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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brr It's Cold Outside

It has been a very cold week, and we go outside in pretty much all weather, but the cold and wind have kept us inside twice this week, a rarity.  So, I decided to bring a bit of the weather inside for play.
Though it looks like it is melting in this picture. This little igloo was a ton of fun!
I took a card table and piled pillow on top, then covered with a duvet, I then took one of our tunnels and covered that with foam and a sheet, home sweet home.
The lights that I strung in the igloo had a nice glow and gave off extra warmth.

I don't think our little friends minded playing inside on these days.

I also talked with the children about freezing temperature, and made some ice cube "paints" for them to enjoy.  First they wet their paper with warm water, and then the fun began.

Some even attempted to paint with all four colors at once.

I recommend using a plate under the paint sticks while they are not being used, and be careful, several children wanted to eat them!

The end results were very similar to water colors, however it is just food coloring and water in ice cube trays.  It looks like tomorrow will be another bitterly cold day, so perhaps my littlest ones will enjoy these activities as well.

Color Mixing Lab the Next Phase: Studying Acids and Bases

Color mixing has become our big project at school.  If you have been following these posts you know we first started with several weeks of simple color mixing using water and food coloring.  The children were fascinated with the mixing of different colors.  We then experimented with adding our colored water to snow.  
The last week and a half we have been watching as our colors fizzed with baking soda and vinegar, so what next?  Well, why not some more experiments.  I boiled some purple cabbage and ended up with 4 cups of dark purple liquid.  The next day at school I put the cabbage juice in one of their tray compartments, and lemon juice and baking soda water in two other compartments.  The invitation was put out for exploration, lets see what happened.    
This student is pointing out to his friend that when the baking soda was added to the "purple water" the mixture began to turn blue.
Here we see what happened when the lemon juice was added to the cabbage juice, it began to turn pink.
Here we see a young scientist turning a blue mixture back to it's original purple by reversing the results  first baking soda, and then lots of lemon juice to turn it back.
When the children began asking why the colors were changing, I explained to them that lemon juice is what we call an acid and baking soda is what we call a base, the cabbage juice is neutral.  I asked them which one turns the cabbage juice from purple to pink and light purple, most told me the lemon juice.  So we talked about acids must then make things lighter.  I asked which made it turn turquoise and dark blue, and they said the water...which was water with baking soda, and we said that bases turn the color darker.
Each time the color changed,they were in awe, it was like magic because both the baking soda water and lemon juice are fairly clear, so the fact that they were mixing the colors was really exciting.
Trying at small amounts of liquid  had quicker results  as the little researcher in the photo above found out.  Another student in the picture below noticed that when she added her baking soda water first, the color changed on top but not on the bottom.
We had all sorts of variations of the three colors and questions and theories.  It was a lot of fun, but also a great way to approach science and the art of color mixing in one.
I can't wait to see what will be next in this color mixing journey!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honoring the Dream

Today is the celebration day of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, and not long ago I read some place that instead of this being a day "off," it should be a day "on."  Because I run a private preschool,
I always chose to have school on this day.  I think it is an important day to pay tribute and honor to Martin Luther King Jr, and not to just look at it as a day off from school or work. 
We started talking about "Dr.King" last Monday, shortly before his actual birthday.
Although the children of my school are little, they had a deeper understanding of his message and dream than one might expect of them.  We talked about peace and what that means to us.  We also talk about why Martin Luther King Jr's work was so important and what equality means. 
Different variations of this conversation were shared and talked about throughout the week.  What are our dreams, and how we can be loving and peaceful.  Each day I would share a little bit more with them, and they with me, though I had not shared that Dr. King was assassinated.  I was waiting to approach that subject, when one of my students raised his hand today and shared with us: "Danielle do you know that he was killed?"  I said "yes, I did know that."  This little guy went on to share with his peers; "He was walking out of his apartment and a bad guy shot him who did not like him."  Everyone got quiet for a minute and another child said, "how come?"  It is hard to tell children who are 3 and 4 why someone would kill another person.  I shared with them that sometimes when people do not agree with each other they make bad choices, and sometimes these bad choices really hurt another person, and this man made a very bad choice that day.  We expressed how it is sad, but we also shared that even though Dr. King died, his work continues and changes towards good keep happening.As I said, these little ones think deeply and know a lot.  Honest sharing can be very profound.
A song we have been learning all week which the children love, is a variation of Common's song "I Have a Dream."  I taught the children just the refrain which is:
I have a dream, (clap) we're gonna work it out, out, out
We're gonna work it out, out, out,
We're gonna work it out.
I have dream, that one day
That one day
I will look deep within myself, I'm gonna find a way
I have a dream we're gonna work it out, out, out.
We're gonna work it out, out, out,
We're gonna work it out.
My Dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free.
In terms of an art project for this day, I found it very difficult.  There are many art projects I have seen that the children can do, but none of these felt right, and none of them felt like they would touch upon the truer message of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr's birthday.
Then I came upon a quote by his wife, Coretta Scott King:
"The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic
 backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing random acts of kindness through service to others."
After reading this I knew what I wanted the children to focus on.  We have talked in the past about doing a fundraiser for Hefer International, an organization that gives the gift of animals so that impoverished countries can begin a life of sustainability and the means to produce their own food.
To learn more, here is the link:
Our fundraiser will be a T-shirt sale featuring one or two drawings created by the children.  So, today the children created drawings of animal that we can use for this project.  This service project will be our tribute to Martin Luther King. 
It is nap time as I write this blog post, and we do audio stories the first half of quiet time to settle the children down for rest.  Today's story was from Rabbit Ear's Audio, Treasury of African American Heroes.  The story we listened to was the story, Follow the Drinking Gourd, a beautiful story about one family's escape from slavery by way of the underground railroad.  I highly recommend this audio book read by Morgan Freeman and music by Taj Mahal.
I also recommend the book I have a Dream Dr. Martin Luther King, JR., which we read during circle time.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fizzy Paint

It has been a Fizzy Week at school.  My previous post was on how we have been exploring different reactions using vinegar and baking soda.  Of course the children cannot get enough of these experiments. 
So, I found a recipe that I adapted to make baking soda paint, and was curious what would happen if the children made paintings that they later would fizz.
I mixed up a bunch of paint and the children painted as they usually do. 
These paints actually had some really nice colors.

I did not measure out for these paints, but what I did was put 3-4 teaspoons of baking soda into the container, I squirted a little shaving cream, and added the food coloring.  If the paint was too thick, I then added a tiny bit of water.  You want the paint to be on the pastier side, but also fluid enough to paint with.

After the children were done, we put their paintings on a tray and they squirted vinegar onto them.

As they did a couple squirts,, I told them to pause and watch the reaction taking place on their paintings.  If they don't pause it will be over and done with in seconds, you know how they love to use spray bottles.


It was neat to see these painting fizz and bubble.  They dried nicely as well, but were rather pasty and a little flaky, so they were definitely more for the experience then for the keeping.

Color Mixing Lab II

An Invitation to Explore How Color, Water, Vinegar, Snow, and Baking Soda React in Our "Color Mixing Lab."

For the last two weeks we have been experimenting a lot in our lab.
I have a set of test tubes I purchased from Amazon, and in a previous post we named it
"Color Mixing Lab."
So far most of our explorations have been using different colored waters in test tubes to make new colors, or potions.
When we came back to school after break, we had snow, so I filled their test tubes with snow.
First we did our color mixing the way we usually do, and then I asked them to observe what happens when they add their colors to the snow.

What they were discovering was that while the colors in the water mix right away, they take time mixing when in the snow, and they were able to make "rainbow tubes."

They then had a ball coloring the bowl of snow with their left over colored water.

On Another day I set up a new invitation to investigate color mixing.
This time they had a tray with tubes of baking soda, and in two of the compartments of the tray I put vinegar and in one I put water.  Let the fun begin!

The children first picked the colors they wanted to add to their different liquids, at this point in time they didn't know that they were different types of liquid.

As their tubes started to fizz and bubble, they soon realized something was different.
We have played with baking soda and vinegar a lot, so once they saw the reaction, they knew what it was, but holding it in a test tube was the most fun I think they have had doing this experiment.

They also started to notice that one of the colors they would use would not fizz, this was the tray compartment that had the water, so they started making their own conclusions about water not fizzing in baking soda, just the vinegar.

The magic and wonderment of their fun is clear on their faces!

Continuing through the week, we did more experimenting.  This invitation was to see how both the baking soda and the snow react to their color mixing.

The joy and the sharing are wonderful to see.

 Young scientist at work

Similar conclusions were made, water in baking soda does not fizz, vinegar in snow does not fizz, just the vinegar in the baking soda.

And to add to the fun, they then dumped all their experiments into the bowl of snow to see what happens.  I am excited to see what next will happen next week!

Responses from the children:

"It's like magic." MN
"Oh it's so pretty...look, look, it is bubbling." EP-B
"We are making adult drinks, mine is fizzy root beer."-JP
"Look, look it is changing colors."-SG
"It's fizzle hot."-MN
"Woo, I made the cap fly off, he, he." -EM
"It's poison ivy drink.
"This is called Red, Pepper, Boo, Boo." -JP