Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Humpty Dumpty Experiments

Humpty Dumpty is probably one of my most favorite nursery rhymes to explore with kids.  There are just so many activities and experiments that naturally go along with it.  We started by reading the rhyme and I found a animated cartoon song of it on YouTube for the kids to watch.  That was followed by an amazing discussion as to why Humpty was sitting on the wall in the first place.  

Next, each child choose a plastic egg and created their own "Humpty Dumpty".
We each built a wall for Humpty and tried balancing him on it to see if an egg could actually sit on a wall.  As you can see, the kids got very creative with their walls in order to balance him on it.  Very important problem solving and critical thinking going on in these pictures.

Our next experiment wasn't really about the nursery rhyme, but it was a fun experiment to try.  We decided to find out if Humpty likes floating in salt water or fresh water.  We used two pitchers, one with tap water in it and the other we dissolved salt into.  Then we plopped Humpty (a real, fresh egg) in the pitchers. We learned that the salt makes the water more dense so the egg was able to float in it. After a discussion, the children determined that he liked floating in the salt water, but liked to dive to the bottom of the tap water. 

Our next experiment was to figure out if Humpty would survive a fall.  Again, we used the plastic eggs.  We stood on chairs and dropped the eggs onto the bare floor.  Lo and behold, he cracked open.  One of the kids suggested we try it on the carpeted area, because maybe it would cushion his fall.  So we took the chairs to the carpet and tried the experiment again.

The carpet did break his fall!
Finally, we drew before and after pictures of Humpty, him sitting on the wall and what happened and how he felt after his fall.

I love exploring the nursery rhymes with young children.  There is so much to learn from nursery rhymes.  One, they are a connection to our past. I'm sure you learned them as a kid. My mom taught them to me, so I know her mom taught them to her.  They are great for learning rhythm and rhyming words. Most importantly, they are fun!  Most make very little sense and are quite silly. 
I wonder which nursery rhyme you remember best from being a kid? 

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Our Visit to the Great Salt Lake/Antelope Island

This summer we took a day trip out to Antelope Island, Utah which is surrounded by The Great Salt Lake.  The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of the great ice age lake, Lake Bonneville. The lake contains between 4.5 to 4.9 billion tons of salt, most of which is simply common salt.  I've read that it is 10 times saltier than the ocean. 
I was very eager to go for a visit, but had read and heard horror stories about the lake.  That the stench of sulfur was overwhelming, that the bugs would eat us alive, etc.  Our experience was the complete opposite of that. 
When we first drove onto the island, you could smell sulfur, but it wasn't overwhelming and after a bit, we didn't even notice it at all. It was a hot day in July when we went, so maybe all the bugs were taking a vacation somewhere nice and cool, because I didn't notice any of those either.

When we finally got down to the lake's edge, we noticed these brine flies ( those black dots on the water above).  Apparently, they border the entire edge of the lake.  They do not bite and they move out of the way as you walk.  I thought they were fascinating.  They did not swarm or bother us at all, like your common house fly.

I was anticipating the water to be cold but was pleasantly surprised that is was about 80 degrees.  Perfect!  After we walked out past the rocks, the sand was nice and soft.  You had to walk for quite a while to get into the water very deep.  From what I've read, the lake is only about 16 feet or so deep. 

The water is too salty for fish and other animals to survive in.  However, the lake is home to thousands of pink brine shrimp, brine flies and millions of native birds.  The water is so crystal clear, that you can see these tiny shrimp swimming all over. 

The salinity is so great that you can literally float like a cork.  It is something I highly suggest anyone who visits the Salt Lake to try.  An absolutely amazing experience.

The only negative is getting the salt water in your eyes or mouth.  Not fun at all!

Our hair and clothing were stiff with salt when we came out of the water.  Luckily, there are showers at the top by the parking lot to rinse off at.  You can see the residual salt on my son in the above picture.

We had an wonderful time visiting The Great Salt Lake.  The views are gorgeous, whichever way you look.  In my opinion, it is a MUST DO if you are in the area during the summer!

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Using Glass Stones for Fine Motor, Math and Letter Skills

We love glass stones, or as we call them "Dragon Tears".  You can find them in the floral section and we get them at the Dollar Tree. Sometimes I bury them in the sandbox for the kids to discover, sometimes in a tub of water and they are fun to use in play dough too!

I made up these cards by cutting out cereal and other food boxes.  Then I wrote shapes and letters on them.  The kids placed the dragon tears on the lines, encouraging fine motor and letter recognition skills.

I also put out ice cube trays for the kids to sort them into.  They would count, sort and then dump them out and start over. 

I would love to know how you all use these pretty little glass stones. 

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baking Soda and Hair Conditioner

We've tried this activity several times and each time, its a huge hit!  All you need is 3 parts baking soda to 1 part hair conditioner.  We find the VO5 or Suave conditioner at Walmart for less than $1.00!  Totally worth it!
Measure out the ingredients...

Mix however you want, we like to use our hands but some kids don't like the texture, so I always have spoons for them to use.

Keep mixing....
it will begin to stiffen up....

The nice thing about using hair conditioner is there are so many choices of scents and colors.  We used a "raspberry" scented one and it came out pink and yummy smelling.  Another awesome plus with this cleans up super easy!Pin It

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ready to Take on the World....Kindergarten Goals

My 5 year old will be starting Kindergarten in a few short days.  I received a packet of papers to fill out from her soon to be teacher and one of them was a Parent Survey.  One of the questions was "List two goals you would like to set for your child this year".  It got me thinking about what we really expect from Kindergarten.

What I would love to see my little girl accomplish this year is, 1) to make life long friends.  you know, when you can say "We've been friends since Kindergarten" kind of friends, and 2) that she will love school.  For her to know that her friends and teachers are waiting for her and she can't wait to dive into new experiences and all school can offer her.

I posed the question to some of my very favorite mommy and kid bloggers from all over the world.  Here is how they answered this question.  If you aren't familiar with these blogs, I highly recommend checking them out on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.  You will not be disappointed.  They totally ROCK! If you click on the blue title it will take you to their blogs.

Hands On As We Grow :
My main goal for my kids as they start school is for them to learn appropriate behavior, social behaviors for interacting with other kids as well as with adults, learning to listen to authority, pretty much learning how the school system works.

Adventures in Wunderland:
I want to see behavior, social skills, attention AND education. So much of going to school doesn't revolved around what they learn on paper and includes skills such as self discipline, teamwork, sharing, listen skills, patience (the list could go on). Often you will see your child bloom in an area that you wouldn't have even considered at the beginning of the year.

The Measured Mom:
My daughter entered kindergarten reading fluently and doing other work above grade level -- while I would have liked her to be challenged, my goals were mostly nonacademic. Since she didn't attend preschool, I wanted her to learn to be comfortable at school and enjoy it. I wanted her to learn to interact appropriately with kids her own age.

My Buddies and I:
The goals that I like my buddies (my daycare kids) would be: To learn to love school and to be excited about learning, everything else will come with those two.

No Time for Flashcards:
I used to ask my parents that at the start of the year too. The answers were usually the same and my answer even in 1st grade for my son would be similar. 1. To love school, to be interested, engaged and committed to the school community . 2. To learn to ask for help and not be embarrassed about it. <--- obviously these goals are for school and home to work on together.

Me and Marie Learning:
While academics are also at the forefront of our minds when we think of school, there are so many other things going on! My daughter does start k this year and I want her to have a love for learning. I also would like her to learn/practice how to react appropriately to other children when issues arise. I feel like both of those goals help her not just in K, but the rest of her life!

Teach Preschool:
Immeasurable goals...
1. To leave his kindergarten year feeling confident in his ability to make friends, make good choices, learn new things, and be creative.
2. To love to learn.
Measurable goals...
1. That he will come home talking about how much he loves going to school and about all the fun things he gets to do with his friends. 
2. That he thinks his teacher is the greatest person in the world (next to mommy and grandma:) .

The Educators Spin On It:
I used to ask this question too as a K, 1, and 2 teacher. I feel it's the easiest insight to a parents concerns and struggles with their own child, as well as an insight to their expectations of the grade level. For my own personal children I always wanted them to be in an environment that encourages them to love school and learning, to be a good friend to others and to be in an classroom setting that provides positive challenges and high expectations.

Mama Pea Pod:
For my daughter starting kindergarten last January, our goal for her was to not let her perfectionism prevent her from trying things. (She has a problem with not attempting things or giving up immediately because the result is not perfect the first time she tries it.)

Moments a Day:
My son would be starting kindergarten according to US terms in January (though we will be homeschooling and live in Australia) - and I will want him to (1) Learn about the qualities of being a good friend - giving him time to be with people of all ages and interact with them, (2) Giving him ways to learn about how his skills can serve others and make the world a better place by participating in service projects, fun projects that help the environment, etc. - letting him learn that what he chooses to learn and do can have a big influence on himself, his family, and his community.

Paint on the Ceiling:
 For my daughter who is currently in pre-school my goals for her are 1. Learn to be more assertive and communicate thoughts, wants and needs verbally, 2. Have the opportunity to follow her own interests and passions.

Projects for Preschoolers:
I have kids going into 1st, 5th and senior year of high school... and I think my answer to that question almost always is more related to emotional/personal growth than it is academic. That said... I has answered with comments such as "Build confidence and make new friends" or "Love reading" or "Explore new areas of learning and learn to try new things".. or something similar. I personally think Kindie is an opportunity to learn to stand without mom near by to help - especially for kiddos have stay home or work-at-home parents. So my goals have always been relating to their gaining some insight into their own talents and skills.

Teach Mama:
Plain and simple my goal for all three of my kids is the same as it was for my students when I was in the classroom. I want my kids to love school, to love learning, and to feel comfortable and confident going to school each day.

Mess for Less:
Twins going into K. My girls are ahead on academics but behind on social skills so my goal for them would be to interact more with their peers and make friends.

Mouse Grows Mouse Learns:
My answer was one measurable (overcome her reluctance to write) and one social (reach out and make friends). Our K teacher was awesome, and I think both goals were met.

A Kindergarten Lifestyle:
As a mom and a kindergarten teacher, my goals are to make sure children 1. learn to love school and 2. learn to love reading.... I want my children and my students to think of school as a good place, full of excitement and positivity. And a love of reading is so important - now I'm not talking about whether they are actually reading (majority do) but I mean enjoy the process of reading and thinking.....

Pickle Bums:
For my twins our goal was for them to do at least some things apart! For my middle boy our main goal was to make friends and learn to join in socially.
As a teacher I ask that question to get a little insight into any areas the parent may feel their child is struggling and also an idea of what they expect from the preschool year.

My 3 year old is starting preschool next month and I had never thought of goals for her. I suppose our goals are social ones. She is very outgoing in many situations but in groups or "loud kids" situations she closes up, to the point of going to an empty room and sitting on the floor. I'd like to see her improve in these situations.

I would love to hear what your goals for your school age kiddos are. 

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