Monday, February 19, 2018

Exploring States of Matter in Kindergarten

Our Student Teacher, Mrs. Madison, was noticing that our students were very interested in slime and had also been asking to make their own slime and play dough.  They were bringing slime and silly putty from home to share with the class. She decided to run with this interest and connect it to a study on the properties of the states of matter.

She started by introducing the three states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas and their properties.

Here, our friend is showing how liquid takes the shape of its container.
 Mrs. Madison set up a station for those who were interested to make a batch of slime.  They really enjoyed exploring the properties of their slime! Stretchy, slimy, sticky were the describing words used most! It was more of a liquid in that it took the shape of its container. We mixed Elmer's glue, borax and food coloring to create the slime.

Another group wanted to make slime. After they mixed it, they noticed it had different properties than the slime from yesterday!  This was more the consistency of Silly Putty! We noticed it started out as a liquid but was more solid than the slime after it set. Rather than stretching, it would rip apart as seen below.

Next, we set up a station for making play dough.  We found a recipe using cold water so that the kids could mix the dough!  We displayed the recipe for them to follow.

They loved the sensory experience of mixing the dough with their hands!

They asked for some rollers and loose parts to use with the play dough so I helped some of the kids put together a tray with materials to use.

Mrs. Madison brought in some books and used materials from our room to set up an area for them to be scientists and explore the properties of solids, liquids and gasses.

Here you can see scientists hard at work!

We read the book Snow Balls by Louis Ehlert.  The illustrations are created by using loose parts so we set out materials for them to make snow people like Louis Ehlert.  We mixed equal parts shaving cream and glue for them to create the snow people on black paper.  First they drew the shape of their snow people. The kids then dabbed the mixture thickly on the paper and choose loose parts to decorate their snow people.

After they dried, Mrs. Madison showed them how the mixture changed from a liquid to a solid!  They turned out adorable!

We read "Snowmen at Night" and the kids wrote what they thought their snow person would do at night when they were left alone.  We displayed their writing along with their snowmen.

The kids explored the chemical reaction that takes place when you mix baking soda with vinegar!  They loved this activity.  I love their reaction the first time they see what happens!

Mrs. Madison discussed how when they mixed, they formed gas!

We also made root beer floats and discussed and recorded the solid, liquid and gas that they could see.  I made the mistake of putting the root beer in the cups first so it was not as easy to see after we added the ice cream.  If I did this again, I would put the ice cream in first, then pour the root beer over the ice cream! Usually, you can see the brown root beer as the liquid, the solid ice cream, and the bubbles filled with gas.

We set out some salt and liquid watercolors with some glue and let the kids experiment with salt painting. They loved observing how the colors and spread out across the salt crystals!

We discussed that all matter has properties and set out an invitation for kids to find items in the room made from these three properties.  They found many in our room made out of metal and wood. Only our rock collection was made of stone!

I set up an area inviting kids to explore immiscible liquids (liquids that will not mix.  I used vegetable oil and water with food coloring.  The kids used droppers to drop the water in the oil and see what happens!

"It bubbles!" was the the observation I heard the most as the water would drop down in a spherical shape to the bottom.

Here a friend did not use the sheet I has set out, but used another means of showing what she noticed. This is a true authentic use of writing with not push from me!

Mrs. Madison set up an experience for them each to create their own immiscible liquids bottles.  She mixed powdered paint with the vegetable oil to give it different colors, then colored some water with food coloring and let the kids pick the colors they wanted.

They poured each liquid in their bottle using a funnel and then added some beads for fun! Mrs. Madison hot glued the top of the bottles and wrote "Do not drink" on each bottle.

The kids loved shaking their bottles and seeing how the bubbles of liquid would blend together to form a new color, then when they stopped, the colors would separate again!

In math we are focussing on addition.  We have been discussing the concept of adding as we subtilize, and decompose numbers but now we are adding the symbolic element. I added a recording sheet to my addition bottles for the kids to try and write addition sentences for each bottle.  There are two sets for them to try.

I am also using one of their favorite toys to practice the concept of adding and introducing the concept of subtraction!  They are loving this game! I got the template from

This has been an amazing couple weeks filled with science!  Many of these can be done at home to! The kids loved exploring the properties of matter!  I am so thankful for having such a wonderful student teacher such as Mrs. Madison to come up with so many amazing experiences for these kids! We will miss her!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Animals in Winter Inquiry

It started when I read these two stories about helping the animals by putting food out for them.

We decided we wanted to help the animals around our school find food.  Our ground has been covered in snow for a while and through these books, they realized that winter was hard for the animals.  We brainstormed things we could use that the animals would like. We dried bread and then set out materials for them to make feeders. Because we have peanut/tree nut allergies we used Crisco as a fat instead of peanut butter to stick the seeds to the bread.

The kids picked this tree in front of our school to hang the food.  It looked like the tree in the book "The Night Tree" plus we love this giant tree!

The kids were very excited to hang our animal feeders and scatter nuts on the ground.

Of coarse we had to stop for a class picture.  The kids had so much fun! I heard one exclaim, "This is the best day ever!!"

I am always amazed at how kids are so drawn to nature when given the chance to interact with it!  As they hung the feeders, they had noticed that the giant tree was like a playground inside! When we went back after the weekend to check our feeders, we noticed that the sunflower seeds on the bread were the favorite!  We collected the discarded pipe cleaners and the kids asked if they could play inside the tree.  It was a perfect day for it! It was like we were in another world!  They loved it.

When we went inside they wrote about what kind of animals they thought ate the food off of our tree!  As I looked at their writing I noticed that some of the kids are starting to put spaces between their words!

Another experience that had them wondering were these footprints in the snow on our playground!  What kind of animal made these prints?

As soon as we went upstairs we drew a picture and wrote a sentence about what kind of animal they think made those prints!  They guessed anything from cats, dogs, raccoons and rabbits to bears and kangaroos! The kangaroo guess actually showed some critical thinking!  He noticed some of the prints were longer and felt it had to be an animal with longer back feet like a kangaroo.

The prints and their interest inspired me to put out these experiences for them to explore animals in winter through investigation and stories. I set out animals with accurate footprints along with white play dough to act as snow and resources to notice the different tracks they made.

I also set up an area that could also be used during Story Workshop to inspire stories about animals in a winter setting that included forest animals and birds, and other loose parts to help them create a small world for the animals and then play out their stories.

Of course, both areas were used together by the kids.  I love how they can look at materials and come up with their own creative ways to use them.

We had learned about how some animals hibernate, some animals migrate and some animals adapt. Check out our little friends migrating as geese from the cold to warmer climate where they found food (cutie oranges) waiting for them. They did this with our Student Teacher Mrs. Madison while I was on vacation and when I got back told me that flying in a "V" formation was much harder than they thought it would be!

I had thought to do a large scale project with them about animals in winter.  I had done a large project in the past with kindergarteners about this that you can see here: Animals in Winter Part 1 and here: Animals in Winter Part 2.  Unfortunately, their interest had waned by this time and they were done with this inquiry.  Not every inquiry ends with a large scale project, but I like to do at least one each year.  I am keeping my eyes and ears open to see what this group will be so interested in that they will want to take it further into a project and presentation! As of now, we have noticed that they are really into slime and have been begging us to let them make play dough!  Let's see where that will take us next!