I won't repeat what I have said before about the format of the program. Today I want to focus on the positives!
They used frog sounds to introduce the kids to both local and more exoctic frogs. This was neat because kids this age don't really understand that the noise is more than just a ribit. They were very surprised by how the different frogs sounded.
Lots of projects and activities today too. We played memory with frog cards, placed frogs in size order, learned about the life cycle of the frog using numbered pictures, made a lillie pad out of construction paper and different colored tissue paper (to be the flower) and learned how to hop like a frog. Whew, that was a lot! But it went by really quickly with each activity only holding Sam's attention for mere minutes.
Then we headed once again into the conservatory and did a frog scavenger hunt. Same idea as last program; there were pictures of frogs on little stakes "hidden" all over the place. These frogs were not different colors however they each had a different shape on their back that made them distinguishable.
I noticed this time (our third program) that Sam knew the order. She knew where to go and where to sit for the beginning story time. She knew how to flow from table to table doing activities. And she knew where to grab the clipboard and marker from so that we could start our scavenger hunt. She was comfortable and familiar.
We will certainly sign up for more of these programs at the Olbrich Botanical Garden in the future, especially for ones that allow us to get outside and learn about topics more familiar and local. But I am now also very curious to start seeking out other facilities that offer environmental education preschool programs to see how they compare. What topics are most places discussing with this age? Do they all read books? Do crafts? How many actually take the kids outside versus just doing inside activities? All questions I am anxious to answer! And you can be sure that as I "research" all of this I will be passing along what I find out and learn.
The Nitty Gritty!
If you are sticking around for this section tonight you are going to get to hear some of the negatives! I just can't NOT talk about what changes I would make to this program if I were doing it.
So here they come -
- When they were doing the frog calls at the beginning it would have been really easy and super helpful to give the kids a visual as well. Simply have pictures of each frog that we are listening to so that the kids (and parents) can become familiar with the frog and it sound. Maybe this would enable some of the parents to recognize the frog as one they have seen before. Comparisons of the sound and size of the frogs could also then be made.
- Once the set of frogs was established with the sound and picture activity at the beginning I would have stuck with those specific frogs in ALL the pictures and activities. There is no need for the kids to be looking at or playing memory with brightly colored exotic frogs. They can look closely and tell the difference between a bullfrog, tree frog, spring peeper and American toad.
- Along those same lines I would have once again stuck with those same frogs for the scavenger hunt as well. While I appreciated getting to practice shapes with Sam I think at a program where I am learning about frogs I would rather have had Sam practice telling the difference between certain frogs. So pictures of actual frogs could have been placed on the stakes and then those same pictures used on the clipboard for them to find. OR (and even better) they made some really model frogs and frog toys that could have been placed around the conservatory for the kids to find. Just think it is so much neater to search for something 3D than just a picture on a stake.
Okay, that't it. So only three things. That's not bad!
One other thing I wanted to mention about today. While we were in the conservatory there was a class from the University of WI - Madison in there as well. They were also doing a scavenger hunt! HA! They had specific latin names of plants they had to find and then answer questions about the appearance of that plant. Certainly more indepth but still a scavenger hunt! Thought it was so neat to see two very different age groups doing the same basic activity.