Winter is upon us. This month in Preschool Science and Math, we explored properties of matter, shapes, life science – all inspired by the cold months ahead. First we started with books and stories. I always begin with non-fiction. I love books in the Acorn series.
We talked about how no two snowflakes are alike. Before reading, I showed photos of snowflakes taken by a scientist at Cal Tech. We talked about how the snowflakes were alike (six sides, made of water) and different. Then we read this very sweet book:
After talking about the properties of snow, we engaged with a felt activity where we built a snowman. We talked about the order of the snowballs (would the little one be able to hold up all the rest?)
Later, I asked the children if they knew the pattern of the seasons. After a lively discussion we had fun using our imaginations when we read, where the magical character “Jack Frost” disappears the moment the boy mentions “spring.”
We told more stories and wrapped it up by acting out the story of “The Mitten.” Children had fun pretending to be animals, snuggling together under a big white “mitten” (actually a blanket) When the “bear” sneezes I lift up the blanket and the kids go scattering.
Now for science and math!
The biggest hit by far was the experiment in which children were encouraged to predict which would melt ice faster: rock salt, salt water, or water. I had these materials on hand, along with pipettes so children could experiment with this tool as well. I’ve done this experiment before, but this time I made it a little more interesting by freezing plastic dinosaurs in the ice. (I just placed them in cake pans of various sizes and put them in the freezer for a few days) I also provided plastic toys shaped like hammers, screwdrivers, as well as ice crushers for cocktails 🙂
I love creating group art inspired by science and math concepts. This time we created snow creatures using pre-cut shapes: circles, rectangles, squares, triangles. (thank you Ellison die cut machine!) I encouraged parents to talk with their children about the shapes they were using, noticing how many circles they use, squares, etc. I also provided materials for children to make the six-sided snowflakes discussed earlier in story time. (It helped that I folded the circles ahead of time: fold each circle in half,
then in thirds.)
With some end-of-year friends of the library money, I was able to purchase a most wonderful set of thermometers. I love to put real scientific tools into children’s hands. For this activity, I filled two balloons with water and stuck them in the freezer for a couple of days – until they were completely solid. On the day of the program, I filled two balloons with cold water and rested them in a bowl of ice. I filled two more balloons with warm water. (It’s important to fill them up just about halfway so they don’t burst when little hands play with them) The children had fun watching the thermometer go up and down as they measure the temperature of each balloon.
Finally, I revisited my interactive display, where children use puppets to find where animals live in winter. (See earlier post)