A Little Gem Mining, Anyone??

The prior week we had discussed the earth and how the center of it was really hard, like a rock!

So, to continue that theme for this lab we had a geological extravaganza!!

We talked a little bit about rocks and gems, and then we played a few games!  Using gems that did in fact come from a gem mine in North Carolina, I created game cards so that individuals or groups could play together and match either color or picture identifications of them gems.  The kids had a really great time.  We played the games as individuals and as teams to help foster team building skills.  We also played them at our own pace, and then timed to add a little more thrill to it. :)

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Then everyone had a chance to go outside and mine their own gem!  We talked about how at a gem mine they use a flowing water system and a sieve that helps wash away the dirt, but keep the gems.  We talked about how this works and how the size of the dirt and gems in this case made all the difference!  The students took a strainer and a scoop of dirty sand and gently used the water to see if they had a gem.  Amazingly each student found one!! ;)

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Then we used our Discovery Classroom magnifying glasses to carefully observe the rocks that we had found.  All of the kids were pretty excited to take their discovery home to show their families.

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For our younger classes a sensory bin was set up that contained both wet and dry sand for different textures, and hidden throughout the bin were really large gems.  The kids could find them by using strainers, scoops, or even shovels.

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It was a fun lab, I think the kids ‘dug’ it.  (Come on… you know you laughed!)

Rosh Hashanah – Happy Birthday World!

In honor of Rosh Hashanah I thought it would be fun to incorporate a lab that had to do with the Earth.

 

I found inspiration in this image.

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I thought doing something where the kids were exposed to the concept of the earth having layers would be fun!  And how interesting was it that both the earth and the apples we eat with honey on Rosh Hashanah both have ‘cores’!

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So, the first thing we did was find a rock in our garden area.  The innermost layer of the earth is solid and so I thought that would be a fun way for our students to remember that.  Then, each student was given a different color of wool.

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Yes, you read that right… wool!  This wool was shorn from the sheep, carded and smoothed out, and then died and pulled by a fiber artist into long strands… wool roving.  We used different colors for the different layers.  I tried to correlate the colors symbolically (the innermost layer of wool we made red to represent how hot the core was), and some colors were used intentionally to resemble the earth (the outsides of the earths were blue and green wool!)

Each student took their rock and then wrapped the wool around it to try and create a sphere.  When one layer was made we would move on to the next and then the next…. all the way until we had a ball of wool with a hard core and multiple layers… and it looked just like the earth!  To get the ball to stay together we used soap and water to wet felt them.  I did take them home and wash them in my washing machine to make sure they were firm, but for the most part the kids made them all themselves… and they were pretty proud of them!

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The finished product:

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Dubow Preschool First Annual Robotic Olympics!!

For this lab we divided our classes into teams, and using Hexbugs (a popular small and economical robot toy that vibrates and resembles a bug) we held our first annual Dubow Preschool Robotic Olympics!

Each group was given a series of challenges.  These challenges involved using blocks to create a square or rectangle cage for their bugs, a series of two circles to make a track (think donut shape!), and the hardest challenged involved creating a ramp for the bugs to go to a second level.  Additional challenges were thought up by our kids… like making a bug race track for example.

Even our youngest students loved playing with the bugs!

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And our older students loved not only the bugs, but accomplishing the challenges!  By creating events that were both individual and teamed we fostered independent play while also creating a specific time for team building.  The students were great at listening skills and following directions, and they really enjoyed having time for free play and for brainstorming our own events.  Gold medals for everyone!!

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Sink or Float…

For this lab the students helped me draw our weekly chalk drawing by telling me items that they thought would sink or float and as we were drawing we talked about the concepts and exactly what those words mean.  Luckily our older students were doing ‘b’ for the letter of the week… Can you say ‘Buoyancy’??  :)

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We had a class experiment where we made lake Dubow.  It was a large, clear plastic bin that was filled with water.  Having a clear bin made it very easy for us to see whether an item stayed at the top, sunk, or even drifted somewhere in the middle.  With each item we all made a ‘hypothesis’ and guessed what we thought the item would do.  Then each student was given a turn to plop an item into our lake.

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Then our Tzeeporim and Parparim classes were given an opportunity to make their own lakes.  Each student was given a black bowl that was filled with water and two empty plastic cups.  We put all of our items in a green cup when they floated.  If an item sank it went into a red cup.  Then the kids were given a variety of items to see what they would do; a cotton ball, a paperclip, a ping pong ball, and other items.

By allowing each student to have their own station, it allowed them to go at their own pace and create the experiment the way that they wanted to.  It even allowed them to experiment with the experiment!  We had small plastic animals that definitely floated, but the kids had a great idea… stick a paperclip to it and see if it sinks!  The possibilities were endless and having the students put the items in designated cups gave them a way to distinguish the items and also remember their results without having to write them down.  Once we were done, we used our result cups to make charts for what did sink and what didn’t.  Incorporating charts and graphs are a great way to show students scientific and math concepts in different ways and really gets them to understand things in ways they didn’t before!

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The way that we did this experiment was a little advanced for some of our younger students, but they certainly learned about sinking and floating in their own way.  Our friends enjoyed mostly through group experimental play whether the same items we had with the older kids would sink or float.   We had lots of time while the kids were playing to introduce new vocabulary as well.

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Beginning to Grow….

Our first Discovery Studio day this year was devoted to planting the seeds that would start our garden growing!

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All of our classes were given coir discs.  Coir, a fiber made from coconut husks, makes a great seed starter mix and it provides us with a fairly clean medium to work with… well, as clean as dirt can be! :)

The coir is dehydrated, and the first step for all of our students was to add water.  By adding a little bit of water, you could instantly see the coir rehydrate and see it begin to take it’s shape as  a soil substrate.  For our smaller students this was a fun experiment in itself!  Once the coir was hydrated we filled up a seed tray that the classes used to start seeds in their classrooms.

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Starting seeds in their classrooms gave students the opportunity to check on their growth daily.  It also provided an opportunity for the teachers to reinforce the concepts and vocabulary we introduced the entire time that the seeds were germinating!

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We also looked at different seeds.  We compared and contrasted their shapes, size, and what kind of plant they would grow to be.

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Then our students took some of the seeds that we talked about and they planted them in their very own ‘green house’.  The green houses were made from a ziplock bag that had a small wet paper towel inside of them to create moisture for the seed to begin to grow.  These were hung inside their classrooms, so much like the trays the students could track their progress.  Unlike the trays though, with these bags we could see the entire seed, root, stem, and leaf through the germination process!  It’s definitely a different way to observe what happens and can be very memorable for the kids.

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With our older students we ended with an experiment that also went into their classroom.  To test what we learned about what seeds need to begin to grow, we took a clear kitchen glove and in each finger we put an experimental/control sample. The fingers contained a seed by itself (a type of control), a seed submerged in water, a seed on a wet paper towel, a seed in wet soil, and a seed on a wet cotton ball.  We hypothesized that since seeds needed sun, water, and nutrients… the seed in the soil would grow the best.  The students could chart their progress.  It was definitely a fun experiment!

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…

CLOUD!

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One of the things that we love to do with the kids (especially when the glorious fall weather hits!!) is to take them on nature walks!  You never know what you will see, and it’s a great opportunity for hands on learning that lets them explore outside, in nature.

Using a template that I modified, I made cloud viewers for the kids to take with them on their walks.  Who said science walks need to be only nature hikes looking down at the ground for life science specimens?? Looking up can encourage different body movements and stretches, matching skills while you try and match the clouds to their photos, and also encourages some imagination while you try to guess what they look like.  This is preschool after all!  It may be a cumulus cloud, but it still looks like a dragon. :)

The Studio…

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This year Discovery Studio classes will be offered weekly to all classes, but in addition the room is being set up to be a constant resource for our teachers.  The room has seen some slight changes and the additions of some new instruments, books, and even homemade games to encourage the kids to hang out and immerse themselves in science play on any day.

On the main chalkboard, lessons and concepts are introduced in a friendly way that is also interactive.  One of our main goals for the very near future is to get our garden up and running.  We will be talking quite a bit about gardens, seeds, and plants.  As we are discussing some of the concepts, little ones are encouraged to ‘draw’ with chalk worms that will help aerate the seeds I drew. ;)  Every student will be planting seeds in coconut coir.  By rehydrating the coir themselves we can discuss the properties of liquids and solids… and look at the change that occurs sometimes when the two are mixed!  It’s a great opportunity to talk about soil and what seeds need to grow.  We will use the coir to plant seeds in seed trays for our garden and in a ziploc bag each child will make their own ‘greenhouse’.  We are also going to look at some live worms and discuss how they help our gardens grow.

I’m hopeful that you will be seeing images of cherry tomatoes and broccoli in no time!  I can only hope that our garden grows just as quickly as our little ones! ;)

Spring is going to be magnificent!

Hatching chicks, emerging butterflies, launching water rockets, crafting hovercrafts, perfecting pocket chemistry, and so much more before the end of the year!

Check back for some great pictures of what’s ahead…

In the meantime here are a few pics from before spring break.

Square Bubbles??

DuBow preschoolers know bubbles are some of my favorite things! I challenged them to make bubbles that weren’t round. Success!

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