May 8

Is It a Frog or a Toad?

Do you know the difference between frogs and toads? After watching the video, try to identify the amphibians below.

Click here to view full screen.

In general frogs have a longer body and legs made for jumping, while toads are squatter and hop or walk. The skin of a frog is smooth and moist, but a toad’s skin is bumpy and drier than a frog’s. Toads have poison glands behind their eyes (note the photo above), so their eyes are not as bulbous as a frog’s eyes. Frogs live close to water because they breathe through their moist skin, while a toad uses its lungs, and can therefore live further from water. Frogs also tend to be brighter in color. Both frogs and toads lay their eggs in water, but frogs lay them in clusters and toads in strings. Click here to see the eggs we had in lab. Amphibians go through metamorphosis during their life cycle.

This decomposing frog, gifted by a student, illustrates the length of a frog’s legs.

Click here to view full screen.

Click here and here to go to preschool labs that focused on frogs.

Jaba and Yoda, White’s tree frogs, were always a favorite of my young scientists. Photos of Jaba follow; click here to see Yoda.

The song, Five Little Speckled Frogs, is a fun song to introduce the concepts of more, less and subtraction. Click here to view full screen.

December 7

Crazy about Snails

When my daughter was young, she would help me search for snails for my second-grade students to investigate. It began our appreciation for these gastropods, and it’s always fun when we find a snail gift for one another.

I discovered this snail when I was raking leaves and I took him inside for a photo shoot.

I recently added this book to my library. Click here to view full screen. Compare people and snails. How are they alike and different?

Learn more about snails on Scishow Kids. Click here for full screen. Compare snails and slugs.

What is wrong with this snail? I see this mistake too often!

Click here and here for a previous post about snails. Click here to see snail eggs.

Click here and here for previous snail labs. The first lab includes a snail craft.

What a beautiful way to integrate art into a unit about snails! Click here to view full screen.

Love the illustrations in this informative book about snails. An ideal book to teach descriptive words, as well as positional concepts, such as through, into, over, and up. Click here for full screen.

Another fun book with snail characters to introduce prediction and the concept of perseverance. Click here for full screen.

No video for this fun story that blends math concepts with facts about snails but add it to your library if you are a fan of snails, like me.

Snails have spiral shells. Click here for a previous post about spirals.

October 24

Apple Study

Fall food is my favorite – apples, pumpkins, and butternut squash! North Georgia mountains are well known for their apple orchards and my family visits an orchard annually. Click here for an apple orchard field trip with my first-grade botanists.

There are numerous ways to integrate the study of apples with other subject areas. Click here for an oxidation experiment with apples.

Integrate math with science and weigh apples and other objects with a balance scale. Click here for directions.

Then explore the concept of balance using the story, Ten Apples up on Top. Place an apple on a child’s head and direct him or her to balance it as he or she walks across the room. How many apples can you balance on top of one another like the characters in the story? Ask your students to work in small groups or create a balancing apples center. Use this rhyming story to introduce or practice the concepts of more, less, and equal, as well as addends that equal 10.

Love this musical version! Click here for full screen.

Taste a variety of apples or a red, yellow, and green apple and create a tally, pictograph or bar graph of your students’ favorite apples.

Celebrate apples with an apple tasting party (apple butter, apple pie, apple sauce, apple cider, apple turnovers, and apple muffins). Make apple sauce or apple crisp.

Estimate how many seeds are in an apple, and then cut the apple to reveal the star inside. Cut several more and count the seeds. Do all apples have the same number of seeds? Does one variety of apples have more seeds than another? Be sure to use the correct terms to describe the parts of an apple – skin, core, seeds, stem, and flesh. Of course, apples can be used to introduce fractions.

There are many engaging apple stories! Use The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree to learn about the life cycle of an apple tree. Sequence the life cycle. Click here to watch full screen.

Click here for the Safeshare link for Bad Apple, A Tale of Friendship.

See the source image

Use the following song/fingerplay with your youngest scientists to introduce subtraction and the concept of less. Write a subtraction sentence each time an apple is taken away. Click here to watch full screen.

Apple Trouble is an ideal story to identify story structure – characters, setting, problem (conflict), and resolution. Identify the steps the main character attempts to resolve the problem. Click here to watch full screen.

October 18


Leaves aren’t the only things falling from the trees around my house. The oak trees are also dropping acorns. Not only are acorns the seeds of the oak tree, but they are also food for animals, such as deer, mice, wild boar, squirrels and opossums.

The hundreds of species of oak trees result in a variety of acorns. Just look at the diversity-color, shape, and size!


If you see small round holes in acorns, acorn weevils are present. In the fall, the fully grown acorn weevil larva chews a hole in the side of the nut and emerges.

This story illustrates the interdependence of living and nonliving things in creation. Also, a great lesson for cause and effect and sequencing. Click here to watch full screen.

Sing The Acorn Song with your students. Instead of clapping, make a clicking sound with your tongue. Click here for the tune.

I’m a little acorn brown,
Lying on the cold, cold, ground.
People always step on me,
That is why I’m cracked you see!
I’m a nut (clap, clap),
I’m a nut (clap, clap),
I’m a nut (clap), nut (clap), nut, (clap, clap).

I’ve been watching the acorns grow on oak trees around my home since spring. Just think, everything the tree needs to grow is inside the acorn! Acorns don’t appear on an oak tree until it is mature, usually around twenty years old.

Acorns change from green to brown and their caps (cupules) fall off.

Collect acorns and try to germinate them. Do a little research before you begin. Some acorns should be stored in the refrigerator first, while some species of acorns can be planted right away. Place the acorns in water. Floating acorns will not sprout and should be discarded and composted. Why?

Click here to view full screen.

The Golden Acorn is a humorous tale with lessons about teamwork and friendship.
Click here for full screen viewing.

Use this entertaining story to introduce character traits. Click here for full-screen viewing.

Another beautifully illustrated book:

See the source image

Click here to view full screen. Use this story to introduce journal writing.

Play “Where is the Acorn?” as you teach positional words. After giving each student an acorn, give them commands. Suggestions:
Put the acorn in your left hand.
Hold the acorn behind your back.
Place the acorn between your fingers.
Lay the acorn under the table.
Hold the acorn in front of your face.

Progress to multi-step directions.
Turn around, jump two times, and balance the acorn on your head.

Play the following game to develop self-control and observational skills:

Choose one student to be the squirrel. Other students (squirrels) sit around the selected student in a circle. The teacher places an acorn behind the squirrel while the squirrel’s eyes are closed and then points to a child to quietly take the acorn and hide it in the student’s lap. All students also pretend to be hiding the acorn in their laps. Children repeat, “Squirrel, squirrel, look and see. Someone took your acorn. Who could it be?” The squirrel is given three chances to guess who removed the acorn without leaving the center of the circle.

August 16

Honeybees and Hexagons

Why is there such a fuss about honeybees by environmentalists? What is their role in the ecosystem?

Honeybees are social insects. They are invertebrates and further classified as arthropods. In the colony, the queen, drones (males) and workers (females) each have a role. Click here to learn more.

Honeybees, like other insects, move through metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) during their life cycle.

Love this series!

Click here for full screen.

Click here for full screen viewing.

Watch the video below to learn how bees make honey and then have a honey tasting party with your students. Create a graph of favorites.

Click here for full screen.

Visit a garden and watch honeybees at work. Ask a beekeeper to visit your classroom.

This is an ideal opportunity to connect math and science and learn about hexagons with equal sides (a regular polygon). A hexagon is a polygon which is a two-dimensional, closed shaped with three or more straight sides. Both the words six and hexagon have an “x” as their third letter. Hexagons have six sides, vertices, and angles.

Which shape is made when a hexagon is cut in half? (trapezoid) Which shape do you see when a hexagon is divided into sixths? (triangle) Three rhombuses (rhombi) also form a hexagon. Pull out your pattern blocks and explore these shapes. This activity is a hands-on introduction to fractions.

How many different ways can you cover a hexagon with these shapes? Use this activity to move into a discussion of equivalent fractions.

Use popsicle sticks or toothpicks to form the hexagonal cells in a honeycomb (tessellation). Little fingers will find this challenging.

Where else in nature do you find hexagons? Click here for full screen.

Check out these books too:

See the source image

See the source image

July 19

Pincushion Garden

I discovered pincushion gardens at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Thinking it would be fun to plant a garden like this!

Pincushion gardens were first introduced in the 1850s in England. In the 1900s, circular pincushion beds, made of succulents and cacti in intricate symmetrical designs, were planted in the Missouri Botanical Garden. Click here to learn more.

June 15


Squirrels often join me on my walks through the woods. They are the ideal animal to springboard lessons about balance. How do squirrels maintain their balance as they leap among branches?

Click here to learn more about squirrels. Click here for a previous post abut squirrels.

Notice how well his body is camouflaged!

Click here to go to a rock balance lab.

Click here for a balance scale lab.

Click here and here for more balance investigations.

Connect science and math standards as you study balance.

Click here for the Safeshare link, Click here for full screen,

Click here for the Safeshare link. Click here for full screen.

Give your child (student) a lunch bag of objects, such as blocks, a plastic cup, ruler, paper towel tubes, or a pencil. Ask him/her to build something that demonstrates balance.

June 6


Mollusks are invertebrates which means they have no bones. They are soft-bodied. There are three classifications:  cephalopods, gastropods, and bivalves. In the last post, I shared information about octopuses which are cephalopods. In this post, I will focus on bivalves and gastropods.

Bivalves and gastropods are born with shells. The shells grow with them. Shells are not actually homes but body parts. The mantle produces the shell from calcium carbonate.

Bivalves, such as oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels, have two shells that are hinged together. The shells grow from the outer edges and both shells must grow at the same rate. They can open and close the shells as they move and eat.

Look carefully, do you see the growth lines around the shell? It may remind you of growth rings on a trunk.

Gastropods, such as conch, snails, and whelks, live in a spiral shell. The spiral grows from the outside and wraps around the invertebrate as it grows.

Click here to watch full screen.

Click here and here for the Safeshare links of additional video about mollusks.

Classifying is an important skill. If you collect shells on a beach holiday, ask your child to sort them. They may choose their own categories which may include size, color, like kind, and texture, but then suggest that they group them into bivalves and gastropods.

Seashells by the Seashore is an engaging book to learn the names of common shells. Click here for the Safeshare link. I gave a bag of the shells to my scientists and as the characters discovered shells on the beach, my students picked up the matching shell. If you go to the beach, try to find these twelve shells.

See the source image

I made these years ago to integrate science and math for my youngest scientists. I used sandpaper to make the shore.

Click here and here for posts of past shell labs.

April 18

Inchworms – Math and Science

I discovered this inchworm climbing up my window frame. An inchworm isn’t a worm at all, but the larval stage or caterpillar of a geometer moth. All moths go through metamorphosis-egg, caterpillar (larva), pupa (cocoon), adult (moth). Inchworms are about an inch long and are commonly brown or green.

Do you see the six legs near its head? All insects have six legs. The inchworm’s name is derived from the way it arches to propel itself forward. Ask your children to move like an inchworm. Start in a plank, walk your feet toward your hands, and then walk your hands forward. Repeat.

Inch by Inch is an excellent book to teach beginning measurement skills. Cut green paper into inch strips (inchworms) and use them to measure items at home or in your classroom. Click here to watch the story. Inch by Inch: 9780375857645: Lionni, Leo: Books

Inchworm, performed by Danny Kaye in the movie Hans Christian Anderson, is a classic children’s song. Click here to watch him sing the song with the Muppets.

April 12


I believe in teaching with a multidisciplinary or cross-curricular approach (integrating subject areas) rather than teaching subjects in isolation. STEM also follows this methodology. I’ve found that students consequently reach a higher level of understanding, develop stronger connections, and see real-life applications. The following is an example of how standards can be chunked around a theme. In this case, it is the study of spirals.

How does the study of spirals connect with math? Click here for the Safeshare link.

Before you watch this, brainstorm where you see spirals in nature. Click here for the Safeshare link.

I am reposting links to past labs that focused on spirals found in nature.

Click here to go to the spider lab.

Click here to go to a lab about snails.

Click here to learn about a proboscis.

I recently wrote posts about conifers and ferns. Add spirals to your study of these plants.

A vortex is spiral shaped. Click here to go to the lab.

Many shells are spiral shaped. Don’t pass by those broken shells!  Click here to go to a lab about shells.






























Use loose parts you find to form spirals. Create spirals with patterns too. When you visit the beach, arrange shells and driftwood into spirals.

Turn spirals into snails or snakes.

From the Artful Parent

Doodle with spirals. Use this activity to teach the elements of design, such as line and space. Make large spirals with chalk outside on concrete sidewalks or driveways.

Cut paper into strips of various widths and lengths. Roll them around a cylinder, like a pencil, and place them inside a box with shallow sides. This would make a simple collaborative project and it is a fun way to strengthen hand muscles.

If you have any additional ideas, please leave them in the comments section.