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Thursday, November 16, 2017

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No-Stress Thanksgiving STEM Challenge

It's a "Turkey" Feathers Thanksgiving STEM Challenge!

Thanksgiving is next week but (I don't know if I should admit this...) I've already started decorating for Christmas! I still have some scarecrows and pumpkins out, but I love the Christmas season soooo much! This morning, however, my girls informed me that we need to do more Thanksgiving activities. After all, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas!

Luckily, I had these awesome feathers from Craft Project Ideas, and we've had chemistry on the brain, so I put this Thanksgiving STEM challenge together in about 45 seconds!

Simple Supplies: 

* "turkey" (craft) feathers
* a bowl of water

If you don't have the feathers on hand, paperclips or pompoms also work, though the effect is most dramatic with the feathers! In fact, you could totally do this with a bird theme in the spring or summer instead of a turkey or Thanksgiving theme in the fall!

I also cut our feathers in half so we could use a normal sized bowl. If you used full-sized feathers, you might want a small pan.  ;)

Easy How To:

Place the bowl of water on a table. Place the feathers next to them. Present this challenge to your kiddos:  How many feathers can you get to float on top of the water at the same time?

Take predictions from all your kiddos. If you have a class or large group, graph them! Our smaller group all agreed on a range: 25-35 feathers.

Then let your kiddos get to work!

One of our kids suggested to spread out the feathers as much as possible.

Our group actually got 76 feathers to float! And they could have fit even more, but that was all we had!

Afterwards, they had to test what would happen if they piled them all up in one spot--it turned out that the pile tipped over before the water's surface tension broke!

When they're done, let them take a picture of their work!

My preschoolers were amazed and impressed. My older kids stuck around for a science discussion.

What's going on?

Water's surface tension is the biggest factor in why so many feathers can float on its surface. Individual molecules of water look like a "Mickey Mouse" head -- the head is an oxygen atom and the ears are hydrogen atoms. The end of the water with the hydrogens is slightly positive and the opposite end is slightly negative.

The positive end of one water molecule forms hydrogen bonds with the negative end of another water molecule. A network of hydrogen bonds across the surface of the water creates a surface tension that is strong enough to support dozens of feathers (and even critters like water skeeters and running basilisk lizards)!

How is this STEM?

It involves all four subjects included in the STEM acronym: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics:

SCIENCE: scientific reasoning, predicting, and chemistry
TECHNOLOGY: camera to take a picture
ENGINEERING: deciding how to place, stack, and organize the feathers
MATHEMATICS: counting the feathers, graphing predictions and results

Are you looking for more Thanksgiving activities? I seriously love these Thankful for You Ornaments and the Giant Thankful Tree

And do you love STEM challenges and projects? Then here are a few collections just for you: 20+ STEM Activities & Projects and Christmas Science & STEM Activities!

Disclaimer: Our feathers were provided by CraftProjectIdeas with no obligation or compensation. All opinions and ideas are mine!

Happy Educating,

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Monday, November 13, 2017

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Train Track Card Game for Preschoolers

Trains always feel like a December theme for us (probably because we love to read the Polar Express), and my younger kids always want more card games (probably because my older kids always play games that they can't quite figure out), so I made this fun train track card game to go with this week's Virtual Book Club's Transportation Theme!

This game gives kids a chance to practice counting to 10, experience with a one-to-one concept, practice taking turns, and even experience planning, plotting, and engineering!

Here's how to play:

GOAL: Build a track (with no breaks) that contains at least 10 track cards in a row.

1- Deal everybody five cards. Let the youngest person start.
2- On your turn, draw a new card and play a card. When you play a card, you can either work on building your own track, place a "broken track" card on someone else's track, or repair a broken track on your own track by placing an identical not-broken track card on top of the broken track. When your turn is over, you should have five cards again.

TO WIN: When you place the 10th track card in a row on your own track, announce that your train track is done. Then take the train card and drive it along your track, counting each track card as you go! Continue play until everybody wins.

1- All cards should be played vertically--the track pieces will interact with each other best if they are all oriented the same direction.
2- When you place a broken track on another player you can place it either on top of another card that is exactly the same (without any breaks) or as a new track that connects with the rest of their tracks.
3- You cannot place a broken track card on a player who already has an un-fixed broken track. Once their broken track is fixed, you can break another one.


ADJUSTMENTS: If you are playing with younger children who cannot count to ten or cannot sit long enough for everyone to play, shorten the game by requiring a shorter track. Five is a good number for older toddlers.

Our younger toddlers actually had a blast building their own tracks like the big kids. They didn't take turns, but they lined up pieces and drove a train around their own tracks!

I was also entertained to see all the kids finish the game, and then set about building their own "ultimate" train track. Here are two of them (the top one is my 4-year old's):

I would love to see pictures of train tracks that your kiddos make! You could use this at home or even at a center station or rotation in a school or daycare!

Are you looking for more train themed activities?

Be sure to check out our Train Names,  Space Train Tracks, our Be a Train Action Rhyme, and our Trains & Magnets Sensory Bin!! I also have a fun North Pole Train Board Game for older preschoolers here!

And if you're planning a transportation theme, then this week's edition of the Virtual Book Club will be perfect for you!! Our featured book is Freight Train by Donald Crews (image below is an Amazon affiliate link):

You can join in the fun live at the Virtual Book Club for Kid's Facebook Page and check out all these fun transportation theme activities from our co-hosting blogs:

Alphabet Train- Teach Beside Me
Freight Train Name Craft - Clare's Little Tots
Train Carriage Counting Game - Rainy Day Mum
Transportation I SPY & Graph Printable - School Time Snippets
Train Track Card Game for Preschoolers - Preschool Powol Packets
Transportation Playdough Mat - The Moments at Home
Transport Sand & Water Play - My Bored Toddler
Chocolate Train Cookies - Inspiration Laboratories
Fingerprint Train Ornament for Kids- The Educators' Spin On It
Freight Train Drawing Prompt by My Storytime Corner
Easy DIY Paper Train Table for Kids- Toddler Approved
Geometric Shapes Train - Mama Smiles

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

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Christmas STEAM for Kids: Wreath Activity

Christmas STEM, STEAM, and science projects are some of our favorite ways to keep learning fun and exciting during the holiday season. Today I'm sharing a new Christmas STEAM activity...and a tiny secret about it that I seriously debated including!

Simple Supplies:

* Wreath form
* Wreath decorations

We went to a dollar store and I let the kids pick out a wreath form (they had 10" green and white rings) and 4 decorations to add:

Easy How To:

My favorite thing about STEAM and STEM projects is that I just present the challenge to the kids and they figure out how to do it! For the "easy how to" I just turned them loose with the supplies!

They had to find ways to attach each of their decorations. Some of them had clips on the back, some had twisty ties, and some (the bells) just needed to be worked onto the wreath "branches." This took a lot of focus and fine motor exercise!

Watching them problem solve and find solutions is my favorite part!

How is this a STEM or STEAM activity? It includes aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, and math!

SCIENCE: problem solving, testing solutions, communication, team work
TECHNOLOGY: using tools (like twisty ties and clips) to accomplish goals
ENGINEERING: designing the wreath and choosing where to put the decorations. (I didn't change anything they set up, and they were so pleased!)
ART: creating a finished product to celebrate the season that they could display and share with others
MATH: counting the decorations, creating a sense of balance on the wreath

And now for my little secret...

As much as I would love for you to think I have a dedicated craft table that we did this on, this particular project was done in the car! One of my kiddos has been in a play this week and the dress rehearsals were a bit time consuming. My younger kids needed something to keep them busy, so we did this one afternoon while we waited...this project is 100% portable! (Though I am sure it would be just as successful at a table!) Anyway, here's a picture that's a little "zoomed out:"

Are you planning holiday activities? I have some awesome science and STEM projects that can be done ANYWHERE with ANY AGE group!!

Just click on the images below:


We are also joining with some of my favorite bloggers to bring you a few more Christmas STEAM ideas this season!

Be sure to check out these fun ideas:

Galaxy Snow Globes DIY :: Figment Creative Labs
Christmas STEAM for Kids | Wreath Activity :: Preschool Powol Packets
Holiday Magic Milk :: Science Kiddo
Building a Molecular Structure with Cranberries :: From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Make Rudolph Fly with Buoyancy :: From Royal Baloo

Happy Educating,

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Monday, October 30, 2017

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Bats are Nocturnal - Cupcake Liner Bat Craft

Super easy and fun, this preschool bat craft provides great fine motor exercise, a little science, a little shape review, and a new vocabulary word!

I have a couple kids that love gluing things together to make "projects" like nothing else. I could give them a bottle of glue (or a gluestick), a pile of paper, and scissors and they'd be happy for hours! I decided to capitalize on that for this bat craft to go with the Virtual Book Club's Bat theme this week!

* "night time" construction paper: blues, purples, or blacks
* white paper
* cool patterned cupcake liners...I love the options that are available in the fall!
* glue sticks and scissors
* (optional): brown or black markers
* (optional): eye stickers and glitter

1- Cut the cupcake liners into bat shapes. This is super easy because you can stack 5-10 liners up and cut through them all at once. I just "eye-balled" the shape, using the center circle as a head and making simple wings on the sides.

2- Cut out some white circles for moons.

With the kids:

1- Read Stellaluna! This fun story makes the craft more meaningful and gives the kids a literature connection. Nothing is more important than reading with your preschoolers! (Image below is an Amazon affiliate link:)

2- Set out all the supplies and tell your kiddos we're making a night-time bat scene. Bats are most active at night -- they are nocturnal because they do most of their hunting and eating between sunset and sunrise. So we are making nocturnal bat scenes! They can pick their color paper and the bats they want. They can also decide if they want to use a full circle moon, or cut it to a half moon, crescent, or another shape! If you put out markers, they can use them to draw trees or other landscapes. Answer any questions, and let them get to work! Make your own nocturnal bat scene with them!

As can often happen, the kids had some ideas of their own. They asked to pull out eye stickers (that we used recently for a mummy project) and glitter (of course, lol!). They were pretty awesome:

3- Display your bat scenes! If you want, add the words "Bats are nocturnal!" to the display!

Are you looking for other fun bat activities? Be sure to try these super fun bat echolocation science activities or make egg carton bats!

And be sure to join the Virtual Book Club for Kids for lots of awesome bat ideas! All the fun will be live in the Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids Facebook group all week and these co-hosts will be sharing bat themed activities on their blogs:

Bat Number Line Games - Rainy Day Mum
Bat Number Treasure Hunt - Inspiration Laboratories
Sensory Learning: What Can You "See" with Your Ears? - Mama Smiles
Flying Bats STEM Activity - The Educators' Spin On It
Flapping Bat Wings- Teach Beside Me
Bat Silhouettes - Clare’s Little Tots
Easy Bat Craft for Kids- Toddler Approved
Bats are Nocturnal - Cupcake Liner Bat Craft - Preschool Powol Packets
Halloween Bat Shape Craft By JDaniel4's Mom

Happy Educating,

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Monday, October 16, 2017

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Preschool Name Activity With 5 Little Pumpkins

My favorite order for teaching letters is to start with the letters in our kids' names. This pumpkins-on-a-gate name activity is perfect for that...and it ties in our favorite fall theme: pumpkins!!

We've been working on name recognition and letter recognition a lot this fall, and our kiddos can find their own name easily, but some of them lose track of some of the letters in their name as they try to write them. And, since this week is the Virtual Book Club's Pumpkin theme, I decided to make upper case and lower case pumpkin letters to use with our name activities. (They're also working great for some spelling activities with the older kids!)

To make your own Pumpkin Names on a Gate, you just need the free printable (link below), blue construction paper for the background, yellow construction paper for a moon, and scissors and glue!

1- Print and cut out the pumpkin letters. I did this in advance. ;)

2- Make a "pumpkin patch" by laying out the pumpkins in your kiddos names. I added some extra letters so the kids would have to figure out which letters were in their names and which were not.

3- Let them build their "pumpkin name gate!" 

I think they turned out so adorable!!

We also used magnets to play with the pumpkin letters. I stuck the gates on a metal door with magnets, and then placed tons of pumpkin letters on the door with more magnets--the kids had fun putting their own names on a gate, spelling other words on the gate, and putting other letter patterns on the gate.

After our kids learn the letters in their names, we learn the letters in their friends and siblings names. It's a fun and meaningful sequence to learn letters in, and it feels so natural to them and me.

Are you doing a pumpkin theme? If so, why not check out our BIG collection of preschool pumpkin activities? It's full of printables, letter activities, science, math, and so much more!

We also LOVE Halloween science and dry ice experiments! Be sure to check out our collections!!


And, if you are looking for preschool pumpkin activities, this is the week for you!! The Virtual Book Club for Kids (VBC) is celebrating pumpkins this week! Go to the Virtual Book Club for Kids Facebook page for all the action, read 5 Little Pumpkins (image below is an Amazon affiliate link), and pick some fun pumpkin activities to try! Be sure to check out the pumpkin activities from the VBC co-hosts this week too (links below)!

Preschool Pumpkin Activities from Virtual Book Club Hosts:

Name Pumpkins on a Gate - Preschool Powol Packets
Dabber Pumpkin Count - My Storytime Corner
5 Little Pumpkins Playdough Counting Activity - Clare's Little Tots
Stacking Pumpkins STEM Activity - The Educators' Spin On It
Edible Pumpkin Life Cycle- Teach Beside Me
Tracing Worksheets with a Pumpkin Theme by JDaniel4's Mom
Pumpkin Pre-Writing Activity with Chalk Markers - Inspiration Laboratories
Puppet Craft Activity and Acting Out the Story-The Moments at Home
Pumpkin Shape Memory Game - Rainy Day Mum

* More coming soon!*

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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