Friday, July 29, 2011

Shark ABC Attack

I have been scouring the computer for fun activities and games to help "A" with reading sight words and lowercase letters. I recently came across I Heart Crafty Things and saw the cutest game with a homemade shark that eats flashcards. It was so simple and adorable I had to make one. Let alone, I knew this would be a way to look at flashcards that "A" wouldn't run shrieking away from. Man, was I right...he loved the game and did some good reading as well! The game is to put flashcards (we made homemade ones that look like fish) with letters or sight words face up on the floor or table. Next you say, "Mr. Shark is looking for the letter..." They choose the letter and if it is correct they get to feed the shark. If you are doing a word you would say, "Mr. Shark is looking for the word...." It truly was a hit and can't wait to play it again! If you want to play this game and make a shark of your own get a legal size envelope and seal it. Next color it gray. Cut out a large triangle from the side. Clue the triangle you cut out so it is sealed on all sides. This will be glued to the top to make your fin. Next put a googly eye,tooth and gills. In I Heart Crafty Things she used felt teeth and yarn for fins but I just used what I had on hand-paper.

I chose lowercase letters that don't look like their uppercase and some sight words

Grains of Sand

This is actually a special project "A" does with my mother. My mom LOVES collections! Recently she started a sand collection for/with "A". Each time someone goes to a place that may have sand she has them take samples that she puts in glass jars. She even took sand from "A's" sandbox! Being a rock-hound (like me) she wanted "A" to see how sand looks different when taken from different areas. Here are some countries "A" has sand from:
  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • Honduras
  • Grand Cayman
  • United States: Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Washington
  • Awaiting sand for Japan from "A's" aunt in Okinawa
Collection so far
The darker grains (they have fun sorting colors and particle size)
Lighter Grains

To help "A's" understanding of how sand is made and why they differ I got the book Jump into Science with National Geographic:Sand by Ellen Prager for us to read. In the book, they show close up of sand and I found an amazing slideshow of similar close-up pictures of grains of sand that was published in May 2008 Discover Magazine. To view the entire slideshow click here.
Page from the book looking at different sands
Close up of sand from Greece (photo from Discover Magazine)
Grain of Massachusetts sand as piece of art from Discover Magazine
Photo from Discover Magazine (Okinawa Japan)
This is just one of the many reasons why "A" and my mom have such a great bond!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Water Cycle for Preschoolers

I decided to do two science experiments for "A" to better understand the water cycle. One of the science experiments took 24 hours for observation so I prepped it yesterday. I filled two water bottles out 2/3 full. I made a mark on the bottle so we could make sure they were both at the same level. I explained to "A" that in every experiment everything is exactly the same but one thing, that is called the variable. In this experiment the variable would be the lid. One water bottle we would put the lid on and the other one we would leave off. Next we set both bottles outside in the sun for 24 hours. The next morning I had him infer what was happening. I asked him why he thought the bottle without the lid would be a little lower than the one with the lid? He wasn't sure but thought "something may have drunk a sip". Then I asked him what all the drops on the inside of the bottle above the water could be? He guessed rain! Ahh-but how would the rain get in the bottle with the lid on it?
Bottles yesterday
Bottles 24 hours later. Notice water droplets at top.
Next we watched a free book being read aloud on the computer called Drippy the Raindrop: To the Mountain and Back. To read this great book about the water cycle created for preschoolers go here.  Once the Drippy book was over I had "A" color a simple water cycle at Kidzone.

After getting a better understanding about the water cycle we did a cotton ball experiment found at first-school. I gave "A" a cotton ball and said since we are talking about the watercycle what do he think the cottonball would be in the story? At first he said Drippy the raindrop. I redirected and asked if the cottonball looked like a raindrop. Once he said no he then figured out it was a cloud. I asked him to tell me what it felt like:"soft, squishy, light". Then he gently put it over a small bowl of water (our ocean). It was important he didn't submerge it. The cotton slowly would fill with water. Putting the cottonball down was to represent evaportation and as it filled with water condensation. Once the cottonball was filled I asked him to describe it again:"wet,cold and heavier". When the ball started to drip I asked him what that would be in the water cycle. He correctly said rain. I asked him why he thought it would drip water? I was hoping he would say that the cottonball was too full of water but it took him a while to get there. After we watched the precipation I asked where the drops were going? Since they were going back into our bowl (ocean) the water was doing the next stage-collection.
Getting ready to "evaporate"
Since we understood the cycle we went back and talked about our two water bottles. I wanted to see if he wanted to change his guess of what the water droplets were. He then said the "rain was trying to get back into the clouds". Right! It was water that had evaporated. So then why now would he think that the water without a lid had a little less water than the one with the lid? He then figured that those "raindrops could leave the bottle and reach the clouds". YAY!!!
Our science notes from the experiments for his science journal (along with water cycle coloring).

Treasures in Ice

We recently read the picture book, Immi's Gift by Karin Littlewood. It is a sweet story of a little girl in the Arctic who finds a treasure while ice-fishing. The flotsam she finds brings color to her stark, white world. Later she sends off a piece of her world. We followed this up with a text-to-text connection with David Wiesner's Flotsam.

I have been scouring online for some water activities for this week's summer challenge, and ran across Counting Coconuts' frozen block of treasures. When I saw the picture it immediately reminded me of Immi's igloo. I knew I had to make one of our own! In a 9x12 glass dish I filled it with water, shells, coloful rocks, foam sea animals, letters from our family, and a large sea-star. I tried to do colored ice-cubes like Counting Coconuts but I was unsuccessful. "A" couldn't wait to "excavaute" the treasures and dropped the pan, so I don't have a whole block to show you, only pieces.-SO SAD!
From Immi's Gift

Our block isn't pretty but you get the idea!
Now that we made the block we needed to "excavate" the treasures. "A" and I thought of some things that may melt or break ice. "A" thought more about breaking by using his dinosaur excavating tools and his toy hammer. I added a water bottle, salt, and sugar to help facilitate melting. I knew all these 
items wouldn't work (sugar) but wanted "A" to try them for exploration. He said he would first try with the thing he knew wouldn't work -the water bottle. Hmm was he surprised by the results! Although he liked trying to break it we found the salt and water bottle the best at melting the ice to release our "flotsam".
Our Excavation Tools

Getting smaller now
This activity kept "A" busy for hours.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nature Tot Sensory Basket

Baby has had the kitchen sensory basket for almost a week. He has pulled items out a few times, but I could tell it was time to start something new. I have been finding and storing treasures from our nature walks and was excited to try "B" playing with some textures that were naturally made. I am overly cautious of finding items that baby won't choke on since he continually puts everything in his mouth and also we had a huge scare when he swallowed and choked on a twig that was transferred into the house on the dogs. "B" (at 6 months old) tried to get the twig to go down and then choked on his own fluids four times. Having my four year old call 911 and the local ER transporting him to a specialized children's hospital in another state, was so traumatic to the entire family. Eleven hours later, we found the twig and had it surgically removed. The fear of that day makes every mouth exploration sheer terror. So for this basket I have it stored up high and pull it out with him when I can have a watchful eye!

What is in the new basket:
Wood shavings for starting fires. Baby food container is taped shut. Makes a fun noise.

Water, Food Coloring, Mineral Oil, and Shells
These rocks are to make a shaker. One of his favorites!!!

The bag is feathers from a craft store. I open it for him to feel softness.
Finish Nature Sensory Basket!
 Baby Enjoying Basket:
Told Ya-Straight in the Mouth!
The moss was super intriguing.

Couldn't resist the tiny feet picture
Is this a happy baby or what? Nature Basket=HUGE Hit!
For the curious minded (pics of "B's" emergency):
Ambulance ride from local ER to Children's Hosptial

Getting vitals done. Brace is so they could keep the IV in.
In his overnight crib-right after the surgery

Twig that stuck. Scraped him up pretty bad too!
Happy (as if nothing every happened) in the hospital playroom the day after.