Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is that Animal Real?

Last summer I took my Kid Scientists to the zoo.  We were having a great time...the oldest was particularly interested in the information regarding endangered statistics and my youngest just loves animals.  We were nearing the end of our visit, when Aiden (6 years old) asked if we could see the Werewolves before we left!  What a perfect teachable moment to talk about mythical animals.

You know the Science Mommy loves good books, but so often good books convey misinformation about real animals.  Learning to distinguish between Real and Not Real or Fiction and Non-Fiction is an important learning target.  This activity is prompted by my own Kid Scientist and is an adaptation of a Project Wild activity, "And the Wolf Wore Shoes."

Ages: Little Kid Scientists


  • Lots of books that depict both real and imaginary animals (see the end of the post for ideas).  This can also be done at the library if you don't have many books at home.
  • This activity sheet
  • Share the books with your Kid Scientist.  Typically they enjoy looking at the pictures in the non-fiction books and listening to the fiction stories.
  • Ask your Kid Scientist if she can divide the books into two piles...books about real animals and books about make-believe animals.
  • Use the first part of the activity sheet to record these observations.  Depending on the age of your Kid Scientist:  mom can write the titles, mom can write the names of animals or characters, kids can draw pictures or kids can write the names of animals or characters.
  • Using examples from the books, work together on the second part of the activity sheet.  This will introduce Kid Scientists to the idea that all animals have specific needs for food & shelter and have particular behaviors.  There are many ways to fill this out...conversation, dictating to mom, drawing pictures or writing on their own...the conversation and learning is more important than the finished page!
  • This activity opens the door to having many conversations about Real / Not Real which is important, developmentally for Kid Scientists
Some of the Science Mommy's Favorite Books...
Real Animals:
Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedias
Albino Animals by Kelly Milner-Halls
Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff
Whose Tracks are These by James Nail
Owls by Gail Gibbons

Make-Believe Animals:
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Chicken Little by Steven Kellogg
True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sceiszka and Lane Smith

Monday, September 20, 2010

Phases of the Moon...

I love fall evenings and watching the moon.  Since it's dark a bit earlier, it's easier for Kid Scientists to observe changes in the Moon's appearance.  

Purpose:  Kid Scientists are usually curious about the Moon and why it looks different from one night to the next.  Kid Scientists (and adults too!) also carry many misconceptions about this phenomena.  The Science Mommy believes that building an understanding over time often helps Kid Scientists develop an accurate understanding rather than a misunderstanding.  That is why this exploration is all about Observation!

Ages:  This is aimed at Big Kid Scientists, but any interested Little Kid should be encouraged to make observations too.

* Each Kid Scientist will need these observation notes.these observation notes
* Every night, at the same time, observe the moon that is visible.  
* Kid Scientists should draw a picture of what they see.  Older kids may want to use a circle template for accuracy.
* As patterns develop, ask Kid Scientists about what they are observing. "How does the Moon look different tonight than last night?"  "Is there anything that is the same?" "What do you think the Moon will look like tomorrow night?"  "How many days do you think it will take until we see a full moon?"  

For Parents: "Phases of the Moon are addressed in most elementary curricula.  Young children are naturally curious about the Moon.  However, it is important to recognize that elementary students' experiences with Moon phases should be observational, not explanatory.  At this level, an understanding of Moon-related phenomena involves observing, drawing, and recording the phases of the Moon at regular intervals and noting that there is a repeating pattern but not explaining what causes these changes."  From: Uncovering Student Ideas in Science Vol. 1, Paige Keeley et al.

Parents may need to boost their own understanding in order to ask (and answer) Kid Scientists questions.  Here's a website that I like, Phases of the Moon website.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Science is on it's way...

The Science Mommy hasn't forgotten all of you waiting for more fun science.  I am getting set up and school and helping my Kid Scientists start school.  As soon as that's all sorted I will be back with...
  • Apple & Pumpkin Science
  • Leaf Rubbings
  • Chlorophyll Chromotography
  • Moon Observations
  • Writing Investigations
  • and a fun contest ...
  • and a Give-Away!
While you're waiting, search the archive for something new and let me know how it turned out for you!