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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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Egg Shell Gardens - Fun Preschool Science Experiment!

We started a set of egg shell gardens last week...you know how fun it is to try something new with an "old" item? This. is. awesome!

It all started about a week ago when Cerys from Rainy Day Mum shared a picture of her cress-egg-shell-heads on the Virtual Book Club Facebook page.  My first reaction was, wouldn't this be awesome with vegetables?!!

So I saved eggs for a couple days. With 5 kids, it didn't take long to get two dozen shells! We rinsed out the eggs, drew faces on them, and put them in the cardboard egg cartons to set up our egg shell garden.

Aren't they adorable?! Drawing faces on the egg shells was a great activity for my preschoolers, but my older kids had just as much fun designing theirs!

I chose the cardboard egg cartons because you can bury the cartons right in the ground with your eggs! 

Sidenote: It is only April 16th, and in Virginia we have a chance of frost until May. I'm going to wait a few more days until I have a 10-day forecast into May with no freezing temperatures before we plant them outside.

Sidenote 2: Egg shells will most likely not crumble as the plant grows. I'm going to poke through the bottoms of each shell to make sure the little lettuce roots can crack their way through the shell and cardboard. I still think the shell and cardboard will make fantastic mulch for the plants as they grow!

Okay, on to the planting!

We decided to plant lettuce and carrot seeds.

We've grown lettuce before, but never had much luck with carrots. Still, we decided to give both a try--we're always up for a little science experiment! 

The seeds are so tiny that you can just sprinkle them on top of the soil.

I kind of imagined we'd just put one or two seeds in each shell, but that's pretty intense fine motor skills for 3-year old fingers! Most of the shells ended up getting about 6 seeds!  ๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ’—

We used spoons to put soil into the egg shells, and then again to pour water on the planted seeds.  Either spoons or a spray bottle help control the water so you don't wash your seeds away!

Finally, we gave them lots of sunlight and kept the soil moist! Most of the seeds had sprouted within a week. 

Once we get to May, I'm going to plant them outside, but I thought I'd post this in case any of you want to give it a try too! This way, you have plenty of time to start them indoors before your summer season hits too!

Final Sidenote: Our little "baby lettuce" plants were especially well timed because my 6-year old announced she wanted to study plants this spring! So, we're doing a Plant Theme too! That girl has the best timing ever!

Have you tried anything new this week? Are you growing a garden? Do you have any tips for growing carrots? I'd love to hear from you!  Feel free to send me an email, leave a comment, or find me at Preschool Powol Packets on Facebook!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Friday, April 12, 2019

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Teacher Appreciation Week Photo Contest

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

I love this quote from William Butler Yeats because it represents so much of what teaching means to me: Teaching is not just pouring information from one person's brain into another person; rather, it is inspiring another person to become someone amazing.

Who was your most memorable teacher? 

I remember learning to read with my mom and learning to multiply with my dad. I remember a 6th grade teacher who taught me more about creative writing than any other teacher I have ever had and a high school teacher who treated me like I was a brilliant scientist. Those were the teachers who inspired me to follow my passions!

Who is making a difference in kids lives now?

There is a Teachers Make a Difference Every Day photo contest going on right now to celebrate them! 

Did you know that Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10? This is a great way to celebrate people who dedicate so much of their lives to our children!

ChildCare Education Institute, the industry leader for online early childhood professional development, along with Excelligence Learning Corporation sister companies Discount School Supply, Frog Street, Educational Products, Inc., Life Cubby, Really Good Stuff, and Children’s Factory are sponsoring a photo contest to celebrate and reward teachers who have impacted our lives.

You can nominate your favorite teacher (with permission) or yourself now through April 21, 2019 here for a chance to win GREAT PRIZES!  Nearly $5,000 in prizes will be awarded! Voting will open April 22 through April 28, 2019.

For the complete official rules of entry, click here. For the complete prize breakdown, click here.

ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, online training courses and programs, applicable to those who work in an array of child care settings, including center-based care, Head Start, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, after school environments and more. Over 150 English and Spanish training courses are available to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials. CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). You can read my review of their courses here and visit their website for more information: https://www.cceionline.edu/.

And whether or not you enter them in the contest, take a moment to call or send a note to the teachers who "lit fires" in your life or your children's! Teaching can be a "thankless job," and the smallest bit of unexpected gratitude means a ton!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute. I only recommend products I believe in, and all opinions are mine!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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Letter K Free Printable Minibook Alphabet Series

I have a daughter who loves letters, so I made this set of free printable minibooks! Each minibook focuses on a letter of the alphabet and since I know a lot of preschoolers work on letters, I am sharing them here! Today's book is the Letter K!

This book has nine coloring-book style pictures that start with the letter K. You just print them off, cut out the pages, and staple them together! Or, even better, let your preschooler or kindergarten kiddo cut out the pages! They get to practice writing their name on the front page, trace the letter on the front page, and see the letter again on each page in the minibook!

If you want to play with the pages more, you could print two sets, paste them on construction paper, cut them out, and play memory or matching games. It just reinforces the sounds that K can make as you remind your children that all the words in this book start with K. My preschoolers LOVE "reading" their books after they color them! You could also display the pages, though my kiddos would not be willing to part with theirs!

If your child isn't ready to focus on letters and the sounds they make, you can still print the little books off and just use them as coloring books! 

I'm sharing about one of these books a week, so if you follow along you can get them all free! You can click HERE to see the whole collection! And if you don't want to wait for them to come out weekly, you're welcome to click HERE for instructions on buying the whole set at once.

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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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Saturday, March 30, 2019

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Monster Trucks Preschool Activities Packet -- FREE for 3 DAYS ONLY!!

Do you have a little monster truck lover? Then you will love this new Monster Trucks Preschool Packet! It is available ONLY as a pdf that you can download and print...and for 3 days, you can get it for FREE!!

Your preschoolers can practice writing numbers and names with these adorable monster truck-style characters, flaming rings of fire, traffic flags, and more!

There are also dotted lined pages for practice writing numbers, letters, names, and anything else you want to put on the lines...next to an awesome monster truck, of course!

What all is in this packet? You will find the following:

* Count & clip cards!
* Number tracing!
* Number writing!
* 4-piece puzzles!
* 2-piece count & match puzzles!
* Dot-to-dot shapes!
* Coloring pages!
*Name-writing lines!
* Cutting practice!
* Line tracing practice!
* Hidden pictures (find and count)!

** 23 printable pages!! **

Common Questions:

* Can I print more than one set? You can print as many as you personally need for your family or classroom. Please encourage other teachers and parents to purchase their own copy (or encourage them to get one asap while it's free!!)!

* Will you print it for me? Unfortunately I cannot print, bind, or mail products. This is an electronic file. Please have a plan for downloading and printing a pdf when you download it!

* I'm having trouble downloading...what do you think is wrong? Usually you need to either update your version of Adobe (you must have some kind of pdf reader to download the packet) or you need to try it from a computer instead of your phone. ;) 

Let me know if you have any other questions!

I'd LOVE to see you using these activities...feel free to tag me on Instagram (Preschool_Powol_Packets) or Facebook (PreschoolPowolPackets) or send me an email! ๐Ÿ’•

And remember to share it while it's still free!!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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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What Makes Moon Phases * Kid Science Experiment * Space Theme

What makes the moon phases?  And what does the moon taste like?  This easy, hands-on science activity lets your kiddos visualize the way moon phases are formed while becoming part of the sun-Earth-moon system themselves!

If you've ever taught space science you know that a common misconception is that the Earth's shadow somehow creates the moon phases. This little activity should make it very clear that the Earth's shadow is only involved in eclipses, and that moon phases are created by different angles between the moon and the sun.

The supplies you need are simple: a lamp or flashlight, a dark space, and a little ball.  I colored a golf ball black because the design was distracting from the lesson.

I always start by asking the kids to tell me what makes the phases of the moon. This lets you know if you need to correct any misconceptions or just introduce new ideas.

The other cool thing about this lesson is that it includes room for your preschoolers (or older kids!) to experiment with light, shadows, and spheres!

I let each kiddo "be" the Earth so they could see 1st hand the different phases. Here's how lesson goes:

1- Ask "What makes the phases of the moon?"  Discuss their ideas.  Point out that sometimes you can see both the sun and moon at the same time!

2- Let's look at it closer! Set up a sun-Earth-moon model by turning on a lamp or flashlight just a little higher than your children's heads. Tell them the sun is the light, they are the Earth, and the ball is the moon.

3- Important: Tell them that gravity from the Earth and moon pull on each other enough that the moon cannot spin away from the Earth--the same side of the moon always faces the Earth. So, decide which part of the moon is going to face you (the Earth).

4- Turn off the lights (except for your sun) and arrange your preschoolers (or older kids!) so the sun is behind them, like in the image below. Ask them what the moon looks like to them. A full moon? A half moon? A crescent?  (hint: it's a full moon!)

5- Now turn them 180 degrees so the moon is silhouetted by the sun. Ask them what they see now. They might need you to tell them that this is a "new moon" and it happens every 28 days.

6- Now turn them 90 degrees, like the image below.  Ask them what the moon looks like now. (It is a half moon.) 

7- Let them experiment with different angles between the moon and sun, and see if they can make all the phases of the moon. If you're working with older kids too you  might want to teach them official names (like waxing and waning and crescent and gibbous).

I need to write up our edible moon phase activity because it is the perfect follow-up for this, but in the meantime, you can check out this Oreo Moon Phase activity--it's very similar to what we do!

I also have this free moon phase tracker, so your kids can look at the actual moon and see the patterns in its phases.

If you want to spend another day learning about the moon, you can talk about its lack of an atmosphere with this moon rover activity or this crater activity, act out the rotations of the sun-Earth-moon system, and do a density experiment like this one to study moon's interior. It turns out that our moon also has a small, solid core, a molten outer core, a mantle layer, and a crust layer that's covered with regolith (loose, "sticky" soil made from broken rocks and dust)!


We did this lesson and experiment set as part of the Storybook Science series! If you haven't joined in yet, be sure to check out all the awesome science experiments and activities that go with fantastic storybooks here!

The storybook that I'm recommending to you that goes with this lesson beautifully is Mooncake (image is an Amazon affiliate link):

This is a super fun story about a bear who decides he wants to taste the moon, so he builds a rocket to go to the moon and taste it! Spoiler alert: He falls asleep during his "take off" and wakes up in the middle of winter, thinking he is on the moon! He makes a rather awesome mooncake (actually out of snow/ice), and then returns to Earth. Again, he falls asleep during take-off, but this time he wakes up as spring approaches! The humor makes it fun for older kids while the story line is simple and beautiful enough for even young preschoolers.  It is a fantastic story, and is full of other science concepts that you can pursue too: seasons, weather, phase changes, hibernation, and more! I actually wanted to blend up some ice and make snowy "moon cakes" with my kids, but when I checked with them about their understanding of moon phases, I realized at least one of them needed the lesson we did! Moon cakes are part of my plan for next week!

And, as you read the story, it is hilarious to chat with your kids about what everyone thinks the moon really tastes like! Would you taste it if you could? Did you know the surface of the moon is covered with regolith (thin, flaky, sticky bits of dust and broken rocks)? It turns out that astronauts who walked on the moon had loads of regolith stick to their suits, so when they climbed back inside their ship's cabin and removed the suit they could smell the moon...or at least, they could smell what the moondust mixed with cabin air smelled like! And guess what they said...it smelled like burnt gunpowder! Interestingly, moon rocks that have mixed with Earth air and are now in museums do not smell (or taste) like burnt gunpowder anymore...just rocks!

I'd love to know if you are studying moons! Does this activity/lesson/experiment help? I'd love to hear from you!! You can email me at preschoolpackets@gmail.com, leave a comment, or stop by Facebook!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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!!

Read More

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Visiting Mammoth Cave with Kids

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, United States, is the longest cave system in the world (that we know of!) and has fantastic tour opportunities for kids and adults of all ages! We recently met up with another  family and spent two days at the caves and on the Mammoth Cave National Park property.

I won't lie...I love caves! I have a geology degree because I think rocks are one of the coolest things on the planet, so visiting these caves with my kids and our friends was perfect!

The entire adventure started with choosing a tour. There are more than a dozen to choose from! You can (and should!) make reservations online in advance, especially if you are going during summer or Spring Break seasons. We went in March, so we thought we could just show up and grab tickets, which made things a little more complicated. If you wait until the day of your visit, you have to buy tickets in person at the Visitor Center. But, they sell out FAST! We showed up at about 10:30 in the morning, and the earliest tickets we could buy (for the 10 of us) were for 2:00 in the afternoon. It worked out great for us because we had a pretty flexible schedule. If you want to be sure to get a tour at a particular time, order online in advance! Here is a link to the schedule for Spring 2019!  That link also describes each tour, tells you how long they are, what you can see, and how hard the hike is. 

We were really excited to go on the Domes and Dripstones tour, and we decided to come back for the Historic tour in two days too!

We decided to take advantage of the extra hours before our tour and check out the area--the caves are now a National Park, so there is a ton to see on the property!

First we went through the museum in the Visitor Center. It teaches about the history and science of the caves and has a few fun videos the kids enjoyed. They also like crawling through the "cave" in the wall in the middle of the museum and touching the other hands-on exhibits. The kids in our group are 11, 10, 8, 6, 3, and almost 1 year old. The museum is relatively small and they flew through it in about 30 minutes. If they had slowed down and read every item it might have taken closer to an hour. ;)  

Next we headed outside. There are gorgeous, well-maintained trails with bridges, little creeks, and other high-interest natural views! Running around outside for about an hour was wonderful! We had time to talk about how the landscape was formed, what karst landscape is and why limestone rocks lead to caves, and just enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

We also walked down to the natural opening of the cave and took pictures of the little waterfall by it. 

This is me with our two youngest explorers:

 Again, we could have spent much more than an hour out there, but for our group (with a lot of young kids!), an hour was perfect!  You can see a list of free programs and other outdoor activities (like bird walks and nature talks) if you scroll to the bottom of this page.

Lunch time was on us and, luckily, there is a little cafe/restaurant on site! The Spelunkers Cafe had amazing sandwiches, burgers, and wraps for about $7.00, soup for about $5.00 and a kids menu for about $5.00 too. They also had sides like fresh fruit, fries, and vegetables. Everyone was very happy with lunch! 

We hit the bathrooms, and then headed out to our pagoda to meet our tour.

The Domes and Dripstones tour starts with a short bus ride to a man-made entrance into a stairwell that drops about 250 feet below ground. The stairs are industrial strength and were installed during the 1980's, though people had been touring this area for a few decades before then! One person in our group did get a little claustrophobic on the stairs, but it passed relatively quickly--especially because at the bottom of the stairs is a pretty big "room" where the cave opens up large enough for a set of benches to be installed!

The tour itself includes 500 stairs, walking about 3/4 a mile, and lasts for about 2 hours. There are absolutely no bathroom services during those two hours, so if your kids are likely to have issues, I'd recommend putting them in diapers or pull-ups before you go!  The tour is also labeled as "moderate" and the guides clearly warn everyone that young children may have a hard time with the stairs and distance. You cannot bring strollers or "child backpacks" in the cave. This was totally fine with us--I just carried the baby (which I normally do anyway), and the other kids walked. Our 3-year old got carried a few times by her dad, but most of the time she was so excited to be exploring the incredible cave, that she wanted to do it on her own two feet.

I would absolutely 100% recommend the Domes and Dripstones tour for families (assuming, of course, that your kids can walk a mile and handle a lot of stairs)!! The cave formations, stalactites, stalagmites, rooms, waterfalls, pools, and pathways are all stunning! We even saw a bat! Everyone loved it enough that they were all excited to come back and do one more tour!

Before we went back to our hotel, we stopped at the gift shops. Important note: they close at different times, so if you plan on "coming back" to one after your tour, make sure it will still be open!

Sidenote: I love these rock bins! There are a ton of other souvenir gifts like t-shirts, big rocks, toys, bells, etc., but I cannot help touching these little rocks!

Nashville, Tennessee is only an hour away, and we had plans there the next day. Two days later, though, we were back at Mammoth Cave for one last tour!

The Historic Tour is also 2 hours, but has 540 stairs, and includes 2 miles of walking. Again, the kids all did great. This tour includes the parts of the cave system that first made it famous, and you can recognize some of the rock "rooms" in the pictures in the museum. Again, no toilets, strollers, or "child backpacks," but just like before, the kids and adults alike loved it! Really, I don't know how you couldn't love being hundreds of feet underground in huge caves with cool rocks, waterfalls, and more!  I would also absolutely recommend the Historic Tour (again, assuming your kids can handle walking around for two hours and going up and down a lot of stairs)!

If two hours is too long for your kids, the Frozen Niagara Tour is about half that time and has really cool stalactites and stalagmites. There are only 12 required steps and an optional 98 steps if you want a closer view. This section of the cave is included in the Domes and Dripstones tour, but is still awesome enough all on its own that it would be a super memorable cave trip by itself! There are other more accessible routes that you can see on this page.

Final thoughts: it was an amazing trip, and I'd recommend it to everyone! Here are the key points I'd consider in your planning if you're bringing young children:

1- Order your tickets online in advance.
2- Kids love caves! Keep it exciting by only scheduling one tour a day. There are other things to do at the park too!
3- Kids 5 and under are free!
4- When scheduling a tour, consider your kids' bathroom needs and ability to walk and climb stairs.
5- There is a cafe on-site, but you can bring food on the outdoor trails too. No food or drinks can go in the caves.

That's it--have an amazing adventure!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post! I just wanted to share our adventures in the hope that it might help you plan yours!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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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