Category Archives: STEM 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

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/

Why The “A” in STEAM?

Lego HouseA  is for Arts

Since 2007 there has been an refocused awareness on the teaching of the STEM subjects – the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics – using hands-on, real life problems. However, this should not be done by eliminating the arts. They are an integral part of the sciences. Think of the importance of aesthetics and art in designing bridges and robots, drawing meaningful biology diagrams, imagining the universe, and in representing patterns in numbers.

STE[A]M goes beyond the 4 STEM subjects. The bracketed A stands for the arts. These include the fine arts, music, dance, drama, and literature. In STEAM education the focus is on nourishing children’s curiosity, imagination, and creativity by drawing on the arts in the context of exploring science, math, technology, and engineering projects. Well-designed STEAM activities teach children to become astute observers, designers, and creators, while introducing them to the critical thinking and decision making skills needed for successful STEM careers and for the enjoyment of life.

OR…

STEAM = Science & Technology

interpreted through Engineering & the Arts,

all based on Mathematical Principles 

In addition, the arts are a powerful learning tool: The University of Florida has created a graphic showing why the arts belong in STEM education:

University of Florida’s Online Master of Arts in Art Education

 

 

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.

Flying Ghosts: Observing, Predicting, and Testing

DSC03425

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

Being a Scientist: Sensory Observation Lab

DSC03323

Setting up a sensory observation lab

We are born scientists. From birth children can see, smell, hear, touch, and taste.  Observations made with our senses are the foundation of scientific inquiry. So that is where we start…

This activity can be done with children of any age. With very young children, it works best and is safest when an adult sits with one child and models the actions alongside them. When working with a large group provide enough objects so that no more than two children have to share an object. Record observations on chart paper or board. If children are old enough to write their own observations, use the worksheet instead.

  1. Choose something to observe: This should be something that will attract children’s attention. Do not hesitate to choose something familiar, but do make sure it has an intriguing sensory element. Some suggestions: A beet fresh pulled from the garden; a fossil rock; a flashlight; a hermit crab; a clear glass of water
  2. Place the object on a surface that highlights or contrasts with it and the surrounding surface so that the eye is drawn to it, such as a piece of paper, a tray or mat.
  3. Gather your children around the object and ask questions like the following that focus on the sensory elements.

Sensory Observation Questions

SIGHT Before touching look at the object

  • What colors do you see?
  • What shapes do you see?
  • What lines do you see?
  • Are there any special markings?
  • Does it move?
  • What is unique about it?
  • How do you think it feels?
  • How do you think it smells?

TOUCH Pick up the object and rub fingers over it

  • is it rough or bumpy or smooth or both??
  • Is it hard or soft or both?
  • is it wet or dry or both?
  • Is it sharp or dull or both?
  • Does it have moveable parts?
  • What other textures do you feel?

SMELL Pick up and hold object about 2-4 inches from the nose

[Safety note: Demonstrate how to hold the object about 2 inches from the nose and gently wave the palm over it to fan the odor toward your nose. Emphasize the danger of inhaling any unknown substance]

  1. Is the odor strong or weak?
  2. Is the odor sweet or bitter or sour or acid?
  3. Does the odor remind you of something else you have smelled?

HEARING Listen to the object

  1. Does it make a noise on its own?
  2. Does it make a noise when you touch it or rub it?
  3. Does it make a noise when you shake it or turn it?

TASTE Put object down. Do not taste or put near mouth

[Safety note: Warn children against putting anything in the mouth during a science lab unless they are working with an identified food item that has not been handled by others]

  • Why do you think you should not taste this object?
  • How do you imagine it might taste?

Coming to a Conclusion

Summarize the observations using the recorded observations. Ask one or more of the following questions.

  • What do you think it is?
  • What other things can you name that are like it?
  • Do you know this object so well that if it were mixed up with the others you could find it again?

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Mix the objects together with other similar ones and see if the children can find the one they observed.

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