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Saturday, December 1, 2018

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Angel Christmas Ornament * kid-made *

These angel Christmas ornaments are perfect for preschoolers and older kids!

I am excited to share them with you as part of the kid-made Christmas celebration at Mama Miss!  My kids (4 to 10 years old) made them all by themselves and my 2- year old had a great time making one with me!  The best part was that each child took the supplies and personalized each angel themselves!

The supplies are super simple!

You just need pretty artificial flowers (we used gold, silver, and white flowers from Walmart), peg clothespins, paint (we used white and gold), glitter, fuzzy sticks (gold and/or silver), and a hot glue gun!

My kids love using hot glue guns! We usually use the "cold temperature" ones, but they're very careful with them both. Make sure your kids have enough supervision to be safe while they work! 

We read Jesus' Christmas Party to go with our angel Christmas ornaments. The book is adorable and hilarious!  It introduces the nativity story from the inn-keepers' perspective... can you imagine what he thought of a choir of angels?!

To get your kids started making their angels, simply set out the supplies and let your kids design their own angels!

I like to give as few directions as necessary, so that the kids get to work through the design and engineering process as they create. This actually includes elements of science, technology, engineering, and art! If you found a way to include math you would have all the elements of a STEM or STEAM project! 

They each came out a little different and absolutely stunning! And, of course, finding them in the tree all season is one of the best parts! 

Do you love making ornaments at Christmastime? Let me know if you try our angel Christmas ornaments!

And be sure to check out these other kid-made ornaments from the series:

Clay Mitten Ornaments
Test Tube Snow Globe Ornaments

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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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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7 STEM Books for Kids

Are you looking for STEM books that encourage and inspire STEM learning and play? My son is *extremely* picky about what books he is willing to read, and I sometimes struggle finding books that we both love. 

The books in this little collection are gold. Hands down. My son is willing (and even excited!) to look at and read them, and I absolutely love them. Every one of them! I have already been recommending them to friends, so I figured I should put them all on one page, and share them with you!

These books all meet all three of the following criteria:

1- Encourage STEM thinking: My kids want to experiment, tinker, explore, build, and create after we read them.

2- My kids enjoy them. This is incredibly important because if they don't want to read them, it doesn't matter how much they support STEM concepts. On the other hand, since ALL of my kids enjoy them, they are motivated and inspired by them too. My kids are 0-11 years old.

3- I love them. These 7 books are books that I am happy to open up and read to my kids over and over and over and...  Yeah, you know what I mean.  ;)  I have also used these books in community classes I've taught and and preschool co-ops.

So, what are they?! Here you go (in no particular order)...

STEM Books:

(images are Amazon affiliate links)

1- Zoey & Sassafras Unicorns & Germs: 

I adore this book soooo much! It is the first chapter book my son read from cover to cover by himself. It reviews the scientific method in action, teaches science reasoning, and introduces a gigantic unicorn. It also made my kids want to make yogurt from scratch and grow bacteria in petri dishes. Yep. True story! If you're lucky, I'll have time to write up how those projects went! The book's reading level is around 2nd grade, but my preschoolers were happy to listen to it as a read-aloud. My 11-year old read it on her own in about an hour.

2- Genius LEGO Inventions With Bricks You Already Have

This book is incredible. It is a step-by-step guide to making robots, moving toys, gadgets, games, and loads of other really cool LEGO creations (like a fully functional crane or a drummer that actually drums)! My kids followed some of the instructions and then were inspired to come up with their own projects too! I will admit that we did not actually have all the pieces needed for all the projects...but that wasn't hard to fix! The 40 creations are divided into 5 chapters: Marvelous Moving Robots, Terrific Mechanical Toys, Curious Contraptions, Invent and Imagine, and Construct and Compete Buildable Games. This book and a bucket of LEGO keeps my kids busy for more than an hour. Not even exaggerating.

3- The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague

This is another book that I am so in love with, mostly because it champions causes that have been dear to me for many years (racism and sexism in science) while simply celebrating someone who dared to defy the status quo of her time. I will admit that it did not make my kids love math, but it did spark a boat and submarine obsession that lasted several weeks. My kids were designing ships out of everything from aluminum foil and paper to clay and water bottle lids!

4- The Most Magnificent Thing

This book is perfect for preschoolers, but it also appeals to older kids who have ideas that don't always work out exactly the way they imagine the first time. I really love the emotions on the main character's face as she works through the design process over and over and over...and still doesn't get it right! I think every child and adult who has wanted to quit because they were getting tired of tweaking their design will relate to the main character and see themselves in her story. 

5- Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck

STEM for preschoolers and toddlers looks a lot different than it does for older kids. This book may not seem like a STEM book at first glance, but it has motivated inquiry-based exploration in my younger kids for three months straight. They are also slightly obsessed with garbage trucks now! Since this book arrived my girls have wanted to learn about garbage trucks, design their own garbage trucks and trash cans, learn about recycling, and find as many ways to make the sounds in the book as possible! (How many ways can you make a "click" sound? Let me tell you...there are a lot!) I also made a garbage truck sensory bin that was a huge hit.  (Did I mention they bring this book to me about 5 times a day??) And, just in case you wonder, my infant also loves this book!

6- Iggy Peck, Architect

This kid loves to build so much, that you will want to stop reading in the middle of it, pull out of a set of craft sticks, and let your own kids get to work! Seriously, though, his love for building is outrageous and contagious! And it makes a wonderful read-aloud for all ages!

7- Awesome Dawson

This is another one that you read with your kids and they immediately want to go build things...this time, with supplies from the recycle bin! (which I am happy to encourage!) My kids also appreciate how he feels about chores and the fact that he is, indeed, a superhero!

Do you have favorite STEM book? I always love new ideas! Feel free to email me or leave a comment!

Disclosure: We were provided review copies of Zoey & Sassafras, The Girl With a Mind for Math, Genius LEGO Inventions, and Vroom Vroom, but I love them so much I decided to write this article too! Like everything else, I only recommend things I absolutely adore!

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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Friday, November 9, 2018

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Thanksgiving Science Experiment: Turkey Toothpaste!

About seven years ago one of my favorite chemistry recipes made "elephant toothpaste" a household phrase. Today, I'm sharing a fun turkey twist you can do with it for a Thanksgiving science experiment: Turkey Toothpaste!

These turkey feathers are seriously the best you have ever seen! They just keep coming and coming and coming!

You can make them any color you have handy!!

Safety Notes:
1- This is meant to be a demonstration performed by an adult.
2- Even though "toothpaste" is in the name, do NOT actually put it in anyone's mouth!
3- Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. You can see that it doesn't bother me in the video, but if you are at all concerned, just wear gloves.
4- Hydrogen peroxide will burn your eyes. Wear protective goggles, and have any children within the splash zone wear goggles also.

And now...

Thanksgiving Science Experiment:

Turkey Toothpaste


for the "turkey" set-up:
2 water bottles
food coloring
sharp scissors or knife
duct tape (actually, I used gorilla tape!)
turkey head & body
pan to catch the mess
optional: parchment paper on the pan

for the flowing feathers:
1 heaping tablespoon yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
12% hydrogen peroxide
liquid dishsoap
food coloring

How To:

1- Set up your turkey: Cut the top of one water bottle off, cut a slit in the other bottle, and tape the top the bottle, as shown in the picture below and the video. Use tape to make a strong seal around your new nozzle. This is super important--you don't want feathers escaping out the nozzle!

Finally, fit as many straws as you can into the bottle's top opening and seal them in with tape.

2- Prepare your yeast by setting it in warm water and letting it grow for about five minutes.

3- Pour 3/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the turkey. Add a big squirt of soap and swirl them together.

4- Make sure your lid is handy!

5- Quickly add your growing yeast/water AND put the lid on tightly. See the video for timing! Then step back and enjoy your festive little turkey!!

Are you looking for more Thanksgiving science activities? Check out how we grew Indian Corn, made "turkey" feather slime, and tried a turkey "feathers" STEM project!

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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Friday, November 2, 2018

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Preschool Christmas Sensory Activity & Science Experiment

This preschool Christmas sensory activity is bright, colorful, and full of alluring sounds and textures! It would be a brilliant walk in a sensory room or even adapted as a set of sensory toys for a sensory table!

Did you know that just the sole of one foot can have more than 200,000 nerve endings?!* That is more than 200,000 spots to feel sensory input! A lot of the time we set up sensory activities and toys for the kids to touch with their hands, but their feet need attention too!

I really love sensory-rich activities because they double as science experiments for young kids. In this activity, for example, right before they touch a new texture they predict how it will feel, then they test it with their foot, then they analyze their results, and - often - they retest by wiggling their foot around or running through the entire "walk" again! Watch the video and see how often they wiggle a foot, let it sit, wiggle it again, and then re-test their results before moving on to the next texture. You will also see her set a foot in the bin and then just stand there for a moment while they process what they just experienced.

Our preschoolers have been calling it the Christmas Walk and, to be perfectly honest, the older kids can't help walking along it too! 

I was inspired by a video I saw on Facebook, and I thought, "We could make this into a sensory activity with a Christmas theme!" 

Preschool Christmas Sensory Activity

It was super easy to set up, and you can use any supplies you have on hand...or in your Christmas bins!  If we had the space, I would totally leave it set up for a week as a sensory room floor. 

Here are the bins I started with:

1- Bells

2- Large Plastic "Icicles"

3- Cardboard Snowflakes

4- Christmas Handtowel

5- Large Plastic Christmas Ornament Balls

Later the kids added bins with Christmas colored pompoms, fabric, and fuzzy sticks! They also re-organized my bins several times--they were sorted by type, size, color, and more!

Just be sure to leave enough room in each bin for the kids to get their foot in and have room to play with whatever object is in the bin with their feet!

Also, make sure you use safe items in each bin. I like the large, plastic, shatter-proof ornaments, metal bells, and fabrics the best because they are so safe to touch.

Let them walk through each bin and feel, discover, test, and experience each sensory item with their feet! If they decide to use hands too, that's totally okay!

It is a wonderful combination of a sensory toy, sensory activity, and science experiment all at once! We will be repeating it every time we pull out a new set of Christmas decorations during the next month or two!

Do you have a favorite sensory activity for feet? Or any that are preschool Christmas themed?  I'd looooove to see them! Leave me a picture in the comments or send me an email!

*Source: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/index2.html 

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