Oil is such an important part of Chanukah. It seemed like it would be fun to explore some of the properties of oil for science class!
First up, we explored what it felt like. We put some on foil, and some on paper… and we did a little finger painting! We used our senses to compare it to water, and we also saw how the paper absorbed the oil.
Next up, we used oil and some other liquids to make a density column. We poured honey, dish soap, water, oil, and rubbing alcohol into a bottle. By identifying where they settled, we could determine which liquid was denser than another… Which were ‘lighter’ or ‘heavier’.
Finally, we put inside the bottle a coin, paperclip, popcorn kernel, and a cherry tomato. We hypothesized where they would fall and seeing some of them suspend in the middle of the bottle was very cool!
As we were celebrating Chanukah, a lesson on different states of matter and how things can move from a solid to a liquid seemed to be fitting!
First, we talked about where beeswax came from and we saw what beeswax looked like and felt like as a solid in it’s original form. (Thank you for the wax donation, Jen and AP!)
We took small sheets of wax paper and string wicks and we made our own candles by rolling the sheets.
Next, we explored with hot wax that we melted. We put a wick into a tea light mold and we watched, as it cooled we could see it turn back into a solid! It was amazing! (if you notice students standing on the stars in a safe spot of the room, they were standing back as hot wax was being poured)
We also poured the hot wax into recycled straws that someone had donated to our recycling closet. Inside each empty straw, we placed a long wick. We put the straw with the wick inside an egg tray that was filled with sand. This made sure that the hot wax wouldn’t fall straight through the straw. Then, after we poured the wax, we waited for it to cool. When we peeled the straw off, much like a banana peel, a tall taper style candle that we made entirely ourselves was created! It worked perfectly and each class made a set of candles that they could use in their classrooms and role play using real candles with their Hanukkiahs!
Playing on the playground becomes a teachable moment in camouflage….
We started off the fall by planting some of our usual favorites, as well as some crops that were new to us!
As I am walking through the halls of school, or even setting up one of our market tables, I often get just as many questions about our garden as I do looks of amazement that our students are growing such amazing plants!
Our garden is a ‘tasting’ garden, and it is just as educational as it is delicious! We often do not get enough of one particular type of food to make entire dishes for our classrooms, just based on the amount of space and student body we have. So our focus goes to giving each student an opportunity to learn about gardening in general, specific plants and what they look like and how they grow (when to decide when things are ripe and when to pick them is a big topic!!) and also how each edible tastes! Our classrooms also cook with the items…
In our garden, we do not use any pesticides. Usually, even composting (or fertilizing with organic methods) is kept to a minimum… by starting of with really great soil, our plants do pretty well given a consistent water supply. We do wash the edibles before they are served…
Here are some photos of our youngest class as they enjoyed some of our grape tomatoes. I have to admit, I think these are the tastiest tomatoes that we have ever grown… and *almost* all of our little friends agreed with me. It is always an added bonus when snack is fresh, delicious, and fine motor pincer grasp practice.
We also harvested rhubarb for the first time, and potatoes too! Unfortunately a sneaky squirrel got wind of our delicious potatoes. We were able to salvage one, and our students couldn’t have been any prouder! Not only did we grow potatoes, but they were so delectable even a local squirrel wanted to try some.
Our garden has certainly been growing!
As part of our gardening lessons we have been learning about where seeds are located on many different plants… and specifically on some of the plants that we are growing! We pulled the wilted flowers, or ‘deadheads’, off and we took out the seeds on the inside and dried them. We have flowers in our garden beds to help promote beneficial insects, and we also have an entire floral bed devoted to our butterfly garden that we will be setting up in the spring.
The seeds that we have been collecting can sometimes be found on our DuBow Preschool Farmer’s Market table… next time you see them feel free to take them home and plant them with your little ones! We are also using the seeds in some very special ‘thank you’ gifts that will be given to parents and faculty that have gone out of their way to help our garden grow… More on that later.
Want to see what kinds of flowers will grow? We have standard sized orange and yellow marigolds, *giant* yellow and orange marigolds, and even purple flowered butterfly bushes. We also have milkweeds that we maintain for our butterflies, but usually the caterpillars eat them before we can get to them!
Aren’t they lovely??
Some of our science projects can be challenging for little hands to do…
So, when time permits I also try to have available a sensory experiment for the younger classes…
For this day we had ‘oysters and pearls’ and rice bins… The shells provided interesting containers for scooping the oysters (water beads) and rice bins are always a favorite at the preschool!
(Yep! You know you started singing it too!)
For this day in the discovery studio we channeled our inner Elsa and we all made snow!
We used instant snow, which when combined with a small amount of water creates a white powdery snow-like material… that is even cool to the touch!
Every student had their own snow bowl. Everyone was given the same amount of snow, but we all added water until the snow was just the way we liked it. Some of us liked snow that was very powdery, while others liked our snow turned into a slushy ice.
After we experimented with it for a bit and talked about it’s volume, the way it expanded, it’s temperature and was it was and wasn’t like real snow… we dumped it into a big bin! That big bin went to our younger classes so that they could have a snow day too!
We also made snow flake rubbings, which was a real treat!
Sun Paper is a fun activity that lets students see right before their eyes the energy that comes from the sun.
We often talk about the energy that the sun gives us in the form of light, and especially how important that is for our plants and for our gardens to grow… but this is a fun way to see just how quickly the energy from the sun can make a difference.
For this experiment we took sun paper, a type of paper that when the sun hits it a chemical reaction occurs in the paper and when dipped in water the shadows will be left behind and it creates a picture! Each student went through our discovery studio and took items that they thought may make interesting shadows… some we were just curious to see what the shadow would look like!
Then we put our objects on the paper and put them into the sun. In just a few minutes we could see the page turning color, and when I dipped them into water to stop the reaction, we had a print of the shadow that we made with our item. Check it out!