Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Rainy Learning at Story Time

This week we had a fun, rain themed story time at the library.  It was a beautiful sunshiny day outside, but that didn't stop us from learning about rain and other weather!  (I'm not sure that anything can stop 40 excited children.)

One of our books today was the classic, It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw. I knew it was a classic, but as we prepped for story time today, Ms. Debbie pointed out that this was first published in 1947.  Wow!

The format is super simple: blue pages with white shapes on them, and a catchy, repetitive refrain:  "Sometimes it looked like a ___, but it wasn't a ____."  The last page reveals that all those white shapes were clouds in the sky.

This book inspired our first follow up activity, cloudy finger painting.  This little girl was really getting in to it!
True confession.  We were running low on blue construction paper today, so we pulled out some that had a snowman shape chalked on one side of it, and put the clean side up.  One child flipped their paper and discovered the chalk outline, and pretty soon we had a whole bunch of snowman clouds!

In another portion of our story time, we demonstrated condensation and precipitation.  The demonstration on the left shows water topped with a layer of shaving cream, and we dripped food coloring on top of that.  When the food coloring soaked through the shaving cream, it left beautiful and colorful streaks through the water.

The second demonstration involved very hot water in a clear glass bowl, topped with a pie tin full of ice cubes.  The water vapor (steam) rises, then hits the cold pie tin, just as water vapor in our atmosphere rises until it cools in the atmosphere.  When it cools enough, it turns from steam/gas into rain/ liquid, and precipitates down.  You can see the condensation on the sides of the bowl.  Do you see the little fingers in the pie plate?  This little guy noticed that a lot of the ice was melted, and wondered if it was the condensation or rain?  I had to explain that all that hot steam had melted some of our ice cubes.

You can't talk about rainy weather with children without offering a chance to play in water!
 Our water play area was full of various colanders, and we also had out cotton balls.  The idea is to put dry cotton balls (clouds) in a colander, then slowly add water.  The cotton balls will hold only so much water (just like clouds) before becoming saturated - and then the water falls out.  As it falls through the holes in the colander it can look like rain - if you have cooperative children who want to play with the materials the way you envisioned it.  Other wise, you might have a lot of soaking of cotton balls, pouring of water, and great sensory play.  I'll leave it up to you to guess which way that one went! :-)

Our next activity was a science experiment (scaled down for the 3-5 year old bunch), about things that might blow in the wind.
The children were supposed to predict which things might blow, and then test their hypothesis by using the paper fans to make a breeze.  We talked about how scientists make predictions, or guesses, and then try things out to see if they are right or not - and that when their predictions aren't right, they learn something new and try again.  At this age (and sadly, for much much longer for a lot of us), kiddos want to be "right", so I think it's important that we talk about that it is okay for our predictions to be wrong!  Anyway, we had a lot of fanning going on, and a lot of the feathers and tissue paper ended up on the floor, but those blocks and crayons could not be budged.

As usual, I couldn't limit myself to creating just 3 stations... I get so excited by all the fun things we can explore and play with and learn about... so I brought out the vortexes!
This is a tornado tube in action: it is just a connector for 2 soda bottles, with a single hole in it.  When you turn the aparatus over so all the water is on the top, then move the top portion in a circular motion, all the water in the top forms a vortex as it spins down into the lower bottle.  The kiddos were fascinated!  So were a lot of the grown ups!

A quick note for anyone who might want to do this activity - water bottles and smaller soda bottles didn't work as well as the 2 liters.  We could not get a really nice seal with the other bottles, and had some drips from them.  Also, this is so neat to watch, you are going to want to have enough water that the process lasts that bit longer than it would with a smaller bottle.

For all the fun those other activities provided, this one was clearly the winner: a vortex to spin coins down.
I bought this simple toy at a museum gift shop at least 10 years ago, and it has always been a kid favorite!  It's a table top version of the coin eating vortexes you sometimes see in public places, except with this one you can retrieve the coins and play it over and over again.

There are 5 children sharing a single toy in this picture.  Let me repeat that.  There are   five  children  sharing  a  single  toy.  There were at least five children playing with it the entire time it was available, and they all shared.  Any toy that can achieve that kind of preschool nirvana is a winner in my book!

As our families were finishing up, we had out a graph for the children to contribute to.  Today I asked which weather they preferred, rainy, snowy or sunny.
This time we made a pictograph, and I added the orange lines to guide the children in lining up their pictures.  As the child in the picture above was adding her picture, we noticed that there were 5 votes in each category, and we got to revisit the word (and sign language sign) for equal.

A short time later the results were very different, and a clear choice was established.  I noticed several children who made their choice, went back to our activities, and then returned to check the graph!  They were looking at it, counting the pictures, and interpreting data!  I know, I know, interpreting data sounds a whole lot more complex than checking to see which weather had the most votes - but it is indeed a very early way of analysing data. 
I'm so proud of our kiddos, and their families.  It's amazing what small people can do!

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