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Reading about the Four Seasons
One of the best ways to get kids involved in a thematic unit is through preschool dramatic play. Seasons of the year are great themes for preschoolers to get involved in dramatic play activities. Before you introduce the following dramatic play activities, why not read a few stories about the seasons of the year? A few good ones are:
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky. This is a beautifully illustrated story about a bear finding a place to hibernate as autumn begins to change into winter.
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. This classic story talks about the life of a sugar maple tree, and involves seasonal elements in the telling of the story.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Every young child can identify with this story of a boy and his day outside playing in the snow. It's an old classic story, but an invaluable book for teachers of young children.
Splish, Splash, Spring by Jan Carr and Dorothy Donahue. Three children and a dog take in all the joys of spring, like wind, rain, and sunshine. This one will show your preschoolers the characteristics of springtime.
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I Am the Sun, I Am a Cloud
Using poster board, cut out a large cloud and sun shape. For the cloud, add cotton and cut out a hole in the center for a child to put their face through. For the sun, cut out a large circular shape, and draw a circle in the middle, with yellow and orange rays. In the center of the circle, cut out a hole for children to look through, in similar fashion as the cloud shape.
For the activity, place both shapes in the dramatic play center. Two children at a time will use this activity. One child will place the sunshine in front of his face, and the other will do the same with the cloud. Each child will talk about what he as the cloud or sunshine does. The sun might say, "I warm up the earth in springtime to make flowers grow". The cloud could say, "I bring rain to make trees green." The purpose of this activity is to develop a deeper understanding of the function of the sun and clouds. Relate this to a specific season if you like by asking questions to the participating students like, "What season is it when you make it hot outside, Mr. Sun?" or "When it's winter and very cold outside, what do you bring, Mr. Cloud?"
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Four Seasons Dramatic Play Center
Winter - Provide winter clothes for dressing up, like gloves, coats, and scarves. In a basket, keep things like Styrofoam "snowballs" and paper "snowflakes." If you have some wintery music to play, like "Frosty the Snowman," put that on too. Have the students dress up for winter and pretend to play in the snow. Students can build a snowman in the center too. Use large pieces of poster board to make three circles, one large, one medium, and a small circle for the head. Add some sort of adhesive to the back of each piece so children can build the paper snowman on a wall. Include embellishments cut from paper, like a scarf, buttons, and a carrot nose.
Spring - Provide umbrellas, rain ponchos, light sweaters, and sun hats/caps for dress up. Place a sunshine on one side of the wall and a cloud with drops of rain coming down on the other side. Have students choose to dress for a rainy spring day or a sunny spring day. Once the students are dressed appropriately, they will go to the correct side of the wall to perform an activity. The sunny day activity could be planting plastic flowers in a flower box. The rainy day activity could be splashing in paper puddles on the floor and singing "Rain, Rain Go Away."
Summer - Time to hit the beach. Place sunglasses, beach balls and beach blankets in this center. Kids will put on the sunglasses and toss the beach balls to each other, then take a little rest on their blankets as they soak up the hot rays.
Autumn - Time to rake the leaves. Place toy rakes in the center and sprinkle either real or pretend leaves around in the floor. Provide a basket for the leaves. Kids can dress in jackets and rake the leaves into a pile and place them into the basket.
A four seasons theme unit is a great time for preschool dramatic play. Seasons can be a springboard for some great activities for young children because kids can relate to the weather. They see it every day during their own outdoor play. These activities are exciting and fun, and your little ones are sure to enjoy them all.