Monday, December 20, 2010
We went on safari with our five senses - playing with sound and smell matching, color hunts, and making a texture collage. If you want to play along here are some fun ideas:
Touch – Go on a texture hunt at home. Try and find matching textures or try dressing in as many textures as you can .
Sight – Use blocks or cut out shapes from paper in geometric shapes like squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, or rhombuses. Go on a shape hunt around your house.
Taste – Try eating foods while holding your nose. Does that change the way food tastes? Most, as much as 80% of the “taste” of food is the smell. What happens when you have a cold – does food taste as good?
Smell – Try making play dough with different smells.
• 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup salt
• 2 (4 g) packages unsweetened Kool-Aid powdered drink mix
• 2 cups boiling water
• 3 tablespoons oil
1. Mix flour, salt, Kool-Aid until blended.
2. Add oil to boiling water, mix with spoon until cool enough to knead.
3. Continue kneading until color is blended.
4. Store in air tight bag or container in the refrigerator.
Sound – Stand with your eyes closed and have someone else ring a bell. Point to it with your finger. Move the bell around and see how easy or hard it is to find. After a few tries, cup your hands around your ears and try again. Is it easier to find the sound now?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Dancing Raisins - you will need raisins, obviously and a clear carbonated beverage (ginger ale, club soda, champagne, etc.) of your choice and a clear uncarbonated beverage (like water). Make a prediction (guess) about what might happen and what might be different. Try dropping some raisins into each beverage. What happened? Were your guesses right?
Colored Celery - if you are visiting for a few days, snag a stalk of celery with leaves and place it in jar with colored water - try red or blue food coloring and make the water really dark. What is going to happen to the celery?
Friction - you will need straws, cotton balls, crumpled foil, marbles, etc. and an open space (like the table after it has been cleared). Start at one end of your space and try to blow the cotton ball across it. Was it hard or easy? Will a marble (or ping pong ball) be easier or harder? Try it! Generally smoother things have less friction and are easier to move, but a marble is a lot heavier than cotton.
This is a great activity when kids are getting a bit wild as it helps them breath deeply and calm themselves.
Water tension - in a glass or pie plate filled with water, sprinkle some pepper. Then drip a drop of dish soap in to the pepper. What happens? Soap breaks up the water tension on the top of the water.
Regardless of where you are and whose table you are at, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Bats have a spooky reputation in part because they are excellent fliers. They can swoop and dive in crazy patterns as they try to get their dinner. Vampire bats don't help the bad bat rep either. Vampire bats live in Central America and lick blood rather than suck it. They have sharp lips that make a small cut on the leg of an animal and they drink the blood.
Bats not only can eat loads of bugs, but many bats pollinate plants that we eat like mangos, peaches, and avocados.
Science words: mammal, insectivore, frugivorous, echolocation, nocturnal
Mammal – animals with fur, live young they nurse
Insectivore – an animal that eats insects
Frugivorous – an animal that only eats fruit
Echolocation – using sound waves to locate objects
Nocturnal – an animal that is active at night
Bat food – Bats pollinate lots of plants we eat. Some of them are figs, avocados, bananas, peaches, and mangos. They also pollinate chocolate! Eat a meal that was brought to you by a bat!
Bat headbands – bats have all sorts of ears. Look at pictures of bats and their ears. Make your own set of bat ears
Stellaluna – Stellaluna gets separated from her mother. This is a good story to talk about a plan for what you might do if you were separated. What would you do if you were separated from your mother? Would you eat bugs if a stranger offered you food?
Bats Are Sleeping
(Tune: Frere Jacques)
Bats are sleeping,
Bats are sleeping,
Sleeping in the morning.
Waiting for the night to come.
To fly around.
To fly around.
Favorite Books on Bats
Stellaluna – Jannell Cannon
Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats by Anne Earl
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Color Mixing - using color bath tablets, make containers with three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Primary colors cannot be made by mixing. Watch the tables. What happens when you put them in water? Pour some of the yellow into another container. What will happen if we add a few drops of red? (orange) Pour some of the red into another container. What will happen if we put in a few drops of blue? (purple) Pour some of the blue into another container. What will happen if we add a few drops of yellow? (green - tho this might be easier the other way around - add the drops of blue to yellow)
You can see how we did color last year here.
To take the lesson up to older students, we worked on tertiary colors - colors that blend one primary and one secondary color. While most color wheels have rather flat names for these like yellow orange and blue violet, you can make up lovely names for them like stormy ocean, or Arizona sunset.
Spectrometer - a spectrometer measures the changes in the spectrum and can be used to identify different materials. It is pretty simple to make one. Here are directions to making your own. You can use it to look at different types of light like flashlights and candles or try putting a bit of table salt in to a flame and see how the spectrum changes.
Why are rainbows curved? This is a great question to ask older students. On a sunny day, put a glass of water in a window and move it until you have a rainbow. You can also use a CD. Both of these will produce a straight spectrum -no curve. Why is a rainbow curved?
Light travels in a straight line. As it enters the raindrop (or any drop of water) it splits up into its color components (colors of a rainbow). Most of the light travels right thru the water drop. Some reflects or bounces back thru the drop. The sides of a water drop are curved so the resulting reflection is also curved. The CD and water glass are straight, so the resulting spectrum is also straight. (The light is reflected of the glass vertically so it isn't curved to the light. Knew you'd ask!!)
What have you been doing with color science? Post your thoughts and comments.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Tuesday we are going to play with rainbows at Messy Fingers in the library starting at 10:30. Sign up at the library at 508 865 1181. There are only a few spots left.
I will make an early elementary science lesson on the same theme available tomorrow afternoon.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
My kids are in first and third grade so we worked on all of the experiments I wrote up a couple of days ago. First we did a magnet hunt discovering that there were some kinds of metal that the magnet did not stick to.
Then we made some predictions about what a magnet would pick up. We had a pile of things like pom poms, cotter pins, washers, nuts, nails, tooth picks, pipe cleaners, and buttons. The surprising items turned out to be a button that looked plastic but wasn't and the cotter pins which are metal but not picked up by a magnet.
Then we looked at how much our magnets could pick up. We tested for sets of items: paper clips, washers, pom poms and tooth picks. We were pretty close on all of our predictions. We painted with paper clips.
We predicted that none of the coins would be picked up. Testing the prediction... we found that two of the three coins were picked up by the magnet: a Canadian quarter and a 50 centene piece from Costa Rica.
We wondered if there were other US coins that a magnet could pick up like an older nickel or a steel penny. In the end the kids had a great time and so did I!
- Grab your paint - I usually stick with two primary colors, but you go with as many as you like.
- You will need a thin paper plate for those of you with a low mess threshold or paper set inside a box top (try a shoe box top) for those of you who don't mind a little extra clean up.
- One paper clip per color of paint is a good place to start, but if you have more than one scientist working together, you might need more.
- One magnet - button magnets are fine for this project.
Dip one end of the paper clip into the paint and from below the plate (or paper), move the clip around with the magnet. Remove that clip and try another color.
Can you blend the colors? If so, what new color do they make? Try making designs or letters. Can you move the clip really fast or does it work best slowly? Why? What could you do to make the paper clip move faster? What else could you paint with?
What else would you like to know about magnets? Can you write that as a hypothesis - a question that can be tested? Post your hypotheses here!
Monday, September 27, 2010
In addition to your notebook/paper, you will need:
Crayons or pencils
Magnets - button magnets (round magnets avail at Michaels) are a must, bar magnets are even better
About a dozen things to test with - some that might stick to a magnet and some that won't (ideas are paper clips, washers, pom poms, tooth picks, rubber bands, beads, small toys, pipe cleaners)
A number of paper clips and washers
A number of tooth picks and rubber bands
What does a magnet stick to?
Using a button magnet find some things that your magnet will stick to and things your magnet won't stick to. Record at least 5 of each category. What is the same about the things that your magnet sticks to? What is the same about the things your magnet won't stick to?
At the top of one page in your book (or paper) write: I think the magnet will stick to...
At the top of the next page write: I think the magnet won't stick to ...
Now take your pile of goodies (pom poms, washers, paper clips, etc.) and divide into two piles - those you predict will stick and those you predict won't stick to your magnet. Record these in your notebook.
It is time to test. Grab your magnet and see if you were correct. (note: pipe cleaners and toys/beads that look like metal but are plastic are both great ways to really get discussions going as they will often get put in the wrong category.) Record your answers either by circling the ones that turned out to be in the wrong pile or writing them on a separate page.
What was the most surprising find?
Make a small chart with pictures or words that looks like so:
Make a predition of how many of each object your magnet will pick up. When you are done predicting, you should test with your magnet. Write down the actual answer. Were you right?
There are three kinds of metal that magnets will attract: steel, pure cobalt, and pure nickel. Test a U.S. five-cent coin to answer the question “Is a U.S. nickel coin made of pure nickel?” What about coins from other countries?
Monday, September 20, 2010
With some of the changes in curriculum at the local public school where they DROPPED science right off the schedule (insert a picture here of my long hair standing straight out!) - I will post some ways to complete a fun lesson on magnets appropriate for early elementary grade students. So grab a science notebook and stay tuned.
Science words: observation, prediction, force, magnet, attract, repel, none, graphs
Always take care to use magnets safely with young children. Be sure they cannot be swallowed or used around video equipment and cameras.
Magnet hunt – what magnets are in your house? Fridge magnets, some fridge doors, cabinet doors, wallets, toys, etc
What will a magnet stick to in the house? Can you take your magnet and find things it will stick to? Try everything that strikes your imagination. One sometimes unexpected metal spot is the door into your house.
Magnet Fishing – tie a magnet to a string and the string to a pole. Put paper clips on the end of paper fish. You can “fish” over and over. How many fish can you catch at once?
I'm a little magnet can't you see
Anything metal comes right to me.
If it is not metal you will see.
It just will not stick to me.
What can magnets do? By Allen Fowler
Marion Magnet’s First Mission by Sharon Hackleman
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
What I really loved about doing bread was that it inspired so many parents to try cooking with their kids. Cooking is just edible science. Baking is the most yummy chemistry you will ever try with your kids.
Bread is really not as intimidating as you might think. You can use the basic bread recipe to make pizza dough or turn it into bread sticks.
Have fun and get messy!
1 pkg yeast
1 cup warm water
1-2 Tbls yeast food: sugar, honey or molasses (maple syrup would work, but I've never used it)
3-4 cups flour
2 Tbls olive oil
Mix the yeast, water and food together in a bowl. Let the yeast proof or get foamy. Add the flour and oil. Mix the flour in a cup or so at a time. Add enough that you can kneed the dough with your hands without wearing it. Kneed until dough is all mixed then kneed 10 more times.
Let the dough rise in a bowl placed in a warm area. The oven is fine if it is off. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel. When the dough has doubled, you can make it in to buns, pretzels or bread sticks. Bake at 400' for about 15 minutes or so. Watch carefully if you've done the shaping with the kids - sometimes the thinner spots can burn quickly. You can cover with foil or remove when that piece is done and bake the rest.
If you want bread, punch this down and shape in to a loaf or press into the bottom of a pan. Let rise again until loaf shaped. Bake at 400' for 20 minutes or until the smell makes you crazy and the bread is hollow sounding when tapped.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The theme for the summer reading program is Go Green! and that theme will underlie both our programs. Because it is summer, I am designing our programs for all ages and encourage families with kids of different ages to come join the fun!
July 1 - Birds - bring lots of toilet paper tubes and we will learn about our feathered friends
***This will be at 1pm
July 13 - Paper Airplanes - grab your junk mail and see what trash makes the best plane and glider
***This will be at 10:30am
All the programs will be at the Millbury Public Library.
***Mrs. V has asked for sign ups - so check with the librarian to sign up today!!
Monday, June 7, 2010
If you get inspired (or stuck inside), I would recommend checking out the website of Ken Blackburn, engineer and award winning paper airplane maker. Get it here.
What do you think flies better: copy paper or construction paper planes??
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
So without further ado - here are the topics for June....
(drum roll please)
June 1 - Gliders and Kites
June 15 - The Chemistry of Cooking
Sign up at the Millbury Public Library 508 865-1181. And if you sign up - come!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Easy - come on and I'll show you.
Can you capture a bubble? I captured some bubbles with my friends this week. We learned a lot along the way. We captured bubbles with a LITTLE bit of water, paint and a squirt of soap. Mix this up - this is key. Most of my friends had gobs of paint on the bottom of their container that didn't get mix it. Then blow bubbles with a straw. The bubbles will be the color of the paint.Carefully place paper on top of the bubbles and you've captured bubbles!But let's not stop there! Can you make a square bubble? Grab a pipe cleaner and make it into a bubble wand with a square opening. Now try it in your favorite bubble solution. Does the bubble come out square?
** Science Content** Bubbles are only round - it is the least energetic shape and molecules are basically lazy. One of my favorite websites about bubbles is here.
But wait, there's more! One of my favorite ways to play with bubbles is to compare and contrast bubble solutions. Compare homemade bubbles to commercial bubbles (or any other kinds of bubbles you like) - which makes the most bubbles or the longest-lasting bubbles or the best-smelling bubbles?? There are lots of great questions kids can ask.
And just because I like to challenge you: What color do bubbles turn just before they pop?
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I love the screened lid on the tank. That has kept some of the needles and leaves out of the tank but it still lets in plenty of rain and air. We are going to put a rock in the tank soon. My kids area convinced that one year, our tadpoles will turn into frogs unexpectedly and need to hop out. We've always put them back into the pond while they've had tails to give them time to readjust to the pond.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Keeping tadpoles is pretty easy. I use a clear container so I can see them easily - I am just that kind of girl - I don't want to miss anything! I scoop water from the pond so that it includes some of the mucky stuff at the bottom and a few tadpoles. I put this in my tank - that I got from a generous freecycler (www.freecycle.com) and keep it in the shade. The muck has plenty of algae - the green slime that the tadpoles eat. Yum!
Over the next few months they will turn in to polliwogs - getting front legs followed by back legs and finally absorbing their tail and turning in to real frogs. I always get them back to their home pond before their tail is totally absorbed so they learn the smell of home. This will help them next year when they are frogs ready to lay eggs.
This is a rite of spring in our house. My 6 year old got her first turn to actually walk in to the pond and scoop this year. We call this tiny pond Three Tire Pond - and sadly that should be changed to Five Tire Pond with new trash showing up this year. We will go in this fall and pull them out and send them to the recyclers.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
- Inclined Plane
- Wheel and Axel
Michael Dahl has written a number of books on each one of the simple machines. Check them out!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
We made a graph of our favorite dinosaur and T. Rex had the most votes.
Mrs. V, the Library Director is going to leave our string up for tonight's Library Trustee meeting.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The theme this is is about bringing Environmental Education home. I cannot emphasis enough just how important it is for kids to have an interested adult in their lives with whom they can share discoveries and explore. Enjoying science and asking questions are so important to inspire kids - as we all know - they learn what they see.
All of the participants have been asked to collect a dirt sample from their home and we are going to compare and contrast the samples. Then, just to mix it up a bit, we are going to see if different kinds of dirt, including some special dirt I am bringing, absorbs water different.y - or in Messy Finger's language - which dirt will make the best mud!
Check out the conference here.
I am off to collect some dirt - think of me tomorrow and wish me luck!!
Monday, February 22, 2010
In Millbury, our March programs and dates are:
March 2 - Wind and Weather
March 16 - Dinosaurs
Both start at 10:30 am.
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
D and her mom grabbed some jello and candy fish to see if the fish float and how long the jello takes to solidify.
I am very proud of D and her family for making predictions before starting their project and that they learned new things as they went.
Check out the fish bowl experiment here.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I love Sid. I have always been impressed with how well the show organizes a topic so that preschoolers are not just interested but excited about science.
The show's science and teaching methods are based on solid scientific research. I've been completely, pleasantly, delightedly impressed with the research on preschool science. As many of us already know, preschoolers are wicked smart! Now there is a growing body of peer-reviewed, hard science on how preschoolers learn and express scientific thinking.
I hope that I am as enthusiastic, creative and knowledgeable as Miss Susie, the teacher.
Just don't expect me to sing.
Monday, February 1, 2010
During our Messy Fingers session yesterday, we made predictions about floaters and sinkers. We had a few surprises. A few objects floated at first on the surface of the water and then sank. They were held up by the surface tension of the water. Crayons were another surprise. I expected that since they are made of wax that they would float, but regular crayons sank. Fat crayons, even more surprisingly, neither sank or floated but hovered in the middle. One end floated more than the other. Cool.
We made boats out of tin foil and modeling clay. Our foil boats were modified by reshaping and adding floaties so they were strong enough to hold a ball of clay. This was quite a production. Both rectangular and canoe-shaped boats worked really well for this.
One mom wondered why I chose to use modeling clay rather than play dough to use in the water. I gave her some play dough to test out and it falls apart in the water (so it is washable!).
If you want to play with some other floating and sinking ideas, check out the ideas below:
Make a soap boat – cut a small boat from cardboard or foam. Leave a notch in the end. Float this in a pan of water. Does the boat float? Can you make it move? Put a tiny sliver of soap or a dot of liquid soap in the notch. What happens? Does this work in the tub? [This won’t work in the tub if you’ve used any soap. The boat floats on the surface tension of the water. Soap breaks up the tension.]
Flinkers – can you find an object that neither floats or sinks?
Fish – check out some fish. Either in your own aquarium or visit a local pet shop. How do they move? What shapes are they? Does their shape affect how they move? Can you move like the fish?
Jello - Make your own aquarium – make up some blue jello and as it solidifies, add some gummy sharks or fish. Make a prediction about how long it will take to solidify. Why don’t they float up to the top? Watch the jello as it solidifies. How long does it take?
For some other great boat activities, click here.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Then, I let it sit on my wand for a few seconds. First the bubble shrank, then if froze!
Finally, it broke.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Blow and then catch them on your wand. What happened?
Now, it looks like Friday around central Massachusetts is going to be a cold day with a predicted high of about 21' F. So, Friday morning do the same thing - blow a few bubbles, catch one on your wand, and watch. What do you *think* might happen? What is different?
What did happened?
Post here and tell us about your experience.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The second ice cube was put in a place they thought it would melt.
They found a small puddle and lots of kids used the puddle. The secret of the puddle was not just that it was water, but it was water with lots of ice melt in it! This was just next to the door the custodian uses for his outdoor equipment and he'd dropped some ice melt when he was working this morning.
We tested this out with two more cubes - one with ice melt poured on it and the other with nothing. The cube on the right has the ice melt on it and is making quite a puddle.
We lucked out that it was snowing today. We grabbed some small rectangles of black paper and magnifying glasses. We checked out some of the snow flakes we saw. Most just looked like clumps of ice, but some had a bit of crystalline look to them.
If you want to do some further explorations with ice, here are some ideas:
Science words: bigger, smaller, colder, warmer, freeze, melt, absorb, crystal
Juice Pops – have kids mix frozen juice concentrate with warm water. Mix it until it is no longer frozen. Pour in to cups, add a Popsicle stick, and pop into the freezer. Check on them every 15 minutes or so and describe what you see.
When it is completely frozen, peel off the paper cup and look at the ice crystals. What do they look like? How do they taste?
If you liked this, try freezing other edible things like grapes and bananas. Try some frozen and at room temperature.
Grab your water color paints and go out to the snow. You can use melted snow for the water or wet the paint before going out. As you paint on the snow, the water will meld the colors and wick the paint away. After a few minutes, you will have a new canvas. You can also do with food colored water in a spray bottle or regular water bottle.
Fill balloons with water and freeze. Only fill so the balloon is about six inches in diameter. Suspend with a close pin from a shelf in the freezer so the balloon will freeze round. Remove the latex and you have an ice ball. Put the round ice balls in a bath tub or wash tub and see how they move around. You can have races with ice balls.
Put a black piece of paper in the freezer. Next time it snows, take the black paper out and catch snow flakes. You can use a magnifying glass to observe them closely.
Fun winter books:
The Mitten by Jan Brett – discuss how different animals live in the winter, use ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.), and repeating patterns. Check out www.janbrett.com for more mitten activities and pictures of the animals that you can use to make patterns or reenact the story.
Feb 16 - Birds - this will be during school vacation week and folks are welcome to bring school aged siblings to participate - you will still need to sign up all the kids so I know about supplies
Friday, January 15, 2010
YES! While we often hear that kids are little sponges absorbing knowledge like crazy (and I agree it this is true), science is not just about a collection of facts. Science is a process, a method of learning about the world. When we use science we are thinking critically about the world and figuring out how things work.
Messy Fingers teaches kids a process of observation, predicting, collecting data, and revisiting predictions. Ok, I don't always talk about in those terms with 4 year olds, but we ask a lot of questions and look for the messiest way to collect the data to answer those questions. We always revisit our question and see what we learned.
Many books are on the market right now and there is quite the hubbub in education about how to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and math courses and careers. Millions of dollars are spent by government agencies to support ways to get school and university students to take more of these classes and go into these careers.
American students are falling behind their counter parts world wide in math and science at a steady rate. This has been going on for years.
So how is our little Messy Fingers going to stem the tide of falling math scores and tumbling science grades?
If we KEEP kids interested in science, engineering, math and technology, then we don't have to RE-interested, or inspire them, or RE-introduce them. Kids are naturally interested in the world around them, and if we provide them with the methods to explore it and the tools to think about it critically, they will STAY interested.
Parents are the first and best teachers for kids. If we are interested, ask questions, find out how/why/which etc, and then see if we answered our questions - don't your suppose our kids will too...?
Next time your child asks, "What would happen if...?" don't just tell them, ask them, "What do you think would happen?" and explore the answer together.
Messy Fingers is but a seed. Parents have to tend it and we will all see how it grows.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Then we did the same thing with the 2-ply tissue. We were able to get 130 pennies on the tissue before it broke.
Our next idea we explored was zigzags. We made a bridge with two cups and a flat piece of paper. This could hold around 5 pennies. Then we folded it a fan shape to create zigzags lengthwise on the paper. Now we could hold around 15 pennies. This reminded us of corrugated cardboard.
Our final, and perhaps most fun exploration was finding a strong shape. We made cubes out of 8 mini marshmallows and 12 two-inch pieces of pasta. We placed a small piece of paper on top and added pennies until they slipped. Then we added 4 three-inch pieces of pasta as cross supports creating triangles. This helped us support way more pennies.
Photo credits: Kristin Graffeo
Monday, January 4, 2010
Structure: Objects made of parts
Layers, folds, weight, heavy, light, strong, weak
How high can you go…
Grab a pile of boxes, blocks or even paper cups. How tall can you make a structure? What did you learn from the first attempt? Try again and see if you can make a taller tower.
House of Cards
Make a house of cards together using standard playing cards. If you put them edge to edge your house your house won’t be stable. If you build your house with each card edge touching the middle of another card, it will stay up longer. So each junction of cards would look like a T. Try it out!
Graham Cracker Houses
Make a graham cracker house using peanut butter as the glue between crackers. What sorts of structures work best? How tall can you build? If you hurry, you can still find after Christmas gingerbread house kits. This would be a fun way to play with structures you can eat!
Building a House by Byron Barton
Two Bad Ants by Carl Van Allsburg
Bridges by Carol Johnmann – for the advanced preschooler or a family with older kids – build and test different bridge structures.
Resources on the Web:
→Check out the toothpick city and the windmill pattern you can make at home: www.toothpickcity.com/kids/
→You can’t forget LEGO when talking about building – they have some fun games for preschoolers: http://play.lego.com/en-US/Games/default.aspx?cat=Preschool
→Peep and the Big Wide World has some geometry games for preschoolers: