Ant Hills

Ant hills are an impressive feature of the grasslands throughout the United States.

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In some areas, many hundreds of these mounds form wonderful ant-created landscapes, many decades or even centuries old.

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Each ant hill is the result of many lifetimes of labor by thousands of tiny ants.

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Ant hills are of great ecological importance, and so we created our very own!

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Using popsicle stick ants, rocks, sticks, and sand, we created our very own ant hills!

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Insects and other small animals are a key part in any food chain, a subject your students will study in elementary science.

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Knowing about them and having respect for insects now will help them better appreciate insects’ importance later.

Worm Observation Table

When your little ones came to school for this activity, they found worms on the water table for some viewing.  I propped the lid up onto the water table and sprinkled it with soil and plastic worms.

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Students used magnifying glasses to watch the wiggly worms and large tweezers to observe them more closely. We then used small notebooks to make observations about  what they looked like. First, we talked about their segmented bodies. Then we sang a song called W is for Willy, Who Is a Worm.

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Following that, we practiced our observation skills by posing the worms in various positions that we thought may help them eat, sleep, and wriggle around. Some children created little hills for them, others placed them underneath the dirt, and others thought they would enjoy going inside the water table.

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Through observation and documentation (recording what they see), your child is learning to make associations and differentiate between how things look and act.

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Sun in a Bottle

No space unit would be complete without some serious talk about the sun. It is the center of our solar system, after all!

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The first concept that students were introduced to was that the sun is not just a big ball of fire in the sky, but is actually composed of swirling gases. These gases are called plasma.

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To illustrate this point, we created a sun in a bottle!

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To do this, we used an empty bottle, vegetable oil, food coloring, glitter, a funnel, and water.

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We first filled the bottle halfway up with water.

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We then mixed the red and yellow food coloring with the water and filled the bottle the rest of the way up.

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Everyone marveled at the water and oil separating within the bottle. This activity fulfilled several developmental goals. First, by creating a a sun in a bottle, your little ones created a representation of the sun, which answered spatial and relational questions between objects in the natural world. Secondly, by adding oil and water, and observing its similarities to plasma, students were able to think critically and logically to make relationships between concept of plasma and explanation of how it works. Lastly, by narrating their results, students exchanged dialogue with their friends and were able to apply their understanding of new vocabulary.

 

Cyclone in a Bottle

Your little scientists had a blast with this hands-on experiment. They used jars, bottles, water, a funnel, and dish soap to create a cyclone in a jar! To initiate this activity, your little one learned that tornadoes form when cold and hot air combine and spin very quickly.

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They also learned that the swirling winds of a tornado are called a vortex. Following this brief introduction, they poured water into containers until they were about ¾ full.

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This component of the activity required teamwork. One of the students would hold the bottle, while the other one poured the liquid in. Then we added a few squirts of dish soap.

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It really did not take much and we took the funnel off for this part so we would not have to wait for it to drip through the funnel. Then we added two drops of food coloring.

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Next, we put the funnel back on to add in some glitter. This made the tornado easier to see. We talked about debris and how tornadoes have high winds that can break things and carry debris to other places.

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To view our tornadoes, the kids turned their bottles upside down and held them by the neck. Then they quickly spun the bottle in circular motion for a few seconds.

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When they stopped, they were able to see a mini tornado forming in the water!As a result of this activity, your budding meteorologist experimented with the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect.

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Students also participated in inquiry-based science, which enabled them to formulate explanations based on evidence, and then connect those explanations to the topic at hand.

 

 

 

 

Waterspout Tornadoes

Waterspout tornadoes fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms.

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To help your little one grasp the idea of the waterspout tornado, we created our very own at the water table. Using pre-made funnels, constructed of paper and plastic bags, we produced whirlpools, watching with glee as our “tornadoes” sloshed the water around the water table, sucking up fish and other debris. This activity enabled your little one to explore the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect. Young children are naturally curious. To help foster their understanding of how the world works, it is essential that they learn about the various weather patterns that exist, and the interactions between them. This activity also cultivated their observation skills.

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Electricity and Earthquakes

Your little one learned that if you are outside during an earthquake, it is important to get away from buildings, overpasses and power lines. To help convey this concept to our class, we created little villages with power lines, and structures that we used to protect our people. Your little one began this activity by spreading dirt onto a tray. They then used sticks and yarn to create electric poles. Next, we used small branches to simulate trees, and blocks to represent houses.

 

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We then placed plastic people underneath the power lines and then underneath the blocks. Next, we shook the trays, and observed what happened. Lastly, each student was then asked what they saw, and then where they thought their people would be safest.

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This activity targeted several learning objectives. First, your little one simulated safe behavior during an earthquake simulation. Secondly, students executed new language skills, as they discussed hazards, used and applied action verbs, and shared information.  And finally, each child accessed their critical thinking skills as they experimented with cause and effect, observation and evaluation, and creative problem solving.

 

 

Graham Cracker Tectonics

Earthquakes occur to relieve the tension caused by colliding plates beneath the ground. To demonstrate the physical impact of these collisions, we rubbed graham crackers together. This enabled your little one to observe how the friction of this movement altered the shape of the cracker, and how this relates to earthquake formation.

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Though the concept of plate tectonics may be problematic to the preschool learner, experiences that provide them with a three dimensional reproduction of the the desired idea may assist them in understanding what it is that they are seeing. As they perceive the cause and effect of their actions, they can use their words to describe what they perceive as they seek out additional support.

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Sink or Float

Young children enjoy learning about how things work.

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By participating in a vast array of science activities, they are learning important critical thinking and observation skills.

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These activities also promote their inherent sense of curiosity about the world.

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For this activity we experimented with sinking and floating.

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Using real pumpkins, we placed them in water to observe whether they would sink or float.

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Colors and Creatures

The rainforest plays host to an overwhelming array of plants, animals, and insects. It is impossible to accurately determine the precise amount. Some biologists estimate that there are over five million species, more than half of the world’s population of creatures elsewhere. These creatures provide a rich texture of color that adds to the intrigue of the rainforest. During circle time, we discussed the various colors of some of these animals, and concluded the morning with a color experiment! Using half and half, soap, and droppers, we observed how color is affected by soap. As it is dropped into the half and half, it quickly disperses. This is due to the fat content in the half and half. Your little scientist not only practiced their fine motor skills, but experienced the benefits of cause and effect!

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Cloud Jars

Using paper towels, eye droppers, and blue water, we explored the exciting science behind cloud and rain formation! Using the eye droppers, we dropped blue water onto the paper towels. As the towel became saturated, the “rain” began to pour inside the jar! Sensory and discovery activities offer a means to introduce scientific concepts to young children.

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As they engage in the activity, they are practicing what they are learning. The actions they take part in allow them to experience a concept. As we were doing this activity, your little one was encouraged to talk about what they saw and what they were doing.

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Doing this enables their understanding of the physical and mental processes they are experiencing and provides them with the vocabulary to describe it.

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