J is for Jungle (rainforest)

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The preschool community seems to be divided on what the "jungle" is.  Some think it refers to all big, exotic wild animals (lions, tigers, elephants, etc).  I'm choosing to make "jungle" mean the rainforest, specifically, the Amazon Rainforest.

Monday:  We started our week with a taste of fresh pineapple (from Costa Rica) and talked about how and where they grow.  The kids decided that they liked pineapple even though it was a bit "spicy" on their tongues.  While they were eating, I introduced them to the concept of the rain forest in a very broad way.  I also began teaching them our songs-of-the-week, "Whose the King of the Jungle" and "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree."  Later that afternoon, Dragonfly (3.5) and I played the "frog game" using beans that have been painted red on one side and blue on the other.  The beans (we started with 6) are placed in a cup, shaken, then spilled onto the table.  The blue ones and the red ones can be counted separately and added together or math sentences (6-4=2 for example) could be written using the beans.  Dragonfly didn't want to do the activity, so I introduced her to our "big numbers."  The numbers have dots on them, which correspond to their value (five dots for the number 5).  This was the first time that Dragonfly had seen the numbers written.  I gave her one number at a time and asked her to place the "frogs" on the dots as we counted them.  Then, I would say something like, "Five frogs make up the number five."  She understood it very well and was soon able to guess the number based on the number of dots- she had unlocked the "secret."
We did use the Rainforest Toob animals but they didn't make the pictures.
Tuesday:  Today, the kids ate a dried tropical fruit mix with coconut, mango, and bananas.  They loved it.  Dragonfly thinks it tastes like candy.  We had some "formal" learning time while I introduced them to the animals of the rainforest through a toob of Safari animals.  Then, we played with the animals in roasted coffee beans, which have a neat texture.  Later in the day, we reviewed the rainforest animals with a set of photograph flash cards.  We also practiced our "Five Little Monkeys" song but changed the "crocodile" to "caiman."
Can't you smell the coffee?
Wednesday: This is dance class day, so we usually don't get very much school done.  The kids ate more pineapple, continued learning the "5 Monkey's Song," and played outside.
Dragonfly, Tadpole, and Skimmer
Thursday: To finish off our school week, we had a swamp sensory bin!  I found "caimans" and plastic snakes at the dollar store.  The kids especially loved the caimans after singing about them all week.  I made the swamp in our turtle "sandbox" by placing green jello and water in it.  I made the jello with unflavored gelatin and food coloring, in hopes that our swamp wouldn't attract ants or bees.  It worked very well but Dragonfly informed me that they need more jello next time.  She also suggested that we do the swamp as a play-date.
Dragonfly demonstrating how "caimans" eat jello
Friday: This is our "in-town" day so we didn't do any schooling.  Dragonfly "performed" her "Five Little Monkeys" song for her daddy at dinner-time.

Internet Resources:
matching Safari Toob animals
frog game
rainforest video
sensory bin
coffee bean task
making ten folder game

"We're Roaming in the Rainforest"
 "The Watering Hole"

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