"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lots of "Ele-fun" and Learning, Too...

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” Chinese Proverb

Elephants and Their YoungThis is the mantra of high quality early childhood programs. Children learn best when they are part of the process through hands-on opportunities and experiences. 

This idea is the focus of GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) Studies.These guides are part of Lawrence Hall of Science's curriculum (the public science education center at the University of Science at Berkeley, CA). You can go through a GEMS training and then check out the kits, but even if you don't have access to the kits, you can still purchase the guides and use them effectively. More info can be found at www.lhsgems.org.

We began with a discussion of what the children knew (or thought they knew) about elephants. During the course of the week, we were able to confirm or modify our facts. We also did some still life art by observing elephant models. One friend created her own "elephant dance". We learned how elephants use their ears and made our own headbands complete with elephant ears.

One the second day we learned about elephant tusks and their trunk. We compared how long our preschool friends were compared to actual tusk size. We learned that female elephants can have tusks up to 5 feet long and male elephants can have tusks up to 8 feet long. Wow!! 

We made elephant puppets out of paper plates
and used our arms as the elephant trunk.

We did role-play to learn several ways
they use their trunks.

 On the third day we compared preschool friends' feet to the size of an adult, teen, and baby elephant and we estimated how many chips it would take to fill each footprint size. 

We viewed a foam-board model of a life-size newborn elephant. Many friends were shocked that a newborn could be so big.
We read the story of Seven Blind Mice
accompanied with a flannel board story where
we turned one piece at a time to see what
each blind mouse was examining.

We learned about how elephants use
mud as a sunscreen to protect their
skin. We mixed up some and applied
it on them, leaving them to dry.

 We worked on still life painting again, but this time with an easel versus the flat surface we used earlier in the week. We used paint this time instead of the pencils and crayons. We also discussed how we "made" grey paint by mixing the black and white paint together to make a tint. This friend's close observance of the details of the face was pretty amazing.

We were excited to see how the mud dried on the
elephants as their sunscreen. We then worked
together to wash them off.

We had so much fun and learned lots of stuff. We determined how many of the "facts" were accurate and which needing modifying. We found a new respect and love for these amazing creatures.


  1. Stopping by from Thrifty Thursday! Soooo many great ideas, here! My son and I will be focusing a unit study on one of the Babar books, and I may just have to add in a few of your ideas!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Kristina. We had so much and learned so much factual information about how they use their trunks, ears, and tusks, how they really walk very quietly (not what many people think), how tight a family bond they have that they even stop and mourn years later when they pass where another elephant has died, and so much more... They are definitely one of my favorites!!

  2. Can you tell me how you made the Seven Blind Mice elephant board story?

    1. A friend of mine actually purchased it and let me borrow it.