Saturday, June 29, 2013

What Dissolves? Science Experiment

Hi everyone! This is Sue Cahalane from Science for Kids Blog, I'm here on the 29th of every month.

Here is a fun, easy science experiment that I use to introduce my little ones to the concepts of predicting and experimenting:

 I set up 10 different solids on a table in my classroom- sand, salt, sugar, baking soda, spices such as oregano or pepper, drink mix (Kool Aid, chocolate milk, etc.), flour, coffee and baby powder. 

 I then let the children carry out the experiments themselves. Everyone works with a partner and my kids take turns deciding which solid to test. They add a scoop of the solid to water, stir and record results. It is a very independent experiment- I have a classroom of scientists predicting and experimenting at their own pace. They do not have to follow any order of testing the solids- they choose what they would like to experiment with. 

The children are not reading about science out of a text book nor are they watching me demonstrate 10 science experiments. They are doing the science experiments themselves & they LOVE being scientists! It is great to watch the children learn, explore and discover on their own.
For other science activities and freebies, please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Facebook page, Pinterest page & my Science for Kids Blog!

 Happy Summer!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Walnut Lady Bugs

If you know me, you may know, that I LOVE crafting with Walnut shells. I think it is a beautifully tacticle craft material to use with kids - it just has such a lovely shape and texture. And we are always looking for more and more things to make from Walnuts!

Already we have made little Walnut Baby Cots, Walnut Mice, Walnut Nests and Walnut Boats (some of which appear in my kids Craft Book - Red Ted Art)!

Today we would love to share our Walnut Lady Bugs! Super simple. Super cute.

The craft is simple:

Materials: A walnut shell per bug, red and black paint and optional black card for legs

1) Paint your shell red. 
2) Once dry, add a black face and spots.
3) In the meantime cut out a black body with legs and then glue the walnut shell on!

Done. Simple, no?

The fun thing though, is that you can add all sorts of different numbered dots to your Lady Bugs and then use them for counting and adding games. Brilliant.

Hope you enjoyed this little Summer Craft. If you are looking for more ideas, I have over 20 Summer Crafts shared over on Red Ted Art, as well as some Weather based Science Activities over on Life At The Zoo. Be inspired to have a go!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reading aloud ... the best graduation present!

Ok, let me preface this post by saying ... I have just come off of a 3-day long celebratory weekend.  It was my oldest child's high school graduation AND 18th birthday all rolled into 3 exciting, emotional and proud days!  And maybe not so surprising (though it was to me), it was a time for A LOT of self reflection. 
I look at the young man before me as he enters adulthood and the next phase of his life and I think ...
"Did I prepare him enough?"
"Did I do too much/too little?"
"Would I have done this or that differently had I known better?"

Preschool Graduation - circa 2000

So I reflect back.  I think back to Kindergarten - his progress report stating, among other things, that he was "quietly distracted" (a.k.a. "a daydreamer") and not focusing.  Sitting down to practice letters or doing math sheets in those lower elementary years were tough.  But I knew he had the capacity to focus -- as his MANY Lego creations could attest.  So we tried different homework settings, attempted to limit distractions and sometimes brought out the dreaded timer. 
Do I know if those were the right things to do?  No, I don't know for sure.  But I do know that things started clicking for him by 3rd grade.  His internal drive to want to learn and succeed started to kick in, though he was still my little daydreamer.
But in all the time prior to and through elementary school, the one thing I KNOW I did right ... was reading aloud to him (and his siblings).  I can't even say why I knew this was the right thing to do at the time, since he was my first child. I wasn't a preschool teacher then, didn't look up research on it ... it just felt right, and was a calming way to end the day. 
So it is reassuring to find out that it WAS the right thing to do for my son.  Reading aloud is instrumental in helping a child achieve long-term learning success.  Reading aloud to young children doesn't "teach them how to read", but rather ... fosters a LOVE of reading to carry them through their life.  I can't think of a better gift to give! 

The Read-Aloud Handbook

And so it happens that this summer I'm participating with other bloggers in a book study on the importance of reading aloud to children.  I am thrilled with the book that Vanessa Levin at Pre-K Pages chose, which is “The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition” by Jim Trelease.  This new edition just came out, and will provide parents, caregivers and teachers with insights on the value of reading aloud, tips on ways to read aloud, and (YAY!) a list of great read aloud books!  What a great gift to give to a new parent or teacher ... or even a seasoned one, as it reaffirms the importance of reading aloud.
I have only read the introduction so far ... and I am already excited!  In it, Mr. Trelease quotes a former college admissions director when talking about SAT prep to parents, saying ...

"The best SAT preparation course in the world is to read to your children in bed when they're little.  Eventually, if that's a wonderful experience for them, they'll start to read themselves." ("How to Make a Better Student", Time, October 1998)

You can click on the button above to learn more about the book study.  You can follow along, with or without the book, as the bloggers participating will summarize chapters and provide their own insight and experience.  


From Unfocused to College-bound

So, how did my "quietly distracted" son fair through his high school years? 
[WARNING: Shameless bragging ahead]
He is an Eagle Scout, has been on the honor roll all 4 years, member of the National Honor Society, leader on the Robotics team, played the clarinet in honors band, graduated in the top 10% of his class and was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar in the graduation ceremony.  How's that for a daydreamer who can't focus?!
With younger sister on Graduation Day
I take credit for NONE of this ... except for, perhaps ... loving him, supporting him and reading to him!
I think back to trying to read the first "Harry Potter" book to him when he was around 6 years old.  I'm sure I'll have many who disagree with me, but I found that to be a difficult book to read aloud to him.  With all the long and difficult to pronounce names ... we both wound up losing interest.  So we put it aside for the time being and read other things.  Working through "Magic Tree House" and "Geronimo Stilton" to name a few.
Being so busy in high school unfortunately does not leave enough time for enjoyment reading.  My son has quite the collection of books he would "like to have time to read" over the past 4 years.  He finished up with classes last week and guess what he spent a good part of the week doing?   Reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" ... of THIS, I couldn't be more proud!

Laura Eldredge is a teacher and curriculum coordinator at a NAEYC accredited early childhood program in Connecticut. She also co-founded the website The SEEDS Network, as a way to provide early childhood professionals with ideas and resources that support them in their quest to provide quality care and education to our youngest learners. She blogs at

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scooping and Pouring

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

Recently I watched a boy, a very active boy, become completely focused. He stayed at a table, working, for longer than I've ever seen him work at one time. What was he doing? He was scooping and pouring and touching barley.

I purchased the barley at the grocery store. We poured the barley in a plastic container and added a few repurposed scoops and small bowls. 

He poured and measured. He slid his hands down into the barley, completely covering them. I think the texture and the way the barley poured was the attraction. 

I've watched different kids enjoy the scooping and pouring, the measuring and experimenting. You can use a variety of materials, all with slightly different properties, for kids to explore--beans, dried pastas, rice. Add measuring spoons and cups. Or plastic cups. Or empty food containers. 

My friend became completely absorbed in the activity. Usually he is bouncing from one thing to another. (And that's okay.) But something so simple became so engaging.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summertime Dance Story

Happy Summer!

Here is a fun dance story based on the action-packed book The Sun Is My Favorite Star, by Frank Asch.  This activity is adapted  from my book One, Two, What Can I Do?  Dance and Music for the Whole Day (Redleaf Press, 2011), from the chapter entitled Dance and Music Presentation Jump Starts.  The musical selections suggested below are from the two CD's of music by Debbie Clement, which are included with the book.

Get ready for the activity:

This activity works best in a large, level, unobstructed space, indoors or outside.

1.  The book The Sun Is My Favorite Star, by Frank Asch
2.  “Shine and Brighten” instrumental, and the song “Sun Screen” by Debbie Clement 
3.  Streamers made from shiny, sparkly, or rainbow-colored fabric (cut into strips about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide).
Rainbow Streamers!

The Activity:

Read The Sun Is My Favorite Star to the children, then ask the children to spread evenly throughout the space to begin the dance story. Tell them, Now let's dance the story!  Play the music “Shine and Brighten” instrumental softly, as background for the dance. Allow each section of the story dance to develop as the children choose how they would like to react to the story, music, movement prompts, and props, and as they contribute their own movement ideas.

 Say to the children:

Let’s all lie down and close our eyes, so that we can begin our dance by waking up, like the child in the book. Wake up, it’s morning, the sunlight is coming in the window! Time to get dressed and have breakfast.

Now it’s time to go out and play. On a beautiful, sunny day, what do you like to do outside? Play on the playground? Play ball and other games with your friends? Imagine you are swinging from a tire in a tree, like the picture in the book, and then pull the little red wagon.  Who is riding in your wagon?

Run in and out of the trees as the sun follows you. Now imagine you are the sun, and play hide and seek in the clouds. Shine your bright rays on the earth.

It’s raining! Feel the rain on your face. Swirl and fall like the raindrops.  

Imagine a beautiful rainbow. Try to reach it! Can you jump up and touch it? Run under it, around it, run from one end of it to the other, and jump over it! What if you could climb up one side and slide down the other?

Imagine you have a crayon, and draw the beautiful sunset. Try to fill the whole space, reaching high and low, and draw your picture in the air.

Now dance freely about all the fun ideas in this story and anything else about the sun that makes you want to dance! (Play “Sun Screen” and pass out the sparkly streamers.)

Finish the dance in the shape of the sun or in the shape of a rainbow.  
Rainbow Shapes!

Don't forget to keep on dancin' all through the summer!


Please visit Connie at:


Copyright 2013 Connie Bergstein Dow

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...