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Science Experiments ’ Category
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
We started a unit on Simple Machines several weeks ago. Since I’ve been out of commission so much with my ear surgery, the unit has lingered on longer than I had anticipated, but we’ll be done with the unit by the end of this week or so. I thought I’d share the first set of hands on activities we did on levers and the three classes of levers.
We started our unit going over the six types of simple machines. Since I have kids of varying levels I made several sheets (matching, tracing and fill in the blanks). In the end, this turned out to be useful since we’ve spent so long on this unit. We’ve used all three sheets as review and they added them to their science notebooks.
The first book we read was How Do You Lift a Lion? It was a great way to introduce several of the simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, pulley)
We also did some readings from our science book and the kids did this matching page on the 6 types of Simple Machines (which is in the simple machines packet that I made):
We read about levers first from a science book and also read Scoop, Seasaw and Raise: A Book About Levers.
Then we went on to do a bunch of hands-on activities. The kids used a ruler as a lever to lift up a book. They moved the fulcrum to different place to see where it was easiest to lift the book:
We the did this exact same activity outside… lifting Mom!! The kids absolutely loved this!!
The next day we talked about the different classes of levers on this sheet I made.
Then we went on to sort various things from around the house into the different classes:
- First Class Lever: A balance
- Second Class Lever: Nail Clippers, Nut Cracker
- Third Class Lever: Tweezers, Tongs, Fishing Pole
We talked about some of the terminology (fulcrum, load, effort) and the kids had to draw these in on one of the pages I made:
We spent another day doing some other activities relating to levers. We used a lot of ideas from the book, Janice Van Cleave’s Machines. We talked about third class levers and did an activity trying to get the ring on the bottle. They liked that! Of course, I reinforced that the fulcrum was at the end of the stick, the effort was their hand where they held the stick and the load was (hopefully) at the end of the string when they got the ring on the bottle!
We made a set of jaws… showing how our mouth acts like a third class lever:
And we also showed how our arms are third class levers. The string was our muscle and the load is in the hand.
LD immediately went upstairs to make his arm into a warning device!! When someone pulled the string (from the other side of the door), the arm swung down and knocked off the wooden cube which fell onto the bell and rang it!
Other Posts About Our Simple Machines Unit:
Other hands-on activities in our Simple Machines Unit:
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Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
If you are wondering what to do with all that Halloween candy, you can always do some science! This is an experiment I did with my kids a while back with Skittles in water. I think the results are fascinating:
Do you want to do other fun experiments with candy? Be sure to visit this great website, Candy Experiments written by Loralee, a mom of three. She recently wrote a post Candy Experiment Cards for Halloween where she offers so free candy experiment cards that you can download. Loralee had an exhibit at the USA Science and Engineering Festival a couple of years ago and she has also written a book called Candy Experiments that you can purchase at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Donate Your Halloween Candy: By the way, you can also donate your candy to soldiers via Operation Gratitude or Halloween Candy Buyback or check with your local dentist to see if they accept candy donations (my kids’ dentist participates in one of these programs). Don’t forget about your local homeless shelter or food pantry. They are often looking for donations and may accept wrapped Halloween Candy. (And since I’m on that topic I’ll mention that my friend runs the local food pantry near us and they are also often in need of diapers sizes 2 through 5.)
You Might Also Be Interested in our Science Experiment Pack: A year or so ago I made a packet of some of our most beloved science experiments. If you’re keen to do science experiments with your kids, here are some of the things that my kids and I have enjoyed a lot:
Download your free Science Experiment Packet here.
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Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Amazing, Fun Science To Wow the Little Ones!
One of the wonderful things I love about homeschooling is all the hands-on activities you can do with kids. In the preschool years, I scoured the Internet and various science experiment books to find things that would intrigue and excite the kids… and that they could have a hand in doing. Most of the things we did were done using household ingredients.
As you can see from the previous posts in this series, we did do some more traditional preschool activities like learning letter sounds and learning about numbers, but my main goal in the 2-4 year old age range was to keep the kids intrigued and engaged.
So how did I fit science in when I had a newborn, 2 and 4 year old? Well, I generally planned things out on a Sunday night. Mondays were usually our science experiment days. I usually covered over the tray so the kids couldn’t see what we’d be doing to add spice and excitement to the activity! These activities really only lasted 10-20 minutes (plus clean up), but seeing the kids so engaged made that extra effort worth it.
Here are a few examples some things we did when my kids were 2 and 4 years old…
One day we talked about liquids. We learned that some liquids are more dense (heavy) than others. We put oil and colored water into a bottle. Then we added honey and watched what happened.
If you’ve glanced through various Montessori blogs, you’ll see that pouring is wonderful skill to build dexterity, hand strength, fine motor skills… what better practice than to enjoy some science along with it!
Then we wanted to see what would happen when you add milk to oil and water. If you pour slowly and carefully, the milk will form droplets within the oil. You might pour the milk onto a spoon and gently let one drop go at a time or use an eyedropper to squeeze out a drop at a time. The kids loved the way that looked!
Exploding Volcano: Another very fun activity to do with kids is to make a volcano.
We made a paper mache volcano with a plastic soda bottle as the base.
- 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water.
- Stir in 2 cups boiling water.
- Put newspaper strips in the mixture and glop it onto the plastic bottle. I think their projects were more charming being slopped on haphazardly! Once they were dry (it took several days in dry conditions), we painted ours brown.
Then comes the fun part!! Get your lava ready!
- 1/2 cup baking soda into the volcano.
- In a pitcher mix 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid, red food coloring.
- Pour the vinegar mixture into the can and watch the lava flow!
Make Your Own Fossils – The kids made their own fossils several times over the years. The picture below includes some are impressions from LD’s Thunderbird rockets which he was really into at the time (age 4 or so). DD made dinosaur tracks and impressions of a beetle, dragonfly and fly.
The recipe for making fossils is pretty easy:
- 2-3 Tablespoons used coffee grounds
- 2/3 cup salt (a little less)
- 2/3 cup flour
- enough cold coffee to make the mixture dough-like
- Make your impressions and then bake in a low heated oven for a while (an hour on one side, an hour on the other).
You can print out a copy of these recipes and descriptions by clicking on the link below:
Related Post: You might also be interested in a the 9-page science experiment pack I put together a year or so ago. This includes egg-related experiments, our “fireworks in milk” science activity, yeast blowing up a balloon and others. This link takes you to that post:
You can also browse through the huge selection of science experiments we’ve done. You’ll find that in the right sidebar. Click on the Categories button and select Science Experiments
Have fun with your budding scientist!
Other posts in this series:
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Homeschool Den, Must Read, Preschool (Age 4), Preschool and Toddler Activities, Preschool for ED - Fall 2011 (age 3 1/2), Science, Science Experiments
Sunday, February 24th, 2013
A few days ago I shared the Rocks and Minerals Packet I made for ED. I wanted to spend more time on the three types of rocks–igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. The kids were SO excited when they realized this activity was going to include semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, heath crunch bits and flaked coconut. (No we didn’t eat it all, but we did taste test a bit along the way!) I used that as leverage to make sure the rest of their work was done for the day!
I made some worksheets for their science notebooks. Before beginning our activities, we went over the differences between the three types of rocks (the first page) and sang our song again (below). We saved the examples (the pages with the pictures of various examples of rocks) for another day. The packet includes some sample example answers for each page (such as the metamorphic rock page in the collage below). This packet also includes the activities I shared below.
Three Types of Rocks Packet
Our types of rock ‘experiments’
We had different types of chips: white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips plus shaved coconut and heath crunch bits.
Igneous Rocks: We melted some white chocolate (and red dye) on the stove. We talked about how magma/lava is melted rock. Then we took spoonfuls of the melted chocolate and let it cool on a baking sheet. These were our ‘igneous’ rocks.
Sedimentary Rocks: Before we began, we hammered the chips in a ziploc bag to make them smaller. We put spoonfuls of the different types of chips into a jar. Those were the sediments. We applied pressure to squeeze the rock/chocolate layers together to create sedimentary rocks:
Metamorphic Rocks: We put layers of chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows into a pan that could be baked in the oven. We put the pan in the oven and let it heat up for 10 or 15 minutes. We took it out, let it cool for a few minutes and then applied pressure to the top of half the mixture. This transformed the “rocks/chips” into a new concoction whereas on the other side we could see distinct layers and distinct rock forms (like sedimentary rocks).
After it cooled we cut the “rock” up and looked at the layer, noticing how on the metamorphic side the “rocks” had blended into one another.
You can do these same kinds of activities with shaved crayons. I saw that over at The Adventures of Bear they did the rock cycle with crayons and had some really great results! Be sure to check it out!
Rock Cycle Song
I’m sorry to say I can’t find the exact link to this song, so if you know who I should give credit to let me know. The kids and I have been singing this all week (to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”):
Has been formed in layers
Often found near water sources
With fossils from decayers
Then there’s igneous rock
Here since Earth was born
Molten Lava, cooled and hardened
That’s how it is formed
These two types of rocks
Can also be transformed
With pressure, heat and chemicals
Metamorphic they’ll become
If you missed these last week, you might also be interested in the 26-page Rocks and Mineral Packet I shared. It covers things like how rocks are used, some famous rocks in the world, how minerals are used in our homes, birthstones and things like that. Pages 1-13 are for younger kids (preK or K); pages 14-26 are better suited to older kids.
You may also be interested in the free 3-part Montessori cards I made of Famous Rocks Around the World. I shared those in another post:
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Earth Science Unit, Freebies, Homeschool Den, Must Read, Rocks and Minerals, Science Experiments
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
Planarian are a type of small flatworm. My homeschooling friend had some Planarian she had ordered and shared some with us! What a great friend to share her worms! Heh heh!
Let me first share a picture of these little creatures and then I tell you some really cool things about them!!
Planarian are amazing because they have the ability to regenerate! If you cut a Planarian in half it has the ability to grow each half into a new worm. Not only that, but a Planarian can constrict behind its mouth opening and separate itself in half! The two pieces will then grow body parts back. Planarian do have reproductive organs, though, and can also reproduce with a mate!
We spent time first looking carefully at the planarian. The kids could just barely see the eye spots — but could see it way better once I showed them my photos. I had made a packet for them and we spent time talking about its body:
- A flatworm has a head, a centralized nervous system and complex reproductive organs. We looked at the pictures in our packet (pictured below).
- The planarian has NO circulatory system or respiratory system. Oxygen diffuses through the body wall (as does carbon dioxide leaving the planarian’s body).
- I don’t know if you can see in the pictures below, but the two brain areas are near the ear flaps… so when the Planarian splits itself in half, half of the body has no brain and it grows new ones!!
The kids found it fascinating that flatworm have only one body cavity — the mouth. They were a bit horrified to then realize that the Planarian have to excrete digested food back out their mouths! “Eiew yuck,” said the kids!! We talked about how the earthworm and other organisms have both a mouth and an anus.
A Planarian has both male and female sex glands, but like the earthworm it cannot fertilize its own eggs.
Planarian have two eye spots and are sensitive to the light. We covered half the petri dish with paper and the Planarian seems to gravitate towards the darker side of the dish.
We spent time looking at the Planarian on a slide. Then each of the kids chose three Planarian to put in their own petri dishes. LD and DD decided to cut one of theirs in half. Those halves continued to swim around.
My friends’ kids also did this experiment. Her two kids each had two planarian in a petri dish and cut both of them in half. One of the petri dishes had four planarian, but one petri dish now has five! The kids were fascinated by that!!
I forgot to ask my friend, J, where she bought her Planarian, but I think it was from Carolina science supply. There website has them for sale for $8.75. When I know more I’ll come back and edit this.
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