Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Our Elmer Theme

1st March was World book day, so I decided it would be nice if we picked a book and looked at it as a theme for the next week.

The book we chose was Elmer by David McKee.  We went to the library and picked out as many Elmer books as we could find.  There are lots and lots in the series; Elmer and the Hippos, Elmer Friends, Elmer and the Rainbow, Elmer and Wilbur, to name but a few.  But I have to say my favourite is the original one, Elmer.  It is about a patchwork elephant who feels down because all the other elephants are the same colour grey.  He runs away and finds a berry bush, shakes off all the berries and rolls in them until he is grey like all the other elephants.  It's a lovely story.  It promotes PSED, raises points on key subjects such as cultural differences and acceptance of others and values.

I couldn't resist buying an Elmer soft toy and ball for our Story Sack.  Here's some of the books we got from the library, and our new toys:

I also printed off an Elmer banner display and some coat peg labels from Twinkl and lots of other resources... I printed them all off and double laminated them to make them strong and durable.  The children I look after are all around 22 months old, so they have to be quite strong to stand against wear and tear! I made some flash cards, stick puppets, playdough mats and story sequencing cards.


The Children enjoyed mark making and colouring some Elmer colouring sheets, developing their Physical Development and Communication, Language and Literacy.  She spoke about shapes and colours while doing so.


We also did a playdough activitiy on our new mats that I printed and laminated.  We made a trunk for Elmer using the playdough, and the children developed their physical development further by gaining control over tools and equipment such as cutters, scissors, rollers, and rolling pins.


We looked at the shape of Elmer's trunk.  It's kind of tube-shaped, so I planned another activity which the children thoroughly enjoyed.  I bought some pasta tubes and the children painted them all the colours of Elmer.  When they were dry, we used them for threading and lacing.  The children got in SUCH a mess with this and some decided to paint each other rather than the pasta!  It was a bit of a task getting them all clean afterwards, but the main thing is they had fun and enjoyed themselves! 

For the pasta I used Tesco Finest Paccheri.  It's a nice big, chunky pasta tube, ideal for little hands to hold, and at £1.59 for a 500g bag, it's quite an inexpensive activty. I used Mt Bartlett's 75cm round shoelaces for the  string in which the children used to thread the pasta. They were 90p, also from Tesco.

Also in my Elmer planning for this week were these lovely Elmer milk cartons.  We have our milk delivered twice a week from the Cool Milk scheme, so we go through no end of milk cartons.  What better way to recycle them then to use them for a craft rather then chucking them in a wheelie bin at the end of the week?

I removed the label, washed out the inside and left to drain and then cut the milk carton at the bottom of the handle, and then about 2cm underneath this as shown:

Then with adult supervision, the children covered their milk carton with PVA glue and added squres of coloured tissue paper (Elmer coloured!) to their milk carton.  We spoke about the colours and about the square shapes whilst we did this.

Once completed, we added some googly eyes and set on the windowsil to dry.


To follow on from our Elmer activities, we made some shortbread squares and iced them using different coloured icings; red, white, green and yellow. Again, we spoke about the square shapes and the different colours.


I'm not the best at drawing elephants, so please excuse my poor effort here, but I drew a large elephant onto some card and cut him out for the children to get creative on. Then the children glued him and stuck on some patchwork tissue paper squares.

I think he's been eating a few too many berries as his belly is three times bigger than his head!  But you get the general idea!  The children recongnised what it was so it can't be too bad!  Ha ha.


Many children have great difficulty listening to, and retaining information during story time, as well as sequencing and structuring their own attempts at story telling.
Story strings provide a creative, concrete and visually supportive framework to help children improve their performance in these areas.

In addition, story strings also;
·       Develop turn taking skills.
·       Increase vocabulary and descriptive language.
·       Improve listening skills.
·       Encourage imagination and creative thinking.
·       Allow for ownership of stories.
·       Increase accessibility to a range of abilities within the same group.

I set up some chairs in the living room with some string attached and used the story sequencing cards that I laminated earlier in the week to tell the story of Elmer using the cards.  The children all sat around and listened to the story, that is until they beacme more interested in the pegs!  They looked at the cards and we spoke abut the animals, the noises they make, colours, shapes and differences; such as the tall elephant, fat, thin, young and old.


Our last activity for our Elmer theme was icy berry elephants.  I provided  the children with a tray full of frozen mixed red berries and some elephants.  Just like Elmer in the story, the children stomped the elephants through the berries getting all red and mushy.  We spoke about how the berries felt and after the initial "They feel like berries!" we discovered that they actually felt hard, cold and slippy.  Amelia also discovered that they tasted nice!  Apart from the little red ones... they were yucky!

We have had a lovely week this week and the children have had lots of fun and have learnt lots and lots.  But this is where our Elmer week comes to an end. We are going to read our Elmer books again this afternoon at Storytime for the last time before we return them to the library. I only have two children tomorrow so I'm planning on taking advantage of this lovely spring sunshine at Fermyn woods. 

Next week: Mother's Day!


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