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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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LEGO Rainbow: An Amazing Team Building Challenge

Every once in a while you stumble on an activity that unites your kids more and does more for their sense of "team" than anything else you deliberately planned. A LEGO rainbow seems pretty simple, but the way everyone came together to make it happen was astounding.

Building with LEGO has been one of the things that I will remember this summer for. Almost every day our kids (ages preschool, 1st grade, and 4th grade) have spent more than an hour playing and building with LEGO. Sometimes they work with each other and sometimes they work alone. Because they love LEGO so much we have been using it for a lot of things...from math to reading! Recently I was sitting on the floor with them (mostly to be sure no LEGO pieces worked their way into little mouths!), when I started building a rainbow.

Gradually everyone stopped what they were doing and came to help. Different kids had different suggestions about how to make the rainbow work. They helped find the right colors and the right sized bricks. (Honestly, we just used basic bricks. We have at least three different brands of LEGO-style bricks mixed together in our bins, so getting a set all the same color took a little work!) One kid thought we needed a pot of gold at one end and made it. Another child thought we needed a cloud, and made that. Another child thought it should stand up...I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me before she said so!

In the end we had a huge and fantastic LEGO rainbow! I even thought it was amazing! The kids loved it and displayed it as long as possible. 

Our crew embraced the challenge of creating a rainbow very spontaneously, but you could totally initiate it with any group. Challenge them to build a rainbow! Provide a ton of LEGO bricks. Don't give them any more restrictions or requirements. See what they come up with! Sidenote: I would totally do this in a classroom, but I would divide them into groups of four. Four children can work together and still have something for each child to do. Less than four works all right too, but I would not put them in groups bigger than four.

When you're done, talk about what happened. What did each person contribute. Make sure everyone knows that their contribution was important and acknowledged. Then put that LEGO Rainbow on display!

Happy Educating,

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

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Chemistry for Kids: Sparkly Slime Science

This sparkly slime has all makings of the perfect science activity: preschoolers love playing with it and the science behind it is accessible for all ages!

There are lots of slime recipes, but this slime only takes three ingredients to make (glue, borax, and water). Then you can make things fancy with glitter (for sparkles) and food coloring!

Here is my super easy slime recipe. (I'll tell you a little about slime science below!) This recipe makes a big batch of slime...enough for seven kids to each have a handful! And, yes, we had seven kids playing with slime at once...it was awesome!

1- Do not get borax in your mouth (or your kids' mouths). It is toxic. If it gets in someone's mouth, call poison control. Obviously if you can't keep slime out of your kids' mouths and other body parts, you should wait until they're a little older to make this with them! Like everything on this site, this activity is meant to be done with close adult supervision!
2- If your kids have sensitive skin (or if you think they do!), you can let them wear gloves or play with the slime in a plastic bag.

Super Easy Slime Recipe:

1- Mix 4 tablespoons of borax in 3 1/2 cups warm water. Stir to help it dissolve, and set this aside.
2- Dump 3 bottles of glue into a bowl. Fill up each empty glue bottle with warm water and pour that in with the glue. Add in your food coloring, glitter, or any other fun fancy accessories, and stir it all very well. Your glue and water should be completely mixed together. Sidenote: in the pictures here, we used about 8-10 drops of "neon" red food coloring. :)

3- Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture! You can stir with a spoon for a moment, but then you will need to use your hands! Squish, stir, and knead until it is not sticky anymore.

It can now be stretched, torn, slid, and stuck! Have fun!!

A Little Bit of Slime Science:

Glue is made of huge polymers of polyvinyl acetate. They are very long molecules that can slide past each other and pour easily. Borax is a molecule called sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Na2B4O7•10H2O). You mix it with water and the solution has lots of borate ions {B(OH)4-} floating around. When you mix the glue and borax solutions, bonds are formed where borate cross-links huge glue polymers together. The glue can no longer pour easily because its molecules are now a huge mess of tangled polymers. If you let it sit long enough, it will eventually flow (unless you used a MUCH higher ratio of borax and glue), but as you play with it, it behaves more like a solid. 

Now that all can make sense to a 4th grader, but what do we tell our preschoolers? Something more like this...

The borax binds to the glue and makes it thicken up!

As their vocabulary increases and they're ready for more science concepts and words, you can always add to their explanation of slime science!

Do you love science experiments? Be sure to check out my collection of over 175 science experiments and activities!  And this is another one of our popular chemistry for kids experiments

Happy Educating,

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Friday, July 22, 2016

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Ocean Animals Shadow Matching Cards Preschool Activity

These ocean animal shadow matching cards are the perfect preschool activity for an Ocean Theme, matching math activity, or just for fun!

The ocean animals you will find in this set of preschool cards includes a whale shark, threshing shark, octopus, gobi fish, sea star, crab, penguin, blue whale, nurse shark, orca, and a couple more coral reef fish.

I recommend printing them on cardstock and laminating them so you can re-use them longer, but how you print them is up to you!

We like to play memory games with them, but you could also play go-fish type games, glue them to a manilla folder for a file folder game, and more! I'd love to see what you do--feel free to send me an email, leave a comment, or visit me at PreschoolPowolPackets on Facebook!

I have some fun facts about many of these ocean animals in my {FREE} Ocean Animals and Plants Cards here! I also have an awesome Preschool Ocean Animals packet here and a fun Shark Science Experiment here!  

I also have the Ultimate Letter of the Week Resource with almost 500 alphabetized ideas!!

AND, today I'm joining up with other kid-bloggers to bring you an Ocean Themed Unit Study! Be sure to check out these other activities:

Dolphin Facts for Kids from Look! We're Learning!
Ocean Creatures Sight Word Puzzles from Simple Fun for Kids
Jellyfish Discovery Bottle from Schooling a Monkey
Picture Books about Ocean Animals from The Jenny Evolution
Sea Turtle Unit from Bambini Travel
Free Ocean Coloring Pages from Something 2 Offer
Ocean Animals Shadow Matching Cards from Preschool Powol Packets
The Best Ocean Animals Preschool Fun from Natural Beach Living

Happy Educating,

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Monday, July 18, 2016

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Chemistry for Kids: Catching a Gas & States of Matter

This is another awesome chemistry for kids experiment that turns into a snack and works wonderfully for preschoolers and older kids!

Preschoolers and kindergarten kiddos can confidently learn about the three most common states of matter (solids, liquids, and gasses) during every day conversation and fun science experiments like this one!

Before I began this chemistry activity I talked about solids, liquids, and gasses, and how I asked the kids what happens when you add energy to each state. (If you add energy to a solid, it turns to a liquid. If you add energy to a liquid, it changes to a gas.) We talked about heat, and how easy it is to add heat to a solid, liquid, or gas.

Then we pulled out the frozen (solid) carbon dioxide (dry ice). We added heat to it by placing it on the table in a warm room. We talked about how carbon dioxide is unusual because it will skip the liquid state and go straight to a gas. We watched the gas rise, swirl, and dissolve in the air. Then I asked them this question:

"Can we catch the gas that is escaping into the air?"

My favorite response was from my grade-school aged daughter: Well, the obvious answer is no, but if you're asking that question, it is probably a trick question, so I'll say yes!

So, yes, we can.

We poured a pitcher full of juice, and then everyone took turns placing dry ice into the pitcher. 
 Safety note: Be very careful with dry ice. Do not touch it directly. We used tongs to place the dry ice into the pitcher of juice.  
It was very easy to see the gas form of carbon dioxide bubbling up from the solid form. We talked about how the liquid juice was "catching" the gas.

At this point our younger kids went and played while the older kids modeled dry ice dissolving into water with a molecular modeling set. By the time we were done, there was enough carbon dioxide in the juice to make it "fizzy" enough to taste.

So we poured everyone a cup and had a snack!

Are you talking about states of matter? Here is another fun project where you can see different states of matter!  You may also want to check out my collection of over 150 science experiments and activities for preschoolers!

Happy Educating,

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

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The Powerful Sun Preschool Science Experiment

Since the sun is the center of our solar system, it made sense to begin a space theme/astronomy unit with a quick and easy sun preschool science experiment!

This is such a breeze to set up and yet it makes such a vivid point: the sun is powerful! The entire lesson (and science experiment) took less than 15 minutes, so it could easily be combined with other activities or it could be an entire science lesson for a day. Or you could call it a science snack...  ;)

Sidenote: This experiment is best for a hot summer day!

Anyway, here's the sun science experiment and lesson:

1- Look outside and find the hottest thing you can find. (the sun)

2- The sun is so hot because it is made from billions of explosions. Luckily, those explosions are 93 million miles away! 

3- Go outside.  It would take a jet airplane (going 500 miles per hour) just over 21 years to fly from the Earth to the sun. Light travels much faster...it only takes light about 8.5 minutes to travel that distance. So the light you feel on your face was on the sun less than 10 minutes ago!

4- Go back inside. Do you think the sunlight has enough energy left when it gets to Earth to melt chocolate chips?  My kids were all sure it would, so I went on to the next question:

5- Make a hypothesis: How long would it take sunlight to melt chocolate chips?

6- Test your hypothesis: Set the chocolate chips up on pretzels and place them outside in a sunny spot to melt!  Time how long it takes!

You may need to remind your kiddos that chocolate chips have enough wax or butter in them that they usually hold their shape when they melt. But, if you touch them, you will know if it is melted or not!

These looked like they were starting to melt, so we had to start "testing" them about every 30 seconds:

7- Analyze, discuss, share...and eat!!  How long did it take? Would you expect similar results in the morning? At night? In the winter? Our chocolate chips took less than five minutes to melt. We live in Houston, and it was about 95 degrees outside.  :)

I'd love to hear how long it takes in your area! Be sure to tell me the temperature and where you're from!!

Do you love science and space? Be sure to check out our collection of more than 150 preschool science experiments and activites (many are wonderful for older kids too...I mean, really, who doesn't love chocolate pretzels?!!) and our upcoming space science experiments and activities (I have a whole set of space themed experiments for you...I'll be posting about them very soon)!!

Happy Educating,

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Monday, July 11, 2016

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Chemistry for Kids: Edible Atom Models

I've been teaching a chemistry for kids class for my 3rd/4th grader (with my preschoolers popping in for experiments that they could appreciate), and making these edible atom molecules has been one of the highlights!

Honestly, I did not expect my preschoolers to appreciate the concept of atoms, but they happened to be in as I explained it, and they have asked questions about it all week. Just this morning, my just-turned-six year old explained to me, "Everything in the world is made from atoms, but they are so small we cannot see them. But if you get a whole bunch of them together you can see them! Atoms are like one little LEGO brick, and if you get a whole bunch you can build things. Atoms build everything!" Exactly, little buddy!

Anyway, I don't usually share activies that I create specifically for my older kids, but this generated so much (unexpected!) interest for my younger ones too, that I decided you might enjoy it!

Introducing the concept of atoms turned out to be really easy, probably because kids in 2016 are already accustomed to the idea of big things being made from little things (thank you LEGO and Minecraft!). They totally accepted the idea of everything being built from invisible building blocks called atoms and, of course, were curious what they looked like!

My older kids found atoms on a periodic table and filled out the information on this edible atom model sheet before they built their atom. After they filled it out, they chose two different colors of mini marshmallows to represent protons and neutrons, and put the mini marshmallow protons and neutrons in the atom's nucleus. Then they counted out chocolate chips for electrons. I let the younger kids (preschool and kindergarten) just put two different colored marshmallows inside the nucleus to represent protons and neutrons, and then place chocolate chips on the "energy levels." {Sidenote: we only talked about the first three energy levels because the others are more complicated. My "older" kids did learn that the first evergy level holds two electrons, the second 8, and the third 18.} Knowing that all matter (solids, liquids, and gasses) is made from atoms and that atoms have parts (protons, neutrons, and electrons) is plenty for our preschoolers!

Plus, they love making edible atom models! Actually, they love making edible anything!

I put our edible atom model page HERE for {FREE}! You're welcome to use it with your own kiddos and/or in a classroom! If you want to share it, please link to this blog post and not the actual document. Thank you!!

And if you're looking for more science activities, check out my collection of more than 150 science and STEM experiments and activities! They are perfect for preschool and older kids too!

Happy Educating,

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Friday, July 8, 2016

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Galaxy Art & Science

These galaxy-themed art works are the perfect combination of open-ended process art, realism, expressionism, and using science to create painting techniques and learn about the universe! It is perfect for an astronomy lesson or space theme!

This galaxy art project is appropriate for every age group because each child can focus on the type of art that is most appealing and appropraite for each skill level--I did it with preschoolers and a 1st and 4th grader. It is even fun for adults--I had as much fun experimenting with these techniques as the kids did! Here's mine:

We've been talking a lot about space and astronomy lately, so I bought light-weight canvasses for this project. The kids were really excited about painting on something more permanent than paper! They also bend less (and are less likely to fall apart) when the kids pile on the paint. And yes, I did suspect that would happen with this project!

Before we get started, I thought I'd share this collection of amazing pictures of galaxies and other things in the universe. I think they look so cool and can inspire your little artists!

First we painted the sky black using acrylic paint and sponges.

Science Lesson 1: Sponges have little holes that hold on to and transfer paint. Some grow in the ocean and some are made in factories. You can "draw" or "pat" with sponges to get different designs and textures.

After the black dried we used other colors to make a spiral galaxy, stars, nebulae, comets, planets, and any other cool items you might find in space...anywhere in our universe! I worked right along with them, and we all made our own work and talked about the processes with each other.

Science Lesson 2: Acrylic paint dries like plastic, so you can paint colors right on top of each other. If the bottom layer is dry, it will get covered up. If the bottom layer is wet, the colors will mix together.

Sometimes we painted with sponges, sometimes we painted with brushes, and some of us used our fingers!

Point out that bigger, brighter objects look like they're closer.

Science Lesson 3: Scientists think that if you "zoomed out" far enough, all spiral galaxies would appear to spin in the same direction but, depending on our point of view (whether we're looking at it from above or below), about half spin clock-wise and half spin counter clock-wise. You can make spirals with paintbrushes, fingers, or sponges. Experiment to find your favorite technique!

We added glitter too! There are lots of things in the universe that look like they might be sparkling!

Science Lesson 4: Glitter sticks best to wet paint. This may seem obvious to an adult, but it's news to a 3-year old! Sprinkle it on while the paint is still wet for best effects! We also had some experiments with mixing the glitter into the paint. They both make different effects!

The table may have got a little messier than I thought it would. Luckily I had lined the table with butcher paper, and it all cleaned up pretty quickly!

I like to let everyone make their galaxy paintings look the way they want. I love how they all look different, but have some common themes. Each had a spiral galaxy, planets, and new stars forming. After that, each child (and adult, hah!) created their own masterpieces!

We are joining with some of our bloggy friends to bring you resources for an astronomy unit today! Check out all these great ideas for learning about astronomy and space:

10 Fun Children's Books about Space from Crafty Mama in ME
Learning about the Solar System for Kids from Look! We're Learning!
Children's Astronaut Books from The Jenny Evolution
Melted Bead Planet Mobile from Schooling a Monkey
Space sensory salt tray activities from The Usual Mayhem
Galaxy Art & Science from Preschool Powol Packets
Night Sky Printable Activity from CraftCreateCalm
Outer Space Coloring Pages from Mrs. Karle's Sight and Sound Reading
Kids' Books about Mars from Books and Giggles
Outer Space Word Search from The Letters of Literacy
Astronaut Ten Frame Matching Game from The Kindergarten Connection
Moon Word Search from Tales of Education at Home
Astronomy for Kids: The Moon from Planet Smarty Pants

I would love to know if you do some galaxy art and science! Feel free to leave a comment, send me an email, or stop by my Preschool Powol Packets Facebook Page!

If you are working on a galaxy, space, or universe theme, you may also be interested in some space books! These are my absolute favorites right now:

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Happy Educating,

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

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No-Prep Preschool Dinosaur Activities!

The thing about summer planning is that it should be easy and fun!  You can put together great lessons and camps without spending time preparing supplies every day...even for an awesome Dinosaur Theme!

  These "no-prep" Preschool Dinosaur Activities are perfect for a dinosaur themed day or week...or just a kid who loves dinosaurs and needs a little organization in his day!

If you are a parent, grandparent, or home provider, I suggest spreading a dinosaur theme out over about a week and having a specific time every day when you do "school time" or "Dinosaur time."  Right after snack time works great at our house!  Use one or two activities a day. (Then, of course, come back next week and use my No-Prep Preschool Space Activities!)

If you are a teacher in a bigger preschool classroom you probably have a more structured schedule and know exactly when you could use an activity that does not require any special set up. All of these dinosaur activities took me less than 30 seconds to prepare--most of them simply require grabbing one or two items off a shelf or going outside!  In fact, as I prepared this series, the "no-prep" rule I made for myself was that I had to be able to keep the attention of my preschoolers (I have 3-5 year olds right now) as I prepared the activity. These are also perfect to have "up your sleeve" when you have an unexpected break in your programming and need something educational and fun to fill a few minutes!

So, without any more introduction, here are...

7+ Quick & Easy (no-prep!) Preschool Dinosaur Activities:

1- Dinosaur Stomp: A little music goes a long way with this whole-body dinosaur activity!!

2- Preschool STEM: Dinosaur Eggs.  Bring your most creative skills to the table for this incredibly-easy-to-set-up preschool challenge!

3- Dinosaur Nest Challenge (Outdoor STEM): This challenge is perfect for your most gorgeous day because...it's outdoors! You can do it inside too, but it may take more than 30 seconds to set up and clean up afterwards!

4- Dinosaur Footprints Preschool Activity: Wear your shorts, turn on the hose, and make some dinosaur tracks! Just walk in the water, then walk on the sidewalk. Or, if you don't like water activities, I have a super easy alternative too: cover a pan with a layer of flour and use dinosaur toys to make footprints in it!

5- Dinosaur Watering Hole (No Prep Preschool Dinosaur Fun): Everyone needs a drink...even dinosaurs! This one is a preschooler favorite!

6- Dinosaur Hide & Seek:  Hide a dinosaur and let your kiddos look for it. When they get close, start to roar like a dinosaur!

7- Design a Dinosaur:  Give your kiddos a blank sheet of paper and crayons. Invite them to design and draw their own dinosaur!  What would it eat?  Where would it live? Does it have any special skills?

8-  Preschool Dinosaur Songs & Action Rhymes: These three dinosaur songs are full of fun with lots of motion, action, rhymes, and even counting!

Stay "tuned"...our next no-prep preschool summer series theme is Space!

Do your kids love science activities? If so, be sure to check out our collection of over150 fun and exciting preschool science activities and experiments!

Are you looking for letter themed activities? You will love my GIANT letter of the week resource--over 450 activities organized by letter!!

Happy Educating, Carla

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

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Planets You Can See in July

Happy July! I'm going to start a new series at the beginning of each month where I share what planets you can see outside during that month!

We love astronomy, and my kids are always asking about the names of stars, planets, and constellations.  I decided that since other kids probably wonder too, I'd tell you all! Plus, July is an awesome month for star-gazing!!  You can look for these planets with your own kids or encourage kids you teach to look for them with their families. In July, all the planets appear at sunset!

I will be sharing information for viewing the planets from North America, since that's where we live. I love the rest of the world...I just can't cover every part of the world in one post!

During July, you can see five planets at different times of the month!

Jupiter is the brightest "star" in the sky after the sun sets. You can find it in the western sky at sunset. Jupiter will disappear below the horizon late in the evening.

Mars and Saturn appear from sunset until about midnight when you face South. Mars will be just to the right of Saturn. Mars looks a little brighter than Saturn, and Saturn looks a little brighter than Antares (a star that looks like it forms a dot-to-dot triangle with Mars and Saturn this month). Next month, Mars and Saturn will appear right on top of each other!

Venus and Mercury are hard to see this month because they are so close to the western horizon at sunset. It is still possible, and even easier to find them if you have binoculars or a telescope. Venus is brighter than Mercury and closer to the horizon. The best time to see them is about 30 minutes after the sun drops below the horizon. A few minutes later, and Venus and Mercury will also drop below the horizon. On July 16, if you are lucky, you can see a Mercury-Venus conjunction (where they appear on top of each other)! These two planets will continue to climb higher in the sky and be much easier to see in August and September.

Do you love STEM topics? If so, you will want to see this idea:

You will also want to check out my collection of more than 150 preschool science activities and STEM challenges! Many are appropriate for both preschool AND older kids too!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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