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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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Preschool Science Experiment: Bean Measuring Science Center

Today I am sharing a super awesome (and easy to set up) preschool science center that I created after taking the CCEI440: Sensational Science online course from ChildCare Education Institute. I loved watching my preschoolers create their own science experiments and talk about what they were learning as they explored sizes, relationships, and textures.

ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI)  provides high-quality, online training courses and programs that are applicable to anyone who works with young children, including preschools, daycares, parents, and more! CCEI has over 150 English and Spanish training courses and 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/.

I just took ChildCare Education Institute's CCEI440: Sensational Science course for preschoolers, and loved it! As someone with an advanced degree in science who is highly qualified to teach young children, I strongly recommend this course for any teachers or parents! The course explains the role of science education for preschoolers and toddlers, how they learn science, why it is important, and gives practical, hands-on ways to implement a meaningful science program.

Like CCEI's other courses, Sensational Science moves you through the information with slides that you can start and stop at your convenience:

There are 129 slides--the course is considered one clock hour and takes about one hour to complete.

As you move through the course there are occasional questions that you must answer correctly to continue. If you answer incorrectly, the course simply places you back several slides so you can review the information you need and try again.

At the end of the course there is an End of Course Exam with about 10 questions. After you pass it you can print a certificate of completion to use when reporting professional development IACET CEUs:

The interface is very user-friendly, and the course is full of current research-supported information and ideas that can inform and inspire your preschool science curriculum, whether formal or informal! I thoroughly enjoyed the course material--and my preschoolers loved the science station that I was inspired to set up as I worked through the course!

One of the types of science instruction the course discussed was "informal science," or the opportunity to explore, experiment, and invent with relatively few instructions. This kind of hands-on science gives children the opportunity to experience the scientific method while solving their own problems! One approach to introducing informal science is using a science center in your home or classroom.

The science center can have a variety of supplies that allow your children to create their own experiments. Since too many supplies is often overwhelming, you probably want to rotate out the supplies that you use.

As I went through the CCEI440: Sensational Science course, I made notes about what kinds of preschool science centers I would like to create. Then when I finished the course, I set this one up:

You can see that it is super simple: just a bin with dry beans and a couple shells, some beakers, a graduated cylinder, and some test tubes. (Most of the measuring tools came from {Amazon affiliate link:} this Science Lab Set, and then I added an extra beaker or two.)

My preschoolers loved it.

They literally spent an hour pouring, playing, measuring, and discussing what they the were doing.

Even my 8-year old came and joined in for a little while!

And that was just the first day.

On the second day, they spent another hour with these same exact supplies.

As I thought about what they were doing I realized several things the CCEI440: Sensational Science course pointed out:

1- They were creating their own challenges and problem-solving their way through them.

2- They were experiencing the scientific method and making it work for them.

3- They were practicing skills that would transfer into other parts of their life, like pouring a cup of water!

4- They were experiencing science concepts like gravity, force, velocity, inertia, momentum, and balance through hands-on experiments that they designed while they played!

5- They were also learning math concepts like relative size, capacity, and volume!

All while playing at a science center that took less than five minutes to set up.

I would LOVE to see you set up a bean measuring preschool science center too! Here are a few tips from what I observed:

1- Set it up somewhere where it can stay up for several days.

2- Set it up over a hard floor or on a table cloth to make cleaning easier.

That's it! So easy for you, but it does so much for them!

I also encourage you to look into CCEI's courses if you would like more ideas and information about teaching young children!  The courses are well-organized, easy to follow, come with activity suggestions you can implement as you take the course, a course handout, and loads of fantastic information. Their courses range from things like toddler tantrums and preschool behavior to how to teach science, language arts, and more! I have truly enjoyed and highly recommend every course I have taken from them!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI). Like always, my opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I  love to use myself!

Happy Educating,

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

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Friday, May 3, 2019

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Fern Life Cycle - Plant Theme Preschool Activity

My 6-year old has been wanting to study plants, so we've been doing a lot of plant theme preschool activities lately too! This fern life cycle project can be adapted for older and younger kids and you can go into as much detail as you want!

First of all, I would start this project (and as many as you can during your preschool plant theme) by going on a nature walk and looking for ferns and fiddleheads! Ferns are pretty easy to spot in any forest, especially near a river or creek. Fiddleheads are the curled up precursors to fern leaves (called fronds)--they happen to be the reason my kids are interested in ferns! While we were on a nature walk recently, they found a bunch, and LOVED how they looked! They also thought that the idea of a whole big leaf (as tall as them) all rolled up into one little fiddlehead was pretty amazing! So I let them take pictures of the ferns and fiddleheads we found on our nature walk (using a phone camera is awesome technology experience for kids!) and we talked about how ferns grow.

The next day, I made this little life cycle circle activity for them!

I put the images in order for you on the printable...if your kids cut them out they will probably mix up the order, or you can cut them out and mix up the order yourself. Or you can let them keep them in order! 

After you set up the pieces (in order or not!), give them one page with the whole life cycle circle on it and let them glue the pieces onto it in order.

Finally, cut out the last blank life cycle circle, and cut out one of the triangles to make a viewing hole. It works best if you don't cut all the way to the center, but if you do you can use hole reinforcers to make a space for the little brass fastener. (Small confession: this is what I had to do!)

Once you connect the viewer, it is easy for your preschooler to "turn" the pages of the life cycle of the fern and explain how it works! 

Here's a brief summary of the fern life cycle, in case you're less familiar with it!

(1) The prothallus (the picture at the top that looks like a seed with a root) is about one cell thick and less than a centimeter wide. It creates egg and sperm cells that (2) require moisture (like rain, heavy dew, or a waterfall) to wash into each other.
(3) Once an egg is fertilized it begins to grow little roots and a little stalk.
(4) The stalk grows into a fiddlehead—the curled-up precursor of a fern frond!
(5) The fiddlehead unfolds into a large, compound leaf, or frond.

(6) Some of those fronds will grow spores on the under side of their leaves. When the spores open, more prothalli will be released!

Some fun facts about ferns that we don't often think about include the following:
1- They do not make flowers or seeds.
2- They often grow near moisture like rivers, creeks, and waterfalls.
3- They are considered "vascular plants" because they have paths for food and water to travel.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Are you doing a plant theme with your preschoolers? If so, check out my seed and plant cards too! I hope you love them! 

I think plants are a fantastic hands-on science topic you can study with preschoolers and older kids! And finding them outside growing happily in nature makes it an even more exciting topic!

Anyway, I hope you love your preschool plant theme and enjoy learning about the fern life cycle!

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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Thursday, May 2, 2019

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DIY Summer Camp Activities: Chemistry Activities for Preschool

The second week of our DIY Summer Camp Activities series is all about chemistry, one of my favorite subjects to learn with kids! 

The coolest thing about chemistry is that it is SO hands-on!! The best way to learn it is to try it out and experiment with the concepts. At a preschool level, chemistry concepts are pretty simple, but you can introduce all kinds of science to your preschoolers without a fancy explanation. Then when they get older they'll recognize the activity and be ready for a more detailed explanation.

I'll be updating this post throughout the Chemistry Week this month--be sure to check back each day for the live links!!

And while you're waiting, you can check out some of our favorite preschool chemistry projects and activities: Quick & Easy Balloon Science Experiment, Rainbow Volcano, DIY Lava Lamp, Sparkly Fizzy Jellow Explosions, Mentos Coke Explosion, and Brown Bear Slime!   

Check out this week's lineup:

May 17th:

May 20th:

May 21st:

May 22nd:
from Preschool Powol Packets

May 23rd:
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May 24th:
from Preschool Powol Packets

Do you love DIY Summer Camp activities? We have four themes this month that we are creating summer camp fun for: Bugs & Insects {this week!}, Art, Safari, and Chemistry!  

CLICK HERE to visit the giant collection! And be sure to sign up for emails so you don't miss anything!!

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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How to Use the Family Link App from Google to Connect With Your Kids!

Technology is a big part of our lives, and as much as we want our kids to use it to connect with the world, we also want to stay connected with our kids. This is why we are using the Family Link app from Google.  Read on to see my review, pros and cons, and basic information! 

For some time I have wanted to find an app that would let me "track" my daughter as she played with her friends. There are several kids her age in the neighborhood, and they like to run from one house to the next...and I wanted a way to just glance and know where she was. I also wanted something that tracked which apps she used on her phone. Actually, I wanted that on all our tablets too! So when I had the opportunity to review the Family Link app from Google (and they said it could do all that and more...), I got really excited!

And you know what? The more I learned, the more excited I got! In fact, I think any family or preschool that uses tablets and phones will want to try out the Family Link app!  Whether your children are younger, or in their teens, the Family Link app from Google lets you set digital ground rules to help guide them as they learn, play, and explore online!

Disclosure: I am sharing this information with you as part of the Mom It Forward Influencer Network. I am being compensated for this post, but like always, I only recommend products I love and would love to use. All opinions are my own!

Here are my Favorite Features of the Family Link App:

1- It tracks your child's location (assuming they bring their phone with them, of course)!

2- It tracks the apps they use and allows you to control their access!

3- It encourages you to talk with your children about app usage.

4- It allows you to program a "bed time" for the phone!

Here's what the location tracking looks like:

Your child's icon appears on a map inside the app!

The content controls this app gives you, the parent, are amazing!

At any point you can get a "report" on which apps your child has used. The report looks like this:

You can EASILY turn apps on and off, so (for example) they only have access to educational apps in the morning and games in the afternoon! You just slide the toggle button on or off any time you want! 

And see how she spent 22 minutes on Google Chrome? She was using a math website. You can actually curate a list of allowed websites, block specific websites, or just put general filters to block content with themes you don't want.  Use these tools as conversation prompts--the more you communicate with your kiddos, the better your relationship is!

Additionally, you can schedule times for different apps to be available so you don't have to do it manually!

And the best part: you really know all the content your kids have access to! You first preview a list of all the apps during the setup and either turn each one on or off. Then, any time your child wants to download a new app, they get this message:

and you get an "approval request:"

Boom. Content control!

After you approve it and your child installs it, you get an email to let you know there's a new app on your child's device:

It also requires you to approve purchases, so you don't have to worry about your kids "accidentally" spending money. ;) 

Cool, right?!!

Finally, I seriously love the bedtime setting. You program the hours you want the phone or tablet to "sleep," and no matter what they're doing when the time hits, the phone switches to this screen:

You can still make emergency calls when the phone is "sleeping," and as a parent you can override the setting any time. We turned it on and off several times to see how it worked!  ;)

Setting Up Family Link App from Google:

It took me about half an hour to set up the accounts. Here's what you need to know:

First, there are separate apps for children and parents. Family Link for kids will run on Android versions 7.0 and higher (though apparently there may be ways to get versions 5.0 and 6.0 to work too). Family Link for parents will run on Android versions 4.4 and higher and iPhone versions iOS9 and higher.

So to get started, download Family Link for Parents on your phone and Family Link for Children and Teens on your kids' phones. Google recommends having everyone download it together since it asks for permissions from both parents and children.

The parent phone will get a code that will need to be copied onto the child phone.

Parent phone:

Child phone:

Child phone:

Then the child will be invited to join the parent's group:

The child receives information about what the parent phone can see and do. It's really best to read through this with your kiddos so they know how it works, and keeps your communication "lines" open:

The app even tells the kids to go through the setup with a parent:

After the permissions and instruction screens, the devices are connected!

Your child can "see" what you see at any point from within the app:

We did have a tablet that didn't support the Family Link because it was running on Windows instead of Android:

My parent account allows me to "invite" other members, including my kids or husband. I LOVE that it includes 6 family members...because we have a big family. :) 

There is also a "Family Library" that can share apps, movies, books!

There was one point during the set up that my daughter's phone got caught in a loop that kept repeating two of the permissions screens. I finally  just turned off the phone, let it restart, and tried again. It worked perfectly after that!

Overall Review & Pros & Cons of Family Link:

Overall, we really love the Family Link app from Google!  It does everything I was hoping for (like letting me track my daughter's location and which apps she uses on her phone), and has a few extra goodies too (like letting me control her apps and downloads and put the phone to bed)! We've set the app schedules together, so she still feels in control--the phone just enforces the limits she thinks are smart!

I put the Family Link icon on one of my home screens, so I can open it easily. I circled it in yellow so you can see what it looks like:

When I open the app and click on my daughter's icon, this is what I see:

It's super easy to approve app downloads, schedule apps in the settings, and see exactly where she is on a map!  Seriously...everything I was hoping for!

The pros: easy to use, tracks the phone's location, schedules app and phone availability!

The cons: only that I have tablets that won't support it! Of course, those tablets are getting older, so it won't be too long before they get upgraded to devices that will support the Family Link!

I obviously love the Family Link app from Google, and am happy to recommend it to everyone! You can use it TODAY to set digital ground rules with your family!

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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