jungle” by Marianne Berkes.

Science:

-Jungle KWL: I used to do these with my students all the time- they’re a great way for kids to access their prior knowledge about something so they can connect new learning to what they already know, ask questions and wonder, then review all they’ve learned in a unit. Before you begin a unit, you just have your little tell you what they know and what they want to know about whatever you’re studying. At the end of the unit, you review your study by asking them what they learned. I like to write it down to build literacy too! You can say each letter as you write it for them, or just say the word- either one is great practice!

-Coconut dissection: We got a coconut from the grocery store and used our 5 senses as we dissected it! First, we talked about how the coconut felt (hard and scratchy!) and googled a picture of what they look like growing on trees. I told my little the thick green husk is removed to get to the brown nut inside. Then, I used a nail to hammer holes in the 3 dots on the coconut. We poured out the water through the holes and tasted it. Then, we went outside and threw the coconut as hard as we could on the driveway to crack the shell (the boys LOVED this! LoL) Once it was broken, we went back inside and smelled it, then I cut off small pieces of the “meat” for us to try!

-World map of tropical rainforests: We have a color on world map placemat by Melissa and Doug, but you could also do this with one you print out! We colored the rainforest locations around the world and talked about the difference between the jungle (a tangled wooded area), the rainforest (any forest with LOTS of rain) and the tropical rainforest (a rainforest that’s also hot). We also reviewed the continents the rainforests are located on to build map skills!

-Layers of the rainforest flip book: Take 3 sheets of paper and layer them so they’re about an inch apart. Fold them in half so you have tabs you can write on. Write the layers of the rainforest on each tab (the first one can be the cover, the last a mini story where your little tells you what they know about the rainforest). In each tab my little glued down pictures of animals that live in that layer of the forest that I had cut out from magazines. You can also print pictures online and have your little cut them out themselves to work on scissor skills! I made sure to also tell my little that many animals move through several of the layers.

-Do leaves breathe experiment: We discussed how leaves recycle our air by breathing in what we breathe out (CO2) and breathing out what we breathe in (Oxygen). I reviewed the meaning of solid, liquid and gas then asked him what form of matter air is- a gas. I asked him what happens when we blow air into water (it makes bubbles!) Then I cut a leaf off of a bush outside and put it in a bowl of water so we could observe the leaf “breathing” underwater- tiny bubbles formed on the leaf as it sat in the water and let out air! I got the experiment idea from Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten.

Art:

-Make a jungle scene: I gave my little a sheet of blue, green and brown construction paper, scissors, glue and animal stickers then let him make his own jungle using the supplies! He chose to focus on just one tree… lol

-Draw Mowgli: We got out the markers and drew pictures of Mowgli (I Googled a picture of “the real Mowgli” from the 2016 “Jungle Book” movie on my phone to go by at my little’s request). My little needed two sheets of paper because he drew his “red underwear and scratches” first and didn’t leave room for his head…hahahaha!

Supply/shopping list:

  • ABC stickers
  • “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (book)
  • “The Great Kapok Tree” (book)
  • Barrel of monkeys
  • animal crackers
  • world map (write on or printed)
  • toilet paper tubes
  • yarn
  • duck tape
  • cup
  • leaf
  • jungle stickers

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