Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Science Workshop: How the Ocean Moves

We wrapped up our ocean unit today. I feel like I could probably spend the entire school year on it and still not cover everything. But, I am finally ready to let summer and the ocean unit go! Since this was our last science workshop focusing on the ocean we did some reviewing. The children made scuba divers to write down the things they learned about the ocean this month.

We reviewed biological classifications. I gave the children a group of shells and asked them to work together to write a rule to classify all of them in one group. Then they wrote a rule to classify them into two groups, then three etc. They made excellent scientists!

The children wrote ocean simile rebuses. They used ocean stickers I picked up from the dollar store:)

We went outside and used a jump rope to model how the energy in waves is transferred across the water, but the waves themselves do not move across the water. They had a real tough time with this concept last week, but seemed to get it after taking turns making waves with the jump rope.


Aiden is experimenting with how waves are affected when they hit the shallow beach. This is a grape jelly bottle, but I think something longer like a ketchup bottle would have worked better.


I found this amazing activity on Sea Grant Alaska. The children read a true story about 28,000 rubber ducks and other bath toys that fell off a cargo ship during a storm. The children read the article and then placed a sticker on the map in all the spots the toys washed up. Then they made inferences about the ocean's currents based on the pattern they found. If I'd been really clever I would have bought rubber ducky stickers!

After completing our current exploration activity we headed outside to make currents of our own. The children used straws to make wind and blow various items across the water. Then they used the water pencil looking thing to make underwater currents. I dropped plastic sea turtles in the water so they could see how the currents helped them move.

The children made boats out of aluminum foil and then experimented with how the wind and underwater currents can help or hinder boat movement.

The children experimented with how fresh water and salt water interact. They filled one beaker with salt water and dyed it red. Then, they then filled the other beaker with fresh water and dyed it blue. They predicted that the fresh and salt water would mix when the freshwater was added and the water would turn purple. They were surprised that the water stayed separated.

Here the children are experimenting with how cold water and hot water interact as we reviewed the temperature variants in each zone of the ocean.

Lastly, we reviewed the zones of the ocean and how the pressure changes as you travel deeper into the ocean. We discussed how scuba divers can get the bends when they come from deep in the ocean to the surface too fast. The children dropped raisins into a soda bottle and watched as they sunk to the bottom and then floated back to the top as they became covered with bubbles.  They then inferred that our blood is liquid like the soda so it may get bubbles too. This really impressed them. They wanted to watch this demonstration all day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Saturday was Elle's 8th birthday party. We had an absolute blast planning it together, but the turning 8 part was tough for me. It just seems like she is more young lady than little girl these days:( 

Elle wanted to go with a fashion themed birthday which left me totally at a loss for ideas, so I scoured Pinterest! We bought a pack of cute patterned cardstock paper at Michaels and traced dresses which we cut out and used as cupcake toppers.

We used the same paper to make 'Fashion Diva' water.  We also had pink punch made with Cranberry Ginger Ale and raspberry sherbet. 

My husband had the cute idea of placing the candy rings on a plate. We kept snacks simple since the party was in the afternoon. We made fruit skewers using kiwi cut into heart shapes, grapes, cantaloupe, and starfruit. Everything is yummier on skewers!

We started off the party with a fashion contest.This kept the girls busy while everyone arrived. Each girl dressed a Barbie and then they had to tell the name of their Barbie and their platform like. 'Save the Whales' etc. When we asked our littlest guest what her Barbie's platform was she said, "Save the date!" So cute. We'd bought a few packs of mini-trophies and decorated them with fancy shoe scrap-book stickers. Elle gave each Barbie a trophy for silliest dressed, most fashionable, etc.

Next, we played pin the polka-dot on the dress. The dress was made out of wrapping paper and then I cut polka dots out of the cardstock.

The girls played hot-potato nail polish in the kitchen. I played music and then when the music stopped the girls had to paint their nails whatever color nail polish they were holding. Lots of giggling and thankfully no spills!

Once everyone's nails where dry the girls played 'fashion charades'. Elle and I wrote out things like curl your hair, put lipstick on, etc and then put each charade in a balloon. The girls had to pop their balloon to get to their charade and then act it out while the other girls tried to guess it. They were hilarious trying to pop their balloons.

We headed outside for a 'Runway Relay'. The teams raced to dress up, run their lap and then help the next teammate dress up.

The girls made their own lip gloss and decorated some small containers we found at the Dollar Store                to hold it in. 

For the final game of the day the girls 'did each others' hair. They put shower caps on and then I put shaving cream on the top of each shower cap. Their partner had to see how many cheese doodles they could toss  onto their partners head in two minutes. They all had very silly new hairstyles when they were done! 

After all the girly activities were over our family and some of our close friends with boys stopped by for candles and cake. At the end of the day my sweet birthday girl declared it the best birthday ever. Thanks to all of our wonderful friends and family it was!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Inspired Writing

Children are such natural story tellers, but sometimes they have to be convinced that they are fabulous writers.When I taught third grade I found that many of my students could tell me amazing stories, but if I asked them to write me a story they froze. Often the problem was that their hands could not keep up with their brain!  It often helped to record their story so they could  play their story back while they transcribed it. Some children  struggled with putting a story together orally as well. By giving them physical  'props' it was much easier for them to form a story. For young children who can not yet write these 'props' really encourage some amazing stories!  I am always on the search for unique ways to inspire my own children to tell stories. Here are some of the things I love and a few more I am going to try in the near future. (Thank you Pinterest...).

I absolutely love the eeboo Tell me a Story Cards. My 3 year old and 7 year old both adore them. The illustrations are gorgeous and the cards are tough. We have a few sets, but the fairy tale ones above have been our favorite.
The game Obstacles is really unique. You lay down a series of obstacle cards and then hand out tool cards for each player. You have to work together using the tools in your hand to make it past each obstacle to your home. For example, you may give a troll a plate of cookies to get past him or use a trampoline to jump over a wall. This game is super open-ended and is great for working on beginning, middle and end. When we finish I let the children retell our journey.

Tell Tale by Blue Orange is another fun story card game, but is more suited for older elementary school children. I like it because  it has such a variety of  pictures in it, so children can really make up any genre of story. I picked up each of the items above on Amazon for around ten dollars apiece.


I found these story stones on Pinterest and just fell in love with them. I found the lovely collage stones on the left at red bird craft's blog, and the pretty painted stones at Poppit's Cupboard.  I can't wait to make these with Elle and Aiden.

This writing prompt box tutorial is very helpful. It gives some practical and clever ideas explaining how to set up and use writing boxes. I always used writing boxes in my classroom writing center, but hadn't really used them at home since the children naturally make up stories while playing with their own toys. It would be fun to make some and put them away for a rainy day.

We made this I Spy as a game, but it has turned out to be great for story telling as well. Aiden just weaves a story as he finds each object! He is having some trouble with properly pronouncing a few of his letter sounds, so I think I will make an I Spy for story telling and fill it with  items that begin with the letter v and f. That way I can trick him into practicing the sounds as he tells me a story:) 

What do you use to inspire your little one's story telling? I'd love some new ideas!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Letter of the Week: A

This week we reviewed the letter A!


Aiden worked on his Aa Activity Book this week. He helped an ant find a picnic basket, put apples on the apple tree, and drew an acrobat on the rings among other things.

We used the My A Words page in the activity book to make an A collage using pictures we cut out of  magazines. We didn't find very many!


We also chose some fun Aa a activities to complete throughout the week and wrote them on our Aa Activity Chart. I specifically chose activities that would be of learning value and interest to Elle as well so we could all have fun together. As we finished each one Aiden glued an alligator on it. He really liked that part. I suppose he will be a 'list' person one day...


There was quite a bit of rain here this week, so we used that time to do some pretend play. We became architects and designed a town.


After we colored our town I cut out cereal boxes to fit each template and then the children helped me glue them on. We just used cardboard we had laying around in the recycling for our road.

We lassoed an ant in our backyard. We made a lasso out of pipe cleaners and then 'lassoed' a small area of our backyard. We got out our maginifying glass and oohed and aahed over all the living things we found in such a small area. When we were finished Aiden drew a picture of his lasso and all the things he found in it and around it. He explained each one to me as he drew it.


Later, we studied the work of Hans Arp. He is an artist form the Dada period and made 'Collages of Chance' among other things. He dropped scraps of paper onto a larger sheet of paper and then glued then where they landed. After looking at his work and finding his home of Switzerland on the map we headed out to the swing set to make our own. We also listened to the music of  the Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz. Asturias was their favorite, so we listened to it played on various instruments on youtube. Aiden and I discussed how various songs made him feel.

I decided it would be fun to make an origami animal for each letter of the alphabet. I was wrong! After many tears (my own) I finished the head of the alligator above. Luckily, we were having lunch with my parents later in the day and my dad was happy to finish the alligator for Aiden. The children did get an excellent lesson in how NOT to behave when you feel frustrated:)

Aiden had an arm-wrestling competition with his stuffed animals.This was lots of fun! Elle made a scoreboard so we could keep track of who won each match. It was a close match, but Aiden won.

We dyed angel hair pasta and then cut it with scissors. OK...I was kind of reaching for an A activity with this one, but we were having company and I really needed to clean the house! This was a lot of fun and kept Aiden engaged for quite some time. Even Elle joined in and pretended she was a hairstylist.

We read Johnny Appleseed while we ate apples (I had planned to make apple butter, but we had an unfortunate cinnamon accident involving an over-eager 3 year old and the kitchen floor). Luckily I wrote all the activities on our A Action Activity Sheet in pencil.

The children both love these animal mixies. I have a few vintage sets I picked up on Ebay for cheap. 

We read several of Aesop's fables this week. I picked this collection up from the library. The stories were the perfect length for Aiden and the author used excellent vocabulary.

Elle and Aiden worked together to complete a puzzle of America. I like this one a lot because it is magnetic and has all the shape outlines which is perfect for Aiden. He is trying to figure out what state he has in the picture above.

We finished up with an A Scavenger Hunt. I am taking pictures of Aiden's toys that begin with each letter so I can make a personal ABC book for him on Shutterfly for Christmas. I am also taking a picture of each toy individually so I can make an Alphabet I-Spy poster for his room. I think using his own items will help him form and maintain letter-sound connections better.

That's it for A! I hope everyone had a great week!