Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snowflake Collection...

The Science Mommy loves winter, snow and playing outside.  The next several posts will be all about outdoor science in the winter!

Ages: This is great for all ages of Kid Scientist.  If you have a curious Big Kid scientist, read ahead for the extension.

Materials:  black construction paper, snow, magnifying lens (if you have one)

Procedure:    This activity works well when it's snowing softly...but creative Kid Scientists will be able to collect snowflakes any time
Collect Them:

  • Use your black paper to collect falling snowflakes
  • If there are too many snowflakes to see clearly, try blowing gently to spread them out
  • You can also sprinkle snow onto your black paper if it's not currently snowing
Explore Them:
Once you have your snowflakes, spend some time examining them...
  • How would you describe the shape of the snowflakes?
  • How many different snow flakes do you see?
  • What size are your snowflakes?  Are they all the same size?
  • What else do you notice?
  • What are you wondering about snowflakes?
Parents and curious Kid Scientists can explore this great snowflake website to learn more about how snowflakes form.  There are also some amazing pictures like this one...

For Big Kid Scientists:  Based on the website linked above, the Science Mommy wrote an article about snowflakes for Big Kid Scientists.  I would share this with my Kid Scientists after the collected snowflakes and spent some time examining their collection.  You can get this article about snowflakes by clicking on the link.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do you know what this is?

Isn't this picture amazing?

You can click on the picture and follow the link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, or follow the link in the sidebar.  Winter is one of the best times for star-gazing with clear skies and the Science Mommy loves to watch the night skies.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Ages: All Kid Scientists can practice measurement…read on for age specific activities
Materials:  Any measurement tools you have available: measuring cups, scales, measuring spoons, rulers, meter sticks, tape measures, spring scales, thermometers
Purpose:  Measurement is a tricky thing for Little Kid Scientists.  Frequently, Kid Scientists arrive in middle school without an understanding of units of measure or how to use measurement tools correctly.  These are skills that can be easily taught and practiced by Kid Scientists exploring the world around them.

Little Kid Scientists: 
  • One of the best ways to build a measurement foundation is by helping mom and dad.  Fill a small plastic box with rice or beans and encourage your Little Kid to scoop up 1 cup or ½ cup.  Ask questions like, “Is 1 cup more than ½ cup?” “Is there more in 1 cup of rice or in 1 cup of beans?” Then use different containers to test the child’s prediction. 
  • Carry a ruler on a walk or while running errands.  Ask your Kid Scientist, “How many inches tall is this step?” or “How many inches tall is this can?” 
  • Set a thermometer outside a window and check the temperature each day.  To practice collecting data, Kid Scientists can record the temperature. 
  • In each situation, make sure you are using the name for the units of measure.  Many Kid Scientists don’t understand the importance of labeling the numbers.
Big Kid Scientists:
  • There is nothing like cooking to understand the value of measurement.  Cooking also affords opportunities to measure liquids and dry ingredients as well as tricky things like peanut butter.
  • Building things is also a great way to learn measurement.  Engage your Big Kid Scientist in home improvement projects.  Chances are the project will take longer but you'll have a great day teaching your kiddo new skills.
  • On a rainy or snowy day, send Kid Scientists on a measurement scavenger hunt.  Ask them to find something that is 6 inches tall, something that is 12 centimeters wide, something that weighs less than 1 pound.  Get creative in what you ask for and tailor your requests to the measurement skills of your Kid Scientist.
  • Big Kids would enjoy checking on the temperature each day.  Encourage your Big Kid Scientist to come up with his own strategy for recording the data.
  • You could also include a way to measure precipitation.  Ask your Kid Scientist to come up with a device that will measure precipitation and include those data points as well.  What patterns do they notice?
Many of the Science Mommy's explorations and investigations also include measurement as a skill.  This is so important for Kid Scientists to practice!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Question Game...

This game is quick and easy to play, but really helps Kid Scientists build their questioning and observation skills!

Ages:  All ages of Kid Scientist can play.  In fact, once they know how, Big Kid Scientists can set this up for the Little Kids.

Materials: A box with a lid (it can't be transparent), objects from around the house


  • Invite your Kid Scientist to play the Question Game
  • Place an item inside the box - this is the step where the game can be adapted for the age of Kid Scientist playing or the experience of the Kid Scientist.  
  • Encourage your Kid Scientist to pick up the box and shake it.  Talk to them about all the observations they can make at this point...how heavy the box is, what it sounds like, possibly an odor, what the object moves like...
  • Kid Scientists ask questions about the object in the box.  They need to frame their questions as Yes or No questions, and you'll answer accordingly.  Is it metal?  Is it plastic?  Is it round?  Is it smooth?  Can I eat it?  Can I play with it?
  • As Kid Scientists become more experienced you can focus the types of questions they ask...giving them only 20 questions or requiring that all questions relate to physical properties.
  • Questions should also become more specific as Kid Scientists begin to learn about the item in the box
  • When your Kid Scientist thinks she knows what is in the box, she frames her conclusion using at least three pieces of evidence.  Because I know that it's metal and I use it when I am eating and because it won't hold soup, I think it's a fork.
This is a great "Dinner Game"...pass the box around the dinner table and get the whole family into the questioning.  Kids can also play and ask questions when they are in the car.  
What adaptations did you discover for the Question Game?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Milk Lab...a guest post...

My oldest Kid Scientist, Connar, came home from school the other day excited to share "The Milk Lab".  Today's demonstration is his guest post...

Ages: This is best for 5 year olds through 13 year olds

Materials:  whole milk, food coloring, dish soap, small dish

  • Pour a small amount of milk into the dish
  •  Put four different drops of food coloring in a square around the edges of the dish

  • Put one drop of dish soap into the center of the square.  Watch carefully because this is where the reaction starts.
  •  I know why this happened: The dish soap, because it eats away grease, broke up the fat in the milk to make this reaction happen.