November 21

Gratitude

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am very grateful for each of my readers! See you next week.

In this season of gratitude, let’s also show our appreciation for trees. Before reading further, think of all the ways that trees provide for people, animals, and the earth. It’s a long list!

Did you think of food (fruit, maple syrup, chocolate, olives, spices, and nuts), shade, shelter and food for animals, Christmas trees, lumber, paper and paper products, rubber, as well as oxygen? Trees also prevent erosion, enrich the soil, and provide beauty. Just imagine a cherry tree blooming in the spring or a maple tree with its crimson fall color.

Click here for full screen.

The following video is one chapter of Be Thankful for Trees. Click here to watch full screen.

Our Tree Named Steve is a humorous story about a family who loved a tree. Click here to watch full screen. Do you have a special tree? My first graders traditionally adopted a tree on our school campus each year. Go here to learn more.

Use this book to teach metaphors and similes to students of all ages. The figurative language describes trees beautifully! Click here to watch full screen. Before watching, discuss with your children or students what images they see in their minds when someone says, “Picture a tree”.

Click here to watch Have You Seen Trees? and follow trees through seasonal changes.

Have You Seen Trees - 0590466917, Joanne Oppenheim, Library Binding

What a fun way to integrate history and create a multidisciplinary approach to the study of trees. The story is told from a tree’s perspective. In the video below, the author previews her book, What Did the Tree See?

Like the character in the story below, plant a tree to demonstrate your gratitude.

16429

Thank you, God, for trees! I can’t imagine a world without them.

 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
(Genesis 2:9)

October 10

Caves and Caverns

When I was growing up in Kentucky, my family visited Mammoth Cave and when I was teaching science, I chaperoned field trips to the Dahlonega Gold Mines. Click here for further information and photos of this field trip.

Because my husband and I couldn’t continue our journey to Glacier National Park, we explored some sights near Bozeman, Montana. One of those day trips led us to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.

The Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana’s first state park, became federal property in 1908. Although they never entered the caverns, the park was named after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark whose expedition passed through the area as they explored the western portion of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase. These caverns are unique because they are high in the mountains.

What is the difference between a cave and a cavern?  Caverns consist of a series of caves connected with one passage, while caves tend to consist of only one hollow.

We hiked to the entrance of the caverns. Although the outside temperature was nearly 80 degrees, the temperature remains approximately 48 degrees Fahrenheit inside the caverns.

The cathedral room was spectacular! The most common features were dripstone (soda straws, stalagmites, stalactites, and columns); flowstone (canopies, waterfalls, and cave bacon); and seepstone (cave popcorn and helicities).

I was hoping to see the resident Townsend’s big eared bats, but no luck on this visit.

Click here to view full screen.

Click here for full screen viewing.

We had fun spelunking!

Click here for full screen. Try this experiment:

The following humorous story can be used to teach prediction and persusaion, as well as the danger of making assumptions.

Click here to watch full screen.

Construct a cave inside or outside like the children do in the following story. What materials could you use-boxes, bed sheets…? Young children will enjoy the repetitive language in this imaginative text.

To watch full screen, click here.

Look at what this teacher did to transform her hallway and classroom! Crumbled brown paper makes it appear as though you are inside caverns. Use a cave unit to kick off a study of bats or bears. If you want to integrate art into a cave unit, make cave paintings


Photo credit: wwv.group.com

September 29

Continental Divides

The Continental Divide, which runs along the Rocky Mountains, separates watersheds in the contiguous 48 states of America that drain into the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. The Great Divide stretches from Alaska to the tip of South America and runs through the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Click here for more information from National Geographic.

Click here to watch full screen.

Click here for an additional video about worldwide divides.

September 26

Thistle

I discovered thistles growing in the fields of Wyoming and Montana. These plants are covered with prickly leaves and stems which protect them from herbivores, but thistles are still valuable to animal life. Pollinators extract nectar from their flowers, and birds eat the seeds and use the down for nests. I’ve always thought thistles were enticing, but ranchers and farmers think of them as troublesome weeds that are difficult to remove because of their prickles and stubborn root system.


Click here to watch full screen.

Thistles are the national symbol of Scotland. They are considered noble flowers. Click here to watch full screen.

September 1

Blimp

A blimp flew over my neighborhood recently which led me to wondering about the history and construction of dirigibles. Through my research, I realized how rare it is to see one! Add blimps to your study of air and space. What an interesting addition to history units too!

Begin the discussion with your students by presenting two balloons for them to observe, one filled with helium and the other your breath. Why does one balloon float? How does a hot air balloon differ from a blimp? Click here to learn more about hot air balloons. Solar balloons are fun to use during this investigation too. Click here and here for previous labs.

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

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

May 16

Every Day is Earth Day!

Every living thing requires water, and we have all the water that will ever be on Earth, so let’s learn more about caring for our water system.

I am reposting some past experiments about water conservation.

Click here for an oil spill investigation.

Click here to make water filters.

Click here to discover how much water on the earth is usable using a random sample.

Click here for a simple investigation to learn about the water cycle. Click here for a Study Jam about the water cycle.

Click here to learn ways to conserve water.

I recently discovered the Water Princess, a picture book based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood. As a young girl, she dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village. Click here to listen to Georgie read the story.

See the source image

Just One Africa is an excellent organization working to provide clean drinking water for the orphans and vulnerable children of Kenya. They are change makers!

April 19

Dandelion Study

Use dandelions to teach your young scientists about plants! They are safe, plentiful, and move quickly through their life cycle.


The flower’s role is to produce seeds. Because dandelions bloom in the spring, they are one of the first food sources for pollinators.

Can you name the parts of the plant? Dandelions have a tap root, like a carrot. Label the plant parts. Diagrams are found in informational text.

Dandelion seeds disperse by the wind. I am mesmerized by the beauty of these seeds.

A dandelion rapidly changes from a flower to a puffball of seeds. Sequence the life cycle. Click here to watch an animated life cycle. Plant the seeds and journal the growth of the dandelions.

Dandelions are edible. They were brought to America by European settlers and were cultivated for their medicinal qualities and as a food source. After studying dandelions, try a dandelion tea like the one below, or taste dandelion greens. These were at Whole Foods.

These photos were taken after a spring rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take photos of the shadow created by the ball of seeds and draw what you see.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here to listen to the story.

Dandelions: Stars in the Grass - Lerner Publishing Group

Dandelion is a classic children’s book. Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

January 11

It’s All in a Name!

Yellow rump warbler visits always make me smile!

Animals receive their names for a variety of reasons and the following book explains what names tell us about an animal. How many animals could you add to their lists? I immediately thought of bluebird and red-eared slider. Click here for the Safeshare link.

For a fun follow-up, ask your children to create an animal and give it a name. Will it be named after a physical trait, how it moves, where it lives, the sound it makes, or the food it eats? Or present a photo or a video of an unfamiliar animal and brainstorm names for it.

Some animal names are actually incorrect, like starfish and jellyfish. Neither are fish at all! Can you think of any others? Children will enjoy this humorous story! Click here for the Safeshare link.

If you want to continue with this theme, ask children or other family members why they were given their names. I have found many children do not know. Interview grandparents to discover why they named their parents as they did. Search for the meaning and origin of a name on a website or in resource books. Do all cultures follow the same naming traditions? This is an interesting study.

Chrysanthemum is a fun story about names. Click here.

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.

May 8

Sundials

After a brief lesson about shadows, the compass rose, and the history and parts of a sundial, fourth grade scientists made a make and take sundial. Love the way this activity connects with angles. The toothpick is the gnomon. We investigated how a sundial works with a flashlight. The sundial must point to the North. Leave the sundial outside or in a sunny window to watch the passage of time. Click here to learn more.