Friday, January 31, 2014

Crystal Hearts

Add a little science to your Valentine’s Day activities with these old-school crystal hearts. Asking what-if questions and setting this activity up as a series of experiments will enhance both your “send home” Valentines and your science center.

For each crystal heart you wish to make, you need:

1 pencil, 2 pipe cleaners, 1 cup Borax (use the real deal – 20 Mule Team Borax – about $ a box), wide mouth clear container at least 8” tall (I used a wide-mouthed Mason jar),  boiling water, spoon, measuring cup.Also pictured – shallow dish, additional pencil, pipe cleaners, jar, and Borax for alternative experiment for comparisons.

Encourage children to shape a pipe cleaner into a heart with a tail.

Attach a second pipe cleaner to the tail of the first so that the heart can dangle in the jar.

Attach the end of the second pipe cleaner to a pencil by simply wrapping it around until you have the correct length. This took a little experimenting and trial and error of my own! The heart needs to be suspended in the jar and not touch the bottom.

Children can measure out the Borax with appropriate supervision.

Pour Borax into jar (1/2 to ¾ cup).

Adults only should pour boiling water into jar to at least the 3 cup mark. NOTE: If you are using glass container less thick than a Mason jar or a pyrex dish, you need to warm the jar in the oven or dishwasher prior to pouring boiling water into it to avoid breaking the glass.

Stir the solution to help the Borax dissolve.

Suspend the heart in the solution.

Let the predictions begin!!!
Ask children questions and write down their answers. You may want to get a kitchen timer and use it to help children remember to check on their hearts. Children can take turns being the observer/recorder as well.

            How long do you think it will take for the crystals to form?
            What size crystals do you think will be made?
            Where are the crystals going to form? (On the pipe cleaner in the water? Above the water? On the jar?)

Make timed observations and help children record their observations.

ONE HOUR in solution:

TWO HOURS in Solution:

THREE HOURS in Solution:

            Discuss your results and talk about why the crystals formed, how they formed, etc.

Create alternative experiments generated by what if questions such as what if we just soak the pipe cleaner in Borax solution and hang it to dry? Will crystals form? Will they form just like those in the jar with the solution?

To explore this alternative hypothesis, dissolve the Borax in a shallow dish.

Swish a pipe cleaner heart in the solution.

Suspend the wet heart in a jar with no solution.

Ask questions, observe, record, discuss.

2 hours suspended

What if we used salt instead of Borax? Repeat steps above substituting salt for Borax. And on, and on, and on! Follow the lead the children take by supporting their curiosity (inquiry), and create opportunities for them to experience different results based on their suggestions and questions. Use prompts when needed.

I highly recommend creating a word wall as well. Here are some words to start with:

If you make one crystal heart per child, these could be the gifts sent home for moms for Valentine’s Day. I suggest that you also keep one for the science center for further experimenting. What if we left the heart in the solution overnight? What happens when the crystals dry out? How long will they last?

I hope you enjoy your crystal hearts and science experience!

Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD, is the Managing Director for the Family Child Care Partnerships program at Auburn University.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

101 Ways to Play in the Snow!

Winter is in full swing here in Northern Michigan! Sometimes the cold winter weather is a challenge to getting out and active-- So, I thought I would put together a list of 

101 WAYS that you can get outside TO PLAY IN THE SNOW! 

1-Sled down a hill. 

5-Slide down the hill on your bottom

6- Make a sled train

7-ROLL down the hill!

8-Pull the sled back up the hill

9- Pull your friend (or anyone who is willing around in a sled)

10- Push someone around in a sled

11- Dig to China- or Antarctica, or just dig, dig, dig!

12- Shovel the driveway- and help dig out the car. 

14- Make Snow Castles

15- Build a snowman

18- Make colored snow (add food coloring to the water before you throw it!)

19- Blow bubbles and watch them freeze

20- Add food coloring to your bubbles to make frozen colored bubbles!

21- Go for a walk!


23- Have a snowball fight! 

24-  If you are concerned about the children throwing snowballs
 at each other make targets for throwing at. 
Hula hoops work great and so does a target on a fence. 

25- Play snow basketball! Set up a hoop to throw the snowballs through!

26- Send snowballs flying with a giant catapult!

35- Melt the snow with colored salt and a GIANT pendulum

36- Roll the biggest snowball ever

47- Open Up Your Very Own Outdoor Concession Stand!
 (Make sure that you have a lot of Ice cream and hot chocolate!)

51- Collect Icicles!

52- Compare Icicle Lengths

56- Build the Tallest Snowball Tower

57- Play Snow Bowling!

58- Play Boot Hockey

 59- Bring Prisms Out into the Snow

 61- Race through the DEEP snow!

63- Make a Snow Obstacle Course

64- Add Ice Cream Scoops, Spoons, and other odds and ends for digging and sculpting! 

65- Make a "snow flake catcher" with black construction paper. 
(Make sure that you store the paper in a cold place so 
that the snowflakes do not melt when they land on it).

66- Play "King of the Mountain"

68- Try Snowshoes

70- Make Stairs/Steps in the Snow

71- Go Ice Skating

72- Waddle Like a Penguin Across the Ice

73- Create a Winter Outdoor Theater Production

74- Carve Out Furniture in the Snow- A bed, a couch, whatever you decide!

76- Find the Biggest Chunk of Snow You Can to Carry Around

77- Go Snowboarding

78- Write Your Name in the Snow

79- Throw Fluffy Snow High Up Into the Air

82- Go Cross Country Skiing

83- Go Downhill Skiing

84- Go Ice Fishing

85- Bury Someone in the Snow (Like you do in the sand at the beach)

86- Play Snow Baseball (use a snowball)

87- Make a Mini Avalanche

88- Measure How Far You Can Throw a Snowball

89- Make a Snowy Golf Course

91- Catch a Snowflake on Your Tongue

92- Use a Rake to Make Patterns in the Snow

93- Dig a Hole You Can Crouch Down In and JUMP Out Of

94- Follow Someone's Boot Tracks

95- Build a Snow Wall

96- Blow On the Snow to Make it Melt

97- Melt Snow in Your Hands (You can do this outdoors or indoors!)

99- Make TINY designs in the snow

100- Make the TALLEST pile of snow you can (and climb it!)




 More About Amy

Amy Ahola is the owner/operator of Child Central Station, group home daycare in Marquette, Michigan.  She has been running her own business since 2005. Prior to that time, Amy worked in a childcare center and public school. In addition to her childcare business, Amy also provides educational training sessions. Amy earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Northern Michigan University and a M.S. in Training, Development, and Performance Improvement.  For more information about any of her programs, please visit Child Central or Find her on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedInGoogle+InstagramTwitter, or Tumblr

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