Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Take Science Out for a Walk!

Sometimes you just have to pack your stuff and get outdoors! As Spring approaches, look for new ways to explore the backyard, playground, or sidewalk. Grab a basket or tote and throw in whatever "science" tools you have around ... Magnets, magnifiers, measuring tools, a sieve or colander, transparent colored or clear lids or containers. Grab a block and a car for even more fun! Somehow, making a Kit makes it more official - and fun!

Let your little ones take the lead - see what they're drawn to and slow down the pace to "notice" everything about it. It might be bugs or spiders, it might be plants or trees - lessons are all around you! If they need a little nudge, model your own observing style ... they'll want to know ... "What are you looking at?"

Prompt them to explore with "I wonder..." statements, and then let them go with it!



  • Take some little cars out to the playground or backyard and see which ones go faster down the slide. Build your own slide with a long piece of wood and change the angle to make the car go faster or slower.
  • Use your magnifier to get a close up look at all the different colors and parts of a bug (the non-stinging variety!) Your kiddos will be amazed at the details they see. Help them take a picture with your phone and enlarge it for viewing. Bring a sketch book with crayons or colored pencils, so your child can record like a scientist :)
  • Measure everything you see - with a ruler or against something familiar - sneakers or fingers make a great non-standard unit of measure. How many fingers tall is that flower? How many sneakers long is that bench?
  • Do a magnetic or non-magnetic study! Have your child see you try a magnet with something magnetic - it's magical! Then, something non-magnetic ... they will want to join in and find out for themselves!
  • Take samples of dirt from different areas and check them for differences ... are they the same color? Texture? Wet or dry? Sift some sand and see what different sizes those grains of sand really are - are there stones left behind?

Let your little ones play in the dirt and the mud - it will open their mind to scientific thinking and making conclusions.

Have fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Word Problems and Graphing with Goldfish!

Learning math through playful word problems can be super fun - with the right props! Use whatever you want for counting ... reading books about fish inspired us to use pretzel goldfish ... which happened to be in the kitchen cabinet!

To get started, grab a pair of dice, some paper fishbowls, and some yummy goldfish and get ready to play! It doesn't matter which flavor you use - player's choice :)



Players take turns rolling a die and counting out the number of fish into their own bowls. Then, they each take a second turn as you state the problem - "Tommy has 4 fish and he gets 3 more. How many does he have all together now?" This use of typical word problem language, while your child can directly visualize the scene, eases your child into making those connections.

When you have played a few rounds this way and the kiddos are understanding, take it to a new level .... make some fish vanish! Roll again, but this time, it is to take away or subtract! "Sarah had 5 fish, but she ate 2 - how many are left?" Players can keep rolling until all their fish are gone :) Decide on your rules beforehand - ending on an exact roll was one of ours!

If you have rainbow goldfish, you can also practice some math skills by setting up some columns and sorting out the four different colors - then graphing them and using "most" and '" fewest" to describe the amounts. Proper math terms are good to know :)

All of these math skills are goals for any early childhood curriculum - but always, always make it fun - yum!