Are you looking for a way to liven up a letter “N” lesson for your Pre-K students? If so, why not incorporate newts into your plans. Based on my experience, many children seem to be fascinated with them. Here are several suggestions to help you get started:
Begin the newt lesson plan by showing the children a map of the world. Point out Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and North America onto the map. Explain to the children that those areas of the world are home to many different types of newts. Some of the newts are aquatic and others are terrestrial or semi-aquatic. Briefly talk about what those terms mean.
Proceed by passing around a sealed, plastic pet keeper with a live newt inside of it. You can traditionally purchase both items rather inexpensively through most major pet stores. Just keep in mind that the children should not touch the live newt. Thus, you will want to make sure that the pet keeper’s lid is secure. If you don’t want to invest in a live animal, a toy newt or a picture of the creature will do.
As the children are looking at the creature, point out and discuss its physical characteristics, behaviors and diet. Make sure that you mention how the creatures use warning colors, skin toxins and vibrations to protect themselves from other animals. Take a moment to demonstrate how vibrations travel through surfaces by giving the children kazoos. You may opt to purchase kazoos through party supply shops or make your own. Both the Ducksters and Steve Spangler Science websites contain instructions for making homemade kazoos out of things like toilet paper rolls and drinking straws.
Next, pass around a 6 inch piece of yarn. Explain to the children that most newts grow to be as long as that piece of yarn. Then briefly discuss the creature’s life cycle. There is a color diagram of its life cycle posted on the NC University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website that you could use as a visual aid. While doing so, be sure to point out that some newts may lay more than 350 eggs in one sitting. Ask the children what they think it would be like to have that many brothers and sisters. Keep going by handing out newt coloring pages and diagrams of the creature’s anatomy. There are suitable ones available on the E Coloring, Enchanted Learning, First School WS and Animals Town websites. Let the children color the pictures while your play a woodland nature sounds CD in the background.
Once the children have finished coloring, give them a series of handwriting worksheets. There are some available on the Twisty Noodle website. Let the children spend some time writing the upper and lower case letter “N” as well as the word newt. You may also want to introduce them to other vocabulary words like woods, water, land and log.
When they have finished with that activity, teach them the words to the song “Salamander.” Its lyrics reference how newts and salamanders move across the ground. There is a copy of the song’s lyrics posted on the Turben website. Just look for the PDF file titled “The Infant-Toddler Playbook: Songs, Games & Fingerplays.” While they sing the song, have them move their arms and legs as if they were newts crawling on an imaginary log.
Arts and Crafts
Afterward, let the children create hinged newts with cardstock and brads. You can find instructions and a template for making one posted on the Crafts for Kids website. When the children are finished creating the hinged newts, they can use them while singing the “Salamander” song as well.
Lastly, create a homemade math worksheet by adding a series of newt tracks to a piece of paper. Then ask the children to count and sort the creature’s footprints. If you are unfamiliar with what a newt’s footprints look like, there is a photo of one available on the Bear Tracker website. You could use it as a guide when creating your children’s math worksheets.
Source: Personal Experience
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