August 27

Another Parenting Tip-Inquiry Based Learning

Why are there two rainbows? Why is one lighter than the other? How far apart are they?
Why is it darker above the rainbow? Why does red and yellow seem wider than the other colors in the spectrum?

My brother recently traveled to the South Pacific and captured this photo. I know that asking meaningful questions leads to learning, so my goal is to stop and ponder at natural phenomena because I desire to be a lifelong learner. Questions breed more questions which drives thinking.

When your child asks a question, he/she is taking an active role in his/her own education and developing critical thinking and communication skills. As they seek and process information, new schema are formed which are frameworks or concepts that help us to organize and interpret information. Inquiry-based learning is compelling and empowers the learner!

Sadly, research shows that children ask less questions as they grow older. Albert Einstein believed that asking thoughtful questions was critical to learning. “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Both the Engineer Design Process and the Scientific Method begin with, Make an Observation/Ask a Question.

So when your child comes home from school, ask him/her what questions they asked in school today and what they are still wondering. Model asking questions as you take a walk together. Encourage family members to write their questions on Post-it notes and then place them on the back of a door to create a “wonder wall”.

Asking questions as you read is also a powerful comprehension strategy because the reader actively engages with the text. What was the character’s motivation? Would you have responded in the same way? How would changing the setting (where and when a story occurs) impact the story? Would you have ended the story in the same manner? Which character would you want as a friend? Why? You can ask your child these questions even if you haven’t read the book yourself.

Click here to read Reading Recovery’s blog post about asking questions to increase comprehension.

Genius is seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no-one else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgy

May 18

Color Mixing

This is always a favorite investigation! The primary colors of pigment (red, yellow, and blue) mix to form the secondary colors (orange, purple, and green), but how do you create the intermediate or tertiary colors? First graders were tasked with using varying amounts of the primary colors to create 24 different colors. Click here for additional information. I used color fizzers which do not stain. How fun to have a job creating crayon or paint colors! After we mixed the colors, we named them. Click here for the color names of Crayola crayons. I witnessed an abundance of collaboration as they asked their classmates how they created the colors in their trays.

March 23

They Hatched

Animals that lay eggs are oviparous. Can you name animals that are oviparous? Click here to watch this video (with your scientists) for the answer. Can you see the difference between the two types of tadpoles? Hmmm, or are those salamanders?

December 13

Save the Gingerbread Cookie!

The best teaching happens when you weave science into other subject areas and you ask your students to solve a real problem. Kindergarten engineers applied their knowledge of sink and float to construct boats to help the gingerbread cookie cross the river safely. Click here to review the folktale of the Gingerbread Man.

Before they began work, we hypothesized what might happen to a cookie if we placed it in water. The ginger snap we tested broke into pieces and almost disappeared in the water which helped us understand why the cookie needed to stay out of the water.  Many scientists wanted to taste the cookie water! Make cookie water at home. Do all cookies fall apart in the water? What if you tried a different liquid?

Did you know if you crumble aluminum foil above water, it will float, but if you crumble it under the water, it will sink? Why? We shared our ideas.

We looked at boats to see what was similar about their designs. This was a hard task. They wanted to tell me how they differed, rather than common attributes.

If they were successful keeping a paper gingerbread cookie dry, then we tested to see if their boats could hold the heavier gingerbread cookie. Click here  and here for more information about constructing boats with young engineers. Through this activity, we discovered that the shape of an object impacts how well an object floats. Aluminum foil, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and straws were available for their use. They employed the Design Process (Define the Problem, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, Improve) naturally as they worked.

I encouraged these young engineers to construct boats at home for Lego characters or plastic animals and to try different designs and materials. A great bathtub activity!

November 19

Green Screen

I’ve wanted to learn how to use green screen, so alter watching several webinars, I was ready to give it a try. I enlisted the help of Pre-First. In their homeroom, Mrs. Daniel read Balloons Over Broadway, the fascinating story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Watch this interesting biography below:

Pre-First students also watched a video clip of the balloons in a past Macy’s parade, and then they designed and constructed a balloon to include in the 2020 parade.

At the beginning of lab, we visited the Tiger TV studio to learn more about how green screen works. Mrs. Williams was able to change our background (which we could see on the monitor) because we had a green screen behind us. Thank you Mrs. Williams!

I also demonstrated how I will use my green screen app, Doink, to place their balloons in the parade. Click here to learn about the Doink Green Screen app.

I made a green screen with a tri-fold display board which I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. (Place one of these behind you before a Zoom call, and your virtual background will improve.) I snapped a picture of each of their balloons and now I need to put all the parts together on my app. Final project coming soon!

September 1

Fish Diagrams

First grade ichthyologists observed fish in conjunction with their living and nonliving unit. Click here to watch fish.

All living things (plants and animals):

  • Move on their own
  • Reproduce (make more of their own kind)
  • Need air, food (energy), and water
  • Grow and change (life cycle)
  • React to changes around them (light, heat, sound)

After a lesson about fish body parts, life cycles, and habitats, each of us had a goldfish to observe up close. Is the fish alive? How do you know? This can be a confusing unit. Children often think water, cell phones, fire, and clouds are living. Is a stick or an apple living? Yes, they are classified as once living.

The ability to meaningfully interpret text features in non-fiction books is an important skill. As we observed our fish, we drew a diagram and added the labels.


When I was cleaning up, I discovered that one of my biologists had drawn a heart on the paper under her fish. I love living things too!

May 9

Oobleck

During online learning, third and fourth graders had the homework option to make oobleck. Is it a liquid or a solid? You decide! Want to learn more? Click here and here. Do not put oobleck down your sink!

April 29

Book Recommendations

I want to share three devotionals that I am reading during my morning devotions. We all have more time to read now, so this is the perfect time to add something new to your quiet time with God.

I am reading the second book of Louie Giglio’s science devotions for kids. I learn something about creation every day! Your entire family will enjoy it. There are two books in this series, and I hope he writes another one!

How Great is Our God- 100 Indescribable Devotions about God and Science

How Great Is Our God - LifeWay

Let’s join together and pray as a nation. If My People is a 40 day prayer guide for us to intercede for our nation. It’s a small, inexpensive paperback that is so powerful! I love the way that the author also weaves prayers from past presidents throughout the 40 days.

If My People… A 40 Day prayer Guide for Our Nation

If My People . . .: A 40-Day Prayer Guide for Our Nation by Jack Countryman 1404187286 9781404187283

I was given the next devotional several years ago and I just picked it up again. It is truly one of the best devotionals I have used. Although it begins in January, I just began on the date I started back in March. I look forward to the wisdom I gain through it each day.

New Morning Mercies – A Daily Gospel Devotional

New Morning Mercies | Hobby Lobby | 1615269