Today we learned about Genghis Khan. We wanted to do an arts and crafts project, but let’s face it Genghis Khan wasn’t an ‘artsy craftsy’ fellow so, we decided to work off of the Chinese portion of the lesson and make some Chinese Lanterns.
I was surprised by the excitement of my children toward this simple craft! So I wanted to share this lesson with you.
Materials: (makes one lantern)
1, 11″x18″ piece of construction paper
1 Chop stick
2 pieces of string (approximately 18″ each)
1 Flameless tea light
Preparing the paper:
First we took a standard 11″x18″ piece of construction paper and folded it in half ‘hot dog’ style.
Then we measured with our rulers and marked off 1″ increments along the long edge of the paper.
We made an additional line at the opposite side of our markings along the entire edge about 1″ in from the edge. (This would be the place to stop cutting.)
Finally we cut straight lines from our measured markings to the ‘stop line’.
We opened up the folded paper and curled the opened paper into the lantern shape. Then stapled the two short ends of the construction paper together at the top and the bottom of the lantern.
We cut one small strip of paper and fastened it across the bottom of the lantern to hold our candles. (flameless tea lights)
We stapled the strings to the top of our lantern and attached them to a stick with tape.
That’s it. My children took their finished lanterns into a darkened room and bounced them up and down. They both remarked how much the finished lanterns looked like ‘jellyfish’ with the tea lights reflecting inside.
With Chinese New Year coming up I thought this activity also would be fun to share with some of our book club friends too. I hope your children enjoy this craft as much as mine did.
Yesterday we sat down with our science books and read about soil layers. Well, if you have read any of my blog posts or even the title of this page you know that ‘reading’ about soil layers was not going to do at this house! So, I sent my children out with a spoon and a jar to collect some soil. I gave them a small list that read something like this:
Rocks and pebbles
bark and leaves
When they came back indoors with their jars 1/2 full we added some water and left a space at the top of the jar for air. Then we shook up the jars. I asked my children to draw a picture of what they saw and describe it. Frankly there wasn’t much to see it was pretty muddy in there.
Then we let the jar settle undisturbed on the counter for a few hours and then made another observation. This one was much more descriptive. We were surprised to notice that the large rocks settled on top of the silt and sand at the bottom of the jar. We were also surprised by how clear the water became.
What did we discuss? We talked about density and how the items that were more dense settled to the bottom of the jar while the items such as the bark and leaves floated on top of the water. We made connections with our history study of the Nile river and how it flooded and made the soil rich for the farmers to grow crops. Finally we drew conclusions on the importance of each layer in the jar in relationship to living things. How insects live in and eat the leaves and bark and break them down into smaller bits which enrich the soil with nutrients for plant roots to absorb. Healthy plant make the healthy food we eat. We discussed how the rocks provided shelter for the wood lice (rolly polly bugs) and ants and made additional connections about how those insects help to aerate the soil which is important for plants to grow.
Of course then my children went back outside to play in the mud….because….mud is FUN!
PH test strips (We used these.)
almond oil (any kitchen oil will do)
milk of magnesia
baking soda and water (2tsp baking soda 2 oz water mixed)
vinegar (we used rice wine but any vinegar will do)
small plastic cups (we used old medicine cups.)
plastic or latex gloves
apron or smock
notebook or journal and pencil
1. I laminated the PH reading card that came with our PH test strips so that any stray liquids that may spill on it would not damage the card and prevent us from using it for an accurate reading. I also printed a Testing for Acids and Bases-Background and a Testing for Acids and Bases Experiment Log.
2. We set up our testing station with our items for testing. We placed a labeled index card in front of each testing liquid to put our test strips on after we dipped them in the liquid. We poured a sample of each liquid into the small plastic cups and placed the samples in front of the larger item.
3. We put on our safety gear–> goggles, gloves and aprons.
4. We discussed what we already knew about acids and bases and read the Testing for Acids and Bases Background Document.
5. We began testing by dipping a PH strip into each solution about 1/2 way for about 1 second. Then we placed the wet strip on the index card marked with the liquid tested and observed the results. We continued this process for all of the liquids.
6. We recorded our results on the Testing for Acids and Bases Experiment Log.
7. We completed the Additional Testing section of the Experiment log by mixing the baking soda and water solution with the vinegar and testing the mixture with a PH strip and recorded our results.
8. We finished by writing about the experiment in our own words.
This lesson was very exciting for the children and they came up with all kinds of new thoughts and experiments that they wanted to try. This lesson was also a great extension of our At Home Science: Make Your Own Fire Extinguisher (Learn about O2 and CO2) lesson.
We took home-school outside today because the weather was so beautiful! As we sat at our outdoor table with our books and we completed a lesson in science, it occurred to me that SCIENCE was all around us. So we did some exploring and found this little guy! My daughter named him Tom!
We got out our science journals and took some observation notes about ‘TOM’ in his natural environment. He was happily munching on these tree leaves and we were able to see him using his mandible and palps. We took note of his antenna and how they moved around while he was eating. We decided we wanted a closer look so we carefully captured TOM (the grasshopper) in a glass jar and put the lid on loosely. Then we got our magnifying glasses out and did some closer observations.
We could easily see this grasshopper’s exoskeleton and we discussed how it would serve as protection for him. We were fortunate enough to observe him go to the bathroom too! So we talked about what we might see inside of a grasshopper–> A digestive system but NO bones!
We then did a bit of research and were able to name and label his body parts on some pictures that we drew. We also learned some facts about grasshoppers like:
- Grasshoppers can jump 20 times their own length. We measured our grasshopper using a ruler and then calculated the distance that he could jump by doing the multiplication!
- Grasshoppers can live on every continent except for at the poles. We took out our globe and named all of the continents that grasshoppers could live on.
- There are more than 18,000 different species of grasshoppers. We looked at some pictures of various species online.
- Grasshoppers are herbivores and only eat plants. We drew the conclusion that they could do some real damage to our vegetable garden based on the amount of leaves he had already eaten on the tree where we found him.
- We recalled that the Magic Tree House book, Twister on Tuesday, mentioned the damage that a swarm of grasshoppers could cause to crops and even household items like clothes and sheets.
There were many other observations and discussions that we had based solely on discovering a little grasshopper in our backyard! I encourage you to take science outdoors the next time you get into a learning ‘slump’ and see what you can discover!
Below are some of the resources we used for our learning:
*Bug Facts.net: http://www.bugfacts.net/grasshopper.php
*EHow- Interesting Facts-Grasshoppers: http://www.ehow.com/info_8503914_interesting-grasshoppers-kids.html
*Twister on Tuesday: http://amzn.to/1mfIGnm
My daughter wanted to do some finger painting and we were fresh out of finger paint. So I whipped together this recipe that ‘slips’ just like finger paint does beneath the fingers.
1 tsp of dish soap
2 tbs of tempera paint
Then I gave her a piece of finger paint paper (high gloss) and let her go. Well, it didn’t take long for her to fill that paper….and the next one….and the next one. AND I noticed that she was just enjoying the texture and the color mixing of the paint and not really painting any particular picture. So the next part of this art project was pretty creative.
I decided to get out one of our plastic serving trays and put the finger paints directly on the tray. She enjoyed swirling the colors together. Next she used her finger to ‘carve’ a design of a face out of the paint. It was a really good face and she wanted to save it….so we decided to make a print out of it. She got a regular piece of construction paper and carefully put it on top of the paint on the tray. She barely pushed on the paper because she didn’t want the paint to ‘smoosh’ beneath the paper and lose her design.
She carefully peeled up the paper and she saw her print. Her brother began talking to her about printing in the ‘old days’ and how her art was very similar to the ‘old style’ of printing. She continued to print another copy of the face. Then she got more finger paint on the tray and made a new drawing.
This project was such a great tactile experience but also a great lead-in to learning about the history of printing. We looked up pictures on the internet of old printing presses and found some books at the library. Check out the links below!
A link to the biography of Johannes Gutenberg: http://www.ducksters.com/biography/johannes_gutenberg.php
A link to the International Printing Museum in Carson,CA: http://www.printmuseum.org/
I lead a small book club for home-schooling students in my area. The book that we discuss at our meetings always comes from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.
This month’s book was Twister on Tuesday. It was an exciting tale about the main characters, Jack and Annie, and their magical trip to the past to visit a one-room schoolhouse on a prairie in the mid-west. During their trip they experience a twister (tornado) and save a group of students and their teacher by knowing about a storm cellar located below their school house.
After our book discussion I plan an activity for the students that is relevant to the story. This time I planned the ‘Tornado in a Bottle’ activity.
Here’s how we did it:
2 water bottles of the same size (one must be empty.)
1 washer that fits on the top of an open water bottle without falling through.
Food coloring (optional)
1. Place the washer on the top of the empty water bottle and fasten it down with two small strips of tape.
2. Carefully open the other water bottle and put a few drops of food coloring into the water. (Too many drops will make it difficult to see your tornado.)
3. Carefully place the empty bottle (with washer attached) on the top of the full bottle with the two openings facing each other. Make sure the openings are aligned.
4. Use the duct tape to tape the two bottle necks together. Use small pieces to get your alignment perfect. Then finish off with several large overlapping pieces to insure a leak-proof seal.
Directions for the Tornado effect:
1. Flip the bottle with the water to the top position by lifting your bottle set by the full bottle. (If you flip by holding the empty bottle your seal make break under the weight of the full bottle of water.)
2. Carefully give your top bottle (one with the water) a swirl by holding the necks of your two bottles with one hand and your other hand will move the top bottle in a fast circular motion. (If you don’t do this part the water will just ‘glug’ into the bottom bottle.)
3. The vortex or ‘tornado’ will form as the water moves from the top bottle to the bottom bottle.
Why does this happen?
While the water wants to flow to the bottom bottle because of gravity, the air needs to flow upward toward the top bottle to fill in the space of the missing water. By swirling the bottles and creating the vortex, you have created the most efficient way for the water to flow quickly to the bottom bottle by swirling around the outside of the bottle while simultaneously allowing the air to move to the top bottle through the ‘hole’ in the vortex.
To complete the bottle assembly I grouped the students into pairs and they assembled one bottle set at a time. I distributed the duct tape in sections to each student set so the students didn’t have to fumble with tape and scissors while steadying the bottles for assembly. The entire project took less than 30 minutes for 5 student pairs to complete. The students really enjoyed swirling their bottles to create the ‘tornadoes.’ Some of the moms enjoyed watching the ‘tornadoes’ so much they continued to swirl them after the kiddos had run off to play at the park!
Here’s a link to the book, Twister on Tuesday: http://amzn.to/1mfIGnm
To learn more about real tornadoes you can visit this site: http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-tornado.htm
There is something about kite making that is whimsical and fantastic. Ever since the first time we watched Mary Poppins together we have LOVED flying kites on a windy day. This year my daughter wanted to make her own kite just like the one in Mary Poppins. So we looked up a few ways to do it and got crafting.
Step 1: We did not have a thin dowel rod, so we glued and taped a few Chinese Take-out chop sticks together.
Step 2: My daughter painted a design on a large sheet of craft paper and then we cut it into the traditional diamond shape.
Step 3: We lined up our chop sticks to extend through the center of our kite to the points and then looped string around all of the four sides.(We used butchers string for use in the kitchen but any sturdy string will do.) We folded the sides of the kite paper over the string and carefully glued and taped down the edges.
Step 4: We pulled the string that is resting on the tip of each chop stick tight and tied off the bottom of the string to complete the frame around the kite.
Step 5: We taped the string to the chop sticks at each corner to secure them together and make a sturdy frame.
Step 6: We tied a small loop of string on the center chop stick. This string serves as the attachment point for our long kite string.
Step 7: We tied on a very long piece of fabric as the tail to the bottom of the kite. (We used an old sheet that we cut into strips. We started off with a 6′ kite tail but the kite spun in the air, so we added another strip of fabric and ended up using a 12′ kite tail to steady the flight of our kite.)
I hope that you will sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” with your kiddos while you fly your homemade kites!
We LOVE springtime at our house! We always try each year to raise tadpoles into frogs. (You can search on this BLOG to see some accounts of our attempts.) Last year was the first time we were able to collect eggs from a local stream and raise the little critters into frogs.
Watching the metamorphosis in person was incredible. My children expressed the emotions of parents when they watched those little eggs ‘give birth’ to those tiny fish-like tadpoles and then again as the tadpoles grew! When the little critters grew legs my kids became excited to learn more about the changes that were occurring. It was amazing to learn about the development of lungs in our tiny little friend’s bodies.
Finally when they grew into full-fledged frogs and they absorbed their tails my children also got to experience the feeling of ’empty-nest’ when we released them back into the wild at the same place where we collected the eggs. We will try again this year to collect some frog eggs! And along with our observations we will set up our science center with the two matching games I just created to review the facts we have learned about these wonderful amphibians!
My All About Frogs Set includes 2 matching games (Total of 32 cards) and a 10 page student book. The student book is a non-fiction book containing facts about frogs including topics such as classification, diet, hibernation, metamorphosis and others. A teacher fact sheet about frogs is included. Teachers can review the facts with their students, students can read the student book and then play the matching games. The games are made to be self correcting so they are perfect as a follow-up in a learning center, in small groups, or for independent play! Common Core Standards Covered: RI.2.1, RI.2.3, RI.2.10, RI.3.1.
I also have this 4D Frog Puzzle from Amazon.com that expands our frog learning center and takes the science learning to an anatomical level. We compared this model to a similar model of a shark that we have in our science collection and also discussed how our bodies are similar and different in comparison to a frog’s and a shark’s.
Hands-on learning in science is a MUST! Try my All About Frogs:Reading Comprehension Set of 2 Matching Games and a Student Book to help your learners become more engaged in learning the facts about frogs!
Elephant Toothpaste has been floating around the internet long enough for the Mythbusters to take notice and do a segment on it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvGJ3LZbhDA&list=PL0A5590CEE7F2EC3B&index=3 Skip ahead to 1:55)
So what is this stuff? Is it really toothpaste for elephants? No…but this experiment does have a VERY cool reaction and can be used to demonstrate an exothermic reaction. Here’s the definition for an exothermic reaction: An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of light or heat. This experiment emits HEAT! Make sure that you exercise safety when pouring the peroxide into the bottle and with the chemical results while the experiment is occurring. After the chemicals have reacted completely the foam is just water, soap and oxygen so it is safe to touch and clean up by rinsing down the drain. YOU DEFINITELY DON’T WANT TO EAT THE FOAM! (Just in case you get any ideas of using the foam as real toothpaste….DON’T!)
Here’s the ingredient list:
•1 clean 16 ounce plastic/glass bottle
•1 clean pint sized water bottle (the smallest one you can find)
•1/2 cup 40-volume Hydrogen Peroxide Liquid (40-volume is a 12.12% solution, ask an adult to get this from a beauty supply store or hair salon)
•1 One Packet of Dry Yeast (about 1 1/4 tablespoons)
•3 Tablespoons of Warm Water
•1 Tablespoon of Liquid Dish Washing Soap
•10 drops of Food Coloring (your choice of color)
What to do:
***Place the bottle onto the tray–>this will help you clean up once your ‘elephant toothpaste’ has erupted!***
1. In the small cup mix the warm water with the yeast packet and set it aside for 30 second to 1 min.
2. Have an adult put on the gloves and the safety goggles. Measure and pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. (Remember the bottle should be on the tray.)
3. Add the food coloring to the bottle.
4. Add the dish soap to the bottle and gently agitate the bottle to combine your ingredients.
5. Finally pour in the yeast/water solution. Do this quickly because your reaction will occur as a result of this step.
Take notes! The foam will begin to rise inside the bottle. You will begin to feel heat coming from the foam once it begins to flow from the bottle. The heat is a result of your chemical reaction and it is called an exothermic reaction.
Now formulate a hypothesis: What will happen if you use the smaller bottle for the same experiment. Try it. What happened? Were you right? Why or why not? Take pictures and write about your experiment!
My kids LOVED this experiment. If you can’t get the salon hydrogen peroxide, regular grocery store peroxide (for minor cuts, etc.) will work…your reaction just won’t be as powerful. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your reluctant writers to write about what would happen if you changed the amounts of the ingredients or used a larger bottle instead of a smaller one. The possibilities are almost endless.
Since I home-school I like to keep holiday learning light and fun! Today is Valentine’s Day and Friday so I decided to do a couple of craft projects for school today.
I have two children home-schooling with me. My son is in third grade and my daughter is in first grade. I could make two separate lessons but WHY do that when I can just differentiate the same lesson for my two learners!
Here’s what we did for math
(Click the picture for a closer view.)
You have probably seen this cute little cut and paste Valentine’s Day puppy before AND we made him more interactive by adding addition (for my first grader) and multiplication (for my third grader) facts on the pieces. Then we made each piece a ‘flap’ by only gluing one edge down. Under each ‘flap’ we wrote the answers! Differentiated, math fact practice, Valentine’s Day craft fun! Yay!
Here’s what we did for language!
(Click the picture for a closer view.)
We took the traditional poem:
“Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.”
And we used the beat and rhyme pattern to make our own poems about things that interest us. My son chose dinosaurs and aliens.
“Dinosaurs are real.
Aliens are fake.
Candy is good.
But you are a cake!”
Both my children learned a lot about beat and rhyme within poetry from this simple assignment which they thought would be VERY easy. It was a challenge to not use any of the original poem! First we mapped out the original poem on our white board to show which lines rhymed and which ones didn’t. Then we started brainstorming by developing the two rhyming lines. Then we filled in the other lines.
Who says school can’t be fun-filled and creative? Happy Valentine’s Day!