Category Archives: Early Childhood Education

Clouds: A Sensory Observation

CLOUD MAGIC Multidisciplinary STEAM Experience

eye in cloud

Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to provide a shared sensory experience on which to build deep learning in the Sciences and the Arts. [Note: I presented this activity at the 2013 National Convention of the NAEYC.]

Suitability: This activity is adaptable to many levels. It works well with preschoolers through adults and is particularly suited for mixed ages or parent/child workshops. With small changes, it can be used one-on-one with an infant and adult or an adult with a two or three toddlers.

Integrated Learning: This plan is based on the Blank Multi-Sensory STEAM Planner

Click here for the Cloud Planner.  CLOUD STEAM PLanner

Standards

SCIENCE KS-ESS2 Earth’s Systems Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

TECHNOLOGY ISTE 3 Research & Information Fluency Apply digital tools to gather information, evaluate, and use information

ENGINEERING K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function

ARTS NCSA Connecting Anchor Standard #10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experience to create artistic work.

MATHEMATICS  CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.1
Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.

Objectives: Children will develop…

  • Socially by working with others.
  • Physically by using gross and fine motor skills and by positioning objects and their bodies in space.
  • Emotionally by identifying their own feelings.
  • Intellectually by working with size, distance, counting, and exploring cause and effect.
  • Linguistically by talking, reading, singing, and writing about their experiences.
  • Creatively by making their own choices of how to express what they are learning.
  • Perceptually by making meaning of sensory stimuli.
  • Artistically by using the elements of and applying the skills of visual art, music, dance, and drama.

WOW The Sensory Experience 

  • Provide the stimulus: On a cloudy day take the children outside and look up at the clouds. If possible, lie down on your backs. But standing up is fine too. Hold an infant in your arms and point up at the sky. The important thing is to be outside and look long distances to develop distance vision.
  • Attract attention and encourage active participation: Point to various clouds and use enthusiastic language and open-ended questions. “Look!” “I see a big cloud, small cloud, dark cloud, pink cloud, floating cloud, etc. What do you see?”  “Are they moving? Are they changing?”
  • Imitate their actions: When they point to something, mirror them.
  • Give feedback: Point to it and draw others attention to it. Be quiet and let the children share the experience of the clouds. Take plenty of time to allow children to sustain their focus. If children become distracted, draw them back with a question.
  • Add deep meaning through STEAM: Follow up the experience to enrich it: Go out at different times of day and check for TheCloudBookchanges. Go out on a foggy day or a fine drizzle, and talk about how you are inside a cloud. Ask: “How does it feel on your skin?” “How does it smell?” “How does it taste?” “What can you see?” “What can you hear?”  Read The Cloud Book by Tommie de Paola and  Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker. Make a list of words that describe clouds. Use the list to create a simple poem as illustrated.
Cloud DanceOur Clouds
Floating
Fluffy
Bouncing
High Up
Dancing clouds

Deepening the Experience and the Learning

1. Cloud sounds  Go outside on a windy day. “If clouds are moving fast across the sky what sounds do we hear?” Make wind sounds. Establish hand signals for louder and softer, faster and slower, higher and lower. Conduct the group in making wind music. Let children take turns conducting the group. Extend this activity byadding rhythm instruments and making paper cloud stick puppets as follows and moving them to the music.

2. Tissue paper “clouds”  Provide small squares of tissue paper about 8″ by 8.” For older children provide straws for blowing. Encourage children to explore the tissue using sensory questions: “How does it feel, smell, sound, move, look?” “How does it change if you crumble it up?” “What happens if you blow it?”  “How is the same as a cloud?” “How is it different?” As you ask your questions point to the tissue balls to focus attention. Extension:  Have children make more balls and put them in the sensory bin or encourage children to build from blocks or to draw (upper levels) mazes and using straws try to blow the “cloud” through the maze.

3. Cloud stick puppets/dancing props Attach the tissue ball to the top of a straw using scotch tape. Have children explore how their cloud will move. Holding their cloud puppet as a prop have them dance like clouds to “cloud” music of your choice. Music that relates well to cloud dancing are selections from The Grand Canyon Suite. Extension: Take the puppets outside and explore the shadows they make. Look for cloud shadows and try to stand in them. Inside provide flashlights and make cloud shadows and shadow puppet shows for each other.

4. Cloud songs  Select a familiar tune and make up words. Extend this activity by using cloud stick puppets to act out the actions of the cloud song. Here is an example based on Mary Has a Little Lamb.

I have a little cloud, little cloud, little cloud. I have a little cloud  ___________________ [Have children complete the words i.e. floating to and fro or dancing up and down, and it’s white and cold, etc.

5. Cloud Flip Mural Read Eric Carle’s Little Cloud. Go outside and see if you can see different things in the clouds. The Little CloudDiscuss how clouds can be all kinds of shapes. Give out two sheets of paper one small and one large. These can be white or cloud colors of your choice. Have children compare the sizes. Then have them cut out a cloud shape from each. Challenge older children by having them tear out the shapes. Ask: “Is one cloud bigger?” “Why or why not?” “Could you make other sizes from the left over pieces?” Add more math by having them put their clouds in size order, and count how many clouds the class made using multiples in the upper grades. Have children take turns gluing their larger clouds to a long sheet of paper – this can be white, painted in sky colors by the children, or be a long piece of tracing paper. The translucence of tracing paper creates a glowing sky effect. Attach a string to the smaller clouds using scotch tape. Tape these to the mural.  NOW: Take the two ends and flip it over. The clouds on strings will hang down. Suspend it between two tables by taping each end to the edge. Put fluffy pillows underneath and create a place for children to curl up with a book and dream or count clouds.

6. Under a Cloud. Use a paper or tissue cloud attached to a string. It could be the one made for the mural before it is attached or a separate one created just for this activity. Have children think about how their cloud feels. Share ideas. Ask: “How would your cloud move if it were happy or sad or tired?”  Read the book The Cloud  by Hannah Cumming. Talk about why the illustrator made a cloud scribble over the girls’ head. Ask: “What other ways could her friend have helped her?”The Cloud

 

7. Cloud Stories Invent stories about clouds. A good example is The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool in which a little boy spins cloth from the clouds.

Cloud Flip Mural made by participants in the NAEYC conference workshop

What other cloud activities can you think of to deepen the learning?

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An Observation of Crickets

crickethousegirl

A Child Meets Crickets: A One-on-One STEAM Experience

Objective: Child will use her senses to learn more about crickets

WOW A container of 10 crickets purchased from the pet store. I put them in the middle of a large under-bed tray [about 2 ft by 3 ft by 8 in. high].

CHILD OBSERVATION: At first Maria observed the crickets using a magnifier. She counted them, and their legs and watched them eat a piece of carrot and try to jump out.  Maria (age 5) tried to catch 1, but it kept jumping away. Then she thought about making a trap. I asked what did she think we could use. She got some white paper, markers, tape,and a scissors.

She made some by folding  the paper. One trap that looked something like a tube with a flap. Then she observed for several minutes to see if a cricket would go inside.  When that didn’t work, she made several more traps. She observed  for several minutes and decided the crickets liked the corners best so she put traps in the corners and was thrilled when several went inside. She counted the number she trapped and put the traps in order from best to worse.

After we put the crickets back in their little habitat cage, and I thought we were done, but Maria decided she would build them a house. She used more tape and paper and spent at least a half hour to make a multilevel house. We put that inside the habitat and agreed to come back the next day to see if they liked it.

The next day we discovered the paper covered with little dots. Maria used a magnifier and decided that was cricket poop and showed where they had crawled in the house. She also noticed that they had chewed on the paper. She counted how many crickets were inside the house.

REFLECTION:

Materials: The crickets really fascinated Maria and inspired her to experiment to solve the problem of trapping a cricket. Allowing her to decide what materials to build with worked well and made her feel in-charge.

STEAM Learning: Maria used engineering and the arts to design and build her traps and house. She tested different traps like a scientist. She used math when she counted the crickets she trapped and when she grouped the traps based on the number inside.

For a full STEAM Experience Plan See –Crickets: Observing, Questioning, and Testing

Wonderful Objects of Wonder WOW!

DSC00346

Observable & Measurable WOWs (Wonderful Objects of Wonder)*

to use as inspiration for STEAM Activities

 The following list is only a few of the millions of things you can share with children to inspire scientific observation and questions, alert the senses, and nurture creativity. Remember to provide simple age appropriate observation and measuring tools.


FOR INFANTS (Note: Infant should be under adult supervision at all times with these materials. All materials should pass the choke and poke test – longer than 2″ in length and 1″ in diameter with smooth rounded ends)

Bottles, all sizes and shapesBaby in box

Boxes

  • Empty
  • Filled with interesting things like large bells, laminated photos of familiar people, pop beads, plastic bracelets, rattles, scarves, stones, small toy animals or cars or dolls
  • With holes big enough for hands to reach in or to drop objects inside. Or if big enough, so child can crawl inside
  • Cardboard
  • Thin corrugated
  • Thick corrugated
  • Tubes

girl and bubblesBubbles and large blowers

Bubble wrap

Clay, firing

Cloth, Lace, Trims

  • Small pieces such as handkerchiefs
  • Long scarves and pieces of fabric
  • Quilts
  • Textured—burlap, brocades, basket weaves, chenille, netting, satin, velvets, fake furs
  • Translucent and opaque
  • Trims such as rickrack, ribbon, and seam binding

Containers, small and large, lidded and unlidded, clear and opaque

Ice

  • Colored with food dye on sticks to “paint” with
  • Large pieces made in milk cartons or plastic container—plain, with food coloring, with leather, flowers, rocks, inside
  • Chipped

Instruments

  • Cymbals
  • Bell blocks
  • Drums
  • Rainsticks
  • Tambourines
  • Xylophones

Metals

  • Washtub, buckets, bowls and pots to drop things in or drum on
  • Funnels, kitchen utensils, tools
  • Bolts, large enough to pass choke test

Mirrors, unbreakable

  • Attach to the floor with clear contact paper
  • Attach to wall at infant’s height
  • Join two together with strong tape so that they can stand upright
  • Join three together to form a prism and place over pictures to see kaleidoscope images.

baby in leavesNature

  • Animals, live
  • Bones
  • Evergreen branches and pine cones
  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves, fresh, dried, autumn (make sure plant is nontoxic)
  • Snow
  • Stones
  • Tree slices—thin sections of logs in varying sizes
  • Vegetables
  • Water – clear and with color added

Paint, finger or washable tempera or homemade recipes (corn syrup & food color, cornstarch and food color, whipped soap, etc.)

  • Put a bit on paper remove everything but diaper and let child explore

Paper, large sheets or rolls

  • Construction
  • Foils
  • Freezer
  • Kraft
  • Tissue paper
  • Wall paper, small patterns and textures
  • Wax
  • Wrapping paper in metallic, solids, and small patterns. Avoid ones with stereotypic images for events and holidays.

Photographs

  • Attach to floor with clear contact paper
  • Laminated and hidden under cloth or in boxes

Pompoms

  • Fuzzy, round 1 inch diameter of larger
  • Cheerleader type in plastics and metallic – hang on a wall, in front of a mirror where child can reach them, or stuff in boxes

Play dough

Rings

  • Hula hoops
  • Plastic bracelets
  • Lids with center cut out

Tubes

  • Clear plastic 2 to 3 inches in diameter and 1 to 4 feet long.
  • Cardboard paper towel tubes (Not toilet paper for sanitary reasons)
  • Offer beads, cars, balls, and so on (1 inch in diameter or greater) that fit inside
  • Then mix in items that are too big to fit inside
  • Add boxes and pillows to prop tubes on

Wood

  • Bowls
  • Beads over 1 inch in diameter
  • Logs with and without bark
  • Spoons and utensils
  • Wood scraps, sanded
  • Wood shavings
  • Wooden toys

FOR TODDLERS, PRESCHOOLERS & KINDERGARTEN

All of the above alone, and in combination, plus the following:

 Boxes

  • With ropes attached for pulling
  • To paint
  • Containers, plastic, clear and opaque
  • With a choice of objects to put inside and make sound shakers
  • With things hidden inside to entice opening and closing
  • With peep holes

Construction Materials

  • Blocks – solid wood, clear, colored, all sizes
  • DUPLOS/LEGOS
  • Clothespins – all designs
  • Flat stones
  • Wood scraps
  • Chenille stems
  • Tubes of all sizes
  • Broken machine parts
  • Plastic gears
  • Plastic pulleys and ropes

Electric & light

  • Flashlights of different kinds including wind up and shakers
  • transparent color paddles and other transparent and translucent materials

Eye droppers & syringes

  • With colored water to squeeze on to absorbent papers like coffee filters, tissue, paper towels, or on sand or soil or into large test tubes to see color mixes
  • Plastic syringes of different sizes

Instruments, Musical/Sound Makers

  • Electric keyboard
  • Computer keyboard programs
  • Gallon and 5-gallon plastic buckets for drumming
  • Rhythm band instruments
  • Graduated hand bells
  • Large whistles and flutes to blow
  • Piano, strings, xylophones

Leather, strips, and laces, fur

gearsMachines

  • Wash line plastic pulleys and rope
  • Large plastic gear sets

Magnets

Metals

  • Bottle caps
  • Large nails and bolts
  • Pennies
  • Thimbles
  • Washers

Mirrors

sand playNature

  • Beans
  • Bones
  • Dirt
  • Nuts
  • Pea gravel
  • Plants
  • Rocks
  • Seashells
  • Seeds
  • Small animals and insects in appropriate habitats
  • Plant materials – pine cones, leaves, twigs, pebbles
  • SandSpring 2010 026

Paint, washable tempera

  • after an introduction using one color and brush, offer a choice of colors and brushes, large and small, bristle, hair and foam, and other objects to experiment with—sponges, blocks of wood, stones, feather, twigs, leaves, whisks, and so on

Photographs

  • Laminated and hidden in sand and sensory bins.
  • In sorting sets.
  • Showing processes to be sorted

Ramps and rolling objects

  • wood planks
  • sturdy triple ply cardboard
  • balls
  • plastic bottle
  • toy trucks and cars
  • round stones and large marbles

Squeeze bottles

  • Look for clean shampoo, detergent and spray bottles that can be filled with colored water and spritzed on to absorbent paper.

Streamers

  • Cut strips from fabric or from plastic tablecloths. Knot several together and then move around.

Toys

  • Safe broken toy parts, especially wheels
  • Small animals and people
  • Marble races

Wire

  •  Thick and thin
  • Telephone
  • Chicken wire
  • Electric wire
  • Springs

FOR PRIMARY AGE

All of the above plus:

arch blocksConstruction

  • Architectural Blocks
  • LEGOS, mixed pieces, not kits – especially wheels, gears, pulleys
  • KNEX

circuitElectric

  • Batteries and testers
  • Electric wires with end clips
  • 1.5 volt mini-lights, buzzers, switches
  • simple solar models/kits – fan, pin wheel, etc.

Lenses

  • concave & convex
  • simple binoculars
  • simple telescopes
  • lens stands
  • prisms
  • color filters
  • diffraction gratings

Machines, simple

  • Pulleys and pulley stands
  • Gears (LEGO is a good source)
  • Levers (sturdy wood rulers will do)

Magnets, round and rectangular

Mirrors, Unbreakable

Nature

  • Owl pellets
  • Skulls and teeth
  • Tree ring slices
  • Mealy worms

jewel sortSmall Things

  • buttons
  • bread tags
  • fish gravel
  • Styrofoam packing materials
  • glass “jewels” – small flat-sided glass pieces found in pet stores
  • marbles
  • small shells
  • centimeter cubes

Measurement Lab: Observing Beets

beet4In this observation lab students are introduced to basic measuring tools: metric ruler, metric tape measure, balance scale and gram weights. The example lesson is drawn from a second grade class who have been presented with fresh beets to observe. However, this lesson can be done at any grade level using any type of engaging object that has measurable variability within a shared unity of appearance or form, such as apples, clam shells, corncobs, feathers, hot wheel cars, keys, leaves, lemons, nuts, seeds, pumpkins, rocks, worms, and so on. The lesson objects should be close to the same size. There should be one object for each child.

PROCEDURE

OBJECTIVES: Students will review using their senses to make observations. They will practice using measuring tools and saying and recording metric units of measure. This lesson meets these standards for Grade 2.

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.4 Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems1 using information presented in a bar graph.
  • 2 PS-1-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties. [Clarification Statement: Observations could include color, texture, hardness, and flexibility. Patterns could include the similar properties that  different materials share.]

beet9PREPARATION

At stations around the room have set up a sensory observation table with hand lenses, a weigh station with scales and gram weights, a length stations with rulers, and a circumference table with tape measures. Have one large table where the objects can be laid out to form a physical graph on graph paper.

OBSERVE

WOW: Place chosen objects in front of the children and ask them to observe using the sensory observation lab procedure – first using their eyes, then their other senses. Elicit this observation by asking questions that draw on their memories of the sensory observation lab.

ASK QUESTIONS

Ask: Which one is the biggest? How do we know? Introduce the measuring tools. Demonstrate how to use each one to get an accurate measurement.beet10

MAKE PREDICTIONS

Next ask each child to select an object and predict its size. Record their predictions.

TEST

Their task is to go to each center to observe and measure the object.

beets1RECORD RESULTS

They are to record their results on their lab sheet. [Measurement Lab Sheet] After they have observed and measured their objects, they should place them on the graph paper from biggest to smallest.

COME TO A CONCLUSION

Discuss how they decided to order them. Did they use length, width, depth, mass,  circumference or use a combination? Does it make a difference? How does using the tools help them decide where to place them? Make bar graphs using the different ways to measure.

NEW QUESTIONS

Does the type of object affect how one measures it? Try measuring other objects.

Does it make a difference what unit of measurement is used? Try standard measures or make up your own units.

STEAM IT UP: INFUSE THE ARTS

Infuse the arts by showing students examples of scientists’ journals such as Nicky the Nature Detective and Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci and having children DSC03777draw detailed illustrations of their object in their journals using regular and colored pencil.

Think Like a Scientist

Here is a toe tapping song that highlights the things scientists do.

Sing it to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Think Like a Scientist: The Science Song

stars

by Joan Koster

Observation is the key.

Scientists listen, touch, smell, and see. [use appropriate hand gestures – at end of line have students cover mouth and say NO TASTE]

Lenses, rulers, scales – the tools. [substitute whatever tools you are using at the time]

Asking questions is the rule.

Making predictions is what comes next.

Being a scientist is the best!

 

Next comes testing – Oh what fun!

Record that data everyone.(mime writing)

Comparing is not difficult (use hands as balance scale)

Concluding is based on results.

Scientists share what they know

That is how our knowledge grows

 

After sharing we think some more

What new questions are in store (make a question mark with hands)

For scientists to ask and then

Test, record, compare again. (move hands in circle)

That is what inquiring minds do. (tap head)

That is how we discover what’s new. (spread arms out wide)

Inquiry Wheel

 

STEM for Me and You

S.T.E.M.scibrochure2

It’s the hot new acronym for something that’s been around for a long time.

      -Science

                          -Technology

                                              -Engineering

                                                                    -Mathematics

Join us as we help kids explore, experiment, measure, calculate, design, structure, and communicate about our universe.

What you will find…

  • STEM Projects for kids and their parents
  • Standard-based STEM lessons for teachers
  • Links to STEM resources
  • Technology tips
  • Current trends and issues in STEM Education
  • And plenty of STE[A]M…What happens when the arts are integrated into STEM education? It’s explosive!