Monday, April 28, 2014

Mad Science Monday: "Where does rain come from?"

    This past weekend had us pretty busy and for the better part of Saturday, we were dealing with rain and cold.  BLAH!
   Sometime on Saturday, while we were at the Autism Awareness Walk, the little munchkin asked me: "Why is there so much rain?"  I asked her, "Well, do you know were rain comes from?" And she, like many kids, stated, "From the sky."...
    Now this isn't exactly the wrong answer and most kids will give this answer, however, it prompted me to give her a very elementary explanation of the water cycle so she could learn that yes, rain does come from the sky, but more specifically, it comes from the clouds.
   I didn't use too much elaborate wording with her though. I simply told her that water vapor is found in the rivers, lakes, oceans and on the ground, and when there is warm air around, the water vapor rises up into the sky as little drops of water and those little droplets form clouds. When the clouds get full of water droplets, it falls back to the ground as rain!
   I read the book "Down Comes The Rain" by Franklyn M. Branley & James Graham Hale. And for a more simple and visual explanation of this whole process,  I took a bag of cottonballs to serve as "clouds" and filled a small vase with water.
   I put one cottonball in the water to show her how it absorbed some water, and then squeezed the water out to show her how much was absorbed inside of the cottonball.
    I asked her to guess how many cottonballs we would need to absorb all the water. She estimated that it would take 22 cottonballs to get rid of all the water in the vase.
    Then she was off to test her guess.
    She found out that it took 74  cottonballs to gather and absorb all of the water out of the vase! That's a whole lot of cottonballs... but they were fairly small ones. I am sure those jumbo ones can hold much more water.
And then the fun part: 
Making Rain!
    I told her that the "clouds" were now full of water and when that happens, the water comes out of the clouds in the form of rain drops!
   I gave her the go ahead to SQUEEZE all the water out of the "clouds" and make rain... which was what she was waiting to do!
And of course, some cottonball and water play followed!
    So, if your munchkins ask you where rain comes from, try out this quick little experiment to give them a visual and very basic understanding of the water cycle and how rain forms!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Freebie Friday: Fun with addition and jelly beans!

   Happy Friday everyone! This week has flown by fast for me and I can't believe that I missed National Jelly Bean Day, which was on Tuesday!
   Well, who else still has left over jelly beans and plastic eggs??? I know I do.  I made sure we put them to use again and created an addition activity for the munchkin.
    I took some of those cute plastic bunny and carrot shaped eggs and other eggs that I snagged at the Dollar Tree and put jellybeans of the same color in each one. 
    She opened each egg and counted how many were there. She then colored the jelly bean on the paper the same color and wrote down the number. Then she proceeded to open another egg and repeated the process.
She had all the jellybeans from the two eggs and then counted them and added them together.
Click here or on the picture below to grab your own copy of this fun jelly bean addition sheet and have fun!
     Well, now I need to get back to my huge project that I started this week.
(I feel like I start a new project every few weeks, whether the previous one is completed or not.  I know, I have issues when it comes to all that!)
    This time, I have been courageous and have begun to tackle the mess in the garage and started to organize my teaching materials... I have way too much stuff! I joke with my husband all the time that I can open up my own little school with all the materials I have...It seriously is THAT much stuff (excluding furniture of course)
  I usually take time in the summer to organize it all, but then it gets all unorganized during the school year and things aren't where they don't belong. I think I am going to try labeling my bins this time around...
Anyone have any good organizing ideas?? Please share!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Activity: Oil vs. Water Experiment

Happy Earth Day!
   I started my rainy morning by going to Target to pick up a few groceries for the week and ended up stranded in the Starbucks cafe for about 15 minutes because of the crazy downpour! And while I was there, I picked up some coffee (of course) and threw in another $1 to purchase this cool reusable Starbucks cup. How's that for environmentally conscious? =)
   As I was debating what to teach my little munchkin about Earth Day (without being repetitious from the things she was going to learn in school), I decided to tie our Earth Day learning with a little science experiment. I have been eyeing Oil & Water exploration, so I used that as a tie in to the lesson, especially after reading a post from Secondgradealicious. I knew I could take it down a notch or two to bring it to the level of understanding for my little one.
 But FIRST: The Oil & Water Exploration:
For this little experiment, we used baby oil and some food coloring and water and a small baking dish.
(The feathers come into play later.)
    Actually, any kind of oil will do. I just chose baby oil because it is clear. But if you are working with younger children, any type of cooking oil may be best, in case little fingers go into the mouth.)
     I poured baby oil into the dish, probably less than halfway. I filled each little cup with water and added abour 4 drops of food coloring to the water.
    Before we started, I asked: 
"What do you think will happen when we put the colored water inside this dish full of oil?"
Here were her answers:
1) It will mix and then change colors.
2) It will explode.
Can you see how much she loves these little experiments? 
    She remembers what has happened in previous experiments and is now trying to apply that learning to something new!
And here is what she discovered:
    When she dropped colored water into the dish full of baby oil with a dropper, it created bubbles, both big and small.
 (The natural reaction of water and oil is that they will not mix and they will remain separate.)
She was so into the exploration, especially when she started to try and mix the colors.
    Then I went on to talk about geese and ducks that swim in the water, just like the ones we saw when we went on a nature hike this past weekend. I briefly told her how some boats that are in the water carry oil and sometimes the oil spills into the water and it isn't safe for the animals that live in the water. 
   Then she surprised me and asked if we could make the Earth using only green and blue. (It was like she knew where I was going with this experiment!) I dumped the colorful oil, refilled the dish and she mixed in green and blue water to create Earth.
I gave her some feathers and asked her to put them in the oil.
    Then I asked her to take it one out and feel it. I took her descriptions of the oil (slimy, sticky) and told her that when the oil gets in the water and onto the feathers of some animals that swim in the water, they feel slimy and sticky, making it hard for them to move or swim to find food. Sadly, sometimes they drink the oil and they could die. 
I asked her to brainstorm ways in which she could get the oil off. She immediately grabbed a napkin to wipe off the oil, only to find out that it really didn't help much at all- the feather was still slippery and slimy.
    Then she suggested putting them into a cup of water, which kind of helped but did not remove the oil right away. After taking some time to conclude the experiment and talk about why Oil Spills are dangerous for the Earth and the animals, she asked for more feathers and continued to play in the oil, as if the feathers were a family of ducks!
   She seemed a little interested in the whole oil spill topic and how it hurts the Earth and the animals. I think I am going to purchase this book for her, so we can learn little bit more!
All in all, this was a GREAT Earth Day Learning Activity for her!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yay! Good news--- I finally have a Facebook Fan Page!

   I have some good news...well, it is awesome news for my blog! I am still trying to drive more traffic to my blog and so finally, after 2 years, I now have a Facebook Fan Page!
   So, come follow along... Click "LIKE" on the left! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

'Race to the Basket' game and other counting fun!

   So, last Friday's Freebie was a fun Easter themed gameboard that can be used in different ways. Today, I want to share how the litttle munchkin used the gameboard today to practice counting and one to one correspondence.
I found the cute animal shaped eggs at Target (but anything can be used, really) as markers. We each took a board and an animal marker, rolled the die and moved that number of spaces.
The first to the basket was the winner.
(As you can see here, she only needed to roll a one and she would win!)
    This is a fun, quick game to practice taking turns, work on counting and one to one correspondence (by moving the marker the correct number of spaces)... and of course, encouraging good sportmanship since she did not win each time!
    We played it at least 7 times and then older brother played with her a few times.

Here is the link to the gameboard in case you missed it (click on the picture):
Here is another quick learning activity that she worked on to practice counting and worked on some fine motor skills by peeling off the stickers and putting it on the egg.
 She had eggs numbered all  the way to twenty five.
    We will be working on some more math skills later this week, so if you are looking for fun math activities to keep little ones busy and learning, stay tuned!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mad Science Monday: Peep Experiment

    I am excited about this week's Mad Science Monday experiment. Last year, the kids and I microwaved Peeps and saw what happened.... it was lots of fun and hilarious to see the end product of the Peep! We couldn't wait to try another Peep experiment this year.
   This Peep experiment idea came from Bernadette over at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas... again! I love her blog. She does so many  fun learning activities with her girls!
    For this experiment, we wanted to see what would happen to Peeps when we put them in different liquids. We used vinegar, water, soda and orange juice.
    The munchkin poured in 2/3 cup into a clear plastic cup. (A clear cup makes it easier to see what is happening to the Peep.)
    We placed one Peep in each cup and started to think about what would happen. 
    She used a fork and tried to push a Peep down into the liquids to see if it would sink and stay down (seems that she remembered the Sink & Float experiment from a few weeks ago)...but it didn't. Each peep floated on top of the liquid.
   After 3 hours, we checked them:
   (I had flipped them over after like 1.5 hours)
   In the water, the black eyes had come off and the water was turning yellow.
   In the soda, the peep was still yellow, but also starting to turn brown.
   In the vinegar, the peep looked like it was starting to lose its pink color.
   In the orange juice, the pink color seemed to be coming off as well.
  After 9 hours (this morning), we checked on the Peeps and here is what we saw:
    The peep in the water had turned completely white and the water was yellow. 
The black eyes and nose floated in the water too!
    The peep in the soda was completely brown and it looked like the acid in the soda was eating at the marshmallow. (Very easy to see how bad soda is for you!)
The nose and eyes were still there but not very visible.
    The peep in the orange juice was no longer pink and was completely white. 
Eyes and nose were still intact.
    The peep in the vinegar was also mostly white and the nose and eyes were still intact too.
    And then my son poked a skewer through each peep and it easily went right through it!
And then after another 4 hours, we took a peek at them again and didn't notice too much except that the peep in the vinegar lost its black mouth and it looked like the eyes were coming off too.
The little one was pretty disgusted when she saw how mushy they were and didn't want to touch them!
And she definitely did not like the way that the peep in the soda looked!
Afterwards we just talked about what happened to each one and possible reasons as to why it happened. We are going to leave them in there for a few more hours and then see what they look like then.
Now, we are thinking of other liquids to put the peeps into!
This was fun and it allowed both of my kids to make a prediction as to what would happen in each liquid. 
Try this fun Peep Experiment and let me know what liquids you choose to use and what happened!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Freebie Friday: Race to the Basket!

    Yay! Friday is here and that means it is FREEBIE time for you!
    I really do need to get better though at posting my Freebies a little bit earlier in the day....
    Today marks the beginning of Spring break for my kids and I have a few fun things lined up for us to do, which include a trip to the Buffalo Museum of Science to check out the new Mummies Exhibit, a Spring Sunset Moonrise Hike, and maybe a trip to the movies and a trip to the zoo!
   And of course, the little munchkin and I plan to spend time outdoors (weather permiiting) and inside working on some fun learning activities. (And I am thinking of some creative things for my teenage son as well!!)
   I have been working on a few things for the munchkin. So, here is a  first peek at a quick little gameboard that I created for next week. I plan to use this in a few different ways to work on different skills!
Click here OR on the picture to get your free copy and then come back and tell me how you used this Easter gameboard.
I will be posting about how we use this gameboard next week so be sure to come back and visit!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Egg-cellent" learning games with plastic eggs!

    The Easter holiday is just around the corner and I am seeing plastic eggs all over the place! From simple colorful ones, to ones with fun designs and characters, to ones in very cute shapes. I LOVE the cute carrot & bunny eggs I found at the Dollar Tree. I bought some last year and went back for more this year!
    All the cutesy eggs that are out there aren't just cute and great for Easter egg hunts and filling baskets...the little munchkin and I are discovering all sorts of fun games to play and different ways to use these little plastic eggs.
   Earlier this week, after I raided the Dollar Tree for their cute eggs, I set out baskets and activity trays of learning games for the little munchkin to do, if it sparked her interest. And I say "if" because since I have been using Montessori-inspired activity trays, I change the trays maybe every 1-1.5 weeks, depending on how fast she completes the activities and how interested (or uninterested) she is with the activity trays.
 (Read more here about how I started with my Montessori-Inspired Activity Trays in her playroom)   
   And all week long, she has been excited about the new activities and has been doing one or two activities a day.
   Here is one activity that I borrowed from Nicole over at Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten:
    I filled each carrot egg with letter tiles (or you can use magnetic letters).
    She had to choose an egg, dump out the letters and try to put the letters in order to make a sight word. 
(To make it a little easier, I only used the 8 sight words that she has been learning)
    Once she figured out the correct spelling of the sight word, she wrote it on the carrot. 
    This recording sheet is part of an Easter FREEBIE, so head over to Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten to grab your own copy and make any kind of game you wish! (It could be a spelling word game for older kids or a letter/ number recognition game for preschool kids) 
The ideas are endless!
    For some upper and lowercase letter identification practice, I also made a game where each carrot egg had two letters that did not match. She had to dump the eggs and match the upper and lower case letters.
There's more!! She grabbed another tray and basket with yet another egg game.
    This time she had to open each egg and sort letters from numbers. I also had her name each letter and number as she sorted it into the correct group.
And then I thought of a way to make the classic game of Memory  Match even more fun:
I bought 2 sets of these little erasers at Walmart. I filled small eggs with the erasers and we took turns opening the eggs to try and find a match.
    So, what are you waiting for? 
    Get over to the Dollar Tree and raid their Easter section! There are TONS of fun things to do with these eggs. And the best thing about all this learning fun-- very cost effective!
   And with Spring break next week, you can be sure that the little munchkin and I will be exploring a zillion more ways to have fun with plastic eggs!
 So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crafty Tuesday: DIY Vase Makeover!

    I am going to keep this short because I have had two fun eventful days this week! I was called in to be a substitute teacher at the little munchkin's school and I was over the moon about being able to step in a preschool classroom again!
    Needless to say, it has been 7 long months without the need to have unlimited amounts of energy to keep up with preschool age children... so yes, I am quite exhausted! AND- I actually like this type of exhaustion, knowing that I spent the day teaching little munchkins. Yea, I know, I am weird. Call it crazy, call it passion, call it what you like- but I love it!
   Anyhow, back to my DIY craft makeover!
   Pinterest has seriously sparked inspiration in me. I know I have said it before, but it really has. I am more creative than I was just three years ago!
   I decided to give a few rooms in the house a little makeover, simply by replacing a few small pieces of furniture, rearranging some things and adding a pop of color. I chose the color teal because the walls are pale yellow and our furniture is dark gray. Perfect palette...
   Here is how I started:.
(I purchased this vase at Pier 1 Imports several years ago and have long been over the color red, so I decided to give it a makeover.)
   And here is how it came out after 2 coats of teal acrylic paint:
   The total cost of this: LESS than $7 (just counting art materials I had to purchase, including the fabric flower I found in the dollar bins at Michaels.)
   Here is another one:
   I found this vase (which was white) at the Salvation Army for $2. I painted it with teal paint and as easy as 1-2-3 -- I had another prop for my new shelf unit.
   If you know Pinterest and DIY, then you have probably seen all the easy and quick ways to add a pop of color in any room, simply by painting glass vases/objects.
   Check out this one by Life in Wonderland: (also on my To Do list)
I am going to have fun with this little redecorating project! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Freebie Friday: Two FREE things for you to check out today!

    Alright, it's that time again! It's Friday and time for a Freebie! And today is extra awesome because not only do I have a freebie for you from my own creation, I want to share a new app that I discovered, which is FREE on iTunes.
    I am sure everyone has heard of Rosetta Stone, right? Well, did you know there is now a new and FREE Rosetta Stone App for Kids?
    I don't remember how I came across it... I believe it was a Facebook ad. It's called Rosetta Stone Kids: Lingo Letter Sounds.
    It is a fun interactive app where the Gogo Lingos talk to you and they can hear you too when you speak into the microphone. 
There are two activities in this app.
 One is a Letter & Sound Matching Game and the other is a listening and speaking game, where you can hear a phrase in Spanish and then repeat it.
The Listening and Speaking Game is our favorite:
If you repeat the phrase in a similar way in which they say it, the little Gogo Lingos will start dancing!
It is very cute!!
We love it!
The other game is a Letter & Sound Matching Game:
Click on the App Photo to check it out for yourself. It's FREE on iTunes!
Rosetta Stone Kids: Lingo Letter Sounds
And I just found another FREE one that we are going to try out:
Rosetta Stone Kids: Lingo Word Builder
Lots of Spanish Learning FUN!
    (*This review and the opinions about these apps are my own and I was not asked or paid to promote these products.)
    And now to my FREEBIE for you!
    I am getting ready to start Journal writing with the little munchkin because she has been bringing home drawings from school and tells me lengthy stories about the pictures. So, it is time to document this!
    I haven't decided whether I want to just print off journal pages or get a little notebook and let her decorate it. So, I just created a quick journal template just in case I decide to print off pages as we go. And it's yours FREE today! 
   I have included two different formats; one without lines and one with lines. ENJOY!
Click the pictures to get your free copy at my TPT store or just click here!