Play Date with Science – Easy Fun Experiment

science for kids Making science fun and exciting for kids when they are young lays the foundation for the years ahead.  Have a blast with this simple science experiment , it was a huge hit with my son and one of his buddies at a play date we had yesterday.  I told the boys that we had a mystery to solve which powder would make the biggest eruption? That was all two 5 year old boys needed to hear.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some small containers , something for your little scientists to pour the vinegar out of ( ours were little food containers used for dip), cookie sheets to keep your kitchen from becoming a mess, a  and some paper and marker to make numbers. Then you will also need some baking powder, baking soda , cornstarch and vinegar.  I made a little chart but we didn’t use it , they were too excited and that excitement was my goal so we just asked questions and made predictions verbally. science for kids
  2. Start by pouring the vinegar into a smaller container. This made it much easier to refill the cups between pours.
  3. Fill the containers with the powder and place in order on the trays.
  4. Call the kids.Have them check out the powders however they want and decide which will make the biggest eruption.
  5. Pour ! #1 was baking powder which has baking soda in it so it bubbled over ( more than I expected ) but it didn’t erupt.
  6. #2 was cornstarch and both boys declared it a “Dud” .
  7. #3 was the grand finale and it didn’t disappoint.science for kids
  8. After the experiment was over they played and poured until there were no more bubbles to be had. science for kidsThey were chattering so quickly to each other about droids and potions and giggling it was hard to catch what they were pretending it all was, but it was clear they were having a ball. After the play date was over my son asked to do more science at play dates. I am more than willing!

Habitat Sorting

Animal Habitat Lesson PreK

On the way to preschool a few weeks ago my son and I got to talking about foreign species of animals and how destructive they are to the habitats they invade. In that rather complex conversation I realized my son knew a lot about habitats but there were some animals he simply said  came from the zoo … it was time for some learning cloaked as a game. I finally got around to making this over the weekend and we had fun.

  1. Gather your materials. I used construction paper and scissors for the paper habitat mats I made, double stick tape and a glue stick. You will also need a marker and lots of animal toys. Some of ours are bath toys that weren’t all the way dry… oops.Habitat Sort
  2. Start by cutting the sheets of construction paper in half , this size is perfect for the mats and then you can use the other half for the cut outs.
  3. Decide which habitats you will make. I decided on jungle, farm, antarctic, and forest because of the animals we had on hand.  Remember to use the toys you have for learning, with some brain storming you can save money and play with all those extras that don’t get much use. My helper played with the animals while I brain stormed, with her goggles on of course.
  4. Create. I loved doing this. If you have older kids see if they want to create this for their younger sibling(s).
  5. Label them and call for someone to come play!
  6. With my five year old I let him sort and when he tried to put the raccoon in the jungle I asked ” Have you seen racoons around here? Do we live in the jungle?” and let him answer and adjust. Always ask why because sometimes they have a darn good reason that may only make sense to them but it will likely open up a teaching opportunity for you.  Younger kids like my daughter can do an simplified version with only one mat and a simple yes or no sorting activity. I’d focus mostly on labeling the animals and their attributes at that age.
  7. After he sorted the rest I took some and placed them in the wrong place. Asking why a monkey couldn’t live in the antarctic, or why a whale wouldn’t enjoy swimming in the pond in a forest. This forced him to consider why animals live in specific places. We also touched on domestication and how farms and zoos are different. It was the best part of the lesson and wouldn’t have happened without the sorting game as an ice breaker.

The Next Step

These are my ideas for extending the activity for children who are ready for it . The next step for this would be to purposefully put an animal in the wrong habitat and ask your child to write down a list of things they would need to survive in the wrong habitat. For example a monkey in the antarctic would need warm clothing, fresh fruit delivered, a enclosure built off the ice, maybe even some snow boots!  Let them make the list but make sure they answer why they need each item too!

Book

A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures habitats, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable.

Family Bowling

paper towel roll bowling

Have fun burning off energy and learning about physics with this simple and earth friendly bowling game. We have had a cooler than normal summer in the Pacific North West , unfortunately my kids don’t have lower than average energy . Sometimes getting out of the house isn’t an option but you can still have fun and burn some energy without trashing your house . I love making things with family pictures but you could easily number the pins, label them with shapes or letters too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper towel rolls ( toilet paper will work but don’t topple over as easily. I highly suggest paper towel rolls), pictures of your family printed out on regular printer paper, tape, scissors and a ball.
  2. Print out pictures of your family.  You will want pictures that are vertical .
  3. Tape and roll.
  4. And tape again.
  5. Make as many or as few as you want. We didn’t play by real bowling rules , instead we just tried to knock as many down as possible.
  6. Then we set the pins up in a different formation to see if that would help knock more down . In all we tried 4 different set ups, I was just looking to have fun and play and we ended up with a physics lesson! See learning through play people!!
  7. After we were done my daughter enjoyed talking to the pins while I cooked dinner.  So it was a win with both kids. Perfect!

Books About Family

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.

Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their grand daughter.  There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are, or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents.  She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different but the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler had my son clapping and be bopping in his jammies before bed. This book is so fun to read, the musical words are impossible not to dance to. My son loves jazz, and his only disappointment was that there were no trumpets in the book. He didn’t understand that the family in the book , which included grandparents, aunts , uncles and cousins were listening to a record. I tried to tell him it was like a cd but the illustration was clearly a record player and he wasn’t buying it. Still we loved this book , the family was loving and I loved that the older brother was holding the baby, not common in kids books to see a boy holding a baby. Great book even without a trumpet.

Paper Plate Planet

Creating your very own planet can be a quick art project or a much more involved one with reading and writing too. This simple  project combines so many lessons including shapes, space, as well as writing and spelling. Oh and for those of you afraid of mess , especially glitter mess – stick on glitter foam was made for you. It’s all the bling with none of the mess.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, various shapes of peel and stick glitter foam ( I pre cut a whole bunch for easy projects), markers, a piece of plain old paper, pencil, and tape.
  2. Make some shapes out of the foam.
  3. Start by creating your planet with the foam and markers. My thought when I brainstormed this activity was that  my son would make a mosaic like planet with all the pieces. Instead as he was making it he was deciding what each piece of foam would be . Rivers, lakes, a pit of lava, and an dark and scary forest were all added among other things.
  4. While they create the look of the planet write out a short questionnaire for them to fill in about their planet. I asked 3 simple questions , keeping it short to entice him to write the answers himself. The questions included naming the planet, how many moons it has and how long it takes to get to the planet from Earth.
  5. It worked  he was excited to try ,he asked me to write the words after. Do not correct your child if they are at the beginning stages of writing especially if they are at all reluctant. Correcting them can be seen as a further proof that writing is too hard and their attempts may become fewer and further between, which is not what we want! If they ask for you to help jump in slowly .
  6. Tape the information on the inside . When he showed it off to his dad at dinner, he read the inside and said ” I didn’t write Cybertron, it was too long and I didn’t have enough room, but I did the numbers!” Oops, next time I will make the writing area even bigger, to make it more welcoming for big emergent writer handwriting.

Books About Space

If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith McNulty was not what I expected, but what is that they say about judging a book by it’s cover? Yeah. I enjoyed the book but it was really long, even I was sorta wondering ” How much more?” half way through. However when I finished the book I was glad I read it all and the huge amount of information inside. The book is truly packed with information about space travel and the environment on the moon, for 3-4 year olds I would read it in parts, perhaps throughout the same day but I don’t think many would sit with full attention for this whole book. Older kids should have no problem especially if they are interested in space. Older children will also appreciate the message that we need to keep Earth healthy so our planet remains vibrant and full of life and not cold, dusty and still like the moon.

Another Day in the Milky Way by David Milgrim made me giggle. The story is about a little boy who is stranded on a weird planet where things are very strange and he doesn’t know how to get home. It’s never scary because it’s simply too weird to ever get scary. People with too many arms, donkeys and chickens dressed as horses and finally the realization that it’s all a dream.  The humor was rather dry although kids will probably take it as goofy . My favorite part was the little alien dog that transforms into a regular one in the end of the book when the little boy wakes up.

A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd is a typical themed alphabet book that is atypically funky. The vintage illustrations and historical photos from NASA makes this book stand out from other similar books. Each letter represents a number of space related items and the historical photos are so powerful in this because it bridges the gap from being a story to being information that children are eager to dive into further. There is something so powerful about a photograph to make that connection that this really happened, these guys really walked on the moon in ” the olden days” as my son calls any time before his birth in 2006.

Ocean Sensory Tub

Pretend play is a great way to teach and learn about all sorts of things. This started out as an activity to keep him busy while I answered emails and needed a few minutes , water always keeps him busy and happy. I was so pleased when he started asking questions about what the animals ate. I got a few emails answered but I ended up googling all the specifics about what each of the animals ate and on the floor playing in no time. It was more fun than answering emails anyway!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large shallow plastic container, some sea animals, some decorative pebbles, a few towels for your floor, a pitcher and some water.
  2. Start by laying out our towels and putting your container on top.
  3. Put some water in your pitcher and pour it in.
  4. Add some pebbles, you can use sand too but if you want easy clean up stick to glass pebbles.
  5. Add your animals.
  6. Let the learning happen! Have some scoops on hand if they just want to scoop and pour the water.

Books

“Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea” by Jan Peck is about a little boy swimming in the “deep” looking for treasure. Along the way he encounters different sea animals and greets and says good bye to each before swimming away on his treasure hunt. The cute kicker is that all along the little boy is really in his bath tub and the animals are just toys. I liked the twist and so did my son who then requested a laundry basket to play bath, funny how he didn’t actually want a bath… a mom can dream!

” Baby Beluga” by Raffi is a classic children’s song cleverly illustrated into a beautiful book. I grew up on Raffi and am still shocked when moms don’t know who he is, if he is new to you go to your library and check out one of his cds! My son loves this book, there are so many sea creatures to point out, it’s great for toddlers!

“Beach Party” by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move!