Posted on Leave a comment

Rocks and Mineral Properties – FREE Activity

rocks and mineral download

Here’s a little boredom buster that’s sure to keep the rock-lovers happy in your house. This is a FREE Rock and Mineral Properties Activity Sheet for immediate download. My boys loved testing the rocks from their collection – I hope your kids love it, too!

Rocks and Minerals – Free Download

RocksandMinerals-Freebie_Page_2

Posted on Leave a comment

Caterpillars Unit Study and Caterpillar Craft

caterpillar craft

For the past few weeks we have been studying caterpillars with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature With Children. I have to say, this has been one of the most exciting subjects to study (for all of us).

caterpillar butterfly unit study

Along with our curriculum, here are some of the other resources we used:

Anatomy of a Caterpillar Craft with Homemade Playdough

Since we couldn’t find any real caterpillars for a hands-on study, we made one! Here is the video we watched for instructions on how to make a Swallowtail Caterpillar out of playdough.

We then used a small chalkboard to label the parts of the caterpillar.

caterpillar unit study

Have you tried homemade playdough before? I just recently became a believer and will never go back to the store bought stuff! My boys played for hours after we made the caterpillar craft, literal hours.

Here is the recipe I used (taken from @wovenchildhood on Instagram):

  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1 Cup Iodized Salt
  • 3 Tbs Cream of Tartar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional, for an extra sensory element)
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Carefully add in oil and hot water
  3. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil of your choosing (we added lemon EO)
  4. Stir together until blended
  5. Add food coloring, then stir again
  6. Knead and sprinkle a little more flour until your preferred consistency

Caterpillar and Butterfly Free Printables

Butterfly life cycle sequencing cards

caterpillar craft

Here’s another fun, hands-on craft we found for teaching kids about the butterfly life cycle and metamorphosis.

What better way to study caterpillars than to observe them in real life? We’ve ordered this butterfly kit from Amazon before to grow and release our own butterflies and it was an incredible experience! (Sadly, we didn’t get to it this year)

Caterpillar Unit Study and Life Cycle Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Summer Birds – The Butterflies of Maria Merian (so fascinating!)

Caterpillar Dreams

Ten Little Caterpillars

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog

Monarch and Milkweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

A Fun Science Experiment to Teach Kids About Pollution

earth day pollution science

Today is Earth Day, and we ditched our regular lessons to spend the day learning about pollution and how it affects our earth.

We began with this oil spill activity that was really eye-opening, even for me! We started with a pristine-looking ocean scene which turned yucky very fast. The boys tried several times to wash the slimy oil off their sea creatures and it was harder than they thought it would be.

We got the idea from here, if you want to see the original post.

Oil Spill Science Experiment

First, we started with a large, clear plastic tub to hold our ocean animals and water (plus some blue marbles to add a sensory element).

I added two drops of blue food coloring so that the water would be more visible. The boys played in the ocean with their animals for a bit, and then we added the boat.

img_3300

To make the oil look like crude oil, we mixed some cocoa powder into the vegetable oil before pouring it into the boat’s compartment. It looked like oil, but smelled like brownies. 😉

Now it’s time for the oil spill. Once the boat gets bumped around enough, the oil will begin spilling into the pristine blue water. The boys thought it was fascinating to see the oil droplets swirl around in the water. And actually, so did I.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Now, it’s time for cleanup.

First, they tried cleaning up the oil spill by scooping it out. They soon found, though, they were scooping way more water than oil, and the water was looking dirtier.

Next, they used items to try and suck up the oil – cotton balls and a sponge. Both materials were able to remove a bit of the oil, but not enough to make a real difference.

img_3311

I think they were beginning to understand how irreversible some types of pollution are.

Now it was time for animal rescue. Using tongs, they took turns removing the ocean creatures from the water and washing them with soapy water. It took many tries to wash all of the slimy oil off. Another good lesson.

We also dunked a real bird feather into the oily water so the boys could see the effects of an oil spill on real animals.

Pollution Walk

After our science experiment, we put on disposable gloves and headed to our neighborhood’s nature trail for a pollution cleanup walk. We found SO. MUCH. TRASH. Either I never noticed it before or today was just a messy day in our neighborhood, but I’m sad to say we filled half a trash bag full of litter on our short walk.

The boys were pros at spotting the trash – it was like a treasure hunt, but less glamorous.

img_3325

Honestly, I was pretty disgusted at the amount of litter we picked up. On our walk we talked about what happens to trash when it sits on the ground (and what biodegradable means) and why it’s important not to litter.

Earth Day Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Oil Spill!

The Lorax

The Curious Garden

Compost Stew

Miss Rumphius

Once There Was a Tree

Pond

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

What Makes the Seasons? {Spring Equinox Science Experiment}

spring equinox seasons

Have your kids ever asked you what makes the seasons?

The days are finally getting longer around here and the snow is almost gone, which is making us all slightly giddy. After a long, cold winter, the spring sunshine feels GOOD.

A few weeks ago, I prepared a little lesson to teach my boys about the spring equinox, and what makes the seasons. We ran a quick little experiment to visualize how the tilt of the earth makes it summer, fall, winter and spring in different parts of the world.

spring equinox seasons

It was a great way for them to see why we have seasons and I think it’ll really stick with them.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Orange
  • Marker
  • Pencil or Wood Skewer
  • Pushpin
  • At Least 2 People

First, grab your orange (the “earth”) and label the equator and Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Place the pushpin approximately where you live. Push the pencil or skewer through the center of the orange – this will act as the earth’s axis.

Now, assign one kid to hold the flashlight in the center of the room – he/she is the sun. Kid number two will hold the earth and move in a wide circle around the sun. The person with the flashlight keeps it pointed at the orange as it moves around the circle.

spring equinox seasons

The MOST important part of this experiment is to make sure whoever is holding the earth is keeping it tilted slightly, with the top tilted towards them and bottom tilted away from them. The trickiest part of this activity is making sure the earth remains tilted in the same direction as their body moves around the sun. So, on the opposite side of the circle, the top of the orange will be tilted away from them and the bottom will be tilted toward them.

On opposite sides of the circle, have the person holding the earth pause and note which hemisphere is receiving more light. As the earth moves around the circle, you’ll be able to see the sun hit each hemisphere differently – full strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our summer), partial strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our fall), full strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our winter), and partial strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our spring).

You can also ask them to make the earth rotate as it moves around the circle (this requires slightly more hand-eye coordination, a little trickier for smaller kids). observing night and day.

For more reading on the spring equinox and seasons, we loved these books:

The Reasons for Seasons

A New Beginning – Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox

spring equinox seasons

Happy Spring, friends!

Posted on Leave a comment

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 19 Activities + Resources

cc cycle 1 week 19 lesson plan

Science

We did a lot for science this week, since we LOVE learning about the ocean.

6CB421CC-5979-46B5-8CF7-E0F107763354

Ocean Layers Activity
This was a great way to visualize the epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic and abyssopelagic layers they learned about at CC.

Learn how to do it here.

IMG_1949

Tide Pool Sensory Play
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know I’m all about sensory play. We created a little tide pool from a discarded bird bath top (you could use any kind of container), play sand, pebbles, shells and mini sea creatures from the dollar store. Add water and let them play in their mini tide pool.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Ocean Layers Felt Board
My biggest boy and I made this scene out of felt scraps and it ended up being such a great tool to learn about which species live in each layer of the ocean. So fun!

IMG_1946

Growing Overnight Crystals
My kids could not get enough of crystals at CC day and begged to do more, so we followed this lesson and they turned out amazing!

IMG_1929

IMG_1932

History Resources

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History

About the Anasazi

Fine Arts

To go a little more in-depth, I set out all of our instruments with some labels and had my big boy try and group them into types of instruments: percussion, strings, brass and woodwinds.

If you’re looking for a good book that introduces little ones to the orchestra, we LOVE this First Book About the Orchestra and can’t recommend it enough!

(This is the musical instruments set we used.)

img_1965-e1551394174481.jpg

Nature Study

This week was field trip week with Exploring Nature With Children, so we went to a local trail to search for tracks and wildlife signs. Luckily, everything in Colorado this time of year is super muddy – perfect for spotting animal tracks. We recorded what we saw in our nature journals and even played around with making tracks in Kinetic Sand.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Resources

You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!

Super Simple Ocean Projects

Oceans: A Journey from the Surface to the Seafloor (3-D Explorer)

Tide Pool Secrets

See Under the Sea: Lift-the-Flap Book

Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature’s Footprints

Who Pooped in the Park?

Tell me what you’re doing with your kids this week!

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

Posted on Leave a comment

Ocean Zones Hands-On Science Activity

ocean layers

This week in Classical Conversations (Cycle 1), we learned about the layers of the oceans, or ocean zones.

This was a simple and fun activity that required minimal effort and supplies you probably already have lying around.

(We got the idea from this book)

IMG_1949

First, gather 5 clear cups or jars and line them up next to one another. Make sure you put down parchment or kraft paper underneath if your surface stains easily, since you will be working with food coloring.

Next, fill them up 3/4 of the way with lukewarm water.

To the first cup, add 2 drops of yellow food coloring. This will be the Sunlit (Epipelagic) Zone.

To the next cup, add 1 drop of blue food coloring, for the Twilight (Mesopelagic) Zone.

To the third cup, add 2 drops of blue food coloring, for the Midnight (Bathypelagic) Zone.

To the fourth cup, add 3 drops of blue food coloring; this is the Abyssal (Abyssopelagic) Zone.

We added a fifth category: Trench. Add 4 drops of blue and 1 drop of red; it should look nearly black.

Now, have your kiddos place one ice cube in the second cup, three in the third cup, five in the fourth cup, and a handful in the last cup. This represents the ocean temperature as you go deeper, and it’s really fun to feel how the temperature changes as you move from cup to cup! You can also discuss how the pressure changes as you go deeper into the ocean’s layers.

We also printed out labels for each zone.

IMG_1955

To add another element of learning, we got out our mini ocean animals and the boys dropped each animal into the ocean zone in which they live. We had to reference our books for some of them – it was a great learning opportunity!

Let me know if you try this activity, and how it went!

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

Posted on Leave a comment

Snow Science Activities for Kids

I have a little scientist. He’s only 5 years old and 4 feet tall, but don’t even try to tell him he’s not a real live scientist. Since I took physics for fun in college (I was an advertising major), I can only guess where he gets it from.

Ever since January arrived, we’ve basically been wearing snow pants. I guess the last few winters in Colorado have spoiled us because we’re all like… WHY isn’t the snow melting?!?! (Me, not the boys so much.)

Which brings us to snow science. 

Here are some simple science lessons and activities that the boys were wildly excited about, and ended in building snow forts. Win-win.

Snow Science Experiments

What’s In Snow?

I got the idea for this from our town’s newspaper and it’s pretty cool. (And super easy.) If your kids eat snow ALL THE TIME like mine, be prepared to be grossed out. Sorry.

snow science for kids

  • Grab three clear cups or jars, fill one halfway with water, one halfway with snow and one with ice cubes.
  • Put them on your counter side by side and note the time. See how long it takes for the ice and snow to melt.
  • Questions to Spark Discussion:
    • What does the ice look like while it’s melting? How about the snow?
    • Which one melted faster? Why?
    • How do the melted ice/snow levels compare to each other? Which one is higher and why do you think that is?
  • Now, take the jar of melted snow and look closely. You should see lots of little particles. We couldn’t identify them but read that they are most likely bits of dirt, grass, and even ash and animal waste. See, I told you – gross. (Upside – one of my children has not tried to eat snow since this experiment.)
  • If your kiddos are interested, they can get out their science journals and take notes and draw pictures.

snow science for kids

Examining Snow Crystals

Did you know that what we typically think of as a “snowflake” – 5 sides, looks like a star – is actually a snow crystal? A snowflake is a cluster of snow crystals all joined together.

See, I bet you just learned something.

(Note: This one has to be done while it’s actually snowing.)

  • First, get a piece of black construction paper and put it outside for a bit to get cold. While you’re at it, grab a magnifying glass and put it outside with your paper.
  • Now spend the next 40 minutes getting your children bundled up in their 37 layers. I’ll wait.
  • Go outside and hold the black paper up toward the sky to catch some snow. You should get a mix of snowflakes (the larger clumps) and individual snow crystals which have broken off from their groups.
  • Have your kids examine the snow crystals (not the clumps) with the magnifying glass. What shapes do you see? Are there some with broken sides? Do all of them have 5 sides or do some have more? Are they all different? And so on.
  • When you’re done, go play in the snow since you’re all bundled up anyway!

snow science for kids

My kids took the magnifying glasses and observed other interesting things around the yard – icycles, blocks of ice, tracks in the snow, etc. I *may* have watched from inside the comfort of my warm home.

snow science for kids

Make Snow

Shout out to all my FL and AZ people! I’ve lived in both places and I might be a teeny bit jealous of you right now. 😉

If you live in an area where you don’t get actual snow – make some! I like this fake snow recipe because it’s easy and doesn’t stick to your hands.

  • Pour a 2 lb. box of baking soda into a large plastic container. Add one can of shaving cream, a little at a time, mixing it into the baking soda as you go.
  • Keep mixing with your hands until it is the consistency of snow. It’ll feel soft and cool to the touch.
  • Alternatively, you could make crushed ice by blending ice cubes a little at a time in a blender. This will look a lot like snow but will melt quickly if your kids want to play with it.

Snow Science Resources

I’m not big on buying/filling our house with all the things, but there were a couple of resources we used that really made the lessons come to life.

The Story of Snow, by Mark Cassino is fascinating and beautiful. I usually prefer to get books from the library but, in my opinion, this one is good enough to add to our collection. I think it would be fun to paint the different types of snowflakes and label them as an art activity.

If you’re looking to go really deep, this is a fun website that delves more into snow crystals, with lots of information on how they form.

And finally, our favorite read-aloud picture books to go with our activities:

Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton. We really love this one, but all of her books are amazing.

Winter Story, by Jill Barklem. We read this almost every day in the winter. Just do yourself a favor and get the whole Brambly Hedge series right now.

The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader. This one tells a story to teach about which animals hibernate during the winter and which ones stick around.

What snow activities or experiments have you enjoyed this winter?

snow science for kids

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**