The Northern Lights Lesson

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One of my biggest goals with the homeschooling, aside from giving my children the education they need to excel in life, is to give them a life long love of learning. With this in mind I don’t shy away from exposing them to things that they might not fully understand. I believe showing them the exciting things that science and nature has to offer will spark the desire to explore, even if they don’t totally understand the science behind it. That is why I decided that I wanted to expose Big B to the Northern Lights during our Arctic Unit. The science behind the Northern Lights might be too far advanced for Big B to understand, but that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy them…

Northern Lights Lesson

I found this great article that explains the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) in simple terms.

I started by giving Big B a very simple explanation of what the Northern Lights are, then showed him this National Geographic video:

Amazing Northern Lights Time Lapse

Northern Lights Lesson

After watching the video we did a fun project where Big B got to create his own Northern Lights…

Materials:

  • A tray or large container
  • Milk (I know it bothers many when people use food for play. It’s not something I like to do often, but this milk was “off” when we opened it, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. If it bothers you, you can use water. The milk just shows the colors nicely)
  • Food coloring
  • A dropper

Northern Lights Lesson

Pour the milk into the tray or container and make a bowl for each Northern Light color. I can never seem to find liquid food coloring anymore. Our grocery store only seems to carry the gel. So I had to mix the gel with a little warm water.

Demonstrate for your child how to collect the food coloring in the dropper and drip the color into the milk. The color will move and swirl around within the milk.

Northern Lights Lesson

Northern Lights Lesson

I allowed Big B to play with this for a while because he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. He transferred the color into the milk, the mixture back into the individual bowls, and back again. He made quite a mess.



Preschool Penguin Unit

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We are continuing our lessons on cold climate animals with one of Big B’s favorites – Penguins.

Preschool Penguin Unit

Books: The library is always our first stop when we are starting a new unit. The following are a few fun, educational books that we found:

Movies: There are GREAT penguin movies for kids. I am sure you are familiar with them:

Science Projects:

  • The Cold Climate Animal Experiment that I did with my Hibernation Unit will work with the Penguin Unit as well.
  • The penguin’s feathers are made waterproof by an oily substance. This protects the penguin’s body from the frigid temperatures of the water. I found a great experiment that demonstrates how water is repealed from the penguin feathers on the Perpetual Preschool - Cut feather shapes or even a penguin shape (like we did) out of construction paper and have the child color the entire paper with black and/or white crayon, then drip water onto the paper. The paper will soak but the areas with the crayon will repeal the water. The waxier the crayon the better.
  • Preschool Penguin UnitPreschool Penguin Unit
  • Penguins also stay warm by huddling together. If you are teaching the unit to a group of children, and it is currently cold where you are located, you can show the kids how huddling helps provide warmth. Take the children outside and have them stand separate from each other. Talk to them about how even with their coats on it still feels cold. Then have the kids huddle together  in a tight group for a short time. Ask them if they are warmer huddled as a group. Explain to them that penguins huddle together in order to stay warm.

Physical Activities:

  • Waddle like a Penguin! Recently Big B has enjoyed pretending his is different animals. After reading our first penguin book my husband demonstrated the penguin waddle for our son and they had a great time waddling around the house.
  • Place a ball on top of child’s feet and have them waddle around like a daddy penguin protecting his egg. You can also set up races where kids waddle with the ball on top of their feet.Preschool Penguin Unit
  • Preschool Express has a version of the “Penguin Hookey Pookey.” It’s a really cute idea.

Art Projects:

Footprint Penguin – White paper, Construction Paper, Paint

  • Paint the bottom of your child’s foot and make a print on a piece of paper so that the toes are facing down. We didn’t have black paint so we used blue
  • Cut a circle shape out of white construction paper for the belly and a triangle out of orange construction paper for the beak. Once the paint is dry glue the shapes onto the penguin footprint
  • If you have goggly eyes glue them above the beak. We didn’t have goggly eyes, so I make eyes out of construction paper

Play:

  • A great way to reinforce the fact that penguins swim and can’t fly is by playing with penguin toys during bath time.

Snacks:

  • Penguins eat krill, squid, and fish. Give your child a chance to taste what it is like to be a penguin. If you have an adventurous eater attempt to cook a whole fish for your child to try. If not, make a tuna and mayo mixture for them to try on a cracker. This was not a great experience for Big B. He is not a fan of tuna however, Big B loves squid. We get calamari every time we go to a restaurant. Take your child out to try calamari at a local restaurant (unless you are talented enough to cook it at home).

I hope you and your children enjoy learning about penguins as much and Big B and I have!

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Hibernation Unit

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Our preschool science curriculum features both season and animal units, so with winter here it’s the perfect time to study the change in the season and animals who are either greatly effected by the winter weather or are cold climate animals. We started out this winter season with a hibernation unit.

Hibernation Unit

It’s amazing the things that I have learned while homeschooling my son. I was doing research and learned that bears don’t “technically” hibernate under the original definition of hibernation. Animals who truly hibernate go into a very deep sleep and cannot be disturbed. They can be moved without even being aware of it. Bears however sleep for weeks at a time and can be disturbed. Animals who hibernate include; badgers, bats, chipmunks, dormouse, ground squirrels, hamsters, groundhogs, hedgehogs, nighthawks, prairie dogs, raccoons, and skunks.

Books

I started by reading Big B lots of books about bears and hibernation. Our library has an entire section of science children books on animals. I got a few books that teach about bears and other animals who generally hibernate. I also got a few story books where the animals (mostly bears) are preparing to hibernate.

Snacks

Hibernating animals build up fat reserves (and in some cases store foods) to sustain themselves through the winter. They will eat things like berries, nuts and other vegetation. Offer some of these foods to your child as snack (considering allergies) and talk to them about how these foods help the hibernating animals make it through the winter.

Cave Building

We talked about how animals build or seek out shelter to protect themselves while they are hibernating. Big B and his dad built a cave for him play bear and act like he was hibernating.

Preschool Hibernation Unit

Fat Storing Experiment

I ran across this Animals in Winter science experiment from Preschool – What Fun We Have. I felt like it was the perfect way to show Big B how animals store fat to help them stay warm during the winter.

I started out with two bags, shortening, and ice.

Hibernation and Cold Climate Animal Activity

I covered Big B’s hand with one of the bags and then handed him a few pieces of ice

Hibernation and Cold Climate Animal Activity

I then liberally covered his hand with the shortening and covered it with the second bag. I handed him the ice again.

Hibernation and Cold Climate Animal Activity

The shortening represents the additional fat that helps protects the animal from the cold weather.

Hibernation and Cold Climate Animal Activity

Big B now has a better idea of how and why animals hibernate.



Snowman Family Display

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The Snowman Family Display is our third, and final winter window display for our classroom/dinning room. First, we had the Popsicle Stick Snowflakes. Then we had The Three Jewels (which can be found at the bottom of the Bodhi Day post).

Snowman Family Display

This fun display features an image of each of our family members’ faces on the head of a snowmen. Each family member made their own snowman (except for Little B, who is too young to participate), so that personalities were able to show.

I didn’t get a lot of photographs of the process of this craft. We were having too much fun. I realized after all was said and done that I just had a huge mess and no pictures… Although Big B was very happy to pose for a “process” picture for me.

Snowman Family Display

Materials:

  • Pictures of each family member. Make sure the images are relatively the same size.
  • Glue (stick and bottled)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper
  • Random art supplies that can be used to decorate the snowman; buttons, beads, string, etc.
Start by making the background scene on your window or board. I did a snowy ground with a winter tree. I put everything up with tape. I did use the glue stick to keep the skinny branches on the window. I am sure you could use the glue for the whole display though. I have seen people use glue stick glue effectively on glass before.
Snowman Family Display

Cut the faces out of the photographs

Snowman Family Display

Cut three circles out of white printer paper or construction paper, making each piece larger than the last. Do this for each family member. Keep in mind the size of the person in real life, and make the snowman family proportionate… as best you can. To put the snowman together use the glue stick and slightly overlap the circles.

Decorate your snowman. For paper decorations use the glue stick. It will hold the piece stronger, dry faster, and wont cause the paper to wrinkle. For heavier decorations use the glue from the glue bottle. It holds the heavy decorations more securely.

Snowman Family Display

Allow your snowman to dry completely. If you put it up too soon the heavier decorations will fall off.

Snowman Family Display

Add your snowmen to your background. I put them up with tape.

Snowman Family Display

As you can see my husband got a little carried away with his snowman. He rarely gets to do our crafts or homeschool activities with us because of his work schedule. He liked getting the chance to join in on the fun… I think I might have to plan more crafts for times when he is home.

Snowman Family Display