Fun Scientific and Beneficial Experiences Provided by Nature for Kids

kidinnature

Last Saturday, my family and I were scheduled to take a day trip to a farm but the forecast called for rain. I decided an alternative trip would be a nature walk near our home. My son was so excited because he could wear his rain boots and splash in puddles! He experienced this and so much more!

While we were walking, I thought about the benefits of being in nature. Here is what I found…

Hands-on Science Lesson

One day, we watched the cartoon, Sid the Science Kid, and learned about the four life cycle stages of a frog. The first stage is the tiny frog eggs laid by a female frog. Then the eggs turn into tadpoles. The tadpoles start to develop front and back legs which is the froglet stage. The last stage is the adult frog, which is when the tail leaves and he is ready to live on land.

During our nature walks, we experienced two stages of this life cycle. We saw masses of tadpoles swimming in a pond.  My husband was able to catch tadpoles with a net and we observed them. My son was brave enough to touch the tadpoles and comment on their slimy skin.

About two weeks later, the tadpoles turned into hopping little frogs. We caught about 8 frogs to examine them for a brief moment before we let them go. It was an amazing sight.

Physical Activity

On our way to the nature trail, we saw squirrels and birds. As soon as my son saw them, he chased the animals and burned off tons of energy. Once we saw puddles, I switched his shoes from sneakers to rain boots and he jumped in the middle of them. His hands sloshed in the water as he examined the colors and depth. On the trail we detected rocks embedded in the ground and we dug them out. My son threw the rocks in the water and watched the circular ripples form. The walk itself was a great physical exercise for the body.

Social

We saw other families with children walking their dogs and runners. We greeted each other and sometimes had mini conversations. My son ran behind some of the runners and wanted us to join him. There were two older boys, riding their bikes, who saw us looking down and wanted to know what we were searching for. We told them we were catching frogs and saw turtles in the pond. They joined us by catching little frogs which allowed us more observational opportunities.

Use of tools

Whenever we go on a nature walk, I take scientific tools to provide a better experience. My son or I will carry kid size binoculars around our necks to observe squirrels and birds in trees. We also use it to watch turtles on branches in the pond. I keep a magnifying glass in my bag to closely view bugs, frogs, rocks, plants, flowers, pinecones, and leaves. As mentioned before, my husband will catch bugs and frogs in a net and put them in a jar for my son to examine. The most important tool, in my opinion, are hands. My son used his hands to touch and feel the treasures he found in nature. He was able to communicate whether the item was smooth, bumpy, slimy, rough, etc.

Cost

Taking a walk outside your home and being exposed to nature is free. Most parks with nature trails are complimentary also.  Take advantage of the natural lessons that God has provided. You can’t beat a day full of adventure at no cost!

I knew our trip was successful when my son said “That was a fun day!”

Happy Exploring!

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One Way I Sparked my Son’s Interest in Geography

what on your plate

We live in a very diverse area near people from various countries. I love talking to our neighbors about their culture, food, language, and upbringing. My son loves to eat and always wants to know how food will benefit him. For example, he knows that chicken and eggs will help him build muscle. When I saw the book, What’s On Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, I thought he would be interested in reading it.

This book highlights countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia, China, and Greece, and gives the reader information on their locations, foods frequently eaten, and recipes. The enticing food pictures in this book will make you hungry.

My son connected with this book instantly. First, he learned that he eats similar foods to people all over the world. Moroccans eat grapes and oranges which are two of his favorite foods. He eats rice, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese like the Italians.

As we were reading the book, we had the globe beside us. We stopped on each page, identified the country, its food, and located it on the globe. I saw my son perk up because he saw these countries were located far away in various continents, yet one similarity was food.

Read this book with your child and learn about food all over the world!

Other ways to make connections with this book…

  • Make the recipes in the book
  • Eat Ethnic foods – Go to an Indian, Ethiopian, or Mexican Restaurant
  • Talk to people from other countries and compare what you have learned in this book.

 

Happy Exploring!

Bringing Fun to Language Arts for Kids!

Dictionary book

My son and I recently read the book, The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra. This is a fun, interactive, and flashy book about parts of speech, literacy, and language arts.

This book addresses topics such as actions verbs, homophones, palindromes, onomatopoeias, contractions, etc.

The Action verb page has various words like somersault, jump, glide and ricochet. Each word is written and drawn to portray their action. For example, the word Ricochet appears to be a character that is rebounding off the edge of the page. The word Jump is a character leaping in the air.

This book has influenced some of the games my son and I play around the house. Below are a few….

Action Verb – Ricochet

Bounce a soft ball off the wall and try to catch it.

 

Onomatopoeia – Bang

Tap a box with your hands and create various rhythms.

 

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious(Yes, this 34-letter word is in the book)

Listen to the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews

 

Antonyms – Big and Little

Draw a picture of a big and small animal

 

Try reading this book with your students or children and create activities that bring language arts to life!

Have fun learning!

 

Bringing Life to Numbers for Kids

100 days

Every night before bedtime, my son and I read about four books. He loves books about the alphabet and numbers. I wanted to expose my son to the numbers, 1-100, and began searching for books that would fulfill this task. The book called Emily’s First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells was the answer to my request.

This book is about a bunny named Emily who is starting school. Emily tells the reader about her first 100 days of school through short stories. Below is the short story associated with Emily’s 17th day of school.

“Miss Cribbage reads aloud Dick and the Donkey. I follow along and read seventeen words all by myself. “Wow!” says Miss Cribbage.”

This book keeps my son’s attention. It takes about 25 minutes to complete all the stories from 1 -100. My son likes to stop at certain numbers to make comments or observe the colorful pictures!

This book has encouraged my son to create other stories with numbers. He will take two Munchkin Bath Numbers; for example, six and two, and tell a story about 62. I interact with my son during the stories by adding to the plot.

You can do a similar activity with your students. Below is how to execute it:

  1. Divide students into small groups.
  2. Assign each group a number.
  3. Groups are to create a piece of art that is connected to their assigned number.
    • Song
    • Poem
    • Story
    • Dance
    • Sculpture
    • New Exercise Move
    • Other ideas
  4. Optional: Choose a theme for the stories
  5. Have students choose how they want to present their artwork to the class.
  6. Make this a weekly activity until all numbers from 1-100 are covered.

Have fun creating!

 

Bringing Life to the Alphabet

abc book

 

In the next few posts, we will discuss fun activities for kids based on books.  Activities related to books have many benefits. One benefit is increased comprehension skills because book related activities make the characters come alive. Also, children can use their critical thinking skills to analyze a character’s feelings, dilemmas, and resolutions.

Another benefit of book related activities for children are a connection with self. Many stories contain  problems that need to be solved. Activities can assist children in determining whether they agree with the characters’ decisions or if they would have taken another route. Furthermore, children can apply these situations in their lives because they have evaluated the resolution through books.

Our first book is called Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories For All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. In this book, each letter has a word and short story related to it. The stories having various themes such as humor, gratefulness, and the art of thinking.  For example, my favorite story is for letter U, which stands for Underground.

In this story, Nigel the monkey wasn’t good at climbing. The other monkeys laughed at him because he needed a ladder to climb the tree. Nigel became upset and moved his ladder UNDERGROUND. Suddenly two events happen: a rain storm and a tall muscular man came to chop down the monkey’s tree. Now all the monkeys want to join Nigel UNDERGROUND and they did not laugh at him anymore.

Have students create stories similar to this book. Below is how they can execute it…

  1. Divide students into small groups.
  2. Assign each group a letter.
  3. Groups are to use a word that begins with their letter.
    • If Group 1 has the letter A, their word can be “Anteater.”
  4. Each group will write a short story about their word.
  5. You can choose a theme such as:
    • Decision- Making
    • Financial Literacy
    • Humor
    • You can also have groups choose their own themes.
  6. Have students choose how they want to present their stories to the class.
  7. Make this a weekly activity until all the alphabet is covered.

Have fun creating!

Game/Activity for Kids that Supplement Black History Facts – Part 2

light bulb

My toddler is fascinated with turning the lights on and off when we enter and exit a room. We sometimes go around the house searching for light sources such as the lamp or lights on his toys. Because we have so much fun with light, I decided to teach my son about Lewis Latimer.

Lewis Latimer improved the making of carbon filaments (electric light with a wire filament heated so high that it glows), used in light bulbs to help them last longer. His invention made the light bulb less expensive and made it possible for electric lighting to be put in homes and on the street. Before Mr. Latimer’s improvement, the light bulb only lasted a few days.

One way I help my son understand the importance of Mr. Latimer’s invention is to play the game, Lights Out.

In this game, my son closes his eyes and counts to ten. I then hide one of his toys and my son tries to find it.  After my son searches 15 seconds for the toy, I turn off the lights. The 15 seconds represents the short time light bulbs lasted before Mr. Latimer’s invention.

The fun part of this game is to find the toy before the lights go out. My son loves game! I love it too because it teaches the importance of Mr. Latimer’s invention which is longevity of the light bulb!

Have Fun Learning!

Game/Activity for Kids that Supplement Black History Facts – Part 1

traffic light

When I am driving the car and my toddler is the passenger, he loves to use the traffic light signal to tell me when to go and stop. “Go mommy! Green light!” he says. Since February is Black History month, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to teach my son the contributions of black people.

I began by telling my son about Garrett Morgan and why he invented the three-position traffic light signal.

One day, Mr. Morgan was driving and saw a car accident. The accident happened because the traffic light signal switched back and forth between Stop and Go with no warning of slowing down. Mr. Morgan designed the warning signal, which today is the yellow light. The warning signal gives drivers a chance to slow down before stopping. This has decreased many car accidents.

I decided to supplement the lesson with a fun childhood game called Red Light Green Light.

In this game, one person is chosen to be the traffic cop. The other children stand in a line while the traffic cop has his/her back to them. When the cop says “Green Light” the children try to run to the finish line. When the cop calls “Red Light” he/she turns to face the children and the players have to stop.

I explain to my son that this is how people drove their cars before Mr. Morgan’s invention.

We THEN play Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light. This game includes Mr. Morgan’s warning signal (yellow light). My son realizes it is much easier to stop if there’s a warning signal.

We also play both games with his toy cars. Instead of running, we race the cars around the house.

Have fun learning!

 

Reaching Higher- Teaching Kids to Set Goals

goal

New Year’s Day is coming soon and many people will be setting new goals. Ideally, goals should be set year round but this is a great time to address the topic.

A great way to teach kids about setting goals is to encourage them to think about what they want to achieve and create a project centered around it. 

On our website, in the Sample Lessons tab, you will see an activity called “SMART Goals.” This lesson explains the meaning of SMART goals and uses the “Making the Basket” game to apply the concept. The game encourages students to create goals and to take ownership in achieving it.

Kids can be taught goals in this same manner.

When students create their own goals, they have a stake in the project. However, they can also learn by achieving goals created by their teachers and school.

Below is a suggestion for addressing goals in your educational program and at home.

  1. Have a class meeting for students to create a goal.
    • Refer to our “Smart Goals” Sample Lesson for how to create and process a “SMART Goal.”
  2. Once the goal is created, break students into small groups to brainstorm how they will achieve the goal.
  3. Have each group present their ideas and vote on the best one.
    • For example, if students want to fundraise for a class trip, maybe they want to create a talent show and sell tickets to the community.
  4. Start planning how to achieve the goal.
  5. Execute the plan!

A Stimulating Physical Activity that Leads to Learning

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Physical activity increases learning because it increases blood flow to the brain. Blood flow to the brain increases oxygen which heightens alertness.  Examples of interactive activities that incorporate movement are games, role plays, and learning stations within the classroom.

When students are physical and learning simultaneously, they are using multiple functions. They are activating their sense of hearing, seeing, and touching.   If the students are creating a role play or campaign, they are using all their senses and being innovative, which stimulates the brain.

Physical activity has a way of bringing laughter, if it’s fun. It can also bring a since of accomplishment, if it’s challenging.  Physical activity before or after learning something new is beneficial. If exercise is done before learning, then your brain is more alert to receive the information. If exercise is done after learning, then it helps your brain process the information. If possible, try to incorporate some physical activity in your class. Below is a way to do it!

  1. Have your class stand in a line or a circle (instructor’s choice).
  2. Tell each student they will lead the class in a physical activity.
  3. Examples are
    • Waving hands above head
    • Low kicks
    • Twisting body
    • Touching toes
  4. Each student has 20 seconds to lead the class in their activity of choice.
  5. After 20 minutes is up, say “Switch”
  6. The next student will lead the class in their activity.
  7. At the end of this activity, your brains should be ready to learn!
  8. You can also do this activity at the end of your session to help students’ brains process what they just learned.

Note: Please adjust activity if you have physically disabled students in your class.

Entertaining, Interactive Activity that Increases Memorization

butterfly

Incorporating interactive activities in the classroom increases a person’s memorization rate of a lesson or subject. Interactive activities encourage you to think about the material in different ways. For instance, a group of students is learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly.  Sure, you can tell them the stages and expect them to remember.

But why not supplement this lesson with a project where the students become the butterfly and then they teach others the life cycle?

This will help students absorb the material. Teaching others a concept is an effective memorization and learning method. As a teacher, you want to grasp the material in case your students ask questions. If you know the subject, you will also be confident in delivering the material. Below is an example of how to incorporate this in the classroom.

  1. Choose a subject you want your students to learn.
    • Let’s use the lifecycle of a butterfly for this example.
  2. Explain to your students the four stages of a butterfly in 15 minutes or less.
  3. Break your class up into 4 groups.
  4. Each group will have to act out (role play) the four stages of a butterfly and teach their classmates.
  5. Tell students to be creative.
  6. After this class, students will have a better chance of remembering the lesson because the following memorization methods are used…
    • Lecture by instructor
    • Prepping for role play
    • Performing the role play
    • Repetition by seeing each group’s version of their role play