January 31

Groundhog Day

It’s Almost Groundhog Day! Will the groundhog see its shadow?

To make this little puppet, attach a construction paper or fun foam groundhog to a stick and push the stick through the bottom of the cup, so that the groundhog (aka woodchuck) can move in and out of its burrow. Use a flashlight to demonstrate how the groundhog might see its shadow and respond according to the legend. A legend is a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated. (Merriam Webster)

Tune- I’m a Little Teapot (Poet Unknown)

Here’s a little groundhog, furry and brown,
He’s popping up to look around.
If he sees his shadow, down he’ll go,
Then six more weeks of winter- Oh, no!

When I was a teenager in Maryland, I often saw groundhogs. I’ve never seen one in the Atlanta area. Maybe digging in the red Georgia clay is just too hard!

As you listen to the videos below, listen for these vocabulary words: mammal, burrow, kit, incisors, rodent, herbivore, and hibernate.

Click here for the Safeshare link to learn about groundhogs.

Click here for another non-fiction video. For older students, click here.

Click here to hear a humorous story about a groundhog. What are the differences between fiction and non-fiction books?

Click here for the story, The Night Before Groundhog Day.

January 31

In Honor of 2.2.22

It’s almost 2.2.22! (Hope you wear a tutu!) Enjoy the Veggie Tale song, Come in Twos, Click here.

LYRICS
The best things in life come in twos
Like salt goes with pepper
And carrots with peas
A sock with its mate
Macaroni and cheese
A cup and a saucer
A pair of shoes
The best things in life come in twos
Its cookies with milk
And ham with eggs
Two birds of a feather
Your arms and your legs
It’s making “wes” out of “mes” and “yous”
The best things in life come in twos
The best things in life come in twos Two o o o o o s

Try to add another verse. My new lines are:  a hamburger with fries, and glasses with eyes

The following activity is a fun and creative way to make a connection between math and language on this unique date. Create a class poster about the number 2 on an anchor chart with multiple answers to the sentence starters below or let your students choose a number and design their own number signs.

First brainstorm words, phrases, or expressions that are associated with each number. For example:

One – Uno, single, unicycle, solo, only child, one of a kind, penny, one in a million, all in one piece, one and only, one of those days

Two – double, tutu, pair, twins, duo, twice, bicycle built for two,

Ten – decade, dime, decimeter, decagon, Tennessee, tennis

The pictures below were made by my students almost twenty years ago!

Note: ‘Also known as’ could be a math expression. For example, four could be known as 2+2, 1/3 of 12, or 8/2.

Reading the entertaining story, 7 Ate 9, would be a perfect way to begin or end this lesson. Humorous puns about numbers fill the pages.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

If you miss 2.2.22, there’s always 2.22.22!

Two are better than one, because they can help each other in everything they do.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIRV

January 28

Bird Calls and Other Animal Sounds

When I was studying early childhood education in college, I observed skilled teachers at the campus elementary school. I’ll never forget my first visit for two reasons. I was standing nervously against the wall with my arms crossed when the veteran kindergarten teacher approached me, uncrossed my arms, and said, ” Your arms should always be down and ready to welcome children.” Such wisdom!

As I watched her, she gathered her students together and they began to identify recorded bird calls with amazing accuracy! She explained that this activity improved their auditory processing skills which were foundational for identifying the subtle differences in sounds when children read and write.

In my recent posts, I have suggested ways to use your sense of sight to discover and process the natural world, but in this post, let’s focus on the sense of hearing. On a walk or in your backyard, stop to listen. How many different sounds can you identify? In the second video below, learn to recognize bird calls.

Click here for the Safeshare link for the following video.

Click here for the SafeShare link.

Fun Fact: The call of the red-tailed hawk is often used in place of the bald eagle’s on television and movies because its call is much stronger than the eagle’s!

Click here to reference the Audubon’s encyclopedia of bird calls.

In this classic book, the owl tries to sleep, but the diurnal noises keep him awake. Young children will enjoy repeating the predictable text and laugh at the surprise ending. Use this book in a nocturnal unit and to introduce onomatopoeia, a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes. It is a simple book to dramatize with instruments and bird calls. (Can you think of other sounds to add?)  Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

 

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.
Psalm 105:2

January 27

Great BACKYARD Bird Count

The Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for February 18-22. This is an easy and fun citizen science project for all ages! I have it on my calendar.

Click here to learn all about the Backyard Bird Count. There is information about a free webinar too.

From their site: (The link in this photo is not active.) Step 1 – Decide where you will watch birds.

Step 2 – Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 18-21, 2022.

Step 3 – Count all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings.

January 25

Telescopes and Engineering

Click here and here to visit NASA to learn about the James Webb Space Telescope and track its progress.

The James Webb Space Telescope has deployed all of its mirrors and is now 850,000 miles into its million-mile journey through space, NASA revealed

In this humorous story, Peter attempts to build the tallest possible tower to search the stars. Use this tale to springboard a tower engineering challenge. Ask your students to use available materials to build the tallest (or a given height) freestanding tower. Click here for the Safeshare link. After the story, identify the real and make-believe elements (characters, setting, problem, and resolution).

January 24

Black and White

In a previous post, I shared pictures of the colorful birds that are frequenting my yard, but this little black and white chickadee is my favorite. Maybe it’s the name or the way they always appear formally dressed that appeals to me. Click here to learn more about the chickadee.

Although countless animals are colorful, there are many that are black and white. I’ve enjoyed reading the book below to my classes. How many black and white animals (fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, or birds) can you name?

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In this story, the reader hears clues about a black and white animal, and then the animal is identified on the following page. Discern the key words as you read:  fins, flippers, looks like a fish, water, mammal.

Click here and Click here for Safeshare links to watch videos of black and white animals. The first link is for younger children.

The following link is a movement brain break using black and white animals for younger scientists. Click here.

How fun to have a black and white themed day at school or home! Dress only in black and white, play dominoes or use dice for a math game, eat Oreos for a special snack, and make one of the art projects below.

This first project introduces symmetry and the fraction one-half. Turn the white paper over to hide pencil marks. For Valentine’s Day, use red and pink paper and cut out various sizes of hearts.

I do not know who originally posted the artwork below.

January 24

Look Up!

As I stated in a previous post, my goal this month is to give you purposeful reasons to hike. This time, look up for nests. Winter is a good time to find them because they are more noticeable when deciduous trees have lost their leaves. As I hiked, I was amazed at how many nests (that I had previously walked by) I noticed up in the branches when I intentionally looked for them. Watch the Animoto below to see some of the nests I discovered. Are all nests bird nests? The larger ones most likely are squirrel nests. Click here to watch a squirrel build a nest.

I have a small collection of bird nests.  What materials did these birds use?

How astounding that every species of bird builds a nest unique to that species and that these nests are built without hands! Children will appreciate the difficulty of this engineering task when they try to construct nests of their own. Click here to check out this fun nest building investigation for families from Tinkergarten! Another option would be to collect items a bird might use to make a nest and then fashion one using your hands. How will it stay together?

Click here for the Safeshare link for the following video.

Use the videos below to compare fiction and nonfiction books about nests.

Click here for the video of Mama Built a Little Nest.

See the source image

Click here to watch an animated version of The Best Nest.

See the source image

I was looking up for nests when I spotted this bird. I think it is a red-tailed hawk.

On another walk, I eyed this hawk high in a tree. So majestic!

January 20

Snow Experiment

A Simple Investigation:

Scoop snow into a tall clear cylinder. A vase or mason jar work well. In my science lab, I used a graduated cylinder. Measure how much snow is in the container. (Many children have difficulty using a ruler.) Leave the container on your counter and check back periodically. Make careful observations. After the snow melts, measure how much water is in the container. Analyze your results. What are your conclusions? Introduce a variable, and place identical jars in different spots, like a sunny window. Would you have the same results with different types of snow?

To extend this investigation, leave the jar on the counter and observe how quickly the water evaporates.

January 19

Another Phenomena

I was walking through a nearby neighborhood and discovered a few oak leaves still attached to a branch, and although it is January, the leaves were still green. The remainder of the deciduous tree branches had dropped their leaves. Why do you think this green oak leaf is still attached to the tree?  “Phenomena are observable events that cause a student to wonder or engage with the process of science.

This reminded me of the following stories in which the little leaves don’t want to let go. There is certainly a life lesson here!

Click here for the Safeshare link of Leafy, the Leaf that Wouldn’t Leave.

Click here for the Safeshare link for The Little Yellow Leaf.

See the source image

In my backyard, I have some trees that have thin tan leaves, but they historically never lose their leaves until late spring. This phenomenon is called marcescence and occurs in American beech and many species of oak trees.

January 18

Snow People

You don’t see many snow people in Georgia! My neighbor, Daphne, made this snow boy after our rare snowfall.

Click here to watch Snowballs, a favorite story of mine and a great inspiration for the art below.

Use doilies for the body of your snow people (or animals) and then let your children choose from a variety of materials to bring it to life! We dipped sponges in white paint to add the snow. Write stories about your snow people characters.

If you don’t have snow, try stuffing white garbage bags with recycled paper, stack them, and make the snow person’s features with recyclables, clothes, or other art materials.