Finding engaging activities that aren’t too long for zoom classes has been a fun challenge this year. We have been studying bugs with my virtual preschool class, and we ended the unit with a The Very Hungry Caterpillar read-aloud. I usually do a lesson about counting fruit or food with this book, but they were both too long for a zoom activity. Instead, I created the very hungry for letters caterpillar and turned our favorite missing letter game into a caterpillar-themed alphabet activity. It was a hit. Also, the next day when I taught in-person Prek, my students had fun with it on the magnet board. Do you know what that means? They worked on letter recognition while working at a verticle surface which is awesome for their core, for their shoulder muscles, and of course, letter recognition skills too. The absolute icing on the cake is that most of the students did it in pairs and worked on cooperative skills too!
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Gather your materials. You will need some poster paper – we have a roll of paper like this. I just cut off the size I need. I like it even better than poster paper because it’s thin enough for magnets to stick to my magnet board through it. You will also need a marker or two and letter magnets.
Start by making a caterpillar. I just used my masking tape as a stencil and make 26 circles. Then fill in some letters, leaving out a few missing ones. Then I drew a head.
Pop everything on your magnet board. Now your alphabet activity is ready.
To Use On Zoom Or A Group Lesson
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Watch this video to see how to use this activity in a virtual class.
To Use At Free Choice
I like to do this activity as a group first, but you don’t have to.
Pop the caterpillar and the letter magnets on the magnet board.
I joined some students at the board during free choice and showed them that if we sang the alphabet, we’d be able to figure out which letters were missing. With PreK students, that was all I had to do, I sang with them a few times, but that was the extent of my involvement. The only tricky part is any of the letters LMNOP because, in the song, we mumble them together. I slow down singing here, and that does the trick.
My students who were on my zoom the day before and were now in person were pros at this and needed no adult help.
This alphabet activity took me a few minutes to make and created a fun simple lesson that worked well for both groups. Remember, this can be done with upper or lowercase letters or even numbers!
Books About Bugs
This week I have been reminded about so many great books about bugs.
Mrs. Peanukle’s Bug Alphabet is such a sweet book with just the right amount of facts about each bug to keep children engaged without overwhelming them. I read it to my multi-age class over zoom and had them tap their head when we got to their first initial, and it was fun. We all learned something new about bugs while exploring letters at the same time. It is a board book, but it worked great for 3-5-year-olds.
Bugs Bugs Bugs! by Bob Barner is a good book for little ones interested in bugs but not ready for a full nonfiction science book. The book gave interesting facts about the various bugs introduced. But, the coolest part of the book is the page with the life-size illustrations of all the bugs. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the length is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers. And this was a great book to read over zoom!
From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of a great nonfiction series for early childhood classrooms, “Let’s Read and Find Out Science.” I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores because they can be hard to find in stores. In this edition, students are observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool-age children to discover and learn about life cycles: this book is a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden, which I highly recommend and already did this year with my students. Reading nonfiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are not just for stories but for information too.