Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lessons in Science: Creating Hands-On Learning Experiences From Books

So we've done lots (and lots) of lessons in reading, some in math - now we've attempted some lessons in science.  I sorta consider myself a scientist on some level (my friend who is a hard core, real scientist - the kind who works with mini organisms, wears protective goggles, and uses pipettes - is probably laughing at this statement, but I did say "sorta").  I'm a soft scientist maybe.  But, I did work many years before having baby bookworm in educational and psychometric research.  I would love, love, love if baby bookworm became interested in science.  I mean, she DOES love Sid the Science Kid (which on a side note is a wonderfully educational TV show that I allow her to watch when we're not too busy reading) so maybe there is hope after all.

Of course our lessons in science began with several books, a few of which I have mentioned before.  Keep in mind, of course, that baby bookworm is only 17 months so we're not exactly following the scientific method here but I thought all of these books and activities were a good place to start learning about the process of observation, transformation, and exploration. 

1) Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This fun nonsense rhyme story was the inspiration for our first science lesson (for a more detailed description of the book see my post on 5/5/11).  The story talks about blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries but baby bookworm's favorite berry is the blueberry (she can eat a pint in one sitting) and thus we used blueberries as the focus of our lesson. Of course, before doing this lesson we read Jamberry, oh, at least a zillion times so baby bookworm was quite familiar with "blueberry jam" which is exactly what we attempted to make on our own.  I got a handful of blueberries and put them into a plastic bag and let her smash them up with her hands.  She had a blast doing this and I think really noticed that the berries changed and felt and looked different once she smashed them.  I tried to point out to her that the berries had undergone a "transformation" from something solid to something almost liquid.  I'm sure you could actually make some real jam if your child is older than mine by adding a little sugar and a few other ingredients!

Ready to make some "jam"!

Smashing up her blueberries

2) Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

This is a touch and feel animal book.  A very nice one.   So nice that I hope you don't make the mistake I did and leave your baby bookworm play with it unattended.  This book deserves a proper spot on your bookshelf that is out of reach from those little bookworm paws.  On each page is a pull out flap that makes one of the animals do something fun (like sneeze).  Baby bookworm really enjoys this book and now that some of the pages are already destroyed I let her play with it freely.  And when she comes to a page where an animal is missing it's whole head she'll  actually say "hippo rip it" as if she's confirming the fact that she has ripped the head off the hippo.  This book introduces a lot of fun words and vocabulary through the touch and feel aspect (words such as scratchy, sticky, smooth).

Playing off of this favorite book I decided we could make our own feely collage.  So I found some things around the house that differed in texture such as cotton pads, stickers, band-aids, and sand and we glued them to a sheet of white paper.  I asked baby bookworm to observe what was different about these things (of course, a lot of this is having a conversation with myself, but that's OK).  We talked about "rough", "soft", "smooth", and "sticky".  She kept asking for the "rough one," which was the sand, and then I realized she thought it was food, licked her finger and said "rough, good"!  But, at least she learned a new word.  The possibilities with this activity are of course endless - I would love to hear about some other creative ideas.

Our Feely Collage

3)  The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

This is a long, long book so I paraphrase it (for details about this book see my post on 5/5/11).  In a nutshell its about a seed who flies through the wind, in and out of seasons, and eventually plants itself into the ground and grows. 

For this science lesson, baby bookworm and I grew our own flower.  I actually came across a flower kit that went with this book at the store Five Below.  It came with 3 seeds, a tablet of dirt that you had to wet and mix to make the soil, a flowerpot and a terrarium.  So we planted our little seeds, watered them, and sure enough they grew (well, two of them did anyway).  This activity was a great opportunity to talk about how flowers need sunlight and water to grow.  Each morning I would show baby bookworm the flower at breakfast and we'd measure it with a ruler (a little math lesson thrown in).  Well, sure enough, she learned the word "grow" quite easily.  If your child is a little older this lesson would be a great way to introduce the concept of a graph or chart too - as you could easily graph the growth of the flower.  You could even make predictions about how much the flower might grow in one night (this particular kit was great because the flower grew really quickly).  Don't forget about introducing the concepts of inches and feet too!

I can't wait until baby bookworm actually is old enough to understand and use the scientific method to investigate her questions.  I will TOTALLY be one of those parents who is psyched about that first science fair project!   

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I can't wait until A. is a little older and I can start interacting with him using little science projects.

    And even though I use pipettes and wear goggles I somehow don't feel like a 'real' scientist!! :)


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