As usual, these activities are just a snapshot of ways to incorporate social studies into our current theme and education needs. In addition, I would change up centers and permanent areas of our learning space to match the current theme to allow for rich learning experiences.
Below are a few example activities that cover these skills and fit into our current Pumpkin Unit Theme.
Exploring the World as a Whole:
I found this online resource that gives a couple ideas for social study activities and I really like the last one it lists called Pumpkin Globe. Preschool is the perfect age to learn about land, water, and the shape of the world. A pumpkin is a great way to illustrate that the world is three dimensional and round. For this activity, the children help turn a pumpkin into a globe using green and blue paint. I like that it also incorporates many skills across several of the developmental domain.
The concept to be taught here would be learning and understanding the shape of Earth and what it consists of. It will be taught by examining an inflatable globe, reading an age appropriate book or watching a video about land/water and Earth and then creating Earth from a pumpkin. To add a social skills component, I would consider breaking the children up into small groups and have them work with partners to paint their pumpkins.
Learning Community Roles:
This concept provides a great field trip opportunity. I would plan to visit a pumpkin path and explore the role of a farmer in our community prior to and during our trip. We could read a book or watch an appropriate video about farmers who grow pumpkins and other foods for us. Then we could spend the day exploring a farm with a pumpkin patch, talk to a farmer about the process of growing a pumpkin, and more.
A lot of these farms have hands-on experiences that provide multisensory approaches to exploring and learning about farming. It’s important that preschoolers learn that each person in our community can help in their own ways and how important farmers are to our lives.
Learning Appropriate Emotional Responses to Various Situations:
Planning this activity took some very creative thinking! I love social stories and having the children act things out, so I think that I have found a fun way to incorporate pumpkins into these.
This would be a large group activity where each child has a small pumpkin and a set of potato head face parts. The idea would be to create a powerpoint slideshow for the big board, that shows different experiences. For example, a girl who has fallen off of a bike. I would ask the child, “How do you think Sally feels now? Does she look sad or happy?”. Then I would encourage the children to use their facial pieces to show me which emotion would be appropriate by adding them to their pumpkins. Once they are finished they would turn their pumpkins around on their desk to show what they have chosen.
This would be a great, hands-on experience to really explore what appropriate responses fit certain social experiences. Some of the questions or scenarios could really lead to teachable moments and spark great conversations for preschoolers.
Recognizing and Matching Emotions:
While researching social studies activities that fit into our theme, I came across this fantastic resource with many ideas in it! For this activity, I would use the Pumpkin Pairs game, which is a memory matching game. The pumpkins would need colored, cut out, and laminated ahead of time. This would make a fantastic learning center. Each pair pf pumpkins have a different face that shows a different emotion.
Students would use the cards to play a game of memory. They would flip one card and then flip another in hopes to find a match. If they found a match, they would remove the cards and place them in a pile of their own. If they don’t make a match, they would flip them back over and the next person could go or the child could go again if playing alone.
This activity will help reinforce the children recognize different facial expressions by matching them up and naming them out loud.