Friday, January 29, 2010

Bubble Results

It is about 16' here on my porch and I took out the bubbles as I challenged everyone to do.
It was tricky to use the tiny bubble wand with gloves but here's a bubble I grabbed.

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

Bubble Challenge

I am going to set out a challenge for you all. I want you to grab some bubbles - yes the kind we usually reserve for sultry summer days and noisy playgrounds. Try blowing some bubbles today. How do you think bubbles will behave in cooler weather?

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

February Dates

Feb 2 - Sink or Float - bring an object you think might sink or float

Feb 16 - Birds - this will be during Feb School Vacation so bring other family members to join in the fun!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Today we learned about ice! Each child got two ice cubes (that were really cylinders). One they placed in a spot where it would stay frozen.

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.

Watercolor Snow
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.

Ice Balloons
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.

Snow Flakes
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 for more mitten activities and pictures of the animals that you can use to make patterns or reenact the story.

February Dates

Feb 2 - Sink and Float - bring an object from home that you think will either sink or float

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

Precshool Science?

Recently I was asked why I am doing Messy Fingers - can preschoolers really do science?

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

Build More!

We worked on learning some engineering today. Our first experiment tested the idea that layers make a stronger structure. We used tissues (Quilted Northern) that we'd separated into layers. Using a rubber band, we put a single ply over a small container. Most of the kids were able to get nearly 100 pennies on the tissue before it tore.

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

Build It!

Science Words:
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!

Favorite Books:
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:
→You can’t forget LEGO when talking about building – they have some fun games for preschoolers:
→Peep and the Big Wide World has some geometry games for preschoolers: