Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Valentines Day Science: Your Heart

It is Valentine's Day soon and we like to do fun, science activities for the holidays.  When thinking about Valentine's Day, I think of hearts.  So, our Valentine's science activity is to learn about the heart and how it works.

First, I ask Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean what they know about the heart.  They both say it "beeps."  They really mean beat.  I then ask why it "beeps" and Jumping Bean surprises me and says to move blood.  We discuss how the heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body.  To demonstrate this concept, a bath toy is used.  When the bath toy is squeezed, water squirts out, and when released, it fills with water again.  The heart works the same way taking blood in and out.


To diagram the heart, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean use colored frosting, graham crackers, and marshmallows.


Once the heart is assembled, we discuss the different parts- the four chambers, arteries, and veins.  The arteries take oxygen rich blood to different parts of the body, and the veins bring the low oxygen blood back to the heart to be sent out to the lungs to get more oxygen.  This process repeats itself.


I kept the information about the heart pretty simple for Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean because of their age, but for the older kids, there is a lot you can learn about the circulatory system.  If you have any fun circulatory activities you have enjoyed, we would love to hear about them!


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Supplies:
  • 4 graham cracker squares
  • 2 marshmallows
  • 6-8 mini marshmallows
  • frosting
  • red and blue food coloring
  • knife
  • paper towel
  • bowl
  • bath toy that squirts water
  • water

Instructions:

  1. Demonstrate how the heart pumps blood throughout the body by squeezing it under water and then releasing.
  2. Assemble the heart.  Spread blue frosting on 2 graham cracker squares and one marshmallow.  Spread red frosting on 2 graham cracker squares, one marshmallow, and all the mini marshmallows.
  3. Place the 4 graham crackers together to form a square.  These represent the 4 chambers of our heart.  The red graham crackers are on the left representing the atrium.  The blue graham crackers are on the right representing the ventricles.
  4. Place the blue marshmallows below the blue graham crackers and the red below the red graham crackers.  These are the veins.
  5. The mini marshmallows are above the red graham crackers representing arteries.
  6. Discuss how blood is pumped throughout the body taking oxygen and nutrients to different organs through the arteries.  Veins bring the blood back to get more oxygen.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Melting Ice in Oil: a Sinking Experiment

We don't get much snow and ice in the Southeast in the winter but that does not stop my girls from asking almost everyday when it might snow.  So I decided to bring winter inside with an icy experiment that built upon some of our previous ice and float-sink experiments.    The goal was to discover what happened to ice cubes in oil.


The day before I made some colored ice cubes in an old baby food freezer container (because I do not own an ice tray).  I put the ice cubes out in a bowl and filled a glass vase with olive oil and put it out for the girls.  They were excited and intrigued.  We started talking about the ice and how it can melt and change.  We felt the oil and wondered what would happen to the ice cube when we put it in the oil.  Each girl selected a cube and carefully put it into the oil.


We were surprised when the cubes sunk to the bottom as we are all used to ice cubes floating in water.   We watched for a few minutes and did not see anything so the girls went and got ready for bed.  When they came back we did not see much of a difference so we put on our super googles to see if anything had changed.  When we looked closely at the bottom we saw that our ice cubes had developed "stands".


They looked a bit like jellyfish and when the girls reached in and pushed down on the cubes the "stands" flared out like jellyfish too!


The girls had a great time pushing the cubes around in the oil and watching the colored "bubbles" or "globs of muck" appear.


Thankfully we had lots of paper towels and a sink of warm soapy water standing by for a quick clean up!  When the oil settled we could see the water from the melted ice forming "bubbles" on the bottom and we could see drops of water falling off the ice cubes through the oil.



We left our experiment on the table overnight to see what would happen the next morning.   They awoke to find a layer of dark water under the layer of olive oil - all the ice cubes had melted.



Overall the girls loved this experiment - especially the playing in the oil!  It was a wonderful way to explore ice melting and to look at liquids floating and sinking.  I am sure this is one we will do again.

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Supplies:

  • food coloring
  • ice cube tray (or something to make colored ice in)
  • large glass bowl or vase
  • oil (we used olive oil)


Instructions:

  1. The day before make the colored ice cubes with food coloring.
  2. Pour the oil into the glass container high enough to cover the ice cubes.
  3. Carefully drop the ice cubes into the oil and wait about 15 minutes.
  4. See what is happening in your bowl - be sure to check under your ice cubes.
  5. Play and discover what happens as your ice cubes melt and disappear.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

IQ Block Game and Spatial Reasoning

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean have loved playing with the straws and connectors we got from our construction BLAST.  They have spent hours creating and building all while learning spatial reasoning skills.  That is why I was so excited when I came across an IQ Block Game from Learners in Bloom.  I knew the girls would love it!


To begin, all you need are a few objects from around the house - cardboard (from a box), a box cutter, painters tape and a ruler.


I cut the cardboard into 3x3 inch squares (I made 10 in total).  Each square was then covered in green painters tape.  Once they were all covered, each square was partially wrapped in blue painters tape to create a design or pattern..



Four squares were placed together in a larger square pattern to make a design.  The design was then photocopied in black and white (or gray).


Now, the fun begins!  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were given the smaller square pieces.  They then chose a design to copy.  They automatically noticed the photocopied design was shaded differently which helped them create the design.



Success!  Both girls were able to copy the designs they chose. 

Not only did I enjoy watching them succeed, but it was fun to hear them talk out their thoughts.  I often heard, "No, try again."  "Not quite, but you are almost there."  And my favorite, "Keep testing and you will get it."

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Supplies:
  • cardboard box
  • box cutter or scissors
  • ruler
  • 2 different colors of painters tape (I used blue and green)
Instructions:
  1. Using a box cutter, cut out 3x3 squares (I cut out 10, but you can make more).
  2. Cover each square with the blue painters tape.
  3. Partially wrap each square with the green painters tape(look at the pictures above).
  4. Using 4 of the squares, place them together to form a larger square creating a design.
  5. Photocopy the design.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have several designs (I had 7 designs in all).
  7. Use the smaller squares to create the designs photocopied.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lego Shape Filling

While we have had Legos for a while we have not really got into building until we started building with the Lego sets (in particular the Lego Friends Jungle series).  Bug just loved the instructions and how she could follow them along to build something wonderful to play with.  Now our birthday list (summer birthday so a while to go) is already growing with Lego sets.  Although I want to make sure we still have lots of opportunities to build any creative thing we can imagine - after all: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!  What is also great is you can sneak some learning in with a spatial reasoning activity.



I thought it would be fun to challenge Bug with a bit of construction and spatial reasoning.  So I purchased the large flat Lego base board to act as our building surface.  I then setup the outline of a shape - starting with something simple: a square.


I asked her to fill the square with Lego pieces.  She did it pretty quickly and she made sure that she matched the color of the outline as well!


We spoke about what other shapes we could make that we could fill with Legos and I made up two more silly shapes for her to fill.


She again quickly filled them but this time because they were more complicated she had to figure out what size pieces to put in and so quickly started counting "bumps".  If she could not find it she would use smaller pieces and begin to add without realizing it and telling me how many bumps she was looking for as the empty space changed.


These shapes then became a platform for imaginative play and Bug built castles in the middle of a farm!


Of course little Bear could not help but get in on the building too!


We had a great time solving our Lego puzzles and ended up having a great time playing too.

***  Affiliate links provided in this post for your convenience.

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Supplies:

  • Lego Base Board
  • Lego blocks (we used our Lego Bucket)
Instructions:
  1. Make the outline of a shape on your base board.
  2. Allow the child to fill it.
  3. Repeat as many times as you would like.
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Our First Snowman

We are in the midwest for the holidays, and we have been welcomed by fresh snow on our first day!  Being southern girls and not having a chance to play in snow often, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were eager to get outside and play. 


Sledding was first on the agenda.  Grandma and Papa have a nice little hill in the backyard.  It is perfect for two little 3 year olds.  But, being adventurous and fearless, they wanted bigger and better.  Daddy on the otherhand, wants the girls to stay as little as possible so the big kid hills are off-limits right now.  At least until tomorrow after I do a little coaxing tonight!



Now, naturally thinking how I can turn this into a learning experiment, we moved on to making a snowman.  Jelly Bean's and Jumping Bean's first ever!  They caught on quickly on packing the snow into a ball, and then rolling the ball around the snow until it got bigger. 



We made several snowballs, and then the girls put them in order from smallest to largest.  Some snowballs were pretty close in size, so the girls picked them up and decided which they thought was heavier. 


After a few lessons about building a snowman, spatial reasoning from our Ice BLAST, and size comparison, Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean learned that the largest snowball does need to go on the bottom.  Otherwise, it crumbles into a lot of little snowballs.  Even though we lost a few snowballs along the way, Frosty was finally made!