Thursday, April 29, 2010

April in National Frog Month

April is the perfect time to learn about frogs! Frogs are amphibians and undergo metamorphosis - or change - from egg to frog. Right now the easiest way to find frogs is to catch them as tadpoles.

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 ( 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

Marker Fairy

The Marker Fairy left some lovely washable markers for MF at the library!


Now, if there are any other goodie fairies out there, here's a short wish list:

Paper towel tubes
Real Cork
Clear egg cartons

Thank you!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Simple Machines

There are six classic simple machines:
  1. Lever
  2. Inclined Plane
  3. Screw
  4. Pulley
  5. Wheel and Axel
  6. Wedge
Now when most of us think about machines we think more about a car than a ramp, but at the heart of both machines is laziness! Machines are things that make work easier - it is easier to carry a load up an inclined plane than it is to lift it straight up.

It was with some trepidation that I chose this topic for our most recent workshop at the library. Generally teaching about simple machines involves history, math and moving large loads - none appropriate for preschoolers!
I settled on two simple machines that the kids would be a bit familiar with: inclined plane and wheel/axle. The inclined planes we used were fabric bolts (thanks to Denise who owns Close to Home Sewing Store in Worcester!) and we used them to roll balls down to play with some ideas. We found many ways to help the balls roll farther. While this is not the actual way that an inclined plane helps make work easier, it was a great way to compare and contrast different inclines.
We used non-standard measures to figure out how far the ball rolled. Below one of my participants is using her shoe to measure distance. This was a lot of fun! One kid used herself as her measure!

Wheels and axles were fun to play with. We first tried rolling plastic eggs and found them wiggly. Then we tried toy cars and that worked really well - they rolled straight down and went really far.
If you liked these ideas, here are some ways to jump in and try some physics with your preschoolers.
Playgrounds are a great place to explore physics. A seesaw is an example of a classic lever. If you can find one that moves freely, can you balance a parent on one side and kids on the other? What happens if you move closer to the center?
Slides offer a great opportunity to play with inclined planes. You can move things up the slide with a jump rope. You can also measure the slides' height and length to compare slides. Can you determine what height and length are the most fun?
Michael Dahl has written a number of books on each one of the simple machines. Check them out!
The pictures today are courtesy of Kristen Graffeo. Check out her blog!