May 26

Southern Magnolia

The magnolia grandiflora is native to the southern United States. This striking evergreen tree grows to 90 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

It is an ideal teaching tree for young children because investigating it is a sensory experience.

Touch the leaf. What do you notice? Describe the texture. Is the texture the same on both sides? Why might these leaves be thicker than oak or maple leaves? Why do you think the leaves differ in color on opposite sides?

The striking, fragrant white flowers, that begin blooming in spring, can be as large as 12 inches in diameter. Identify the parts of the flower. Watch how it changes over several days. Dissect the flower.


The seed pod/fruit is unusual. Examine it closely and describe its texture. Cut one in half. The red seeds that pop out each fall are always a delightful surprise!

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May 24

Dragonflies

Don’t forget dragonflies when you study insects! These colorful predators are captivating! Dragonflies can fly up to 30 miles per hour, but my goal is to capture a photo of one.


Before you begin your investigation of dragonflies, access your students’ background knowledge. Give each child two 3×5 cards. On one card write true and on the other false. Read statements like those below and ask your child (students) to hold up the card he/she believes is the correct response. Revisit these statements after you study dragonflies.

  1. Dragonflies have three body parts.
  2. Dragonflies go through metamorphosis.
  3. Watch out! Dragonflies can sting.
  4. A dragonfly lays its eggs on flowers.
  5. Like all other insects, dragonflies have six legs.
  6. A dragonfly’s skin stretches as it grows.
  7. Just like butterflies, dragonflies drink nectar from flowers.
  8. Dragonflies have compound eyes.
  9. A dragonfly can fly backward and hover.
  10. A dragonfly has two wings.
  11. Dragonflies spend most of their lives in the water.
  12. Birds eat dragonflies.

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Add this book to your library. Click here to watch.

Image result for are you a dragonflybook

May 23

Plants Can Move!

My first-grade scientists began each year learning the characteristics of living things (organisms). Although this may seem like a simple concept, it can be confusing to young children. Living things need water, air, and energy, reproduce (make more of their own kind), react to changes in their environment, have a life cycle, and move on their own. My older scientists were introduced to cells when we expanded these concepts.

Students often questioned how plants move on their own. In the following story, there are examples of plants moving with assistance, such as with wind, but there are also examples of how plants move independently. This is an excellent book to add to your library if you teach a plant or living things unit.

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See the source image

Click here for a living things lab about yeast.

Click here for a living things lab focusing on fish.

May 19

Flower Study

What are the parts of a flower and what is a flower’s role?



Click here for a lab about flower dissection.

For a flower-themed STEM project, click here. During the first part of this lab, we investigated and experimented with various sizes of flowers and types of paper. It turned into a STEM activity, when students designed an object of their own to test.

Click here for a lab about pollination.

Click here to watch a Study Jam about flowers.

May 16

Every Day is Earth Day!

Every living thing requires water, and we have all the water that will ever be on Earth, so let’s learn more about caring for our water system.

I am reposting some past experiments about water conservation.

Click here for an oil spill investigation.

Click here to make water filters.

Click here to discover how much water on the earth is usable using a random sample.

Click here for a simple investigation to learn about the water cycle. Click here for a Study Jam about the water cycle.

Click here to learn ways to conserve water.

I recently discovered the Water Princess, a picture book based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood. As a young girl, she dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village. Click here to listen to Georgie read the story.

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Just One Africa is an excellent organization working to provide clean drinking water for the orphans and vulnerable children of Kenya. They are change makers!

May 12

Bloom Where You are Planted!

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Bloom where you are planted.” The plants below are not in ideal conditions, but they are growing and blooming. When my circumstances are difficult, do I still grow and learn, or do I miss the opportunity?


I saw this on Facebook.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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May 10

Roses

The original author is unknown, but I love this positive expression:

You can complain that roses have thorns or be grateful that thorns have roses.

Stroll through the rose section of a nursery with your children. There are over 300 species of roses and they come in a wide variety of colors.

If you receive a bouquet of roses or attend a wedding where the roses are disposed of after the party, use the roses for science investigations.

Look at the rose from all angles. What do you notice? Do you see a spiral?

Other activities:

  1. Dissect the rose. Pull it apart carefully and lay down the petals in order as you remove them. How many petals are on the rose? Are the petals all the same size and shape? How do they feel? Smell them.
  2. Rub the leaves and petals on paper. Do you see any colors?
  3. Did you find anything else inside the rose?
  4. Place some rose petals in a jar and close the lid. Leave other petals on your counter. What happens?
  5. Hang a rose upside down with a clothespin and let it dry.
  6. Slit the stem of a fresh white rose into two (or more) sections. Place them in two colors of food coloring. (Don’t add much water.) Observe what happens. Click here for more details about this investigation.

The following photo is not a rose. Can you identify it? Look below the photo for the answer.

I cut off the bottom of a stalk of celery and discovered the shape of a rose.

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May 9

Imagination

In a previous post, I shared an activity to develop observation skills while developing imagination and creativity. Click here for that post. As you walk, look for natural objects that remind you of something else in nature. I often think of living things. A great virtual activity too!

I saw this fallen tree on my walk today. I think it looks like a shark from the left or to the right, an alligator with its mouth open. What do you see?

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