Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sharing the Solar Eclipse

Are you ready??  The SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 is almost here!  
Make memories, increase understandings, have fun!


It's the event of a lifetime!  The first solar eclipse to go coast to coast since 1918 (June 8th).  The last total solar eclipse to touch the United States was February 26, 1979 and it was in a corner of the northwest and on a cloudy day.

Almost everyone in the United States will be able to observe at least a 50% partial eclipse.   Many will see much more.

Young children may be totally unaware of what is going on.  It is our job to help them observe and understand.

This is so important, but it is not hard.

Start by getting proper eye protection (young children are going to want to look).  Sunglasses are not enough.  I made my own glasses with lenses from a welding supply store.  You need a lens #14 or higher.
Just take your lenses and place them into a larger piece of cardboard.  Attach with duck tape.  This will help young ones control the placement of the lens over their eyes.  They will be less likely to have the lens slip off of their eyes.
If you go online to buy some, be sure they are not fake (apparently fake glasses are popping up everywhere)

During the brief time of totality you can look with your naked eyes.

For a second way.....where you will not be looking at the sun at all, a pin box viewer is quick and easy to make.  You have all the supplies you need on hand.  I used a box, but you can get away with just a white piece of paper and a dark (stiff and won't let the sun through) paper.  I poked my hole with a bamboo skewer.  Aim the box so the sun shines through your hole.

Now that you have seen what is happening, how do you explain it to a child?  Hands on is always the best method.  I made this interactive model using a paper plate to trace my sun and moon.  My sun had triangles glued to the back to show the corona.  You could make the moon just a wee bit smaller and that would work too. If you want a printable pattern, you can find the pattern by clicking here.


This picture from NASA is a great visual too.

I like the video clip here.  I like the idea of making my own eclipse with a flashlight and a quarter.  You can find instructions here

I have a stack of books ready to read.
One of my favorites from Dawn Publications.

There will be waiting around time as the moon makes its way across the sun.  How much wait time do you have?  Check out this table for times because the fun doesn't need to be just the few minutes of totality....
I will start our fun before first contact.  I want to give my students a chance to test their viewer, make a pinbox,  and see the sun before the moon takes it's first nibble (first contact) out of the sun.  We will observe, record, do an activity (read a book, play a game, make a model), then repeat.  We will take breaks from observing for several reasons.  First students will get antsy if all you do is watch, second they will be amazed at the difference each time you look, third they will be excited about what is happening and more likely to be engaged with an activity related to the eclipse.  All of this will increase the amount they will retain in their memories.

Two activities I will be doing is rocket building and making a model of the solar system.
 You can find the Solar System here.
My husband built this awesome launcher, but you don't need anything this fancy.  
Try one of these...
Straw Rockets  
Stomp Rockets

Water Rocket (this is similar to mine but it uses a bicycle pump instead of an air compressor)

What else can you do?  Eat of course...along with Sun Chips and Milky Way bars you may want to make these tasty treats.  Can you see the shadow of the moon (half grape) and the corona of the sun (banana with yogurt glue)?
Now you are ready for some fun!!!  
It's once in a lifetime!  Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Last Child In The Woods for Kids...Connecting Children with Nature

In honor of Earth Day this month, I am going to step up on my soapbox for a bit and tell you that I believe in order to take care of our planet we need to reach out and touch our planet.

If there is one thing I am passionate about in education it is getting kids outside.  That's one reason for my tag line....where everyone is dancing their merry kinder kapers.  Movement....Excitement....Curiosity.  Hopefully you can catch the vision and see those little ones "dancing" about outside having a wonderfully educational time.

Richard Louv  affirms all that I believe to be true about children and getting them outside. He is the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.  He reminds us that,

"Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.  If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature."

Can we take time from our school day to explore?  Of course!!  Is it common core??  YES!!

Does it need to be work?  No!

"If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection or the chore defeats the joy.  It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together.  And it's a lot more fun"

Try a scavenger hunt...what interesting things can you find in your schoolyard?

Can you collect things (perhaps with a camera)?  Can you sort them?  Can you count them?  Is there more of one thing...or perhaps you could compare colors?  What about Kindergarten conversations.....what are your students excited about...are they asking questions?  Are they taking turns, and carrying the conversations on through multiple exchanges?  What did they find...can you help them take their learning in another direction?  Did your students record their findings (in a journal, chart, graph, table)?

Can I do it if I live in the city?  Yes again.

Learn to use the tools of a scientist or naturalist.  Above we were learning to read a thermometer, so we could test which color was the warmest to wear.

Try growing some seeds.  Clear cups are the best for seeing those roots go down.
We planted sunflower seeds for St. Patrick's Day.  My kinders were so so excited the day they sprouted.  We left them untouched for a few days as they grew taller and taller.  They watched the seed coats fall off and were fascinated!  When we picked up the cups to look closer, my kinders discovered the roots down the sides of the cups and across the bottom.  They discovered those things.  Now we are learning the science words and writing our own nonfiction book about plants.  Common Core...yes!

It won't be long and we will be ordering our butterflies.  I order a classroom set because everyone gets a turn to work with the caterpillars, everyone gets their own to examine closely, and I don't have to worry if a few don't make it (there are plenty of extras).

When the butterflies finally emerge I set up this tent and we take turns getting up close and personal with those butterflies.

Do you need research to help back up the importance of spending time outside?  Check out the Children and Nature Network.  There is a wealth of information, from research to workshops to ideas to use.

Whenever we go outside, we do have to have some rules.  It is school after all.  The rules are simple.
1.  It is not recess, so we do not get to run around or yell.
2.  Students must stay close to me or within the boundaries set for the day and activity.
3.  Students must not harm (pick, break, or squash) living things.
4.  Students must follow the directions given.  Sometimes it will be okay to collect many things, most days we collect only 1 specimen (especially if we are collecting living things like leaves or seeds).  
Pears from the trees at school (last September)
Do I need special equipment?  No...You can get outside with none at all.  There are a few things that might make it more fun.
1.  magnifying glass
2.  digital camera of some sort
3.  container for specimens
4.  paper, pencils, and a hard surface to write on (I use our whiteboards and binder clips)
"Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).

What do I use to help me plan our time outside?  Along with the common core standards and our state guidelines, I love using Project Wild and Project Learning Tree.  I also use the books by Joseph CornellSharing Nature With Children is my favorite.  There are so many resources available, many unique to your location.  Each National Park and many state parks have Junior Ranger programs.  The activities are adaptable for most grade levels.  The Forest Service and BLM have lots of free resources as well. For unique picture books I turn to Dawn Publications.  If you go to their website, not only will you find books, but free activities to go with them.  It is a treasure trove of ideas!!

But what do I really need?  Time, natural curiosity, and a no worry attitude about dirt and bugs.

"We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this earth, and to tell our stories.  These are the moments when the world is made whole.  In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist."
~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Five for Friday....SDE conference fun!

I have spent all this week in Las Vegas learning and growing as an educator.  I have been inspired by some amazing teachers and I have stepped out of my comfort zone just a little bit and it has WONDERFUL!!

I wanted to share what I have learned so I am hooking up with Doddle Bugs Teaching and Five For Friday to share my fun.

First, I came to the SDE I Teach conferences to connect with teachers I have admired through their blogs, TpT stores, and following them on social media.  I loved giving hugs and getting hugs and I want you to know that these amazing teachers are real people.  They are the kindest and sweetest and smartest people I know.  I learn so much!!

 Second, I came to learn.  I attended so many classes.  I loved every one and learned something new each time.  It will take me all summer to really process everything that is swirling through my brain...but I know we will be doing more stem challenges (I attended two STEM workshops, one by Brooke Brown and one by Sandi Reyes).  I have some GREAT ideas for fitting it all in and engage my students.  We will be singing more (Thanks Debbie Clement) and making rekenreks (Thanks Deedee Wills).

Third, I came to share my passion....outdoor learning!  This was my first time presenting on such a large "stage".  I was scared, nervous, petrified, and excited beyond words!!  I loved it.  I loved sharing something so close to my heart.  I pitched my butterfly tent and we made pressed flower bookmarks (directions are here).  I promised my Kinder participants I would post the blackline master for the food chain activity.  You can find it here.

Fourth, I came to spend some time with my best friend.  I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband who loves me and supports me through all my crazy ideas.

Lastly, I sat by the pool and started to reflect over all the things I had learned over these last five days and this quote from Dave Burgess jumped out at me.  If you have never heard of him, you need to pick up his book Teach Like a PIRATE.  It is inspiring!!