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 ).
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.
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.
For more quick but meaningful learning for after school or any time check out our Learning After School series.
Learning 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.
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
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
What math or science activity do you do with your kids outside? Share your favorites in comments!
fThis post was sponsored by Playful Learning Ecademy – I love working with them because their eLessons are rad and my son loves doing them.
I hope you have been enjoying Science Week as much as I have. Here are some of our favorite and very easy science activities for kids we have done on No Time For Flash Cards. For even more ideas from all over the web check out our Science For Kids Pinterest board.
Color Mixing Lab
Frog Life Cycle
Squirt Gun Science
Solar Powered Crayon Melt
Ice Cream Taste Test
Sink or Float?
Which Will Erupt – Simple Experiment
Will The Egg Break?
DIY Light Box & Exploration
Glow In The Dark Constellation Canvases
Mad Scientist Lab
Magnetic Sensory Play
DIY Weather Station
Puffy Paint Moon
Snow Science – Where will it melt first ?
I hope you enjoyed Science Week . I had fun hosting great guest bloggers and focusing on only one subject for a whole week. What other weeks would you like to see us tackle?
Science! How exciting to be here for science week. I’m Jillian, A Mom with a Lesson Plan. Just about any type of learning for kids gets me jumping for joy but I’ll admit, science is a fairly new love for me.
I think what really brought me around was seeing that science ties into so many other aspects of my kids’ growth. Now that they are getting a little older (8 and 6), I can see how they use the basic science method on their own. It’s quite impressive how they are able to predict, analyze and modify their actions easily.
Of course we still enjoy the fun, messy parts of science… but it’s the structure of how to conduct an experiment that I want to come as second nature to my kids. It will benefit them far beyond science class.
Before you start an experiment you have to have an idea of what your purpose is, you need a question to ask. Knowing how to ask a question seems simple enough, but it isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. For most of us, it’s a practiced skill.
Learning how to ask a question
- Figure out the question. Sometimes a very long conversation boils down to one question. Help your kids learn how to pin point it, by following up with a question about the question. “Are you wondering how roller coasters are attached to the tracks or are you wondering how the roller coaster moves along the track?”
- Let the question develop. Often times you know what they are going to ask before they ask it. Give them the space to figure out how to ask instead of skipping ahead to the answer.
- Respect the questions they ask. Show interest and give them sometime to wonder before jumping in with an answer.
Research comes in many, many forms. You can read a book, ask someone who has experience, watch a video, etc. Once your kids know how to ask a question you can teach them how to search out the answer.
Learning how to research
- On the way to the library, talk about which topics they would like to read about. (or study. ) Remind your little ones about questions they’ve had recently. “Remember how you asked why bugs live under rocks? Maybe you can find some bug books!”
- Google it. Searching the web is pretty easy when you have a good question to start with. Of course they will also need to learn how to decide what’s valid information.
- Encourage them to ask around. I can not tell you how many times I’ve said. “You know what, that sounds like a great question for Grandpa.” (He’s kind of a trivia know-it-all.)
A hypothesis is an educated guess. So simple and yet a vital skill. Learning how to make predictions and think about possible outcomes based on past experience is huge! Can you imagine how this skill will help them when they are teenagers?
Learning how to make predictions
- Predict while reading. Talk about what might happen next in the story. Were you right?
- Predict while doing a science activity, art activity or just playing outside. “What do you think will happen when you let go of the ball at the top of the slide?”
- Predict… anything. “What do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?” “Do you think we should expect traffic?” Last week we found a tiny cantaloupe in our garden. Since it wasn’t getting any bigger we decided to pluck it and open it as is. It was a simple thing, but we took a moment before cutting in to talk about what we thought we would find inside.
When I think of experimenting there are two big things that come to mind. The ability to bring your questions to life and the ability to be persistent without losing patience.
Learning how to experiment
- When your little one has a question, help them figure out how to find the answer. Does it involve collecting materials or is it simply trying something that is already set up.
- Having a space set up with basic art supplies and a junk box will give your kids the space to experiment on their own. (We save toilet paper rolls, lids, boxes and craft scraps.)
- Encourage patience and persistence by allowing down time and showing the kids that YOU can take on mistakes as a learning experience.
Collecting data can be done in many different ways. It can be as simple as discussing what you find or as detailed as filling out a spreadsheet. Understanding how to observe, examine and consider your findings is at the core of any analysis. When kids understand how to collect results, the way it’s collected will come easy.
Learning how to record data
- Act like a teacher (because you are!) and set up activities with a little something extra. Ask your kids to draw pictures of what they observe in the garden. Give them a clipboard and a piece of paper to write about the details of a zoo trip. Use simple graphs and charts to have a little fun recording everyone’s favorite meal.
- Have a place for recording. Lot’s of empty notebooks make it easy for kids to grab and write when they observe something interesting. We have notebooks with lines, without lines and some with grids available anytime.
How do we learn from our mistakes? How do we know what really works for us and use that method again and again? We draw conclusions from our experiences.
Learning how to draw a conclusion
- Talk! Talk about why things have happened. What could have changed the outcome?
- Encourage your little scientists to try the experiment or experience again with a little tweak. Did they get the same result?
And because I know how much you love a good book review here at No Time for Flash Cards. I just have to share a new favorite. We just picked it up from the library yesterday and my Little M has been carrying it around all day. Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly is about a little girl who wants desperately to be known for something. When her class begins studying butterflies and even visits a conservatory she finds just how to make herself stand out. I love, love, love how fun this little scientist is and how she becomes known for something she is good at.
Jillian Riley is a writer who focuses most of her creative energy into her playful learning, playful parenting blog A Mom with a Lesson Plan. She is mom to an almost 8 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Jillian is passionate about kid activities, learning and creativity! Find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Google.
Tomorrow we wrap Science Week up with a round up of easy science activities for kids. Do not miss it!
When it comes to science I usually let my kids lead with questions and suggest we investigate from there. One morning last week my son didn’t finish his milk and I asked him to please pop it in the fridge so he could have it with his lunch. Instead he asked if he could put it in the freezer to see what would happen. Of course I was game. After he put it in the freezer I asked him what he thought would happen. At 6 it was no shock that he thought it would freeze, so I asked him how long he thought it would take. That sparked this simple kitchen science experiment we did a few days later. My kids love kitchen science for kids and I love doing it with them. Fun together time with science!
Our question was: Which kitchen liquid would be the first to freeze ?
- Gather your materials. You will need an ice cube tray, a line up of different kitchen liquids , a timer ( not really a must ) and a freezer. We had a measuring spoon too! Our liquids were water, vinegar, chocolate syrup, ranch dressing, dish soap, milk and apple juice.
- Start by filling your tray with the different liquids. Before you ask your kids to make predictions ask them what they already know about the different liquids. My kids and I noted that we freeze water all the time and it takes an hour or two. They noted that milk will freeze so they knew that more than just water can freeze. After they go over all their background knowledge ask them to make a hypothesis or prediction if you are focusing more on results not the reason for the results. If they make a prediction simply say “why do you think that will happen?” and voila you will also get a hypothesis out of them.
- Freeze it! We set my iPhone timer to go off at regular intervals.
- Observe what is happening. The apple juice was the first to form crystals. The water quickly caught up by the next time we checked. The dish soap had cool bubbles and was getting harder to stir, and the chocolate still tasted great although it wasn’t really ever frozen. We checked on the tray for 3 hours and by then end of that everything was solid except the chocolate syrup which still has a dough like texture days later.
- After the results are in ask your child what they noticed. My daughter noticed that the vinegar and water froze pretty easily and that the chocolate never did. My son noticed that the thicker liquids were much slower to freeze than their thinner counterparts. That’s when I jumped in with the word viscous. We talked about how the water, milk , vinegar ,and apple juice froze faster because they all have lower viscosity than the dish soap , ranch dressing and chocolate syrup. I kept it very simple explaining that the less viscous a liquid is the easier it is to take another form and for the cold to get to every part of it. The thicker liquid was harder to freeze because the cold air had to work harder to get all of it cold enough to freeze. I tend to over explain things to my kids and have learned their signals for when my answer is shifting into a lecture. If they keep asking questions keep answering them but those blank stares are a sure fire sign that you should keep it simple, at least for now!
The best part about simple kitchen science for kids is that it lets your children see that science is everywhere. It’s in their kitchen and is accessible to all.
Tomorrow we are talking about how teach the scientific method to young kids with Jillian from A Mom With A Lesson Plan!