cubsWeek of November 27

We hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. The children came back excited and eager to learn. It’s so cute to watch the “reunions” when they have been apart for a few days. They act as if they haven’t seen each other for weeks!

We are continuing to study the Human Body. This week we focused on two organs: the brain and the heart.

To learn about the brain we read a book called Your Brain and excerpts from other science books we have. We looked at pictures of brains and noted their gray and wrinkly appearance. One book identified the brain as the body’s “computer” that sends and receives messages all over your body, telling it what to do. We defined the spinal cord as the “highway” that the messages travel along. We even touched on neurons (pun intended). We talked about the various regions of the brain and their functions: the cerebrum controls thinking; the cerebellum controls movement; and the brainstem controls breathing and heartbeat. We put in a strong plug for wearing helmets to prevent injuries to the brain. The children traced and cut a rudimentary brain shape, decorated it with pictures of things they like to think about (funny aside: a lot of them decorated their brains with pictures of food!), and attached them to the skeletons that they made a few weeks ago. The children illustrated and dictated a page about what they like to think about. Several of the children independently created their own brains at the Writing Table during Free Play and Project Time. We attached them to paper headbands so the children could wear them around the room. They looked so cute and were very proud of their “inventions.”

Our introduction to the heart followed a similar path to that of the brain: we read a book called Your Heart and looked at models of the heart from a book called Inside Guides: Human Body (warning: we don’t the children view this book independently, as it has a detailed section on reproduction). We talked about the heart as a muscle that pumps blood around the body (“circulation”) to deliver oxygen to muscles, tissue and other organs, and discussed that this is what keeps people alive. We showed the children how the human heart is about the size of your fist and the children traced their fists to make hearts to attach to their skeletons. We talked about ways to keep your heart healthy and experimented with heart rate. The children felt their heartbeats while at rest, then ran in place for 20 seconds and felt how much faster their hearts were beating. They also got to listen to their heartbeats, both at rest and after physical activity, with a real stethoscope. The look of wonder on their faces when they first hear their heartbeats is so much fun to witness. A small group didn’t get to use the stethoscope on Friday; they will have their turns on Monday.

Our Dramatic Play area has undergone a transformation as part of this unit. It is now set up as a doctor’s office that we have named “The Cubs Clinic.” We have doctor clothes, face masks, hospital johnnies and pajamas, a receptionist’s desk and computer, and many doctor “tools” to use in imaginative play. Each Cub has had one turn to play in the clinic. It will be open for the next few weeks. We  anticipate it will get a lot of use.

Our Letter of the Week was Hh. We brainstormed well over 100 words. As always, it’s great to see so many families involved in contributing to our list. We have a request, though: if your child is going to bring in a list of words, please make sure that she/he can “read” the list fairly independently by using picture cues (hand-drawn, cut from magazines, computer-generated, etc). This is much more important than bringing in a long list. Also, please make sure that the words on the list are words that will be familiar to the children. We know that older siblings love to help with this “homework,” but please remind them that this is the Cub’s homework and the Cub should be very involved in doing it (it shouldn’t be a list that the older child generates and writes). Thanks for your help. As a project for letter Hh, the children had an opportunity to create fingerprint hearts. The results are beautiful and are hanging on the bulletin board in our room, next to the door. This activity was great for working on small muscles. The children had to isolate their fingers to use a different color on each finger. This is hard to do! We often stress the importance of activities that involve strengthening small muscles, but we never talk about why this is important. A crucial first step for children learning to write is strengthening these muscles to enhance control of the
writing implement. Some ways to strengthen small muscles are squeezing play dough, using pincers to pick up and move small items, tearing paper, and crumpling small pieces of paper. Of course, small manipulative toys such as Legos are great small muscle strengtheners too. Another helpful hint for children learning to write is stressing a top-down motion for letter formation. This is a more efficient motion than bottom-up.

REMINDERS: Parents of full-time Cubs please respond to the email
request about winter break attendance.

COMING UP: . . . Letter Ii . . . more organs and systems . . .

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