Category Archives: Inquiry Based Science
You know I love all things Science (well almost all things!!) and helping my students explore the world around them is right up there!
I wanted to share this super simple idea that allows students to explore the idea of camouflage and helps them to understand why camouflage is so important to animals, insects, and sea creatures. With some nature themed fabrics and some super cute critters, my students were able to explore why animals are camouflaged.
We spent about an hour exploring all the ways we could best camouflage all of these animals and insects. It was very interesting to hear my students thinking about why they placed some of the animals and insects where they did to help hide them. We had fun after this taking those same animals and insects outside to try to camouflage them there!
Click here to read more about our fun adventures in camouflage and to get everything you’ll need!
About a week ago, we explored different kinds of bird beaks. I attended a workshop at NSTA in April that was all about My Big Backyard where the presenters shared an exploration of bird beaks.
I collected a variety of materials that birds might eat or use:
Fish (found in the bait section of Wal-Mart)
Worms (found in the bait section of Wal-Mart)
We also used wooden skewers, spoons, and clothespins to represent different kinds of beaks.
The kids then had a chance to test out each beak.
I buried the worms in a little bit of soil to make it more realistic. 🙂
The string that a bird might use to make a nest.
The kids put what they were able to pick up in their stomachs (cups) 🙂
The “warm” sticker on the cup above was from another activity we did–I needed more cups so each kiddo had one. 🙂
The kids loved it and we created a chart in our notebooks to show what each beak was able to pick up easily.
Marathon, Meetings, Data, and a Film Crew!
I feel like I’ve been neglecting my little blog lately, but I’ve had so many things going on, that I just kept forgetting to post something! Here’s what’s been keeping me away…
I participated in my first Mini Marathon yesterday with my hubby and some friends of ours. 13.1 LOOOONNNGGG miles! 2.5 of them were around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life! I was able to finish 10.5 miles of the marathon, but my body just gave up! My hubby was able to finish while I rode the struggle bus to the end! I was able to get off the bus and cross the finish line and was able to get my medal–I might try again next year…not sure yet! 🙂 It was perfect walking weather–in the low 60’s with total cloud cover and low humidity! I’m happy to still have all my toenails and no blisters!
At school, I’ve been giving the DRA to all my little kiddos to see how much their reading skills have improved this year! 🙂
I’ve also had so many meetings that I can’t even begin to list them all, with even more to come!! 17 days of school left, so there are many to attend. 🙂 I’ve been keeping track of them on my new calendar/life planner:
I got it from Erin Condren.com (click the planner above to go there). I love that it’s 9 x 7 ish and that each month is tabbed and there are lots of extra wonderful goodies added in. 🙂
Last Monday and Tuesday, I had a film crew in my room to capture us during a science lesson. I am a trainer for the Indiana Science Initiative and they needed a Kindergarten teacher to film to show what the science kits look like in a Kindergarten classroom. I’ll admit, I was really nervous about the whole thing, but everything went well (if you don’t count me spilling water on a student’s science notebook and the fire drill!!). The 50 minutes of film will be edited down to about 5-10 minutes to share with other ISI teachers as they receive PD this summer. 🙂
I’m off to write a few more posts about other things we’ve been up to! 🙂
Indianapolis Chapter Early Childhood Conference
If you attended my Science workshop today, here is the Power Point I shared (and if you didn’t, it’s okay to look too!). Please e-mail me or contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by leaving a comment below. 🙂
Thanks for coming! I hope you got lots of inexpensive science ideas to use in your early childhood classrooms!
The new greenhouse
Check out my great find at my local Big Lots store… I was able to get this greenhouse for $30! It has four shelves and doubled our growing space! I let a teacher down the hall borrow my two shelf model so she could grow some plants of her own. There was also a walk in greenhouse model available for sale and if I would of had a place to put it, it would of been mine!
In keeping with the green theme here, we (the kids and I) decided to use as many recycled containers as possible to grow our seeds in. We used both halves of a cardboard egg container, complete with egg shell half cups! We also used a plastic cupcake tray that one of my students brought her birthday cupcakes in last week. We used some old cookie sheets I got at the Goodwill Outlet Store for way cheap as trays to put our containers on.
One of the sessions I was able to stand outside the doors of at NSTA this year was about gardening with children (or something to that effect). I can’t remember the presenters name right now, but I’ll try to find it and come back and add it. The room was PACKED and I got there just in time to see this idea about Garden Monsters–they are cute monsters, I promise!
Here’s what you need to make them:
1 bag of soil (this is a 10 qt bag and I had plenty)
1 bag of grass seed (I hear rye grass works well)
1 10 x 10 piece of tulle for each child (make sure it has tiny holes not large ones)
roofing nails (2 per child)
glue dots (at least 4 per child)
wiggle eyes (2 per child)
mini zip ties (one per child)
lids (any lid will work, but the deeper the better for watering purposes)
Place the tulle on a scrap piece of paper. Put 1-2 spoonfuls of grass seed in the middle of the square of tulle. Cover with 4-6 heaping teaspoons of soil. Gather up the sides of the tulle and form into a ball. The extra tulle will be on the bottom of the garden monster. Pull tulle tight and secure with a zip tie. Pull tight, snip off the extra. Using glue dots, secure two wiggle eyes to the roofing nails and push into the side of the garden monster’s head, creating eyes. Use the other two glue dots to secure the monster to the lid.
Here’s what they will look like:
The Three Stooges! 🙂
I set them on this lid and poured some extra water on the lid so I don’t have to water for a few days. The grass will grow out their heads and then the children will need to give them hair cuts. I made these today (4/2/11) using much smaller pieces of tulle (5 1/2 x 5 1/2) so if you use 10 x 10 yours would be twice as big. I’m also thinking that you could grow different kinds of herbs out of their heads for different looks. Couldn’t you see chives or parsley or even cilantro garden monsters?? 🙂
I think I’ve spent about $30 for a whole class to make these and will have enough materials left over for next year’s kiddos too (probably even the class after that as well)
($5 for the soil, $7 for grass seed, $1.50 for roofing nails (100+ nails), $2.35 for 100 zip ties (I bought 2 packs), $4.00 for two rolls of tulle (36 yards long each), $2.50 for 124 wiggle eyes (I bought two packs), and $4.99 for 250 large size glue dots (great time to use your Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s 40% off coupons!)
You can see that this is a pretty inexpensive project to make with your students and it takes up very little space. The children can take them home after their first hair cuts. Think of all the directions the conversations could go with these little guys! 😉
Of course, we will be charting their growth in our own Garden Monster baby books (After I create it, I’ll post it for you) to keep track of their hair length and hair cuts. 🙂
I’ll try to post pictures as they grow and their successive hair cuts. If you try this out, please send me pictures to post! 🙂
As part of our text book adoption in Science this year we are looking into some of the kits that are available. I am using one right now in my classroom that is all about Fabric. To be honest, at first I didn’t think my kiddos would be so excited about fabric–but the LOVE it with a capital L!
The first day we checked out the fabrics and compared them to each other. We also made a list after feeling each one that helped us to write down some of the “touch” words (rough, smooth, silky, bumpy, etc.). Then, I taught the children the “Feely Box Game”. There are 9 or 10 different fabric sample squares. I put one set of the 9 or 10 on the table and the other set into a feely box (a box that you can’t see into and has one opening for the children to put their hand into). The idea is that the children use their sense of touch to figure out which fabrics match. They pick up one from outside the box and try to find the match from inside the box, using only their sense of touch.
The next activity we did was to hunt for fabrics. When the children were at recess, I hid swatches of fabric around the room. I laid matching swatches on the childrens’ tables. They had to find a swatch that exactly matched theirs and then return to their seats. All of the swatches are blue so it was difficult to find 23 hiding places for the swatches, but as it ended up, some were hidden so well, we didn’t find them for an hour after the hunt was over.
Comparing swatches to see if they match
We also created fabric collages. The children could choose from a variety of different fabrics and were free to cut them any way they wanted to.
This one of the collages that the children created.
Another activity we completed was to learn about how fabric is held together. We learned about the woof and the weave of fabric and then the children got to pull strings from either side of the fabric. They had TONS of fun unraveling fabric for the purpose of science! 🙂
The children glued what was left of their square of fabric into their science journal and then wrote about their thoughts on how fabric is woven together.
During our last week of school, we explored bubbles so that we could have some fun with them during our Science Stretch Day (the last Friday in May). Here are a few pictures of our explorations:
We read the book titled Bubble, Bubble by Mercer Mayer. In this story bubbles come out in all sorts of shapes, allowing the children to come up with the idea that different shaped bubble wands will produce different shaped bubbles. So, naturally, we had to try it and see what happened…round bubbles everytime! We talked about why this happens.
After we got over our fascination with worms, someone else mentioned clouds and so this last week, we’ve spent looking at the clouds. One of the first misconceptions they had was that clouds were air/wind. So we did some experiments to determine that clouds are not in fact air or made up of air:
I made Wind Bags out of items that were around my room:
Here’s a list of what was in the bag:
foam pumpkin shape
square of tissue paper
clear food service glove
The idea was for the kids to move the things in the bag with air. I just laid the bags on the tables and said, “Make the things in your bag move”. There were some interesting solutions.
After about 20 minutes of the children moving the materials around, we got back together and made a list of all the ways we moved each of the things. The one common thing was that everyone had tried blowing on all of the items to get them to move.
We then discussed all the things that air could help us do: move things, carry seeds, blow up balloons, help us drink out of straws, move weather to us or away from us.
The next day, I challenged the children to find a way to make a piece of paper stick to their tummies without using their hands, chins, tape, or by sitting down. After about 20 minutes, only a few of the children had come close to an answer, so I showed them how we walk quickly and air would hold the paper to us. Then we all tried it:
They would start out by holding on to the paper and then once they started running, they would let go.
After I had convinced everyone that clouds are not air, we moved on to learning more about clouds:
We observed them in the sky on several different days either from in our room (we has several days of severe thunderstorms) or from outside on the playground. We also made a KLO chart, but in a little different order from the usual KWL chart.
The K was first to determine what they Know, then the L to find out what they wanted to Learn, and the O was after we observed some things about clouds.
We are still in the process of filling in the O portion:
Here are some of the books we have read:
I’ll post some more things from this week later on. Next week is our last full week of school, then just two more days after that! 🙂
All this week, we have been learning about insects. This was a new unit to me (I usually teach about them as they come up in stories or during teachable moments). I really could have done lots more with this idea than I did, but I was sort of pressed for time. I will probably come back in a few weeks and talk some more about them.
These are the books that I had out in my Library Work Station during our Insects theme.
This area has be come one of our Science Stations, I have since expanded to ANOTHER table! 🙂
One of the activities we did was to sort various bugs/insects/other backyard critters into categories.
This is our OWL chart right before observing the plastic critters. I had the children observe the critters and that’s how we fill out the “O” section.
One of the books we read…where we discovered that Insects are NOT bugs. I need to stop called all bugs, bugs, they have different names! 🙂
Even though this is not an “official” IB unit (we did Ponds), we all are continuing to have these large question marks up in our classroom to help us to remember to write down the great questions the children have so that as we are learning we can answer them.
Sorting clip art pictures of Insects/Not Insects. As I observed the children sorting in table groups, I heard some interesting discussions going on. The threw in some “tricky” critters as an assessment–we ended up having a great group discussion about where the worm, stag beetle, and caterpillar belonged.
Here we are discussing the stag beetle. Many children had counted his antennae and thought those were legs, so the children were having a discussion about that. It was really neat to see them listening to each others ideas without interruption, and coming to a class consensus.
The beetle and caterpillar ended up under Insect and the worm ended up under Not Insect (we will revisit this activity to see if there opinions have changed in the next few weeks).
I made a list of critters and printed them off from Microsoft clip art. We were reading The Grouchy Ladybug this week as well, so I tried to pull some things from that book. When I re-assess, I will put in more Not-Insects and several that we have named Bugs.