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 18

Snowflakes

Watching snowflakes is enchanting! The activities below connect art, science, math, and reading.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

“Snowflake Bentley” (1865-1931) was fascinated by snowflakes and in his quest to share their beauty discovered a way to photograph snowflakes in the early 1900s. Click here to see Snowflake Bentley’s photographs. Click here for the Safeshare link of Snowflake Bentley.

Snowflakes are beautiful, pure, and white,
And like God’s children,
No two are alike!

I tried to capture some photos of snowflakes. I’ve found that a material that is dark and water repellant, like a garbage bag works best. I need a better camera, but I had a little success.

Cutting snowflakes is always fun! Trace a circle on a piece of paper with a plate or other round item. Fold it in half. Then fold the half in thirds, so it looks like a pizza slice, then you will have six sections.

Click here for the Safeshare link to learn another method to make a six-sided snowflake.

Make giant snowflakes with larger paper.

Click here to watch real snowflakes form.

It’s also fun to make snowflakes with pattern blocks. These snowflakes were made by former kindergarten students. There are six pattern block shapes – square, triangle, trapezoid, rhombus, parallelogram, and hexagon. Each student began with a hexagon which has six sides, like a snowflake. Two trapezoids or six triangles also make a hexagon.

December 20

Winter Solstice-Information and Celebrations

Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, is one of my favorite days because from this day forward, daylight will increase in Atlanta. This year, the winter solstice falls on Tuesday, December 21st.

According to Britannica, “We know that seasons are caused by Earth having a slight tilt on its axis. As Earth wobbles around the Sun, different points of the earth receive more or less sunlight throughout the year. If Earth wasn’t tilted, the Sun would just shine directly on the Equator all year long, leaving us without seasons. But we also wouldn’t have solstices or equinoxes. Solstices designate the point where the Sun’s path in the sky is the farthest north or south from the Equator, which occurs around the 20th and 21st of June and the 21st and 22nd of December. The summer solstice marks the beginning of summer and is the longest day of the year, just as the winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and is the shortest day of the year. But which solstice happens on which day depends on the hemisphere you live in.” Click here for the entire article.

Click here to watch a video about the winter solstice.

Around the world, many cultures celebrate this day with ancient traditions. I am a fan of the Tinkergarten Program. Click here for their family winter solstice celebration suggestions.

To connect science with math and geography, check a weather app on a regular basis to discover when the sun rises and sets in your location. Record the data and graph your results. Determine how many hours of sunlight you experience each day. Many students find calculating elapsed time challenging.

Comparing when the sun rises and sets in several different cities is another relevant activity. Find the locations you check on a map and analyze results based on the city locations.

December 3

Another Use for Amazon Boxes

Many of us are receiving boxes this time of year. They are a great tool for engineers! Create something with boxes as a family or assign the activity as a virtual assignment. Use the following books for inspiration:

Click here and here for the Safeshare links.

See the source image

Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image
Because she isn’t able to purchase a dollhouse like her friend, this young girl decides to make her own with cardboard.

See the source image
Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

There are many ways to attach cardboard with minimal tape and glue.

Check out a kit called makedo. The kit includes screwdrivers, screws, saws, and a variety of other items to build with cardboard. Click here for more information about makedo.

Click here to learn about five tools to cut cardboard safely. Children can easily and safely make straight cuts with Klever Kutters.

I have found canary scissors a useful tool for home and school. If cardboard boxes are too difficult for little hands to cut, use cereal and other food cartons.

See the source image

Click here for additional inspiration!

December 3

Did You Catch the Palindrome?

Did you catch the date on December 1st? It’s a palindrome! In fact, all the single digit dates this month are palindromes.

Palindromes are words, numbers, or phrases that read the same way forward and backward. Bob, dad, did, mom, peep, radar, race car, pop, toot, eye, Anna, madam, civic, and level are all palindromes. Can you think of any others? Try to write an entire palindrome sentence: Dee saw a seed.

When you add two palindromes together, the sum is another palindrome!  232 + 141 = 373

November 14

A Gift Idea for Young Engineers

As the holidays approach, parents are searching for creativity-inspiring toys that will grow with their children. KEVA planks is an open-ended engineering kit consisting of wooden planks. As children of all ages build, they apply math and science concepts while developing problem solving and fine motor skills.

KEVA Maple: 50 Plank Set

See the source image

Click here to go to the official website. There are numerous resources for Keva planks online.

“KEVA planks is a small, family owned business nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We are a family of educators, inventors, and social workers. Ken, the founder, saw the educational possibilities with simple building blocks and started the company with a mission to bring families closer together and inspire the creative spirit in people of all ages. American technology along with our great KEVA team enable us to make practically perfect planks.”

Click here for the Safeshare link for the video below:

September 3

The Importance of Blocks

I am resharing this post about block play (from several years ago) with a few updates:

My undergraduate degree is in early childhood education (birth through seven years old) and I taught kindergarten for twelve years and second grade for eight. I experienced firsthand the value and benefits of block play. Blocks provide an opportunity to explore math concepts including shapes, measurement, mass, symmetry, patterns, and fractions! Eye hand coordination and small muscle movements are refined. Children develop awareness of space, balance, and cause and effect. As children plan and make representations of their ideas, creativity and problem solving skills blossom. They intuitively apply the Engineer Design Process. Children also learn to effectively communicate their ideas and to work collaboratively with their peers.

As you look at the pictures of the block structures below, look for examples of balance, patterns, and symmetry. Block building is considered a STEAM activity and schools with Makerspaces and STEM labs always include various types of blocks. You are never too old to build with blocks! My second grade classes always found blocks a favorite activity. For more fun, add plastic animals, cars, and people, as well as natural objects.

Click here to read an article about block play from NAEYC. Block play is important work!

The developmental stages of block building:

 




Unit blocks are divided into fractional parts.

This preschool had a “Block Party”. It would be a fun birthday theme too!

Click here for a Safeshare link for this video.

September 2

Quality STEM Program

Among educators, there is still confusion and debate about how to recognize and implement excellent STEM programs. I believe this is an accurate description of its components:

The goal of a quality STEM program is to produce scientifically and technologically literate citizens who can solve complex, multi-disciplinary problems through analytical and innovative thinking in real-world applications needed for college and career success. (National Research Council 2012) These goals are often met through Project-Based Learning.

May 23

Hexagons

First grade expert reports are one of my favorite school events. I took a photo of this report about hexagons because of the clear connection between math and science. Great job!