The school year is almost over and I’m finishing up the alphabet during the next few weeks. Kona just turned 5 and will be starting kindergarten in a charter school in the fall. I’m sure he’ll do great, especially since this charter school uses multiple intelligences as one of its main teaching strategies! He loves to have books read to him, and enjoys “reading” the same books to himself. Since Kona could name all the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet at the start of this “pre-school” year, I geared his alphabet lessons to increasing his vocabulary, and learning the consonant sounds and short vowel sounds of the letters. He has done very well learning all the letter sounds, and I love how he already tries to “sound out” words in books.
Tahoe, (3), will get the alphabet again next “school” year. He has picked up the name of a few letters this year, but most importantly, his vocabulary and fine motor skills have really improved this past year. He also loves to have books read to him, but what Tahoe really likes is to sing! My alphabet lessons for him next year will include a lot more music and nursery rhymes.
And Tigger (still 6), well, all I can say is Wow! He is finishing up first grade at a charter school and for the last month or so, he has been reading easy chapter books! What really pleases me is that he reads with such great expression. This is quite a difference from the beginning of first grade when he was still having difficulty with basic sight words and c-v-c blending.
So this unit study is on the letter “W” and before the middle of June, I should be able to work with the grands on X, Y, and Z.
As always, I planned a variety of lessons in all eight intelligences to have differentiated activities for each grandson: Tigger (6), Kona (5), and Tahoe (3). I try to do two intelligences per day, so this would be at least a four day unit. I usually plan more activities than I can actually do with the grands, but I always do at least one activity from each intelligence. As you can see, many of these activities do not need a lot of materials or preparation, which is why I love using Multiple Intelligence activities with my grandsons rather than worksheets.
Linguistic (Word Smart)
Read books-I decided to focus on two themes for the letter W: whales and weather. These are topics I have taught to older students and always enjoyed, but I needed to adapt my lessons for the ages of my grandsons. I used these books as part of the Letter “W” unit study:
Discussions-I adapted my discussions of the books with the grands depending on the book and the concepts I was trying to reinforce. Pipaluk and the Whales was a good book for Tigger. He enjoyed looking at the pictures on each page to predict what would happen before we read it together. We also talked about the survival needs for these whales while reading the book. After reading each page of If Frogs Made Weather, I asked Kona and Tigger to summarize the type of weather each animal preferred. While reading Stormy Weather with the grands, we identified rhyming words. Elmer and the Whales was a good book for discussing sequence. For Tahoe, besides discussing the words that began with the “W” sound in each book, we discussed the animals on each page of the stories.
Audio books-Since I have the grands in the car for about an hour each afternoon to pick up the oldest from school, I try to find audio books from the local library to play in the car to go along with my lessons . For the letter W I was able to find these two audio books: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (which came with a beautifully illustrated book) and Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (which appealed more to Tigger).
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
Counting activities: I had Kona count out 23 pattern blocks and make the letter “W” from them (since “W” is the 23rd letter of the alphabet). I practiced counting to 23 with Tahoe, although he still misses a few numbers once we get past “twelve”.
Measuring: Since weather is one of our topics for the letter “W”, we discussed the rain we have had this past week. While we live in “drought country”, we actually get rain from time to time. Of course, every time we get rain, some people always wonder if the drought is over. I planned a little demonstration with some clear glass jars and units marked along the side to show them how much rain we got last year (approx. 6 inches), how much we got this year (almost 9 inches), and our average amount of rainfall in a year (about 15 inches) . No doubt about it, still need a whole lot of rain in our part of the country!
Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)
Walk This Way- The grands and I brainstormed the many ways someone could “walk” and practiced them. Some of the ways we discussed were backwards walking, crab walks, curvy walks, slow walks, fast walks, walking on our toes, etc. Then each grand had a turn to say “Walk This Way” and chose their favorite way to walk while everyone else followed along like a parade.
Pantomimes- We practiced several “W” words that are easy to pantomime such as: walk, whisper, wall, watermelon, wind, water, worm, wave, and witch. Then each grand chose one of the “W” words to pantomime and the rest of us had to guess the word.
Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)
Letter crafts- After reading Stormy Weather and If Frogs Made Weather, I asked the grands for the types of weather mentioned in the books. I used this information to make cut out pictures for a craft project: wind, sun, clouds, rain, snow, fog, and lightning. The grands then glued these cut outs to a letter “W” that I also cut out of construction paper.
Other craft ideas– After reading Elmer and the Whales to the grands, I decided to use my new circle punches to create a craft to make the whales as colorful as Elmer. The grands loved it and Kona and Tigger loved using the circle punches to make new circles for their whales.
Videos- I am always able to find lots of short videos on the Internet that teach the sound of the letter I am teaching the grands. We also found short, educational videos on whales and weather. Additionally, I wanted to introduce the grands to weather forecasting. Besides watching weather reports live on the television, you can also find videos of weather reports. Watching these videos can be helpful, especially if you want to do some dramatic play activities (see Interpersonal ideas below).
Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)
Field trips– (Wildlife Sanctuary)- We live about an hour away from a wildlife rehabilitation facility that we have visited several times (now called the Big Bear Alpine Zoo at Moonridge). This is a great field trip for the letter “W” to see wildlife up close and discuss how wildlife can be impacted by man.
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt- We made a list of “W” words that could be found in nature and took a walk around our neighborhood to find as many as we could. Here is a partial list: weeds, worms, wind, wildlife, water.
Interpersonal (People Smart)
Dramatic play- “Weather Report”- After watching several weather reports, I thought it would be fun to do some dramatic play as weather reporters. You don’t have to gather props ahead of time, but if the grands think of a prop they want to use, I let them get it.
Cooking -I consider cooking to be an interpersonal activity, because the grands still need to work with adult supervision to create the food from the recipes. (When they are older and can read recipes on their own, cooking activities will be more linguistic.) For the letter “W” I found an easy watermelon popsicle recipe, which I adapted to fit into the time frame Kona and I had that day. The basic idea is to cut up enough watermelon to make 5 cups. The cut watermelon is put in the blender with 1/2 cup sugar, pureed, and then poured into a medium sized container to be placed in the freezer for a few hours to become “slushy”. (The puree shouldn’t be frozen at this point.) Then we added a small handful of mini chocolate chips (to look like watermelon seeds) to the watermelon slush and stirred. Lastly, Kona and I poured the concoction into the popsicle molds that I already had on hand. The next day, he got to enjoy his watermelon popsicles.
I adapted this recipe to make it easier for my grandsons:
(I didn’t have time to add the lime sherbet.) I will probably make the entire recipe with the grands again at least once this summer…maybe for the Fourth of July!
Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)
Independent reading– The grands love to look over the books we have previously read together on their own time.
Water Play–Since “water” begins with “W” I counted water play as an activity for this study unit. The grands have lots of bath toys to use during bath time. However, one day I gave them different sized plastic containers during their bath so they could experiment and discover the capacities of each container.
Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)
Finger plays and songs- I used “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and the nursery rhyme “Wee Willie Winkie” with this study unit. If you don’t already know hand motions to use with “He’s Got the Whole Word in His Hands”, there are several videos on youtube that can help you.
Create your own fingerplays or songs- We created our own lyrics to “He’s Got the Whole In His Hands” to go along with whales and weather. For example:
“He’s got the wind and the clouds, in His hands….”
“He’s got the narwhal whale, in His hands….”
I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan to introduce letters to the children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I created them, you can become a follower of this blog.