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Science ’ Category
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
A few years ago, I heard about a fossil collecting trip that another homeschooling family had gone on (I came across it on a blog somewhere). It sounded so terrific, I tucked in the back of my mind and kept an eye on the trips offered by Cathy at Fossil and Nature Trips. She organizes fossil collecting trips up and down the east coast. I had my eye on one in Virginia which is offered in the spring and fall. (It is open to kids 4+.) This year it finally worked out that we could clear the schedule to go. We were excited that our friends, another homeschooling family, could join us.
Our fossil hunting trip was at Stratford Hall, the birthplace and childhood home of Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederates during the Civil War. Usually most of the beach area is off-limits to the public, but they open their shores to Cathy’s fossil trips since there is a paleontologist on hand overseeing the site.
They had boats to take us to various parts of the mile or two long stretch of beach. Mostly we hung out with our friends in a couple of different spots. It was an unbelievable weekend! LD and his friend C spent 95% of the time intensely looking for fossils. Their efforts were certainly rewarded. The kids found lots of sharks teeth… everything from Tiger Sharks, Sand Sharks and Snaggle Tooth Sharks. Even ED found about 7 or 8 sharks teeth fossils.
LD was overjoyed to find a baby megalodon tooth! He also found lots and lots of other fossilized teeth. His friend C also found a megalodon tooth while DD found the fossilized tooth of a Mako Shark (below) which had washed up on the shore:
So how large were the megalodons? Check out this picture (courtesy of wikimedia):
No one would want to be around these teeth, right?!
A couple other neat things that were found over the weekend was a large vertebrate found by K and the partially fossilized shoulder blade of some sort of mammal by C.
What made the trip even more exciting was the expertise of Dr. Ward, an invertebrate paleontologist. He told us so much about the fossils and the bits and pieces we brought to him! He found some massive fossilized clam shells and let the kids take a couple home:
Since we were at Stratford Hall, we had to check out Robert E. Lee’s childhood home. In later years, he wanted to purchase the land back, though he never did. The land had been in his family since the 1717. Here is the main house, mill and back gardens:
Be sure to check out the trips available at the Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. We sure had a wonderful time and can highly recommend it!
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Friday, May 10th, 2013
It has been a while since we’ve done any lapbooks. I saw this free robin lapbook over at Dynamic 2 Moms and asked the girls if they would be interested in doing one on robins. ED and DD both said, “Yes!” So, I printed everything out and the girls set to work.
If you’ve never heard of a lapbook, it is a cute way to display small folded mini-books, flaps, pop-up books, and/or folded display material. The lapbook can include photos, drawings, or anything else that helps them learn about the topic at hand. Kids can add their own information, include questions to quiz themselves on or other interactive activities. They glue their finished pieces into a file folder (see the second photo below).
What I love about lapbooks is that the kids are drawn back to them again-and-again, showing them off to family and friends… even pulling them out to admire their work and repeat the activities.
Here’s a picture of ED as she was putting in the finishing touches… she glued in some extra photos of robins.
Here is a picture of the front so you’ll see how the file folder was folded (the front and back of the folder were folded to meet in the middle). I have to say that ED was horrified when I started to cut her drawing in half, but quickly saw why I was doing that! Whew… catastrophe averted!
By the way, ED signs everything “McKenna…” Her obsession with her American Girl Doll continues as strong as ever!!
In this particular lapbook, the girls learned what robins eat, what predators eat robins, where robins live in different seasons, the parts of the bird and the life cycle of the robin. If you look closely you can see how some of the parts unfold… that’s what makes the lapbooks so appealing and interactive!
ED has brought out the lapbook a number of times (to show Daddy and to look over her work). I love that! Here she is reading the words (egg, juvenile, adult) and matching them to the pictures:
In the picture below, ED is telling me what the colors mean in the map. Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce material and make it exciting!
Here’s another lapbook on bears I did with DD when she was 3 or 4:
As you can see, it was pretty interactive. Below she is feeding the bear (the mouth is open so she could slip the berries, fish or whatever into its mouth)
In this lapbook, I taped in another page in the middle so I could add a few more activities like the color matching activity below (she obviously colored the bears in!):
One last example is this bat lapbook that LD made when he was in preschool:
He was so intrigued by bats! I can’t remember exactly where I got the parts for this lapbook. It might have been from Hands of a Child. I used them quite a bit for a couple of years. They have a free lapbook you can download on Metals.
Here’s a glimpse at the inside of a butterfly lapbooks DD did. You can see more of our lapbook projects here:
Where to Find Free Lapbooks:
I absolutely adore all the free lapbooks shared by Dynamic 2 Moms (Thank you so much Kelley and Tina!). That’s one of the first places I head if we are itching to do a lapbook. I especially love all their free history lapbooks.
Another incredible resource for free lapbooks is Homeschool Share. I bet there’s two or three hundred different lapbooks to choose from there!
You’ll find some free science lapbooks based on the Magic School Bus series over at Yee Shall Know.
Just ask your child what he or she is interested in learning about and give it a try!
One more thing before I go, these days we still use a lot of these flaps, foldables and little envelope sleeves, but we often include them in our science or history notebooks, but the lapbooks themselves seem to have a satisfaction-factor that just can’t be beat. It’s a finished product that the kids can show off and review over and over. That’s why we did so many when the kids were 3-7 or so.
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bat lapbook, bear lapbook, free lapbooks, free robin lapbook, lapbooking with preschoolers, what is lapbooking? | Categories:
Lapbooks, Must Read, Nature, Preschool (Age 4), Preschool and Toddler Activities, Science, Useful Resources (websites books etc)
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
So just how long is our digestive tract? We set out to find out with this activity. We measured out different colors of yarns for each part of the digestive system.
The page you see (above right) was in the Digestive System Pack I made for the kids. I’ll share that with you tomorrow.
After we had all the bits measured and tied together, we went out to the driveway to see just how long it really is!
The kids then spent time, trying to lay all that out on their own body.
I made outlines of the kids bodies on butcher paper (we did this the day before).
Then they carefully laid out the yarn in the appropriate areas:
LD decided he wanted to draw the parts of the digestive tract on his body, though he did it in pencil so it’s a bit difficult to see:
We went over quite a bit of information as we did all these activities. You can see a couple of those pages in the photos above. We read books from the library and then at the end of the unit, went over the information for their notebook pages. I’ll share that pack with you tomorrow.
Related Posts You Might Be Interested In:
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Monday, May 6th, 2013
We did a lot of hands-on activities over the course of two or three weeks. I’m going to put them all into one post.
Does food fall down to the stomach? We proved that muscles helped move the food bolus down to the tummy with this quick upside-down activity. Everyone took turns standing on their hands, chewing up a cracker and swallowing. We also did this lying on our sides. Yes, the food travels to the stomach, no matter what direction the esophagus is pointing.
As food is swallowed, the muscles in the esophagus contract and relax. This activities with panty hose showed how the food is pushed down with the rhythmical muscle movement.
After food is swallowed, it collects in the stomach where stomach acid and food enzymes mix. Muscles in the stomach wall squeeze the food around to mix it.
Make your own vomit:
The kids were keen to do this quick activity that I saw on Zelda’s wondeful blog, Homeschool Escapade, a couple of years ago. We used the recipe she suggested:
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup
- 1/2 mashed banana
- 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped (we were out, so we used a red pepper)
- 1 or two cookies or crackers, crushed (we used 3 so each kid could do their own)
- 1/8 cup vinegar (we were out, so we used lemon juice as our stomach acid)
- 1 tsp baking soda
Of course, it all fizzed, but after it was done we were all SO GROSSED OUT!!! What do you think? Looks pretty disgusting, doesn’t it?
(Zelda does a lot of hands-on, wonderful activities with her kids, be sure to go check out her blog, Homeschool Escapade.)
As the stomach wall squeeze and mix the food mixture, it makes a lot of noises. We took turns listening to each other’s tummies. The kids said they could here a lot of noise, but unfortunately without my hearing aid in, I couldn’t hear much (though I’ve certainly heard my own rumble from time to time!!)
Using panty hose we squeezed some cooked oatmeal down through our “intestines.” We noticed how some small particles, “nutrients,” were able to make their way out of the lining of our “intestines.”
We pulled out our Squishy Human Body and spent time looking over all the internal organs. This product by Smart Lab is really fun. The kids love it and it has held up well.
I have a few more things to share with you about this unit, but I need to bring this post to a close for now. I’ll also share the digestive system packet I made for this portion of our unit with you in the next day or so.
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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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If you found these helpful, I’d love to hear from you here or over at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page. I keep a running list of my posts over there, so it’s a quick and easy way to browse through old posts you may have missed.
easy science experiments for kids, free science experiment pack, free science experiments, science experiments for kindergarten, science for preschoolers, Science for tots | Categories:
Homeschool Den, Must Read, Preschool (Age 4), Preschool and Toddler Activities, Preschool for ED - Fall 2011 (age 3 1/2), Science, Science Experiments