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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Third graders continued their investigation of magnets. They explored how magnets repel and attract with floating magnets.
Then, we aligned electrons to magnetize a paperclip and created a temporary magnet.
Magnets attract iron which is the 26th element on the Periodic Table and an essential nutrient. We discovered that iron fortified cereal contains pieces of iron. We used a neodymium magnet to pull the iron out of the cereal. Click here for more information.
A compass is a lightweight magnet and the needle lines up with the earth’s magnetic field. Lab partners used these compasses to demonstrate the magnetic field of the magnet they encircled. When we switched the poles, the needles turned. Click here to learn more. Fascinating!
Kindergarten classes continued their study of polar regions. I explained to my kindergarten scientists that an iceberg is a large piece of floating ice. I placed consecutively larger pieces of ice in a tank of water. Before I did, the children drew a picture to hypothesize what they thought the ice would look like in the water. Would it sink or float? Following this investigation, we looked at photos of real icebergs and observed that while ice floats, most of the ice is under water. Does that mean that solid ice is less dense than liquid water? As the ice melted, we watched the food coloring fall into the water.
Then we drew a path for a drop of water and placed the path in a page protector. Using friction, cohesion, and adhesion, scientists guided their drops through the path. (See previous posts for more details on this activity.)
Kindergarten students continued their study of the polar regions. After making frost, we “traveled” to Antarctica to see the Northern Lights. Click here and here to learn more about auroras. God created an invisible shield, that is also a thing of beauty, to protect us. We used flashlights and CDs to refract light. See previous posts to learn how we made frost with ice, rock salt, and water.
I find the analytics on my science blog fascinating! I can’t see who is visiting, but the data tells me from where a viewer is visiting and when he/she reads my blog. I’ve had more international visitors recently. In the past, those visitors have been parents traveling for business.
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!