"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feeding the Birds: Winter Food Source

We've recently been learning lots through our theme of Winter. We've been learning how animals and people cope during this season. We have discussed wearing extra layers of clothes, eating/drinking warm food/drink, using a heat source, and more for people. We then began thinking about animals during this time of year. We have discussed how some hibernate and others migrate. We have discussed how fur helps animals stay warmer and how some animals have blubber to keep them better insulated. We began discussing the local birds that do not migrate and decided we wanted to do something for them. Thus was born the idea of making a bird-feeder.

We began with collecting the cardboard inserts from paper towel rolls. We cut them in half and used a hole punch to punch two holes at one end. We then provided each child with a good amount of peanut butter and a plastic knife. 

Each child was encouraged to spread the peanut butter all over the roll. Advising them to either hold the end of the roll or inserting their hand in it, helped them have more control while spreading.

After it was covered well with peanut butter, each child got to roll the peanut butter covered cardboard roll in birdseed, covering it as best they could. In the bottom corner of the photo above you can see a completed one.

When the roll was covered to the child's liking, it was placed in another tub to dry a little. When it was "set", a pipe cleaner (chenille stem) was folded in half and the two ends turned up so that it could be a hanger for the feeder. We did place them in plastic baggies to transport them home.

The children were instructed to ask a parent to hang the feeder up and to report back to us the bird sightings they observed.

Modifications should be made as necessary. For example, if you have children with nut allergies, something else would need to be substituted for the peanut butter. The assistant who provided the plastic knives filed down the serrated edges, but you might choose not to do this and use it as a lesson in safety. 

The children were very excited about the whole process and I can't wait to hear about their bird sightings. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ice Ice, Baby: Preschool Science

It's the time of year when you hear people exclaiming about it being cold outside. We just returned from our break and dove straight into a unit on Winter. And what Winter unit would be complete without studying ice?

We began with each child scooping water into a waiting cup with their name on it. At this point we discussed that as water it is in a liquid form and asked them to make a hypothesis as to what would happen to the water after we placed it in the freezer for some time. Many readily responded that it would become ice and we discussed that ice is the solid form of water.

I had done this activity in years past, but wanted to change it up a bit. I pulled out the liquid watercolors from Discount School Supply and asked each child to choose the color they would like added to their water from yellow, blue, or red. One thing I didn't realize until I checked on the experiment partially through the freezing process was that the color was going to stain if the children touched it with their hands...another science experiment we hadn't planned. My staff and I decided that we'd have each child place a glove on their dominant hand to minimize the staining.


The next day each child was given their ice cup and encouraged to explore with it. We didn't tell them specifically what to do with it, as we wanted to see what they would come up with on their own. We did give them some safety guidelines: Touch the ice with the gloved hand, don't attempt to eat the ice, and don't throw it at a friend.

Some chose to hold it in their hand until it melted and some took turns holding the ice of a friend and made the realization of the newly created secondary color on their glove when doing so.

Some friends decided to throw their ice on the blacktop and some decided to stomp on it.

Some even chose to watch what others were doing, but held on to theirs a little longer. 

Then some collected the broken pieces. The next day we went outside and were able to observe where the pieces had completely melted down and had temporarily stained the surface, which brought up more investigative questions. It was a chilly, but fun time.