Monday, February 17, 2014

Ice, Snow and Antarctica

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my full disclosures.

We're continuing our way Around the World! Next stop: Antarctica! This week was actually supposed to be all about Europe, but with the crazy snow forecast, I just had to switch things around. That's the fun part about homeschooling, right? Go with the flow and take opportunities as they arise.

We started the week by reading a bunch of library books about snow:

I have learned that we are better off finding children's books that are somewhat related to our topic and lead M to ask questions than trying to get a bunch of nonfiction books. I always get a couple of nonfiction books from the library (Explore the Continents series is really good) so we have them on hand if M is interested, but she prefers the picture books and juvenile literature. She often chooses these books to read at bedtime as well.

I had recorded March of the Penguins a few months ago, and M really liked watching that - more than I had anticipated! There were a few scenes of penguins dying (one scene with a leopard seal, another with a predator bird, and a few penguins who don't make it through the cold winter). We used these scenes to talk about predators and the food chain and harsh weather conditions, but you need to know your child to determine how they would be affected by this kind of program.

After watching the movie, M was really interested in reading the books about penguins. I found some free printables from NOAA and printed the pages that related to Antarctica, including coloring sheets of a leopard seal, emperor penguin, blue whale, albatross, and iceberg.

I made "snow paint" (equal amounts of white glue and shaving cream) for M to paint onto her pictures with a Q-tip. She really liked the texture of the "snow paint," and it had a neat fluffy look when it dried.

I brought out one of her books about penguins to help her color the emperor penguin coloring page. We added a drop of food coloring to a little of the snow paint to make orange and yellow paint for the penguin's neck and beak. She decided that she would like to add black feathers on the penguin's back to finish her design.

After she finished painting all of the pictures and they were dry, we hole punched the pages (including the intro page from the printable pack) and bound them together with some brads to make her own Antarctic animal book.

Of course, the whole reason we were learning about Antarctica this week was because we had REAL snow to play with!

Despite the fact that I grew up in NJ (or maybe because I grew up in NJ and chose to move South?), I'm not a fan of the cold weather. We did go out and play in the snow - we had a mini snowball fight, made snow angels and footprints. My husband also took her out to make a small snowman.

I wanted M to be able to play with the snow, but I didn't really want to be out in the cold... Compromise - bring snow inside!

Painting snow with colored water:
M loved this! It was actually her idea to use the pastry brush to paint the snow. I also gave her some small spoons, cups and a pipette. She experimented with mixing different colors together and compared loose snow to packed snow.

Indoor snowmen:
M made mini snowmen and painted them. She also added some beans for the face and buttons.

Snowy Small World:
I had originally planned on making a sensory tub with either cotton balls or fake snow, but this was so much better! I gave her some of the figures from the Arctic TOOB and some whales and penguins I had from another set. (This also gave us the opportunity to talk about how even though animals from the North and South poles both live in cold environments, the same animals don't live in both places).

She cleared a space in the corner of the container to be the ocean (and later filled it with water beads) for the marine animals.

When all of the snow melted, I dumped out the water and refilled it with new snow. I covered all the figures with the new snow, so she used her scoop to dig around and find all of the figures.

We wrapped up the week with a fun science experiment inspired by Nothing if Not Intentional. We talked about what causes snow to melt and I asked M how we could make the snow melt faster. She said to bring it inside or make it warmer outside (we've talked about melting/freezing before). We talked about whether she thought adding different substances like salt or sugar might impact how fast the snow melted.

M wanted to play outside, and it had warmed up considerably, so we decided to do the experiment in the backyard. We collected all of our materials, and M helped me measure out one cup of snow for each of the containers. We packed the snow into the measuring cup so it would be easier to see it melting.

Next, she helped measure out one tablespoon of each of the substances we would add to the snow (table salt, sea salt, sugar, and water). We talked about how we wouldn't add anything to the last container so we could compare the others to plain snow (our control).

We set all five containers on the edge of the patio and checked back periodically to see what was happening. Ideally we would have checked back at regular intervals, but we kept getting involved in other things and forgetting. We also could have come up with a way to quantitatively measure how much snow was left in each container (or how much water was in each container), but we just eyeballed them to get a general idea.

Our conclusions? Table salt and sea salt were the clear winners. The sea salt (larger particles) melted the snow faster at first, but the table salt pulled ahead slightly at the end (it was almost completely melted in the last picture). Sugar wasn't nearly as effective as salt, but it did cause the snow to melt faster than nothing at all. Adding a tablespoon of water on top of snow had barely any effect, and after the small amount of initial melting, it was pretty much exactly the same as the control.

While we were waiting for the snow to melt, M explored around the yard. She spent a lot of time at the puddle at the end of the gutter. She added different amounts of snow to the puddle and watched how long it took for the snow to completely melt. She also liked squishing her boots in the mud where the snow had melted and making muddy footprints in the snow.

Overall, we had an amazing week learning about ice and snow! We couldn't have found a better time to learn about Antarctica!

Check the Around the World post for links to all of our other adventures!

Linking Up With:
Montessori Monday
Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop
After School Link Up
Preschool & Kindergarten Community
Tuesday Tots
Hip Homeschool Hop
Hands On Play Party


  1. Amazing ideas! The snow paint is great. Our kiddos like tracing letters in the shaving cream so using it to paint should be a natural for them as well. Thanks for sharing.


    1. The snow paint was so much fun! And really easy too! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. How fun! It's amazing that you went from so much snow to warm weather so quickly. Great melting experiment!

    1. I know! I think we hit every season that week - haha. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I have been really impressed by going through this awesome blog. shave ice lily cups