Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ice Science

Monkey is obsessed with 'explosion' experiments....seriously....obsessed.  He attended camp last summer and was given a chance to make a volcano erupt and has repeated the experiment a number of times at home.  In his kindergarten class this year, he had an opportunity to renew his interest in 'explosions' when the class conducted a similar experiment.  I've had to come up with new and interesting ways of combining baking soda and vinegar, so why not make some baking soda ice?

I wasn't exactly sure if there was an appropriate way to make baking soda ice, so I mixed up a solution and poured it into the ice trays.  At first, it looked a bit too watery, so I tossed another dollop of baking soda into each mold and hoped for the best.

I supplied the children with some vinegar mixed with liquid watercolor and they went to work.
The reaction is somewhat slower than you might expect, but once it begins, the children are delighted.  And it's quite lovely.
Bear wanted to find out what would happen if he dumped all of his vinegar into his tray.
And, of course, Monkey was thrilled when class was over and he got to finish up the rest of the baking soda ice cubes.
Next time, we might try to freeze the vinegar instead!!

Need a super simple preschool science experiment?  Try Ice Cube Color Mixing!
Make ice cubes in primary colors, have the children each choose two cubes and observe!
I had the children write their own labels so they could stop back and check on their cups.
We were SO excited to see our results!
Melting and color mixing all in one experiment!  So simple!

No time to make colorful ice cubes?  Need science NOW?  Ok, try this one: Solid, Liquid, Gas Demonstration.  All week, we talked about the three different states of water, but it is a fairly abstract concept for preschoolers until it is demonstrated.
I slid my two Learning Towers over to the stove so the children could get a good (but safe) view.  Add an ice cube to a shallow pan and turn up the heat!  Observe!
We talked about what was happening to the ice, it was melting, it was becoming steam, it was evaporating - oh, the language development!  I even held a glass lid over the steam to 'catch it in a cloud' and then allowed it to 'rain' back down into the pan.  The children were particularly overjoyed with the very last little puff of steam once the water evaporated completely.  They literally yelled, 'Do it again!' in unison.  So, we did.
I've been teaching for over half my life and it still never ceases to amaze me how the simplest things to us as adults can be the most wondrous to a child.

So go try some science!  Be amazed!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy Icy Sensory Play

A couple of years ago, I had a co-op option at Seedlings.  Parents could volunteer their time in the classroom in exchange for reduced tuition.  I also asked for lesson ideas from my volunteers.  Icy Sensory Play is one of those ideas.  The wonderful Mama who suggested 'just letting the kids play with ice' was so unsure of her idea.  She worried it was boring or 'too simple' and even I wondered how long the ice would keep the children engaged, but this activity was one of the first things on my lesson plans this year for a good reason: it IS simple, but it keeps the children's interest for a very, very, VERY long time.

The set up is easy too, just have lots of ice available (I made some in different shapes this year) and provide various bowls, cups, large utensils and tongs and let the kiddos loose!
I tried to get a picture of my adorable penguin ice, but Bear simply HAD to have that particular piece at that exact moment!
Even Bird popped in to check things out, but she really just liked all of the cups.
And there you have it! Easy Icy Sensory Play!  Try it!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ice Art

We made some seriously stellar art this week and used lots and LOTS of ice!!  I'm sure my hubby is glad to be able to open the freezer without a bag of brightly colored or fun shaped ice dropping on him. :)

Our first project we've done before, but it's too awesome not to repeat: Watercolor Ice Balls!  A preschool parent found this idea HERE and it was a huge hit with the class the first time around.  I must say, the second time around was equally amazing.
We had just read our Let's Find Out class magazine from Scholastic about a city made completely from ice.  The ice buildings are lit up with colorful lights, so we made our very own colorful ice!  Part science, part art, all FUN!
Sprinkle on some salt, watch the cracks and crevices form and fill them with liquid watercolor - easy!
I also discovered that this activity lasted much longer if I gave the ice balls an occasional rinse with water.  Once the children had a blank canvas again, they were eager to continue adding colors.  Monkey sat with this one for a good half hour!

For our next icy art project, we colored with markers and then 'painted' over our pictures with ice.  The ice causes the markers to bleed, softening the drawing and making it look like watercolors.

How about some ice cube painting??!!  I used my star-shaped ice cube trays with water and some liquid watercolor and added tiny craft sticks to make it easier (and warmer) for little hands.  Here's a tip: let the cubes sit for a few minutes before starting to paint.  Once they've begun to melt, the color glides onto the paper smoothly.

Our final icy art project, Ice Sculpture, isn't actually ice at all.
These are corn starch packing peanuts that just happened to show up in a box last week.  I decided "ice" sculpting sounded like a wonderful way to start our next class.  Just a tiny dab of water and these peanuts stick together to create anything a child can imagine!
Even toddlers can get in on the sculpting action!
My students went home with extremely impressive sculptures!  I wish I had pictures of all of them!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Preschool Science: Water!

We had a blast last week exploring all things water and ice!  I think next year, I will have to expand this topic for at least another week, we did so much and there is still so much left to discover!

We started the week off with an Absorb/Repel Exploration Station, inspired by Little Bins for Little Hands.  I set up a variety of items including foil, foam, a sponge, a tissue, a cloth napkin, a plastic bag, a wooden block, a plastic block, parchment paper, construction paper and bubble wrap.  I secured everything to the table and gave the children a bowl of water and a pipette and the testing began.
As they tested, we used the words ABSORB and REPEL.  Bear was surprised that the parchment paper repelled at first, but after a while, absorbed the water he had put on it earlier.  He kept testing and testing, just to be sure it would happen every time.
After all of our testing was complete, we documented our findings in our science journals.

To further demonstrate absorption, we built sugar cube towers and added some water and food coloring.  Then we watched.
I think I got a bit excited about the rapid absorption and we ended up with a puddle.
But then we added a new word to our science adventures: DISSOLVE!!
The second time around, I was a bit more conservative and our towers stayed upright.
It took a loooooooong time, but that color did finally make its way up to the second cube.

Later in the week, we had a Float/Sink Exploration Station.  
I used a few fun holiday items we had around the classroom as well as a penny, rock, marble, plastic lid, wooden bead, plastic shape cutter, etc.  Anything would work as long as there is a balance of items that will sink and float.
I nearly had to drag the kiddos away from this one to document!!

More water and ice fun coming soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Magnetic Names Sensory Play

Part of our December curriculum is focusing a bit more on the kiddos' names.  I created a magnetic letter sensory bin - also known as 'fishing for letters'.

The bin contains leftover rainbow rice, magnetic letters, magnetic wands and laminated name cards for each child which match the letters.

Basically, each child finds the correct name card and uses the magnet wand to 'catch' a letter.  They either match the letter to the card or 'throw it back' until they have filled their whole name.

At first the children were a bit thrown off by the contents of the table.  Usually, there are ways to scoop, pour and measure our sensory items, but after a quick explanation and the addition of a 'table' to hold the name cards, they were off and 'fishing'!

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