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.

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