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.

January 18

Tracking Like a Detective

I spent my childhood in New York and Wisconsin and my favorite snow activity was to look for animal tracks. My dad and I would follow the tracks in an attempt to find the animal’s home. The snowfall in Atlanta began melting the next day, but I found some tracks nearby.

My daughter lives in an apartment in Chicago and found these tracks around her dumpster.

Click here for animal track puzzles. Click here for the Safeshare link for the video below.

Ask your students or family members to make a footprint in the snow. Notice the different textures. This is also an opportunity to practice measuring.

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January 18

Snow Paint

After seeing posts about this activity for several years, I wanted to try this investigation. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any snow here. Finally, I had my opportunity!

I purchased these mist spray bottles at Target. Experiment with various sizes of spray bottles. After filling them with cold water, I squirted a few drops of food coloring in each. Yes, you could mix colors to make the secondary colors. Do be careful with food coloring because it stains. (Think blue popsicles). The following photo is my test.

Make a snow sculpture or a snow animal and then paint it. If we have more snow, I am definitely going to try something on a larger scale. What other tools could you use?

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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.

January 17

Repost: The Perfect Snow Day

My second grade class completed this writing project in 2014. Today’s snow in Georgia motivated me to repost. We haven’t had measurable snow here since 2018!

I’ve added these additional two stories for background information. Click here for an animated version of The Snowy Day. Click here for Snow Day!

Original Post:

We recently completed a project that we took through the writing process-prewriting, rough draft, revise and edit, final draft, and publish. Our final drafts are displayed in the hall, and we have received many compliments!

Prewriting:  We read There’s No Day Like a Snow Day, and afterwards listed activities we could do if we had a snow day.

We wrote our rough drafts using a sticky note graphic organizer. This system allowed us to easily rearrange our sentences during the revising process. I instructed the children to write a paragraph with a main idea, supporting details, and a closing sentence. Then, we listed ways we could make our writing more interesting-varying sentence length, beginning sentences in a variety of ways, including figurative language (alliteration, similes, or onomatopoeia), descriptive words, and greater detail. One of my goals was for them to use transition words, such as first, next, later, afterwards, and finally.

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Then I met individually with each child to help them revise (clarity, language, and sequence) and edit (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling) his/her rough draft. We copied our rough drafts in paragraph form. We are learning to indent the beginning of a paragraph.

Finally, each child made a snow setting and glued a picture of him/her into it. I took these pictures during our blizzard dress down day.



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This was a lot of work, but the final products and the skills the children mastered made it well worth the effort!

January 14

The Whole Story

We’ve been looking at the parts of a tree on our hikes. If you find a tree stump, take a moment and study it. Do you see the rings? They tell a story. Listen to the informative video below that will explain how to interpret them. They don’t just tell us the age of a tree.
Click here for the Safeshare link.

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January 14

Another Look!

After you compare bark texture (previous post), look closely at the bark to see what other discoveries are awaiting you.

Have you ever found sections of bark ripped away from a tree? These scars, created by white-tailed deer, are called “buck rubs“. Male deer rub their antlers against trees to remove their antler velvet, mark their territory, or work off aggression.

What made the holes in this bark?

What do you think happened to this tree?

What caused the tree to grow like this?

What happened here?

If you are teaching virtually, use these photos as conversation starters and then send your students off to find discoveries of their own. Share their photos during your next class.

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January 13

Have You Noticed?

I have been sharing suggestions of specific items that families or classes can search for and examine when they hike. In this post, I will focus on bark, the protective outer covering of a tree.

Many of us can distinguish trees by their leaves, seeds, or fruits, but in the winter, many naturalists will use a tree’s bark for identification. Children explore the world via their senses and in this activity, they are identifying texture and learning the accompanying vocabulary. Furthermore, recognizing patterns and developing comparison skills are foundational math concepts.

The following photos are only a sampling of tree bark I saw on my last hike. Aren’t the patterns diverse? Click here to watch a video that will help you identify a tree using its bark.

After touching and describing the bark you find on trees, make a tree bark rubbing. There are several ways to do this, but I prefer black paper and white chalk. Hold the paper very still or tape it on the tree until the rubbing is completed. I found pushing hard in one direction made the best rubbing. Compare the bark patterns on several trees.

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