Category Archives: Preschool

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

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Wonderful Objects of Wonder WOW!

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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

Math Myths

Spring 2010 277Since so many teachers are fearful of math, I am going to start out by exploding some of the more common myths that prevent us from thinking mathematically and actually ENJOYING teaching it!

Myth 1: Math is about getting the one right answer. No matter what you experienced in math class this is not correct. Truth: Math is about finding an answer that everyone agrees on.

Myth 2: Math is about numbers. Numbers are one of many tools that mathematicians use to solve problems. They also use objects and symbols and words and pictures. So then what is math? Truth: Much of mathematical thinking is devoted to the search for patterns and and solutions to problems describing those discoveries in ways that others can understand.

Myth 3: Math is boring. Truth: Math when taught properly can be just as fun as the arts. In fact, when I asked my third grade classes to vote on their favorite subject, they always chose math. But then why wouldn’t they when we had a six foot blue frog who was the king of the kingdom of three, they got to use chopsticks in a paper ball race and earned wages making products for their class store that they then sold to raise enough money to go to the Syracuse Zoo.

So how do we combat those myths and teach math so kids love it?

Make it meaningful! Counting, adding, and filling in worksheets because the teacher tells you to is a surefire way to bore children to death. Instead, always give them a purpose for thinking mathematically. Some examples:

  • Counting and computing for a purpose:  If you are addressing a common core math standard such as this one for kindergarten: K.C.C.A.3 Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects), don’t take it at face value and give the children a worksheet with a picture of 3 apples and a space for them to write the number 3. Instead, think of a reason why they might want to count something and record the number.  Bring in a basket of crackers for snack. Make a chart for them to write their name and the number of crackers between 3 and 6 they want for their snack. As they gain experience make it more challenging. Bring in two or three different types and have them record the number of each kind they want and the total which cannot be more that 8, for example. 
  • Buying and selling: The class store using play money is a tried-and-true method used by teachers for decades for getting children to practice adding, subtracting, and more. In addition to a store think of other places money is used and set up dramatic play centers such as restaurants, plant nurseries, even an art gallery where children can buy things from each other.
  • Earning money for a purpose: Even better is raising or collecting money for a real purpose like our trip to the zoo. One time our school collected pennies for charity and the classes had to come up with different ways to count the huge jars of pennies turned in.
  • Being mathematically curious: Math is about comparing things and finding patterns. Ask which is bigger/longer/more? How do you know? Invite children to find and make patterns: Look at the interesting pattern the blocks in this tower make? Can you make a tower using a different pattern?

DSC02111Make it ever present! Math doesn’t just have to happen at math time. Fill the classroom with tools and materials that support mathematical questioning.

  • Measure everything: Set up a measuring center and man it with rulers, tape measures, square centimeter cubes, interlocking pattern blocks, volume containers, and trundle wheels, balance scales, spring scales, step-on-scales, and gram masses, metric cylinders, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. If the tools are handy then it’s easy to say: Which is heavier? Which is longer? Which is further away?
  • Tracking time: Fill your room with clocks, stop watches and timers of all designs. And then constantly ask when children set out to do a task: How long do you think it will take? In my room I always had a timer table where children could just observe the different ways to mark time, make their own “clocks” using dripping water or grains of rice, and where they could get a child-friendly stop watch to time how fast their cars rolled or their crickets hid.
  • Calculate it: Set out calculators, cash registers, old fashioned adding machines with print out tape, abacuses, and more. And challenge them to find the sum or product, subtrahend or dividend.
  • Fill the shelves and counters with fascinating objects that invite touching, sorting and counting: Fill clear plastic bottles with buttons, bottle caps, beads, glass jewels, pebbles, sea shells, centimeter cubes, plastic bread ties, spools, screws, etc. Provide laminated Venn diagrams and graphing grids and explore, one bottle at a time.

Make it a group effort: Instead of competition to get the right answer, work together to figure out how many different ways you can find the answer or pool resources to solve problems together.

  • Be statisticians: Collect statistics about each other, projects, school happenings, and more, and create class graphs that make numbers and comparisons visual.
  • Come to agreement: If individuals get different answers, have them put their heads together and compare their methodologies. Work together until everyone agrees.

NOTE: There are many other myths about math. Here is a list of 12 others to check out: http://www.uaf.edu/deved/math/help-for-math-anxiety/12-math-myths/

Flying Ghosts: Observing, Predicting, and Testing

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This science-math-arts lesson starts off with the following story.

Now we all know that there are no ghosts in real life, but we can make ghosts out of paper.

Once upon a time there were three little paper ghosts. (Cut out a paper ghost) like this one. These ghosts just loved to fly around. Each had a special way to fly. The first ghost would spin round and round as he flew. (spin you hand)The second ghost loved to zip back and forth as he floated. (wave hand back and forth) The third ghost like to jump up and then come straight back down feet (or sometimes) head first. (drop hand fast) One day they decided to teach each other how to do each one’s special flying technique. But try as they might they always flew in their own special way.

Why do you think that was so?

PROCEDURE

WOW A story followed by a demonstration of flying paper ghosts

OBJECTIVES Children will observe, ask questions, make predictions, and design tests. They will group and  graph their test data. CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3 CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.10

MATERIALS Half sheets of typing type paper, pencils, scissors, paper clips, chart paper.

How will you make your paper ghost look?

OBERVATION

During the story, cut out a ghost shape while noting that since ghosts are imaginary, they can be any shape we want them to be. Purposely make yours oddly shaped. Now let the ghost fly by holding it over your head and letting go.

QUESTION

  • Next ask: How did it fly? Have them share their observations. Repeat several flights. Does it always fly in the same way? How could we change the a ghost flies? What shape do you think would spin? What would make it fall faster?
  • Record their ideas of other ways to make the ghosts.

Paper ghosts can be any shape.

TEST

Give out paper and scissors and let them test their ideas by making ghost shapes and letting them fly. (Provide an open area like a rug or outside for the testing). Put out paper clips for those who want to try adding weight.

Let go and see how it flies.

RECORD DATA

Make several columns on chart paper, board, or an interactive white board. On top of each columns write a way to fly such as spin, flip, float, and drop, Have extra columns to add any other moves they observe. After each test they should put a tally mark in the column that best matches how their shape flew most often. For preschool, you can have them place their ghosts in the proper column using tape or lay them out on a chart on the floor.

CONCLUSION

Study the graph. Count tally marks or ghosts. Study their shapes. What did we learn about how paper ghosts fly? Which shape spins the most? Which floats? Does the paper clips change how it flies? Does size make a difference? What other tests could we do?

EXTENSION 

Explore making ghosts with different size and types of paper.

STEAM IT UP

Infuse the arts by suggesting they make a collage using their ghosts.

How do you think this ghost will fly?

Sunflowers: A Science & Math Observation Lab

sunflower headScientists use their senses to observe and formulate questions.

In this lesson a first grade class observes sunflower heads.

WOW [Wonderful Object of Wonder]: 5 large sunflower heads and 1 sunflower still on its stem.

Objectives:  Children will name their senses and then use them to make observations and create questions (Linguistic, physical, cognitive, and creative development). Children will estimate the number of seeds in a flower head and then count them. They will estimate the height of the sunflower plant and measure it (Common Core: CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.A.1; CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.A.2)

Presentation: Sit children in small groups and set a sunflower head before them. Ask the following questions and allow time for every child to share his or her ideas several times.

OBSERVATION

What can we observe about sunflowers?

…with our eyes

  • What colors do we see?
  • What shapes do we see?
  • How many do we see?

looking

“The seeds are striped.” “They’re white and black.” “And gray and brown.” “The leaves are green and brown.” “There are yellow things like cups where the seeds have fallen out.” “There are fuzzy things on the seeds.” “There’s thousands of seeds.”

…with our fingers

  • Is it wet, dry or both?
  • Is it hard, soft, smooth, bumpy or all of these?
  • Does it stay together or fall apart?

touching

“Feels hard and bumpy.” “Loose. the seeds are loose.” “The brown part on the outside falls apart.” “Ugh. This part is wet.” “I can put my finger through it.” “Feels curvy like a funny shape ball.”

…with our noses

  • Does it smell strong or not very much?
  • Does it smell like something you have smelled before?
  • Does it smell nice or yucky?

Smelling

“Smells like chocolate milk.” Like dirt.” “Tickles my nose.” “Smells fuzzy.” Smells like a rainy day.” “Smells like wet paper.” “Good. It smells good.” “I like how it smells.” “Yuck. I don’t think so.”

…with our ears

  • Without moving or touching it, does it make any noise?
  • Does it make a noise when you touch it?
  • When might it make noise?

listening

“I don’t hear anything.” “It’s quiet.”  “It’s just sitting there.””It crinkles when I touch it.” “It’s like dead.” “Sounds like paper.” “It would make noise in the wind, I think.”

ASK QUESTIONS

DSC03419Solicit questions: Next gather child-generated questions and list on board or chart paper.

  • Is it alive? (the seed)
  • How does it get so big from such a little seed?
  • How tall is it?
  • What are these little yellow and brown flower things?
  • How many seeds are there?
  • Do they blow over in the wind?
  • Can we plant them [the seeds] now?

how tallMAKE PREDICTIONS

Have children make predictions for each question

TEST

Together with the children devise tests and do research to find the answers to the children’s questions.

For example: Set up a center where the children can remove all the seeds from a sunflower head and count them. At another center put out the different measuring tools and the sunflower on its stalk to find out how tall it is. Provide cups and dirt and plant some of the seeds to find out if they are alive. Put out books about sunflowers and find information on the web.

RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS

After all children have had an opportunity to explore the centers, share what they have learned, have them share with the whole group.

NEW QUESTIONS

Find out what new questions they have and make a list.

DSC03405STEAM IT UP: INFUSE THE ARTS

  • Draw pictures of the sunflowersDSC03422
  • Make up a sunflower song or poem or story
  • Do a sunflower dance
  • Make sunflower seed pictures
  • Pantomime a sunflower seed growing into a sunflower plant

SUNFLOWER FACTS

  • The scientific name for a sunflower is Helianthus., which is Greek for Sun Flower.
  • They are one of the fastest growing plants.
  • The tallest sunflower was 25.6 feet tall.
  • The sunflower is native to North America and was used as food by the Native Americans.
  • Each sunflower head is made up of 1000 to 2000 flowers which turn into the seeds.
  • The sunflower is a heliotrope, which means it follows the sun as it crosses the sky each day.
  • Oil is made from black sunflower seeds. Snacks are made from white striped ones. You have to crush break open the outer shell to find the edible seed inside.

SUNFLOWER CHILDREN’S BOOKS

A Big Yellow Sunflower by Frances Barry

From Seed to Sunflower by Gerald Legg

Sunflower House by Eve Bunting

This is a Sunflower by Lola Schaefer

sunflower lift