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Rock Candy Memories

Both of my children have this fond memory of their grandma and grandpa giving them rock candy.  So, we are attempting to make this week and I found an easy step by step guide on About.com.  It looks like you need to plan a week and can make into a learning experience. I always love science when it involves sugar.

Wish us sweet and sticky luck!

http://candy.about.com/od/phototutorials/ss/sbs_rock_candy.htm

Snowflakes for All Ages

Designing and making snowflakes involves many important  concepts at all ages.  Beyond being fun, children experience shapes, motor skills, following directions, creativity, symmetry and spatial skills.  I was shocked at how many students in my fifth grade class volunteered to help  make snowflakes for a bulletin board, they loved it.  I thought that they would be “over” that!

1.jpgWith my younger children I demonstrate how to make a large snowflake and then they decorate it.  Then, they attempt their own allowing them to explore and discover the world of shapes and symmetry. Please note that the “snowflakes” are truly unique and may not look anything like a snowflake.

A FEW “FLAKEY” IDEAS:

3D Snowflake: For older children and adults, I found this site that teaches “How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake.”

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-3D-Paper-Snowflake

Read A Biography:  Snowflake Bentley stated  “Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”   He photographed the first snow crystal and shared that no two snowflakes were the same.

Symmetry: Look for symmetry in nature starting with butterflies, bugs, leaves and bee-hives. For older children,  you may ask them if snowflakes are symmetrical in nature. (The answer is sometimes, the most common snowflakes are not symmetrical.)

The Life of a Snowflake:  This site is for older students to follow the life and growth of a snowflake. Fascinating!

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/primer/primer.htm

How Do Fish Float?

A simple experiment for children to observe a floating bottle and the effect of adding water to the bottle. Then you can relate this to how a fish floats.

What you will need:

  • Sink or tub of water
  • Water
  • Plastic soda bottle with the top

What to do: 

Fill up sink with water.  Fill up bottle half way with water and screw on top.

Have each child predict what will happen when the bottle is placed in water. Then,  place in water and observe.

Repeat, but fill bottle 3/4 with water.

Were the two outcomes different and why?

After discussing, explain how this information relates to fish (see below.)
How to explain why fish can float or swim in water: 

Buoyancy is a force that causes objects to float in a liquid or to rise in gas or air.  With no water or less water in the bottle, the greater amount of air pressure and so the bottle is MORE buoyant. It floats. Fish can control their buoyancy in almost the same way.  If they allow more air in their swim bladder they will be more buoyant, just like the bottle!

What Happens When Ocean Water Evaporates?

A simple experiment if you live near or visit the ocean.  This is a great summer activity to do with the children and such a simple way to keep them involved in learning.  All you need is a sample of ocean water and a shallow pan.

If you cannot make it to the beach make your own ocean water with salt and water.

First, fill up the pan with the ocean water.

Predict what will happen. 

Wait, wait, wait for the water to evaporate.

After the water has evaporated, taste what is left on the bottom of the pan.

Ask the question, “What do you find in ocean water after it evaporates?” 

How to explain what happened.  Ocean water contains salt, which is a solid.  When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind and leaves a light colored residue on the bottom of the pan.

Why Is It Hotter At The Earth’s Equator?

Get out the globe or map of the world for this fun lesson about the Earth! Discuss the equator and explore where it is and talk about the climate at the equator. Once the discussion is complete, ask why do you think it is hotter at the equator?

You will need: flashlight and white paper with a line drawn in the middle (equator).

1. Put piece of paper on table and turn off the lights in the room.

2. Aim flashlight straight down at paper. Talk about what the children see.

3. Tilt the flashlight and aim at paper. Ask the children what they notice and if it looks different.

When the sun shines on the Earth at the equator, it is more intense, just like the flashlight facing directly straight down. When you move away from the equator, the light is at an angle and therefore cooler (just like the flashlight tilted.)

After discussing the results and exploring on their own have your child or children explain in their own words what happened.

Explain to Your Kids Why the Ocean Has Tides

Why does the ocean have low and high tides? This simple and visual activity may help show children how the moon affects the tides.

What you need:

Bucket half full with water

Plastic ball or balloon

1. Place the ball in the bucket so it floats.

2. Push the ball down slowly with both hands.

3. Let the ball come up.

4. Watch and discuss the change in water level.

How to explain the ocean tides like a cool mom!

The Earth’s surface is seventy percent covered with water. Every twelve hours the tides rise and fall without the level of water changing. As the Earth and moon spin, gravity pulls them together and the moon pulls the ocean water right beneath it, causing it to rise and fall. When it is high tide on one side of the Earth, it will be low tide on the other side. This is a good time to bring out the globe to further demonstrate changing tides.

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Earth Day Art Activities

Use Nature’s Color to Paint:

To make natural earth colors, you’ll need red cabbage, beets, celery tops, carrot tops, and vinegar.
Simmer each vegetable in water, drain, saving the liquids. Mix one tablespoon of vinegar into each liquid, and let cool. When ready have the children use paint brushes to paint on a large piece of muslin or cotton fabric. Let the painting dry and then hang for everyone to enjoy.

Earth Painting:

This can also be called mud painting. Finger paint with mud outside. Let the children mix dirt with water until it reaches the desired consistency. Then, they can paint on cardboard or the sidewalk.

Nature’s Paintbrush:

On a walk collect items that may be interesting to use as stamps or brushes with paint. Let the children experiment with different items and create their own masterpieces with these unique brushes.

Nature Walk: 

Simply enjoy a walk outdoors together. You can have the child bring a journal and document animals or interesting things he or she may encounter. Bring a camera and make a photo tour of the walk.   Just enjoy the day!

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Yummy Fossil Prints

This simple recipe is fun for the children to make their own fossil prints and then eat them up. A perfect snack for when the children are studying dinosaurs, having a party or just for fun at home!

What you will need:

Round crackers

Soft cream cheese (whipped in tub is best)

Items to make fossil, like gummy dinosaurs, celery leaves, etc.

Spread the cream cheese on the cracker, press the items into the cheese and lift up to make imprint.

How Does a Meteor Burnout?

Meteors are most likely pieces of asteroids or comets that travel in outer space.  These rock-like chunks burn up as they enter the earth’s atmosphere.  This fast and easy experiment shows how a meteor burns up as it enters earth’s atmosphere.

 What you need:

Plastic bottle, water, half seltzer tab

Fill bottle with water, drop tablet into water and observe.

More information on meteors:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/skytellers/meteors/activities/trails.shtml

http://starryskies.com/The_sky/events/meteors/meteors.html

Your Bones Need Calcium Experiment

This experiment demonstrates the importance of eating foods with calcium. Plus, it is just fun! First ask your child or class, Can you make an egg shell soft?

What you need:

one egg, glass, vinegar

Put egg in glass, pour vinegar over egg, wait several days .  Take egg out and feel shell.

The vinegar dissolves the calcium in the shell making it soft and rubbery. Note that this shows the importance of calcium to make the shell strong, just like our bones need calcium.

To extend this activity, ask questions, list foods with calcium, eat foods with calcium, write out the hypothesis before the experiment, guessing what will happen and record the results at the end.

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