Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Ocean of Truth: Ocean Water Pollution Experiment

Did you know that we can only drink 1% of the earth's water? The rest of the water is entirely too salty for human consumption. This is one of the major reasons we need to protect and guard this precious, life-sustaining natural resource with great care.

The following article from the website, Ducksters.com, has an ocean's worth of informative and interesting information that can be easily geared to a preschool audience. Please click on the following link in order to view: Water Pollution

I created the following experiment to teach my students about the seriousness of water pollution on our environment, our marine food supply, and our economy.

Subject: Science (Ecology): Understanding and identifying reasons why and how oceans and natural waterways are becoming polluted by both natural and man-made wastes.


Things You Will Need For The Ocean of Truth Ocean Water Pollution Experiment 
Large, Unbreakable Rectangular Container
Clean Water
Small amount of unbrewed coffee (waste from construction sites and natural disasters (volcanoes etc.)
Yellow food coloring (Animal waste)
Green food coloring (Pesticides/Fertilizers)
Black acrylic paint (Oil spill)
Plastic bottles, paper, tin cans etc (Litter)
Globe


How to Teach Students With The Ocean of Truth Water Pollution Experiment

  1. Begin the lesson by showing the children a globe. Explain to them that water is very special and should not be wasted because we can drink only a small amount of the earth's water. Point to various oceans and explain that much of the water cannot be drunk because it is too salty. Continue the lesson, by asking the children if they know what the word water pollution means. Have the children voice their opinions over this new vocabulary word and then tell them what the word means. Water pollution is when we or animals make the water dirty by the things we use such as fertilizers to help make our plants grow, oil that spills into the ocean from ships, throwing garbage into the water and animals going to the bathroom in the water. Go on to explain that when we get our water dirty, the fish cannot get enough air to breath and die, we cannot drink or swim in the water, people and animals can get sick, etc. Also remember to tell the children that all water (including the water that we drink) can become polluted. 
  2. Tell the children that you are going to show them what polluted water looks like. 
  3. Start the experiment by showing the students fresh clean "ocean" water. Previously, you had filled a large, unbreakable rectangular container with water. 
  4. First, show the children what happens when animals go to the bathroom in the water (Yellow food coloring). 
  5. Next, put in the green food coloring which depicts the pesticides and fertilizers that we use to help our plants grow. 
  6. Put in a small amount of unbrewed coffee. This shows the children that the silt from construction sites and natural disasters such as volcanoes also leaves its mark on the ocean.
  7. Lastly, scatter in plastic bottles, paper, tin cans and other items which humans use on a daily basis and carelessly throw in the water. Explain to students that when they throw things in the water they are littering. Due to the huge environmental issues we are facing, it is now against the law to litter and you will need to pay money (aka a fine) if you are caught doing this. 

Extension Activities: Brainstorm ideas about ways that we can stop pollution. Some ways we can stop pollution is by throwing our garbage in garbage bins or recycling, not using pesticides or fertilizers, and making sure to properly dispose of hazardous wastes such as household chemicals. 

Go on a class litter walk in your neighborhood. Use garbage bags and wear gloves when picking up litter. (Older students should perform this activity.) 
















Thursday, April 9, 2015

Snuggle In Your Blankie! My Mother's Gorgeous Blanket For Project Linus

Everyone remembers the lovable, blanket toting character Linus from our favorite Peanuts cartoons whose quirky charm and sweetness touched our hearts every time. Well did you know that you too can touch the hearts of hundreds of traumatized and ill children with the gift of warmth and comfort?

Head on over to Project Linus to find out how to volunteer your time or create a fluffy quilt for a child in need of a little TLC. Each one of these blankets are given to children in hospitals and schools across the country in times of crisis.

My mother is one of the hundreds of women who have given back with their sewing skills by quilting one of these textile sensations. My mom painstakingly stitched and appliqued each one of the bodacious bunnies with extra care in hope that this blanket would soothe away a child's fears and tears and reassure them of a better tomorrow.

Look below at the adorable masterpiece designed using scraps of fabric, thread and most importantly love.








A Woman of the World: Creating a Paper Mache Globe


Since a recently deflated blow-up globe situation occured during an overly rambunctious play time session, I have wanted to buy another globe. Instead of spending the buckaroos, I decided to create one using an old map, a balloon, newspaper strips, an old map, paper mache paste and good old-fashioned paint. Below you will find a link to the paper mache recipe on DLTK.com and directions to make this stunning sphere.

Things Needed to Make Globe 

Newspaper Strips
Paper Mache Paste from DLTK.com (Link: How to Make Paper Mache Paste)
Blown-up Balloon
Electric Fan
Small Pin
Blue Paint
Old Map
Watered-down Glue

How to Make

  1. Blow up a balloon.
  2. Make paper mache paste from DLTK.com
  3. Cut or rip strips of newspaper and gently dip strips in the paper mache paste. Make sure there is only a small amount of paste on the strips. Otherwise, your newspaper strips may rip and tear. 
  4. Place strips on balloon and smooth down any bumps from paste with your palms and fingers. 
  5. Continue this process until the entire balloon is covered in newspaper strips
  6. After you are finished, place the balloon in front of a fan and turn every few hours to make sure it dries evenly. 
  7. After the paper mache covering has dried, pop the balloon with a small pin. 
  8. You will be left with the paper mache shell which you will paint blue. 
  9. After your paint has dried, use a watered - down glue mixture to place the continents you previously cut out from an old map on the balloon. Put a thin layer of watered-down glue on top of the continents to seal your globe. 
  10. Let the globe dry and show it to your students. 




Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s Quite Jarring!: Ecology/Ecosystem Discovery Jars

It’s okay to be an eco-geek with this engaging, woodsy Ecology/Ecosystem Discovery Jar which allows a child to engage in scientific discovery and questioning, view items found in his or her local environment such as twigs, rocks and leaves, and create a mini-ecosystem within a small, contained area. 

Ideas for Ecology/Ecosystem Discovery Jars include a beach scene complete with shells, sand and driftwood, a desert with cactus and sand, and a forest with forest dwelling flowers, leaves etc. You could even add small, plastic animal figurines found in craft stores to the jars for extra pizazz.  

*Please make sure when collecting items for these jars that the items you are choosing from are freely available to you (many arboretums and gardens do not want their flowers/tree specimens taken from park grounds even if they are found on the ground. Most importantly, never touch mushrooms or any plant that may be poisonous to children or pets!*

*Remember to seal the lid of the jar with clear shipping tape so that the more adventurous of your students does not try to take the forest home with them!*

So grab a plastic jar (s), such as the one found at the Dollar Tree, to design your very own miniature woodland, prairie or beach or desert. 

Extension: This activity would be wonderful for an eco-based craft or at your science center! You could have your students go on a short field trip around your neighborhood or school park to gather the natural beauties for the jars. 

In circle time, you could discuss the different textures, sizes, colors and shapes of the items and ask why the students' think these plants live in the area. 

Extra rocks could be painted and given as paper weight gifts to parents for Earth Day!

Stiff, fir leave branches could be used as "paintbrushes" at your easel area. 



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rocking Those Rocks!: Geology Dramatic Play Center

My class is really going to be digging the newest dramatic play center I've created during our Earth/Environment unit: A Geologists Office.

Dramatic play is not just play, but a journey that helps foster children's use of scientific thinking such as cause and effect and scientific language, critical thinking skills, early communication (language arts) and social skills such as turn taking, mathematical concepts (more/less etc.), imaginative thought and insight into our community and occupational roles (social studies).

Our little geologists will delve into the rocky world of geology by:

  • examining rock types
  • using magnifying glasses to take a closer look at items such as fossils and shark's teeth,
  • feel recreated fossils made from a hardened clay
  • try on dinosaur mitts and view toy dinosaurs
  • See a paper mache dinosaur bone/egg (paleontology is a form of geology) 
  • Type on a make believe computer created from a small box that was painted black and a screen made from an old calendar. 

Other items that will appear in the center include pieces of bark, pine cones, and other items that relate to the earth due to the ecological/Arbor Day influence of our unit. 

Remember to explain to students what a geologist is before having them play within the center so they can better understand and create role-playing situations based on this scientific career. 

In my next post, I will explain how to create an Ecology Discovery Jar!



What In the World!?: Learning About What's Inside the Earth and Model of Our Moon/Earth Orbit

The children are becoming more worldly about the Earth, the colossal planet we call home. A simple and unique way to teach children about the anatomy of the earth is by creating a simple cross section using a coloring page template or a Cricut Machine diecut from the Stand and Salute cartridge.

Subject: Science: To show that the earth is a living entity, not just a floating ball of matter in outer space and to identify the earth's layers.

The Earth consists of 4 parts: the Crust, Mantle, Outer Core and Inner Core. Make sure to write down some easy facts which preschoolers will comprehend about each of the earth's layers. The information I gathered  was from the following websites:




This video from Make Me Genius gives even the littlest children insight into this cosmic complexity by likening the earth's layers to that of a hard-boiled egg. 







The What In the World! Earth Cross-Section

Materials
Earth Template (Double trace this so that you will have a front and back cover)
Red, yellow, orange and brown scrapbook or construction paper
Glue
Scissors 
Word processing system to create titles 
Pinking shears (Fancy scissors that create the tooth-like design on titles) 
Brads or a stapler to create the book-style, cross-section earth 

To Make: 
  1. Print out an earth template from Internet by using a coloring page, drawing by hand or using a diecut machine such as Stand and Salute by Cricut cartridge. 
  2. Assemble diecut pieces using glue or a glue tape runner (if used Stand and Salute cartridge).
  3. If tracing by using a coloring page or hand-drawn template, trace earth twice and cut out using scissors. 
  4. Using the back section of your earth, trace and cut out a piece of red scrapbook paper of equal size as the shape of the earth. 
  5. Glue the red scrapbook paper to the back section of your earth. This will represent the 1st layer of the earth: The crust. 
  6. Continue to create smaller circles which represent the mantle (orange paper), inner and outer core (yellow and brown) out of scrapbook paper to create a stacked circle design. 
  7. Glue each layer of paper on top of each other using glue. 
  8. Using a word processing system, create titles for each layer of the earth. 
  9. For a decorative touch, use pinking shears to give a tooth-like design to your hand-cut titles and glue titles to appropriate areas. 
  10. Use brads or a stapler to finish your book-style, cross section earth. 

If laminated, this can be used in the Science Center or as an individual lesson. 

Moon Earth Orbit Model
I also found a wonderful way to show children how the earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the earth through the teacherspayteachers.com site entitled Space Model of Moon Earth Orbit. You will have to sign-up for free in order to download. 

Space Model of Moon Earth Orbit by Melissa Iglesias (Her website is moretime2teach.blogspot.com). Please click on the following link to download this awesome model. 



I'd also like to wish everyone a very Happy Easter! 






Sunday, March 1, 2015

How are You Feeling?: Baby-themed Feely Box

The children really “felt” what it was like to be a baby by examining items such as pacifiers, teething rings, sippy cups and bottles used by our littlest cuties on a daily basis. 

The children reached inside the box with their eyes tightly closed and guessed what the baby item was by their sense of touch (science: identifying items through sense of touch) during morning circle

Other subjects we explored included social studies: understanding items used in the daily lives of babies and language arts: identifying and recognizing baby objects by name. 

Most of the items were purchased from The Dollar Tree, except for the piece of cardboard which was gotten from an old cardboard box. 

Items Needed 
  • Plastic Bin Available from Dollar Tree 
  • Hole Punch 
  • Plastic zip ties or strong string to attach cardboard top 
  • Baby items such as socks, pacifiers, spoons, dishes etc. 
  • Scissors to cut a large enough hole in cardboard for children to reach in box. 
  • Clear shipping tape to make the box top sturdier.
How to Make 
  1. Buy baby items and place within the plastic bin.
  2. Cut a box top from a cardboard box to fit your bin. 
  3. Cut a hole large enough for children’s hands to reach into with fingers. 
  4. Use a hole punch to punch holes in side of plastic bin and cardboard lid. Make sure that they line up properly.
  5. Attach zip ties or sting to hold top of box onto feely box bin. 
  6. Use clear shipping tape to stabilize and strengthen feely box top. 
See Below for the finished project!