It's hard to believe it's already December and all of the classes have been enjoying science and are excited to discover the many new ideas and science concepts this year!! The Science Program is child-centered and inquiry based and all activities are presented in a fun atmosphere that encourages the development of cognitive skills, encourages speech, introduces and reinforces vocabulary and of course presents many scientific concepts and facts about the natural world.
In toddlers, we have used test tubes with screw tops, test tube holders, pom poms, squeezy tweezers, fizzy color tabs, water balloons, bubbles and many other scientific tools to introduce the children to science and experimentation. We have experimented with pumpkins, seeds, floating and sinking, hot and cold, over and under, and bubbles and balloons. We have also learned about some of the resident animals. All of the children really seem to enjoy their science time. A few of their favorite lessons included making primary and secondary colors in test tubes, making bubbles and playing with them, making a skeleton, and making our glittery test tubes.
The nursery classes have been using their senses to explore and discover many different science concepts. We started out by using and learning the names of scientific tools such as test tubes, scales, magnifying glasses, measuring cups, beakers, large droppers and magnets.
Each lesson is specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of each class. Some of the nursery lessons involved pouring, weighing, measuring and estimating, as well as looking at collections, bones, making slime and identifying leaves. Concepts such as hot/cold, heavy/light, sink/float and real/fake were also introduced. The children were also guided to identify different animals and their characteristics such as how many legs and type of tails and identify things that are alive. They also looked at different types of birds and their feathers which led to a lesson about turkeys.
We just started exploring magnets, which the children really seem to enjoy. They have also interacted with our duck Solo, the rabbits and the snakes.
Full day nursery made their own primary colors using test tubes, water and fizzy tabs. They explored hot and cold with their hands, then using thermometers. They also went on nature hikes where they learned to identify different types of plants, trees, mushrooms, roots, animal tracks and animal hiding spots. They have enjoyed feeding our turtles and our blue tongued skink called Azul.
The Pre-K began the year with a unit about living and non-living things. First, we studied the characteristics of living things, then compared them to non living things. We identified the similarities and differences between the two using our live animals, our collection of artifacts and Crestwood's grounds. We culminated the unit with "scientific" drawings of living and non-living things.
The next unit we covered was feathers, fur and scales. I introduced the children to 4 different groups of animals, mammals, birds, reptiles and fish using our live animals and Ms. Fro's collections of bones, feathers and other animal artifacts.
We then focused on animals with bones and without bones. The children learned to identify the names and locations of some of the major bones in many living things. They then made a skeleton made out of pasta where they were able to name the major bones. At Halloween time we questioned whether two liquids mixed together could form a solid. We had fun and mixed two liquids to make green slime. We also talked about bats, which the children learned is the only mammal that can fly.
Camouflage in the animal kingdom was next, so we talked about how, when, where and why animals camouflage themselves. The Camouflage discussions naturally led to a discussion of wild turkeys which have great camouflage. We continued with a short unit comparing and contrasting wild and domestic turkeys. We used our duck Solo to see camouflage in action as she does look a bit like a wild turkey.
Then we talked about trees and their leaves focusing on the Oak and Maple trees at Crestwood. We discussed the colors, shapes, sizes and the jobs of the leaves. Currently, we are finishing up a unit on the "states of matter", concentrating on solids and liquids and identifying the characteristics of both. The children had to identify five liquids and five solids and draw them to create a small poster about matter.
The full day pre-k just began a unit about nature. We have gone on hikes to identify many different trees and plants like poison ivy, oak trees and maple trees. They have also gone on foraging hikes where they found common plants that are edible like dandelion, sassafras and walnuts. They were introduced to "density" by using balance scales to put test tubes filled with different substances in order from heaviest to lightest and learned that the same amount of different substances can weigh different amounts. They made Halloween in a bottle which was also related to density. They were exposed to the idea of sound waves and made simple telephones with cups and string. Gathering pine cones and using sunflower butter and sunflower seeds from our garden to make bird feeders was a favorite!! The children also played with and fed lizards and bunnies. Most recently we learned about the body and its systems, listened to our hearts with a stethoscope and learned about the good guys in our body that fight the bad guys to keep us healthy.
The kindergarten class started this year with an experiment about air. They held hand boilers and their body heat expanded the air in the boiler, which makes the liquid look as if it were really boiling.
Then, we started work in the garden. The children learned about seeds and how plants reproduce. We harvested many seeds and they saw that all plants have different seeds. We then studied the seeds and identified their similarities and differences. This led to a discussion about fruits and vegetables and how and why they produce seeds differently. We also talked about farms and gardens and why they are so important. Some of the plants and seeds the class harvested were zinnias, moon flowers, sunflowers, pumpkins, mint, dill, onion, parsley and basil. We used our senses to identify the characteristics of the plants. We harvested and cleaned basil leaves to make pesto, which the children really enjoyed eating on spaghetti the following day!! Some even had seconds!! We continued to work in the garden harvesting parsley and kale for our animals, doing a fall clean-up and preparing the garden for winter. We discussed plans for the spring and packaged many of the seeds we harvested to plant next year. The children learned the cycle of the seed through hands on experiences.
The next unit focused on animals with and without bones. This led to exploring human and animal skeletons and we studied the names and locations of many of our bones. When the children were ready, we began scientific drawing as we studied the actual shapes of the bones and not our preconceived notions of what they look like. The children completed fantastic drawings of skeletons using white pencils on black paper!! We concentrated on scientific drawing which the children seemed to love. Using a guided discovery method we drew a squid, a panda, a mouse and some stuffed animals concentrating on the shapes that make up the animal.
We just completed a unit on solids, liquids, and gases, which I introduced by having the children make "Oobleck", a substance that seems to be both a liquid and a solid. So much fun, but what a mess!! Next, we played with ice and discussed how substances change back and forth between the solid, liquid and gas states. We brainstormed to makes a list of words to describe "Oobleck" and made lists of solids and liquids, comparing and contrasting the two states of matter. The children just finished a brochure called "Everything is Made of Matter". Next on to weather, and then density....
In addition, Miss Eileen and I are starting a school wide composting program. We purchased and put together a large composter and will be introducing composting and tying it in with the garden program.
Enjoy the Holidays!!