Saturday, April 30, 2011

Repost (and Test) More Monarchs Emerge

I've been messing around with the blog. If you haven't noticed, I'm horrible with tags. I guess that is why I have a "search this blog" button.  Hopefully you will be able to find what you are looking for even if I'm not very good at categorizing things!

For a test with the new feeds and networked blog, I thought I would share another one of my favorite posts. I thought it was quite timely as I know a number of classrooms are currently observing their caterpillars! This is a repost from last summer when we studied the life cycle of butterflies for almost three months! After collecting monarch eggs, we will NEVER order a butterfly kit again. This post captures our monarchs via video both as they go and and come out of their chrysalid. If you would like to see another compilation video with a number of songs and other aspects of our study, click here.

We woke to find 5 darkened chrysalid this morning. So far, 3 butterflies have emerged and we managed to catch 2 of them on video (Just for you Carol C!)

Monarch #2 emerges:

Here is Monarch #3 as it emerges:

For those of you who have not seen a monarch caterpillar as it makes a chrysalis, here is a video taken by my good friend Carol C:

Excuse The Mess.....

Excuse the mess.... I'm reorganizing/designing the blog.... All of the posts are still here, I'm far from done. Anticipate changes over the next few days!

Friday, April 29, 2011

What Would You Do With It Wednesday...... On Friday

My brain is still fried. I'm on the wrong week! I will be collaborating with an amazing group of bloggers for an upcycle/reuse challenge with cardboard boxes... but it isn't this week.... It is next week! So, come back next week for a fantastic collaboration coordinated by Rachelle over at Tinkerlab! 

 Now that life is a little bit less hectic, I also anticipate making some major changes on the blog. I'm looking for a little less clutter and rearranging things a bit. So, if you happen to stop back and things look different, I will be playing around with the layout for awhile until I find something that I like and works better for me!

So, here is a quick run down of this week's What Would You Do With It? Wednesday (on Friday)

Welcome to this week's edition of What Would You Do With It? Wednesday. This week we are featuring plastic Easter eggs! I know I am dreadfully behind on my Wednesday list, and if things work out with some collaboration in the next few weeks, the link up may be changing! I know that a lot of you have all kinds of plastic Easter eggs around after the holiday (or you can find them on clearance in stores right now!) So.... Here goes...

One of our favorite things to do with the eggs is to turn them into caterpillars!

I have also seen something similar where you can turn the eggs into snakes over at Preschool Rock:

Creativity in Progress turned the eggs into cute little tea cups!

I know there are a lot of other great ideas out there! What would you do with plastic Easter eggs?

For the full list of previously posted items and upcoming challenges, visit the What Would You Do With It? Wednesdays Page. (I don't know how accurate this is going to be for the future, but there is a great big list of things to try to reuse!)

On to this week's link up! Plastic Easter Eggs- It's your turn!

Do you have a great idea or post that you can share using Plastic Eggs? If so, please join in linking up!

Here are the rules:

1) The post MUST use plastic Easter Eggs

2) The post MUST be family friendly.

There are no other requirements. If you would like, I would love if you linked back to his linky party, but it is not required. I would hope that you will investigate the links shared and visit some of the  other blogs, but I'm not imposing any "blog hop/linky" rules.  Please, if  you do find great ideas and photos... Give credit where  credit is due  :).

If you have been featured and feel inclined, my featured button is available to grab from the sidebar.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Superhero Capes!

Today, we decided to craft some easy capes. If you are looking for some other fun cape ideas made with fabric, you might want to check out this link to the diary of a quilter for a super easy cape.  If you do a search for tutorials, you will find a wide variety of capes out there.

We decided that we could make some capes out of plastic bags and duct tape. The children decorated their capes, but most of the taping was an adult project.  I did not prepare the capes in advance. I believe that crafting with children, even when it is more of an adult type product focused activity, the children need to see and be a part of the process. The value in a craft project for children and adults is learning and seeing the steps involved to make a product.  Children can learn the sequence of events.

First, you put tape around all of the edges of the bag.

Then you add tape to where the handles of the bag were. This will make the straps for the cape.

We made our straps very long. We did this because we didn't want to close our capes off. I know a lot of patterns use velcro, etc, we wanted long lines of tape to criss cross in front of us or to hold onto when we are flying.... You could make shorter straps and secure them with velcro if you wanted to.

Some of us decorated our capes while the other children had assistance in turning their bags into capes.  The decorating part can come before or after the cape is made.

Yes, those are permanent markers you see the children using.  Like all sorts of other "tools" the children have an opportunity to use, permanent markers are needed for certain projects.

Another benefit of craftings something with children is that they can see how products are made, and you can teach them that not everything has to be purchased from the store. You can make, and learn the skills need to make a lot of things that other people might opt to buy. A lot of our crafts are also using materials that other people might throw out, so the idea of re-using and repurposing is another great value that can be taught through crafting.  In my mind, the difference between art and craft is that art is open ended, and with craft there is a desired outcome or product.  I know that there are very good blends out there, and children can really delve into tinkering with processes in making a craft, but this is how I personally separate the two.  Here, we really spend a lot more time with art, but have intermingled "projects" or crafts as options for the children.

When we were done decorating, we tried the capes on...  A criss cross in the front:

With a "cool" cape on our backs....

Or, we can hold out the strings of tape when we are flying through the air....

You can use the same basic process to create a large bib/smock for younger children to use when they are exploring messy things!

I know you have heard me mention Dan Hodgins before, and again if you have not had the opportunity to hear him speak take the time to find an opportunity to! He presented a phenomenal "center stage" workshop on Super Hero Play at the MiAEYC Conference in Grand Rapids a few weeks back.  Here are a few things to ponder when you think about and consider super hero play from that workshop......

* During super hero play, children have an opportunity to explore "good guy vs bad guy" It is important for their social and moral development.

*If you are going to take away super hero play, you need to find something just as powerful to replace it with. If you can find something that is just as powerful, please share... the rest of us are still looking for it.

*Children need safe ways to experience power. The more powerless children feel in their own lives, the more they look for power and the need and use of super hero play increases

*Vivan Paly asks a very important question we all need to consider.... "Why is mother/princess play okay but Darth Vader not?"  (Or in other words, why do we allow girls freedom in their super hero play but limit or remove it from boys?)

*How much opportunity do you give children to have their own power?  Remember, power and domination does not mean to hurt, it just means to have power!

*For children, superhero play is not a moral issue, it is developmental. We need to keep it developmental for children.

*When we are concerned about an issue that arises with children's actions where we might be concerned with bullying or a possible "abuse" of power, We need to focus on the "victim"  Did you ask them if they wanted to play? 

*Great props for children's super hero play: capes, microphones, swimming pool noodles as swords, giant bags made from sheets, cut up pieces of garden hoses.

*Children need a lot of space for super hero play, they need to be able to run inside, they need to fly.... Your job is to make the environment safe for them to do these things, not to stop them from doing it.

Grab your capes, it is time to play! If you could be a super hero, who would you be?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goin' on a Frog Hunt!

(If you are looking for my What Would You Do With It Wednesday post, stop back on Friday when I join forces with other bloggers for a weekly challenge using boxes this week!)

 We've been having a fantastic time observing our baby chicks, but we have also started to talk about frogs. The children are very excited to observe frogs, and to see them hatch from eggs too. We have been hearing the frogs at night, but have yet to find any out and about.

 Yesterday, before it started to rain too hard, we took a walk up the street to see if we could find any frogs in the pond near the cemetery.  We had fun playing with our nets and trying to dance between the rain drops, but we didn't see any frogs or frog eggs.

When the rain started to pick up, we found out that trees make great umbrellas. We sat under the tree for awhile and watched the rain drops hit the pond.  Then, when the rain let up, we used our "real umbrella" and walked back.

Today, we opted to take a walk along the bike path. Some of the children remembered seeing water near the tunnel and wanted to investigate.
We didn't find any frogs near the tunnel, so we kept walking......

We ran into a chipmunk "hanging" out near a tree.
We saw a pair of mallard ducks swimming in the water.

One worm..... and then.....

Oodles and oodles of worms! We must have seen at least "ten thousand!"  (Next time we will bring a clip board to keep track of all the critters!)
Even though we didn't find any frogs today, we sure had fun exploring!  We made a list of other places where we might be able to find some frogs. There are a lots of little ponds, puddles, and streams near by; I know we will have better luck one of these days!

It sure is fun to get out and investigate though! Especially when it involves tossing rocks in the water, trying to scoop things out with our nets, counting critters, and making echos in the tunnel!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg?

If you have been following our blog, you know that we started chicken eggs in our incubator awhile back. Unfortunately, we did not have any luck hatching our little chicks. (We will try again soon.) Fortunately, my dad still raises chicks and when we went for a visit this past weekend we were able to borrow a few chicks from the farm for a few weeks to watch.

Baby chicks are quite amusing, I've found myself parked in front of their brooder box for quite some time. The children have been enjoying their company too. Here is what they have to say:

"Baby chicks are pretty cool"
"They can jump"
 "They put their feet up like an ostrich and a flamingo"
"They put their feet in their food and water a lot"
 "They sleep when they are standing up. When they start to sleep standing up they fall down a little bit and then they wake up."
"One of our chickens is really mean and he tries to jump out"
 "One of the chickens tries to peck its way out"
"They really eats some drinks some water and eats some food"
"They are really tiny and everybody likes them"
"They were drinking and they were eggs and they wanted to get out, they very funny"
We moved some markers and clip boards near the brooder box so that our friends could record their observations.
And of course, we had to ask.... Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

The children are still debating this out. "It's like a circle. It is hard to find the start" (coming from my 8 yr old.) Then of course, after talking with Mr Allan, it is apparent that eggs were laid by other animals long before chickens were around, so if you get technical about it, eggs were here before chickens.  The debate continues.

(You'll notice that our brooder box looks different in different photos. The original light/heat source that came with our incubator to use as a brooder box light was not sufficient enough to produce enough heat, so we invested in a better heat lamp. Our "chickies' are now nice and warm, and growing fast!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Tree!

I attended an AMAZING workshop while I was at the MIAEYC conference in Grand Rapids. The presenters shared all kinds of great ideas for sprucing up your science activities. (I'm sure I will be referring back to this workshop for quite some time.) What I really loved about it was that the presenters had so many photos and activities that are simple and are easily integrated into any setting. (I apologize for the poor photos to start. Unfortunately, my camera did not like the lighting in the presentation room, so my photos from Grand Rapids did not turn out well at all.)

Basically, you take 3 cardboard boxes, cut round holes in them to make homes for your "tree critters", paint them and hook them together.  At the workshop, I was told that they tried a variety of different things as branches, but what worked the best was to use actual branches/sticks.

 We drew our circles and used a box cutter to carve out our circles.
 We decided to use brown, green, and black paint for our tree.

 Painting our boxes was team work. We each took a color and added to all of the sides.

 We cut and painted 3 boxes like the original idea, but I bet you could make your tree with as many boxes as you wanted to.
 When the paint dried, we stacked our boxes on top of each other. We were going to hold them together with zip ties, but, we were out!
 So, we punched holes in the boxes (on the inside where you can't see) and held them together by threading pipe cleaners through the holes.

Now our tree is ready for some branches and some playing! We've been collecting some good branches when we have been outside. A little bit of hot glue and we will be good to go!

During the workshop, I learned that the children in the classroom spent time changing their tree with the seasons. You can add artificial leaves in various colors, blossoms, buds, etc. You can also add batting in the winter for snow.  We copied the design from the one I showed the children in the photo, but I bet you could alternate which side of the tree your holes are if you plan to put the tree where more sides could be easily accessed.

I know I don't have any photos of our tree "in use" but since adding it to our environment, the children have really loved to add any critters they could find to the tree. It has sparked some interesting debates and investigations into where certain animals live. The current debate is that whales and elephants do not really live in trees. However, as one of my little guys proudly stated "In imagination land they do!"

For those of you interested in the workshop, it was entitled: "Trees, Penguins, Seed, Recycling, Space and More: Innovative Ideas for Teaching Math and Science" it was presented by Sharon Grala, Darlene Pranion, Jenny Kluza, and Lisa Barker from the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools in Harrison Township, Michigan. 

This post was linked up at:

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