Magnetic Sensory Bottles – Christmas Activities For Preschool

how to make sensory bottles My daughter helped me make these magnetic sensory bottles for my 2 & 3 year old preschool class. I took them in today and the kids had fun exploring with them. I sat with small groups and demonstrated then we  investigated the bottles letting them each make the magnets move and grove. The coolest discover was that we could make the bells jingle without shaking the bottle, just by moving the magnetic wand. That made my day, little discoveries like these are huge for young kids and tells me their little minds are engaged.

Here is how we made them.

Gather your materials. You will need some empty water bottles with lids, filler like pom poms, beads, colored beans, foil wrapping paper cut into small squares etc… You will also need some filler that is magnetic like pipe cleaners, jingle bells, and magnetic disks, hot glue gun, washi tape, and a magnetic wand. how to make sensory bottles

Start by filling your bottles with the regular filler. I had some help! holiday sensory bottles for preschool

If you are using pipe cleaners in your bottles cut them into small pieces. A tip for doing this without bits flying everywhere- bend the pipe cleaners around the scissors and hold both ends. sensory bottles for preschool with magnets

Add the magnetic filler. magnetic sensory bottles for toddlers

Glue the tops on. I add just a little hot glue on the inside of the caps then screw them on. Then I add a little more on the outside. christmas sensory bottles with magnets

Wrap a few layers of tape on top to make it pretty and add a little extra protection from the bottles being opened. Please remember that even with the glue kids can find ways into things we never expect them to get into. These like all our activities require close adult supervision. christmas sensory play

Time to test them out. christmas science for kidsShe loved making the pipe cleaners dance through the foil wrap but her big discovery was that she could lift one of the bottles up with just the magnetic wand!magnetic sensory bottles for christmas

 

Color Lab Science For Kids

color science for kids What would happen if we put watercolors in shaving cream? What about vinegar ? Or oil? Great hands on science always begins with ” I wonder…” and this color lab science activity was no exception. We wondered what would happen if we mixed water colors and different household liquids. After we explored our set questions it was time for completely kid directed play. We used liquid watercolors made with plain old paint instead of food color to avoid staining. Food color will make much more vivid colors.

Gather your materials. We used water, vinegar, shaving cream and oil for our liquids, liquid watercolors, some jars, an eye dropper, a cookie sheet, and goggles! color lab for preschool

Start by making liquid watercolors. Pop the disks out of the watercolor tray and add a little water. Sit for a few minutes and stir. liquid water color lab

Now you are ready to set up your color lab! Pour the liquids in ( I did the shaving cream) . color lab science for preschoolers

Time make a few predictions.

Grab your eye dropper and start adding colors. The eye dropper is important because it gives this activity an element of fine motor development as well, it takes a lot of coordination to make eye droppers work and works out the pincer grasp too. color lab water

She noted how slowly the colors floated down through the water.

The colors seems the same in the vinegar. I asked her if anything was different and she said the smell! Observing is a huge part of science!

The shaving cream was interesting because the color spread over it but didn’t mix much. She also discovered that if she pinched the eye dropper really hard the watercolor made a hole in the shaving cream. color lab shaving cream

The oil was rad. She had no previous experience with water in oil.  color lab oil wowShe was amazed when they turned into little dots of color and slowly sank down to the bottom. I loved seeing her experience this for the first time. color lab oil

Time to play. After going through each liquid it was time to mix them all together. mxing  color lab science

The shaving cream didn’t pour as well as the water did. color lab science pretend play

Want more science ideas for little ones? Check out our Science for Kids Pinterest board.

Flower Lab – Explore With Nature Activity

flower science project

Kids love to tinker and take things apart but you don’t have to stick to mechanical things they can take apart natural things too. This is a great nature activity for a rainy summer day when you still want to explore but can’t do it outside. Our bouquet was starting to wilt so  I decided to grab it off the hearth and gather some tools to dissect it with.  My three year old was slow to get into it but once she did the exploration was a hit.

Gather your materials. You will need some flowers with leaves and stems, a cutting board, plain white paper, a rolling pin or brayer roller, tweezers, and scissors.

Start by setting up the lab. Make it inviting. There is no wrong way to do this but creating an inviting set up can peak your child’s interest much more than if you just say ” Want to take apart some flowers?”. I put the lab on our coffee table and just left it alone waiting for her to decide it was time to explore. science for preschool

The tweezers drew her attention right away. She pulled petals off and I was giddy looking at how she was using and strengthening her fine motor skills. flower fine motor exploration

Next she made some prints by squishing the petals between the paper and using the brayer on it. Opening the paper to reveal the color left by pressing the flower into the paper.flower lab experiment for kids

She took her time taking these flowers apart. The buds were especially interesting. flower lab science for kids

The finale was cutting. She loves scissors and cutting the different textures was interesting and we talked about why some parts for the flower was easier to cut than others. flower lab exploration for kids

 

Books About Flowers

Here are a few of my very favorite books about flowers. For a longer list check our Flower Book List here. All of our book lists contain affiliate links.

tiny seed

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is a story about a tiny seed who unlike the other seeds from his flower makes it against all odds to continue the cycle of life. I really enjoy this book and love how it shows all the obstacles along the way for a simple little seed. My children both really like this book and I like how it connects kids to nature.

zinna's garden

Zinnia’s Flower Garden by Monica Wellington is really useful not just about teaching about flowers and gardens, but also about patience and the annual cycle of a garden. Zinnia plants and waits, waters, enjoys her flowers, then they die, she collects the seeds and plans her garden for next year. I love that the main story is perfect for my almost three year old but there is much more for older children with longer attention spans. There is a little journal with notes about what’s happening with her garden, and various facts about plants as well. Like in so many of her books the author celebrates hard work and her characters take great pride in what they do. A fantastic message for readers, big and little. I also love the mix of illustration and photographs in this book especially, it gives the illustrations depth and a really interesting look.

Science For Kids : Omnivore, Herbivore, or Carnivore ?

science for kids My first grader is naturally inclined to math and history and if it was up to him I would only ever create games with numbers or facts about past wars. I am happy to have him learn about those things but as his mom I need to stretch him to learn about other things as well.  This is an science for kids game that asks players to classify each animal into omnivore, herbivore or carnivore. The hands on aspect of the game is great of young learners and can encourage later imaginative play as well. I like to keep activities like this short since my son attends school full time and my goal is to use these bite sized activities to spark interest and further investigation. For more check out our other Learning After School activities.

Gather your materials. You will need some card stock ( I use the back of sentence strips), marker, and a mix of animal figurines. I like these Safari Ltd North American Wildlife Toob from amazon ( that’s an affiliate link ).carnivore omnivore and herbivore

Write the groups on the strips. omnivore carnivore herbivore science for kids

When I invited my son to come do the activity I first had him answer a question on the chalkboard. This isn’t a must do but I will explain why I do it with my son. He loves to know the answer so by starting the activity with a question he can answer it starts him off on a strong confident foot. Then I challenge him with the sorting. carnivores omnivores herbivores

Start sorting. carnivore omnivore herbivore sortingSome were easy science sorting - omnivore carnivore and herbivore

Some were not . After he made his final decision he asked  ” Can you Google it to see if we are right?” I loved that he wasn’t looking to get the answer but to check if he was right. This also let me slip in a quick lesson about using reliable online sources. He won’t be searching online without me for a while yet but it’s still a good lesson to start cementing.science omnivore herbivore carnivore sorting

Sort each and every one. sorting science

For more quick but meaningful learning for after school or any time check out our Learning After School series.

afterschool activities for kids

 

Math & Science Outside

math science outdoor activitiesLearning outside is magic. Do you remember when your teacher would look out the classroom window and then say ” Get your things we are going outside!” BEST DAY EVER! That is why I love getting my kids outside to learn. One of the big struggles at our house is finding time to do these activities with my son who is in public school for most of the day. The way we do it is to pack a lot of learning into short but valuable activities. Help your kids boost their interest and skills in math and science by having fun outside! Playful Learning Ecademy who is sponsoring this post has a wonderful eCourse called Backyard Science that we have been having fun with. I thought I would bring together some of our favorite outdoor math & science activities in one spot for an easy resource. Check out some of our very favorites below.

Math

math outside for kids

Numbers in Nature

When we do scavenger hunts of any sort I need them to be adaptable for both my kids. When my son is doing a less active activity my daughter is less apt to want to be a part of it but once he’s running around searching for something she can’t wait to get in mix. Because of that this activity is easily adaptable to a wide range of levels.

  • You will need some fun felt leaves , a sharpie and a backyard or park where your kids can pick things.
  • Add numbers to the leaves. Even though this is for a 3 and 6 year old I still kept the numbers small. For the 3 year old her task was to recognize the number and find that number of things in the garden.  For the 6 year old I put two leaves together and his task would be to do mental math ( why I kept the numbers small) and add the numbers together then represent the sum with natural items found in the yard.

Fresh air + numbers + exploring the yard = serious fun and learning!

4 More Outside Math Activities 

Shoot & Add Nerf Gun Math Outside
Hose Down Shapes
Water Balloon Math
Bug Hunt & Count

Science

math and science outside for kids

Sound Map

When I think of Backyard Science I think of going outside to turn over rocks or doing giant vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. There is so much more for kids to explore though from colors, sounds, habitats and yes messy gooey science too. In the Playful Learning Ecademy course kids become naturalists and use their own backyard as their lab. What I love most about these activities are the videos that support them. The activities are short but valuable and the planning is done for you. It’s a perfect combination for mindful but busy families.

After school one day my son chose to do the Sound Map from Backyard Science.

  • We grabbed some paper, a clip board and a pencil.
  • He plopped down in a good spot in our back yard and put an x on the paper to represent himself.
  • Then he listened. He made marks and wrote what he heard in different places in relation to where he was sitting.

I was so fascinated by how still he was. He is 6 and wiggles constantly as most do but to see him still and focused was thrilling. We talked about what he recorded and went to see if we could find any of the sources of the sounds, well the natural ones. We knew where the lawnmower sound was coming from. This ended up opening up a dialog about conservation since we could hear more man made sounds than nature ones and we live in a semi rural area.

4 More Outside Science Activities

Squirt Gun Science
Cutting Nature
Snow Science
Color Hunt in Nature

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What math or science activity do you do with your kids outside? Share your favorites in comments!

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This post was sponsored by Playful Learning Ecademy  – I love working with them because their eLessons are rad and my son loves doing them.