Learning with the Wolves

Hooooowwww would you like some lesson plans with a wild wolfy theme? Look no further, because here they are! Wolves are often misunderstood, but fascinating creatures- and of course their chilling howls (which are really used to reunite a pack or find a lost wolf rather than just to creep you out) are one of the first things that come to mind when you think up a Halloween sound track! Run with us this week as we dive into a wolf’s crazy good sense of smell, compare fictional villainous wolves with the noble nonfiction variety, and create all sorts of wolftastic art! Ooooooooo!

Literacy:

-Howl the letters: My 5 year old loved this activity so much he requested we do it twice! And it’s zero prep if you have an ABC wall in your classroom or some flashcards! You just point to each letter in the alphabet and start your howl with its sound (which is great letter/sound recognition practice as well as word family practice!) For example, A- aaooooo, B- bbbboooooo, C- cccooooo, D- dddooo…

-“3 Little Pigs” read and play: To work on retelling, we read “The Three Little Pigs” then all picked characters and acted the story out. My boys had so much fun they immediately cried “LET’S DO IT AGAIN!” when we had finished, so we might be revisiting this activity in the future! It’s such a fun way for littles to practice their retelling skills!

-“Peter and the Wolf” literacy activities: First we read the story “Peter and the Wolf”. Next we watched the Royal Ballet School version so we could hear the different instruments and songs for each creature. Next I had my little complete a “Peter and the Wolf” write the room activity from Teachers Pay Teachers. You just print the cards, post them around your house or classroom, then have your little use the activity’s chart (and a book or clipboard if you like) to find, read and write each word from the story.

-Hunt for W’s: I printed a toddler and a preschool W is for Wolf writing page and wrote a scramble of W’s and other letters on the back of each. I had my littles complete the pages, then “hunt” for and dot/circle the W’s on the back.

-Writing theme: All About Wolves: In writing I’ve been letting my little jump directly into writing, guiding him in good writing practices as he goes…but this week I switched things up by doing mini lessons each day and modeling good writing before having my little write- the first day I modeled how I think out and plan a story using detailed but quick drawings, the next three days I modeled how I use the pictures to help me remember what to write, how I stretch out words and write all the sounds I hear to help me spell them, and how I use proper spacing when I write (one focus skill per day). I used “think alouds” to show my little what goes on in the head of a writer as they’re creating a good story, correctly spelling, and using correct spacing (ie. “Ok, I just spelled wolf by carefully writing all the letter sounds I hear in the word right next to each other, now I need to put a finger space before I start my next word.”)

-Wolf book list:

Math:

-Hungry wolf greater/less than: I made a 2 sided wolf with an open mouth to represent the < and > symbols then I put out two flash cards at a time and had my little have the wolf chomp the larger number. The best one was 23 and 32- it lead to some great math talk because the same digits are used but since they have different place values 32 is bigger.

-Make “wolf” treats using fractions: We learned that dogs are the distant cousins of wolves, both belonging to the canine family. Then we used fractions to make our dog some tasty home made “wolf” snacks- which he LOVED! I reviewed what fractions are with my little (simply- parts of a whole) and showed him with the measuring cups how they’re broken down (ie. 1 cup is the “whole”, 1/2 cup means it takes 2 of those to make the whole, 1/3 means it takes 3 and so on.) Then I placed all the cups in front of him and had him find the correct one when we needed it for the recipe. We used 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup of peanut butter, 1 egg, and 1 1/2 TSP baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients well, then add in and mix the wet ingredients. Place balls of the dough on a cookie sheet (or add a bit more flour so it’s less sticky and use it to make cookie cutter shapes!) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. If you don’t have a dog these would still be fun to make for a friend, family member or neighbor’s dog!

-Running with the wolves: Wolves typically run around 50 miles per day (sometimes up to 100) looking for food. To help my littles comprehend this distance, I had them run a mile (Our house is set up with a circular floor plan through the hall and living room so I actually measured the distance around the circle and had them run the 50 laps it would take to make a mile which also worked on counting skills! You can always go for a run outside too- it’s just still REALLY hot out here…) When they had finished I asked them to imagine doing that 50 more times! My 5 year old exclaimed, “It probably feels like their legs are gonna burst off!” LoL He also ran in his Halloween costume so…. Hahahaha

-“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” subtracting: I printed this “Boy Who Cried Wolf” subtracting page and had my 5 year old cut out the sheep to use as manipulatives and solve the problems. We also read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” before we began.

-Wolf connect the dots: I printed two connect the dot wolf pages- one longer one and one shorter one– and had my littles count while connecting the dots. I helped my 2 year old move his pencil while we counted together. Then my littles colored the wolves they “drew”!

Science:

-Wolf smelling activity: Wolves can smell things TWO MILES away! I told my littles this then gave them a point about 2 miles from our house so they could visualize it. Next, I placed vinegar on a cotton ball and had them sniff it. I took a step back, fanned the cotton ball through the air and asked if they could still smell it- they could smell it up to about 10 feet away. We repeated the activity with an orange sliced in half and a cotton ball with peppermint oil on it (both of those they could only smell at 2 feet away). Then I compared how close we have to be to smell things to how far away wolves can smell. I got this activity from Kid Minds.

-STEM build a house Wolf can’t blow down: We did this the same day we read “The Three Little Pigs” in literacy. You just give your littles some unconventional building supplies and a small toy pig if you have one along with the challenge “Build a house this pig can fit inside that can’t be blown down.” We used toothpicks, straw pieces, playdough, Q-tips, and pipe cleaners. After the boys were finished building I tried my best to blow their houses down, but they stood fast! I got this activity from Meredith Anderson on Pinterest.

-Wolves are mammals spider chart: I drew a wolf in the center of a sheet of chart paper and had my littles tell me the traits of a wolf that make it a mammal, then I wrote them on the chart.

-Fictional vs. nonfictional wolves: We made a T-chart and I had my littles think of things fictional (or fake) wolves do in stories and facts about nonfictional (real) wolves. I wrote their thinking on the chart to help them differentiate between the stereotyped story wolf who’s almost always the bad guy and real wolves.

-Wolf videos: We watched a few short National Geographic wolf videos on YouTube like Wolves 101, Hunting with the Dark Wolf, and Amazing Animals: Grey Wolf. Valley of the Wolves looked good too, but it’s about 30 minutes long and I just wanted a few quick clips!

Art:

-Wolf shape craft: These can also be considered math, but we already had 5 math activities so I’m throwing it in art instead! You cut out the shapes needed to make a wolf, then give your littles oral directions using shape and color names to help them put it together. I threw in trapezoids this time which my 5 year old knows by my 2 year old was surprised by! I explained it as looking like a triangle with one of the points cut off…it goes from larger to smaller and looks like it’s going to “TRAP” you (get it…TRAPazoid? hahaha That one always helped my 3rd graders remember it!)

-Howling wolf craft: I had my littles paint a paper plate yellow while I cut out wolf silhouettes for them. Then I had them cut the outer edges off their plates (when dry) and glue the silhouette to it to make a wolf howling near the moon.

-Winter woodland habitat art: Wolves live in many habitats including deserts, the tundra and the forest, but their favorite is the forest so we decided to make one! I had my littles cut out a white wiggly strip of paper for snow and glue it to a black background. Then I had my littles cut out tree trunks from brown paper and either add branches (for deciduous trees) or dot stickers in a triangle shape (for evergreens). Then I gave them some woodland animal stickers to add to their forest.

-“Little Red Riding Hood” craft: I read the story “Little Red Riding Hood” to my littles, then had them cut out strips from different colors of brown paper and glue them down to a sheet of dark blue paper (Bubbles Academy used white, which looks great too!) When they had finished, I gave them silhouettes of Little Red and the Wolf to stick in the forest of trees they had made. This is SUCH a great beginning cutting activity because they only have to go in a straight line each time, plus they come out so cute! I got the idea from Bubbles Academy.

-Paint a picture of a wolf: So my kids are very young…and that being said these don’t look like wolves- at least not to us. But as they were painting they were describing everything that they did and it was so creative and awesome! My 5 year old painted a “wolf hunting an elk” and my 2 year old painted “a yellow, a blue and an orange wolf with red snow.” This activity was definitely about the process and the creativity that went into it, not the product, so don’t skip it just because it’s not “cute”! Check out my blog post “Preschool Art (Im)perfection” for more on the creative process in young children.

Extras:

-Letter of the week: Gg, each day we do a different activity focused on our letter- introduction/have your little practice it on the chalkboard (or white board), think of words that start with the letter and make a list, workbook letter writing practice, workbook word writing practice.

-Word of the week: up, each day we do a different activity focused on our word- introduction/sound the word out/have your little practice writing it on the chalkboard or whiteboard, word family list- think of other words that rhyme with your word of the week, use the word in a sentence (have your little come up with the sentence and write it for them) then have your little illustrate the sentence, and workpage practice.

-Bible verse: This month’s Bible verse is “Let us not grow weary of doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13 I write each word in the verse on a post-it, stick them to the wall then have my little point to each word and read it each day all month.

-Character trait of the month: perseverance…this word is reviewed and posted at the start of the month then each time one of my littles freely demonstrates perseverance I use the word to specifically praise what they’re doing and encourage the trait in them. (ie. “Learning larger numbers can be so tricky- I like how you’re showing perseverance and trying your best every time until you get it!”)

Supply/shopping list:

  • whole wheat flour
  • peanut butter
  • pumpkin puree
  • egg
  • baking powder
  • wolf stories- at least 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction as well as “Little Red Riding Hood”, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, and “The Three Little Pigs”
  • vinegar
  • lemon or other citrus
  • peppermint or other strong oil
  • different shades of brown paper
  • Q-tips
  • popsicle sticks
  • pipe cleaners
  • toothpicks
  • playdough
  • paper plates
  • woodland creature stickers

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