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