Monday, July 6, 2015

Chemistry and Construction

Week 5 of Kindergarten


This was a busy week for house construction, so we took it easy with planned "school" days and focused on learning through experience. We still had two co-op days, which were based on physical science and chemistry this week.

Day 20 - Tuesday

At co-op on Tuesday we learned about density. My co-teacher gave a lesson on making butter, and the kids shook a jar of cream until it clumped together (became more dense) and formed butter. 

I gave a presentation on density where I passed around two golf balls - on regular and one hollow plastic. Even though they were the same size and shape, the regular golf ball was heavier. We also compared similar balls made of different materials - a baseball, a soft cloth ball, and a styrofoam ball. I explained that an object with more mass feels heavier, and that density is the amount of mass in a certain volume or space. As we passed the balls around, I had each child hold up the heaviest ball and say "this ball has the highest density." 

Next, we talked about how liquids can have different densities too. We compared several different liquids, then the kids helped measure the same volume of each liquid into paper cups (one full paper cup, approximately 1/2 cup of each liquid) and pour the liquids into a cylindrical vase. We added food coloring to some of the clear liquids to help differentiate them.

The liquids settled out to create a "rainbow" in our vase, and we were able to see which liquids were the most dense (heaviest) and sank to the bottom, and which were the least dense (lightest) and floated to the top. 

The full experiment can be found on Steve Spangler Science.

We took small water bottles and added oil, water and food coloring to make mini density bottles for the kids to take home.

During the work period upstairs, M checked on the mealworms (some have changed into darkling beetles),

and worked with the rock tray and identified some of the mineral samples.
After snack, we made homemade bubble solution, and continued exploring density with sink/float toys in the water table and blowing bubbles. The kids learned that they could coat their hands in the bubble solution and blow bubbles through their finger and touch the bubbles without popping them!

 We made a quick run by the property that evening, and got in some PE in the form of bike riding.

Day 21 - Wednesday

My husband took the day off on Wednesday so we could all go to the property and watch the basement wall installation. There was a giant crane to lift and place the pre-poured walls. 

While the construction crew worked, we took a walk through the shady woods to cool off. M observed an ant community living in a dead log, found different types of fungi growing on the sides of trees, and picked blackberries to eat (and share) along the edge of the property.

That afternoon, we had a meeting with a lumber company to discuss the lumber package and start picking out the doors and windows for the house. While we talked, M designed her own book of wall and window options. She wants a Frozen themed room, a pool in the backyard, and shelves for her school work.

Day 22 - Thursday

On Thursday we talked about physical vs. chemical changes. I demonstrated some physical changes (crumpling or ripping paper, melting ice) and a chemical change (baking soda and vinegar reaction). The kids loved watching the baking soda and vinegar reaction. I started with a soda bottle half filled with vinegar. Then I used a funnel to put baking soda inside a balloon. I carefully put the balloon on the mouth of the bottle, then shook the balloon around to get all of the baking soda to dump into the vinegar inside the bottle. When the baking soda and vinegar react, they form carbon dioxide gas, which fills the balloon. The kids can clearly see that a new substance has formed - a solid (baking soda) and liquid (vinegar) form a gas (carbon dioxide).


Next, the kids did their own chemistry experiment. We poured milk into shallow plates and added drops of food coloring. I gave each child a Q-tip, and they dipped it into the milk and saw that nothing happened to the food coloring. Then, I put a drop of dish soap on the end of each Q-tip and they tried again. This time, the colors started moving and swirling on their plates! The dish detergent was reacting with the milk, and causing the food coloring to get pushed around. The kids had a lot of fun using the Q-tips to push the colors in different directions, and trying to get the colors to mix together.

The full experiment can be found on Steve Spangler Science.

During the independent work time, M chose to work with the continent map and traced Asia to add to her collection of continents she has punched. She also worked with a group on the hundred board for a little while, and worked with my dad (who came down for the day to help) on the cash register identifying coins.

After snack, we worked together to create a batch of slime (another Steve Spangler project). The kids couldn't agree on which color the slime should be, so we made it white and then added the food coloring after we divided the slime. I put a couple of drops of whatever color food coloring the child wanted into a ziplock bag with their white slime. After zipping it up, they squished the slime around until most of the color was absorbed. It had a kind of marbled look to it that was really cool! They took the slime out of the bag and explored its properties (kind of stretchy, but breaks if pulled), and they even used cookie cutters to make different shapes.

Day 23 - Friday

Friday was another day on the property. The plumber had been there early that morning to lay the pipe before the basement floor was poured. My husband wanted to run by and check the measurements, and M was more than happy to help with the tape measure. She mostly enjoyed unwinding and winding the tape, but she also measured between some of the pipes and found the distance from the front wall to a tree in the backyard.

 Our reading and writing practice came courtesy of a Chick-fil-A decoding toy. I wrote messages in "code" for her to decode, and she practiced finding letters and drawing the corresponding symbols.

Successes and Challenges

Successes this week - 
  • Real life learning. We have a LOT going on right now, and we are fortunate that we can include M in the construction process. She looks at the floor plans, visits all of the vendors, and follows the progress on our property. 
  • Organization - We had a funny week since my husband was off on Wednesday and Friday, plus the 4th of July on Saturday. With an extra set of hands, I was able to spend some more time organizing M's room and getting more of the extra stuff that doesn't fit in our temporary apartment out of our living space and into storage. Hopefully this will make things easier in the coming months until we are able to move into the new house.

Challenges this week - 
  • Crazy schedules - This is just an ongoing problem that we'll have to deal with. We will continue to do our best to fit in learning opportunities and to make the most of the real world experiences. It's definitely taking a toll on M (and me!) to be on the go so much, so we need to try to find more balance in our days.
  • Waning interest - I don't know if it was exhaustion (M has been SO tired lately), or Daddy being home, or the holiday weekend, but M wasn't particularly interested in much this week. I guess everyone needs some downtime to just take it all in. I think I will prep some extra practical life activities for next week to help build her focus again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Starry Night, Solar System, and Pizza Fractions

Week 4 of Kindergarten


I'm continuing to use the same work plan to keep M on track throughout the week, but I plan to print a new version for next week. I may change the format to use push pins or stickers instead of the paper clips because the clips tend to slide on the laminated paper.

We continued with "Young Chefs" camp, and I added a few new materials to M's shelves. M also received the second kit from the Magic School Bus Young Scientist's Club. I have several of these kits that I modified and used with my high school science classes when I was teaching, and I was excited when a friend passed along a great deal on the annual membership for this club. I put away the first kit (on volcanoes) for next week to prepare for our science camp, so we jumped ahead to this month's kit - The Secrets of Space (affiliate link). I really like getting the monthly kits because it has a wide range of activities, most of the materials are included, and it helps me narrow down which science theme to pursue that month.

Day 15 - Monday

Our weekends have been really busy lately, so Mondays are typically our slowest days. M spent the morning playing with H. She said she wanted to make her a "language basket" to teach her some new words. It was so cute to watch them!

Later, we spent some time working on handwriting. I pulled out a few of the sandpaper letters that she needs practice with, and had her trace the letters, trace them in the sand, then write a row of the letter in her journal. She wanted to work on her own, so I left her in her room and told her to write me a note in lower case (she thinks upper case is easier, so she writes the "hard letters" in upper case) when she was finished.

Here's her note - haha! "i wont a moovie now"
So she watched A Bug's Life.

Day 16 - Tuesday

Week 2 of Young Chefs camp started with homemade play-doh. We used this Instructables recipe, and let the kids help measure the ingredients and mix the dough before it went on the stove. After it cooled, each child received two balls of dough to color. We talked about color mixing, and used the primary colored food coloring to mix all of the colors of the rainbow. Later, the kids enjoyed playing with their play-doh to make pretend food and cut out letter and number shapes.

While at co-op, M chose a second continent to trace and punch. She is working to learn all of the continents so she can make her own continent map. This week she punched Australia.

Finally, she worked with two other girls to make her own version of van Gogh's Starry Night. I love to see how much M is progressing with her drawing and coloring skills. She is adding much more detail than she used to!

After co-op, M wanted to do more coloring. She chose this neat flip and draw fairy coloring book that my mom got her (affiliate link). Again, I was excited to see that she was paying attention to the details and really thinking about what colors she wanted to use. Previously, she would color the whole picture with one color, but now she is putting a lot more thought into her coloring work.

We worked together on the next lesson in Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (affiliate link) - Lesson 96 on Long "i" sounds. Then she chose the addition snake game as her math activity for the day.

I was cleaning out some extra materials from her room, and she saw her tape measure. She wanted to measure the width of the board. I showed her how to read the tape measure, then she found some chalk and started drawing different lengths of lines on the board.

We took the dog for a walk and checked the mail, and found that her Magic School Bus kit had arrived. She opened it immediately. She was so excited that she started some of the projects after dinner. She created some solar system and planet flashcards, a solar system model, and a solar system poster. She is excited to do more of the projects over the next couple of weeks.

Day 17 - Wednesday

Wednesday was another slow day. M helped me to make some new materials for her shelves. She was so excited to be trusted to help with the new materials. She said "Mom, my friends are going to be so jealous that I get to cut all these letters and sort them in these boxes!" Hahaha! Win for Mom. ;)

These new printed movable alphabets will be used for phonogram practice.

M also helped work on her new golf tee clock. I don't know who is more excited about this material. This brilliant idea is from Suzanne at Hope4ME. I printed the clock face and glued it to styrofoam, then taped around the edges. M helped to pound golf tees around the edges (60 tees for the minutes).

She finished up with some preliminary sewing activities. I bought a couple of new pin cushions and some straight pins. She transferred the straight pins from cushion to cushion, counted the pins, and then found buttons to pin to the cushions.

Day 18 - Thursday

On Thursday, we made pizza at co-op. The kids mixed their own pizza dough, then left it to rise. Later, they came back and rolled out the dough and added toppings. They were very excited to get to eat their very own pizzas for snack.

While they waited for their pizza dough to rise, they made pizza fraction posters. They cut out toppings to decorate their pizzas, then cut them so they had a whole, halves, thirds and quarters. They backed them on construction paper to match the fraction skittles we looked at, and added these free printable templates from Finally in First.

She also started a new sewing project. She drew a picture on the embroidery fabric, put it in the hoop, and started embroidering some details on her design. I have a feeling that this will be an ongoing project for a while.

At home that afternoon, M wanted to work with her clock. I didn't have the colored tees yet (I ordered a set of pink and a set of white from Amazon - affiliate links), so I just did the first lesson using the hour hand.

 Later, we reviewed the long "i" phonogram folder, and I gave her a basket with an object that was spelled with each of the different letter combinations (tie, fry, five, light). She used her new printed movable alphabet to spell the names of the objects, using the red letters for the long "i" sound, and black letters for the remaining sounds in each word.

She insisted on reading a bedtime story to her little sister that night. Is this not the cutest??

Day 19 - Friday

Friday was a busy day as M wrapped up the rest of the work on her work plan. She chose to start with music. We played the scales, and she remembered the names of the notes that we had talked about last week. I took down one set of the bells for her to grade. She asked if she could just put the numbers in order (they have small numbers engraved in the top of the bell - ugh). To avoid the temptation, we decided to put a small piece of painter's tape over each of the numbers. She had to work harder to really listen to the sounds, but she enjoyed this activity. She checked her work by matching them to the second set.

Next, she wanted to do some calendar work. She already finished her June calendar and the corresponding command cards I had made, so I brought out her annual calendar and helped her find the next month. She copied the numbers from the calendar onto her blank template to create a July calendar that we can start using next week.

For math, she chose the short bead chains. She can get through the 5's by herself, but gets stuck on the 6's for some reason. After she placed the 18 arrow, she suddenly decided that she had forgotten how to count and couldn't figure out what the next arrow should be. I pulled out some of her golden beads to help her visualize. (Earlier this week we spent some time working on the ten board, but she wouldn't let me take pictures. I'm encouraging her to count the tens as 1-ten, 2-tens, 3-tens, etc to help her remember the place values.)

She didn't want to work with her movable alphabet, so I gave her a set of spelling puzzles to put together. These are really too easy for her now, but she had fun matching the pieces.

She finished up with geometry. I asked if she wanted to punch one of the shapes I had traced. She really wanted a heart, and came up with a plan to make one using a square and a circle. She cut out the square with scissors and punched the circle, and then I showed her how to fold the circle in half so she could cut along the fold to create two semi-circles. She taped the semi-circles to the sides of the square to make a heart. Very creative!

Successes and Challenges

Successes this week - 
  • M completed everything on her work plan! She wanted to finish it all, and enjoyed choosing which work to do for each category on her list. I still want to tweak the plan a little by changing the number of some of the subjects, but overall I think it's working well.
  • M is working more independently! There were some days when she worked in her room alone, which was practically unheard of before. Usually she stops working if I stop watching, but this week she wanted to try a lot of the work on her own without me.
  • Concentration and thought. I noticed this most with her coloring and with the geometry / heart activity, but I'm excited to see that she is concentrating more and taking her time with her work to really give it her best effort. I can tell that she is really proud of her work when she is finished!
Challenges this week - 
  • Energy levels. This challenge will probably be ongoing since we just have so much going on in this stage of our lives. Our weekends are pretty hectic, and they are definitely not as relaxing as I wish they could be. That leads to tired little girls (and tired mommy) on Monday morning. I may just need to accept that Mondays will be slow days. I need to be mindful that I don't push too many things to the end of the week and overload our Fridays.
  • Putting things away. I admit, this is at least partially my fault. We still aren't fully moved in, and since this apartment is just temporary while we build our house, I don't think we'll ever be fully moved in. This, of course, makes it a challenge because M isn't used to the space and where all of her materials belong. We're working on paying attention to where you got something so you can return it to the same place. Especially markers, scissors, and small objects that tend to be left out and found by the 1-year-old. 
  • Grace and Courtesy. Maybe we need some role playing or actual lessons on grace and courtesy, or maybe I need to set up an actual peace table or area for M to retreat to when she feels overwhelmed. I don't know if it's a sleep thing (she stays up too late looking at books in her bed) or a change thing (being in a new apartment and hearing us talk about the new house all the time) or a sibling rivalry thing (now that H is walking and starting to assert herself more). Either way, there is entirely too much yelling, grabbing toys, excluding, etc. Definitely something to work on. 

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