Sunday, October 28, 2012

By The Light Of The Moon...

Hello Science Friends,
There just is no denying it...this is the time of year that the children begin talking about the night. And soon the time will change and the long summer days will seem like a distant memory. But with the change of any season we all look forward to what the coming season has to offer. Right now the children are talking about the sights and sounds of Halloween night. Those conversations had me inspired to look for new books. I came across this book Moonlight by Cynthia Rylant. I was drawn in by the cover and title of the book since they have been hot topics in my classroom this week. As soon as I opened the book I knew I had to have it. There is just something about a Cynthia Rylant book that just sings to me. All this chatter about the night made me think this would be a good time to gather a little inspiration and maybe encourage some observations and non fiction writing about the...night.
If you need to have some observing the night sky fun too just click on the link and grab yours!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Hello Science Friends,
Well our Observation Jars have turned in to Observation Trays and let me tell you they are a huge hit and just a little bit creepy. These are so perfect for Describing the Properties of an Object and they can get just about any Kinder kids excited for some serious notebooking. We have had so much fun with it that we had to add some other items to investigate and describe. In just a few days our Grow Me's changed quite a bit and I really love the new addition this year of the regular sized object that we can use for comparison. The kids did like the natural objects when they were added. I wonder what we will put in there next...we still have room for more!
Who can resist a little creepy Science fun?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wild Texas Bluebonnets!

Hello Science Friends,
It's that time of year again...bluebonnet seed planting time in the south. Each time I see a field of Texas Bluebonnets I get the feeling I am home. Last year I was able to purchase Bluebonnet seeds off of ebay for a very good price. I have spent years trying to track down seeds at my local stores and when I find them it is not planting season. I was able to find them online last year and considering it was so easy I decided I would do the same this year too! There is a little prep with these seeds but it is worth it and it is not too difficult. This year I am going to take pictures of the steps to prep the seeds and show the kids.
If you are interested in planting your own seeds, I have found some good information to help you get started right HERE! I am hoping to have some good luck this year and keeping my fingers crossed for some beautiful Texas Bluebonnets for our Spirit Garden this spring! With any luck and a green thumb it just might happen!  
Maybe we will get lucky and have Texas Bluebonnets in bloom this year during Texas Public School Week and during our Texas Our Texas unit in Kindergarten!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grow Me Observation Jars!

Hello Science Friends,
Call me crazy but I love Growing Brains this time of year. I used these in my classroom last year and had a lot of fun with Grow Me's. Last year we used these brains for some observation and notebooking activities. This year I wanted to change a few things about our activity. Instead of having just another object to compare the growing brain to, I wanted to have a brain that we grew in water and a brain that we did not put in water. When we remove the brain that has been in water and "grew" we would have a dry brain to compare it to and this way we always knew the actual size of the original brain and it helps us to see just how much the brain changed.
Last year, this is how we started our activity. We compared the brain to a decorative rock so we could have an idea of the size of the brain. We also thought of different items the brain was similar in size to. But like I said, it was so hard to really remember the size of the brain before so that is why this year I have purchased two of every Grow Me because we need to be able to compare the dry to the wet brain. 

We added our brain to our jar, added water and added our magic yellow tablet. We observed the reaction.

We added another magic tablet and observed the changes and made predictions.

This activity provided us the perfect opportunity to observe, discuss, notebook and communicate our understandings with each other.

We even had a little fun pretending to be The Scientist of the Day during our Science Meeting! During our Scientist Meetings we get a chance to use Science Vocabulary, share our understandings and learn the thinking of each other.  

I think we are ready to start some serious investigations!
This year I have changed the activity up a little bit. I now have several Observation Jars. I plan on using them during our Science Time and as a choice writing activity in other parts of our day. In Science, the Observation Jars will serve as the activity that the children can work on if they finish Science Investigations early. This is a great way to have children practice notebooking which can sometimes be difficult for young children.
I like to use Tub Tints instead of food coloring anytime I need to add color. Tub tints do not stain and are less messy and are perfect for Kindergarten Science. You can find them in the bath section or toy section in most discount stores. The children know that these jars are for observation only. When we need to remove and item to look at it an adult will help. I always explain that if someone decides to open an Observation Jar, it will be the last time they will be allowed to use it. I did not have any problems at all last year.
So where is the Science in this activity? It falls under the category of Scientific investigation and reasoning. The student develops abilities to ask questions and seek answers in classroom and outdoor investigations. The student is expected to ask questions about objects, plan and conduct simple descriptive investigations, collect data and make observations using simple equipment such as hand lenses, primary balances, record and organize data and observations using pictures, numbers, and words and communicate observations with others about simple descriptive investigations. I am excited to incorporate the use of primary balances with this activity this year! If you would like to create Observation Jars for your classroom you can find the canisters seen here at Walmart, Tub Tints were found at Target and Grow Me's come from Dollar Tree. Have fun investigating!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Why I Love Rocks!

Hello Science Friends,
I have to confess. I like rocks. I bet you do too. There was a time when teaching young children about rocks seemed less than fun. Maybe you have been there too. I decided a few years ago I had to take matters into my own hands because kids just like rocks! And now I don't just like rocks, I think I love rocks! With a little preparation and just a little effort, I bet you will love teaching rocks as much as I do. One of the biggest problems I faced was not having rocks in order to teach with. But the truth is that one of my most successful rock years was a unit centered around playground rocks.
I will admit you might have to get real close to see some of the differences in those rocks but they are there. If you challenge a Kinder kid to find interesting rocks they always do. And if you need some more rocks ask your kids to search at home too!
Rock collecting can be fun. It can also be an excuse to use a hand lens and get outside and investigate the natural world. And isn't that accomplishing on of those field investigation objectives at the same time? Isn't it sounding a lot easier already?

If you just can't find enough rocks while hopping through the fields investigating then I have the best kept secret for you. Dollar Tree has the best rocks in great big bags for a dollar each. And don't be fooled, there are some cool rocks in each bag. At most stores they carry three different types of rocks. You are going to want one of each bag. Yep, they are that good.

 Three bags will get you a good amount of rocks and probably get you through some serious rock investigations. You may even find a tiger striped one like we did. If so, just expect it will be a popular rock.

Now if you are getting excited about rocks and you feel like reading Everybody Needs A Rock just go with it. And then you might realize that you are feeling so generous that everybody really needs their own rock...just one more bag of rocks will do! You know you can't read it without giving a special rock! You see, rocks are starting to be kind of fun. I told you.
If you are like me then now you are probably going to want to pick up this rock alphabet book. Ahhh, some integration don't we just love it? Rocks are fun. And if you get this book, I swear you will start thinking of making a rock alphabet with a cool silver Sharpie and yet another bag of rocks! Are you going to make an uppercase set without a lowercase set? I bet not. I wouldn't either. Oh my, what about numbers too? What the heck, just about three more bags of rocks and you are now gearing up for some real science fun investigating rocks!
 You know once you get into it the kids are going to ask for just one more rock book! Under One Rock is the answer. I bet your library will have all of these for your great rock explorations. And who would want to have a rock unit without some great books?
 Even Martha Stewart knows rocks are cool. Don't you love the letter rocks? I want to get my hands on those now...
So what do kinder kids really look like when investigating rocks? I get that question a lot. Well, I will tell you they are quiet and both hands are busy with a hand lens and a rock! They like to look close and see every little detail and they get good at it. And they get good at describing rocks by their properties.
And when I see and hear Kinder kids observing, describing and recording the properties of a rock, it makes me want to smile a big nature loving girl smile. It was worth all those trips to the store for more rocks and all those rock hopping trips through nature for those special rocks because they are... developing young scientists.
Ok, so where is the Science? The Science is in the ability to describe the properties of an object and our object is a rock! Now this can take some serious work on your part. At first, this is difficult for young children and second language learners and that is why we created this anchor chart. We use it to help us remember how we can describe a rock. It looks simple but this is one of the best teaching tools. And you will be amazed that children begin to do this naturally. I am serious. But the trick is multiple hands-on investigations and after each investigation we follow up with a Scientist meeting. These meetings give us a chance to hear each other describe the properties of a rock and it gives all of us a chance to use these descriptions.
 Not the best picture I will admit but this is an example of what we knew just after two investigations. Now you see how exciting rocks can really be!
Feel free to grab your Rock Parent Letter and Describing Properties of an Object poster and get started investigating. I think that the rock bag total was about seven bags if you want to do everything mentioned here. So that is about seven bucks of rock fun!
If you previously purchased my Developing Young Scientists Rock Unit please look for your notification for the new download. Have fun investigating the natural world!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Field Investigations!

Hey Science Friends,
At my school we are so lucky to be a part of Real School Gardens. We were able to participate in a visit from Real School Gardens this week. As part of our Science Objectives for our state we are required to have field investigations for a large majority of our Science time. Having a school garden really helps to make those investigations meaningful and interesting.
This visit came at the perfect time for my class. We have talked so much about investigating with My Five Senses. We were able to discuss Properties of Matter and use some wonderful sensory language as we worked our way through the garden. We were all amazed at how many different textures we were able to feel. And you know we had to touch everything...
So, off we went investigating...
We even stopped for a minute to listen...
We were able to observe quite a few butterflies around the butterfly bushes. They stayed around us for a while and we were able to watch them and see them up close.
 We were able to see bees working in the bushes too!
 We found some interesting textures and used some great sensory language to describe what we could feel.
 We discovered living things.
And non living things.
And even some living things living in non living things, oh my!
And we finally learned what these are... This is where the earthworms will come up for air the next time it rains. And we are sure going to be looking for that!
 We collected some interesting things. And wondered what some of them were.
Some collections were small.
And some were strange.
And on our last trip around the garden we started to notice something...
So we had to talk about it and problem solve.
 We made a plan and put our plan into action!
And we learned that we can solve problems...even big problems.
And then we were play!


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