Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winter Weather Science for school or for Snow Days! Shared with our parents on our classroom blog.

The weather forecast does not look promising for next week so we thought we would put up another blog post on winter weather science for you to try at home in case we do not have school due to snow on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Materials you will need:
vegetable oil
glass jar
food coloring
ice cube trays
crayons or markers for recording observations

First, freeze some colored ice cubes by mixing food coloring and water and filling an ice tray.  Stronger colors work the best.  Place in freezer and wait.  You may want to do this step the day before and place colored ice cubes into a zip lock bag after freezing so you will not have to wait to start your science experiment.

Next fill the glass jar about 3/4th full with vegetable oil.  You need to leave room for the ice cube(s).  Place one ice cube gently into the jar.  It will float on top of the oil.

Now, wait and watch!  Have your child work on their writing/spelling skills by drawing and labeling the steps to the experiment.  Also, have them record their observations by drawing (with detail) what they see happening.  Ask them before they put the ice cube into the jar what they think will happen.  Some questions to ask are:
Will the ice cube sink or float?  Explain why you think that will happen.
What will happen to the ice cube?
Why do you think the water is sinking to the bottom?
Why doesn't the water mix into the oil?
Which is heavier, the oil or the water?  Explain your thinking.
What would happen if we put another ice cube of another color into the jar? 

Asking these questions and asking them to expand their answers will increase their vocabulary and will help them with their critical thinking skills.  Predicting is used in reading and is a skill they need to practice to be proficient readers.  Asking what they think will happen next will help them learn to think ahead of what they are reading and that helps them decode unknown words.  Science is a practical way for young readers to practice this skill in a concrete observable way.

Here are some pictures from the experiment we did at home to give you a visual reference before you start the experiment at home.  Take pictures, or even better, let your child take pictures.  This will help them with perspective, examining details and close observation so they can draw what they see.  This helps them in their writing (early writers rely on the pictures they draw to help them remember what words they want to write in their stories).  The greater detail they can draw the better writers they will become (they will add more descriptive words to their writing making their writing more detailed, rich and interesting).

What happens when you place two different colored ice cubes into the jar?  Watch how they melt.  Talk about color mixing.  Observe and record what happens.

Look at the experiment from different perspectives.  Hold the jar up to the light so your child can really see the water drops.

Let them look at the drops fall from the bottom of the jar, from the side and from the top.  Do they notice anything different? If so, have them describe to you what they noticed new by looking at the experiment from different perspectives.

If you have a magnifying glass let them watch the water drops fall through the magnification.  If you do not have one, set your camera or phone camera on micro and let them watch that way.

Do the colors run together to form a new color or do they stay separate?

Enjoy this cool winter weather science project!  This is a simple way to get your child to practice their verbal, written, scientific and observational skills while having fun!  We hope this will help you keep your child learning while stuck inside with winter weather.  You can also "paint" on paper with these ice cubes or use salt to see how they melt.  You can build with them by sprinkling them with salt so they will stick together and then place them outside in the snow for a great art project!  Check back soon for more winter science!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Science at home for those really cold winter days

Here is a little science experiment you can do at home when school is cancelled for snow or wind chill. You can use this to help explain glacier melting, the Arctic, the three states of matter (solid, liquid and gas) and how applying salt to the roads helps to melt the ice.  You can also show how melting ice causes rivers and rivers can erode the ground and make valleys and canyons (like the Grand Canyon).  You can pull in videos from National Geographic Kids and Discover Kids to help them understand these concepts.  You can work in some geography work by showing maps on Google Earth and other sources to show where glaciers and canyons/lakes (like the Great Lakes) are caused by glaciers.

Unfortunately the weather forecast calls for much more cold and snow for the rest of the weather so families, you will be (and always have been) their first and most important teacher.  Reading, doing science and writing about what they are doing when not in school will keep them from losing valuable skills they learn at school.  We may have many more "snow days" and the students will need to keep learning at home during these breaks.  We, the Kindergarten Team, greatly appreciate your time and support in working with you children at home to make sure they don't lose skills and continuing learning even during snow days.  We promise, they will love this experiment and will be glad to step away from the TV and video games to do this activity and other we will post.  Enjoy this post and we hope it helps you make the most of these snow days!

Take balloon and fill with water.  Place outside or in freezer.

Take out of freezer or bring in from outside and shake to see if frozen.  You can either make a solid ice ball or you can make and ice bowel if you don't want to wait for the entire thing to freeze.

Ice Bowl.  Explore it, hold it up to the light, touch it and write about what you see.  Document your observations or draw what you see.

Ms. Berghoff (Ms. Arrendale's Buddy Classroom Teacher) mixes up some food coloring and water in primary colors to use on the ice ball.  You can talk about primary and secondary colors and use the ice to mix the colors.  You can also use Liquid Watercolors (which do not stain like food coloring) to do this project for more brilliant colors.

You can use eye dropper (best) or spoons to put colored water on the ice ball.  Do this without any salt on the ice ball.

Next, sprinkle salt (table salt) on the ice ball.  Observe what happens.  Listen!  Ours crackled and we started seeing cracks in the ice.  Ask questions!  Document what you observe.

Start dripping colored water on top of the salted ice ball.

Drop a few drops of food coloring directly onto the ice.  Observe what happens.  Is the ice changing?  Does the food coloring help you see any of the chemical reactions that are happening?

Continue spooning on colored water.  Keep a careful eye on any changes in the ice.

Take pictures or draw (with color) what you see happening to the ice ball.

Hold the ice ball up to the light (adults should do this, the salt and ice are very cold and could "burn" their little fingers, or have them wear gloves if they are going to hold the ice ball up to the light).  In a solid ball you will start to see tunnels forming into the ice ball.  The colored water helps to highlight those tunnels.

Add more salt from time to time.  Get a magnifying glass and really look at the ice ball.  Document more of what you see.  Take close up pictures!

Look at the ice ball in the light.  Shine a flashlight through the ball.

Now you will start to see a lot of melting and other activity going on with the ice ball.  Talk about the water changing it's state from solid to liquid.  Water can change according to heat and cold.  If you are brave save all of the melted water to boil later.  Explain that the steam coming out of the pot is the gas state of water.

Ask if this could be considered art.  What makes something art?  Make an art piece inspired by the ice.

Really look at the tunnels and crevasses caused by the melting water.  Talk about how the water erodes the ice, water also erodes land and causes rivers, canyons and lakes.  Look up the Great Lakes and explain those were cause by massive ice sheets (glaciers) that moved across the land a long time ago and was so heavy it carved out the Great Lakes.  As the ice melted it filled up the Great Lakes just like the melted water from the ice ball is filling up the container the ice ball is sitting in while you do the experiment. 

Talk about how the ice ball changed from solid to liquid.  Have your child explain what they think is happening and why.  Explain the role of salt and why we use it to melt ice on the roads.  Write some more of your observations down.  Take more pictures.

We hope you enjoyed this little demonstration of a learning activity you can do at home with your child on a snow day.  Have fun with it.  We promise, your child wont even know they are learning, but make sure you tell them how impressed you are with their scientific knowledge!  They love to be called scientists!