Things in life can change for the good or the bad and even the good can get in the way.  The past year brought another change and blogging came to a screeching halt.  Please forgive me!  I haven’t abandoned science, I have just been busy in a 3-year-old classroom.  Even so… science is everywhere!  I still have a classroom computer.  Our new classroom pet is Cookie the hamster. We have adjusted to children bringing their own lunches.  It is already 2018!  Wow!

We know that life moves very fast and often the little things are forgotten.  Things like table manners, play time and individual care.  These things are important to a child because they will be important as an adult.  I know as adults we are worried about food, clothing, our homes, and bills.  We must remember that our role models and how we approach them as well as our children will directly reflect how our children make choices as they grow.

Setting up a classroom is a science of its own.  Before a teacher starts to layout furniture, posts name tags, and puts up posters there are many things to be considered.  This year for me, lunchtime format changed totally!  Children now bring their own lunches.  Parents are often in a hurry or forget basic lunch parts of a lunch:

Lunch Box
  Commercials target our little ones with words like veggie and fruity when they are often loaded with sugar, salt, a few drops of coloring and scent to make them appealing.  Press them out in a shape that looks like a vegetable or a cartoon character and they are a lunchtime favorite.   Line up your child’s lunch items and add up the amount of salt, sugar, and fats.  Then add up vitamins and minerals.  Compare these with what is on the side of a soda can or bag of chips.  Sadly our preschoolers are bringing next to soda and chips for lunch.

Take some time to make lunch appealing, cut sandwiches into triangles and include favorite fruits and vegetables.   Add a small amount of dip or salad dressing.  BUT never send chocolate or foods your child will not eat at home.  Keep any treat small enough that if he or she eats it first, they will still be hungry enough to eat the rest of the lunch.  The same goes for drinks.  If a child drinks a whole bottle of water and a whole pouch of juice, there won’t be any room for lunch.  Keep all servings child appropriate.  Children will actually eat more of the healthy stuff and it will make everyone’s day go smoother.

Oh no… We have problems!

Remember to monitor plant and seed bottles daily for over zealous watering… Over the weekend the plant bottle ran a muck because someone had added too much water. This is not a failure, but just a setback that turns into a teachable moment. Bad weather and flooding can destroy crops. Watch the bottom of the plant bottle. Any collecting water should not touch the soil above the rocks. Preschoolers can use a water dropper to add water. One a day should keep the bottle from gaining too much water.

Another note: Potatoes can stink! We started over again with a new plant bottle, a new celery bottom, and washed the potato so all of the rotting flesh was gone. In one corner chia seeds were added just because we had some in our supplies. Everyone is ready to start writing again about the plant bottle in the journals.

Changes in the Root Bottle

Our vegetables are showing signs of life! Its been two days and the celery and potato are already changing. The carrots seem to be taking a little longer. This may be because of a wash that is put on some vegetables to give them a longer shelf life. There is excitement in the classroom as we watch the changes happening each day. It is a good subject for student journals.

root bottle growth

Plant Bottle

Our first plant bottle is not a seed bottle, but a root bottle. Students had brought in items to make a salad. One mother had found a sprouting potato in her refrigerator. The next thing I knew, we were making a bottle to see if the bottoms of the vegetables would root. This can now cross over to the writing area and students can make journal entries about the progress in the plant bottle. Dating each journal page helps children see how days and dates change. Charts in the circle area can keep a classroom record of the changes in the growth of the plants. Students can help by observing the changes and predicting what will happen next.

root bottle

Science in a Bottle

The science area in the preschool classroom is often neglected. It takes time away from all the lesson plans, observation, picture taking and testing that must now be done. Items must always be age appropriate and safe and most days time just runs out! Teachers in a school community need to come together and prepare for the year. Each person brings a special gift and sharing these gifts assures every classroom will be better for 2017!

For our very young, science in a bottle is a great idea. Messes can be avoided, materials will last and everyone gets a chance to observe close up and in real life. Taking time to plan for science, sharing ideas, and finding a sturdy plastic bottle will help every science area take on a new look. It will also attract and engage children to participate in science. There is, after all, a little scientist in all of us.

First Bottle – How do we get plants?

From a mighty tree to the grass in the yard, many plants start with a seed. Seeds drop or are carried by the wind to the ground. Sometimes animals or a stream will relocate a seed. Farmers plant seeds to grow food.

Choose a seed. Add a layer of small stones (2 inch) and a layer of dirt (3-4 inches) to your bottle. Depending you our bottle size… add water. Take care to not disturb the dirt. The dirt should be moist and a small amount of water under the stones is good! Drop in a seed and poke it under the ground with a pencil. Below is a bottle ready for a seed. Notice the holes in the top!

plant bottle

Spring 2016

Spring! Some are still waiting for the weather to warm, others are in full bloom, while some are already in the gardens picking strawberries. We are all brought together online and can share our spring activities. Make sure you buy your dry beans for sprouting in a local feed and garden supply store. Sprouting dry beans from the grocery store can lead to some smelly situations! Look in your refrigerator and you may find potatoes and onions sprouting on their own. Or cut off a celery stalk or lettuce base and re-sprout it. A “kitchen garden” is just as exciting as sprouting new plants!


Our celery is growing!

Who Is Most Important to You?

I am getting back to my site that has been sadly neglected, but sometimes real life becomes important and other things must wait! There is a popular video making its way around FaceBook these days asking people who they would want to have dinner with if it could be anyone in the world. Many famous people are mentioned, but then they ask their children. The amazing thing is that these little ones only want to have dinner with Mom and Dad or “just family”. When I gave it some thought… I do wish for a few more evenings at the Smurf Table, when my girls were small. Those years go by so quickly. I still treasure them and hope that we all realize how important it is to have dinner with those who are most important to us…

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Each new year brings a sense of a fresh start. Even when life is being difficult, it is best to keep setting new goals and moving forward. That is what I am hoping to do with my site… Last year’s focus was on activities and science. This year I will continue to share my ideas on software for classroom computers. These are the things that I teach in my room. Each day I see six groups of children for 30 minutes. They have a chance to use a computer, study an animal in it’s habitat and participate in an experiment. This year I hope to add more about what goes on in my classroom as well as have extra pointers for teachers.

How to start? Every teacher needs to find a way to organize their information on a computer. Each year will be come easier as a career progresses. A program that I have found to be a great value is Apache OpenOffice. It is the leading open-source software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and works on all common computers. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. Best of all, it’s free! Did I say that already?

Download the program from  Apache OpenOffice  and get ready to organize classroom curriculum for the rest of this year and be ready for next year. I will share some ideas of my own for putting together lesson plans and monthly letters.

Review of October Software

Programs Featured

October is over! Time and weather change. Holidays cause pressure as everyone scrambles to keep up. The computers took on a change that required students to have better skills using the mouse and critical thinking. Each program is scaffolded so students can enjoy the computer experience while improving computer mouse and small motor control.

Stellaluna by Living Books

Designed to be used by young children, pre-school to K-2. Stellaluna on a discovery of the difference between bats and birds and more! There are many surprises to be found. Even small children can navigate their way around easily, with just a click of the mouse.
Plus, children can select the “Read to Me” mode.

Putt-Putt Enters the Race

Putt-Putt is invited to participate in a race. He needs to collect four pieces of equipment to be in the race. By keeping his eyes open, earning some extra money, and helping others in cartown, he is able to gather those materials. Objectives change if the game is not saved to create a new experience each time the program is run. The goal is not a competitive one where students have to “WIN” or “LOSE”. It’s more of a goal of getting the tools needed to complete a certain job. Putt-putt models polite language and a positive demeanor. There are no bad guys

I Spy Jr.

The game engages children with clever and colorful scenarios and builds learning skills through riddles, puzzles, and games. It has 6 different activities that really help with important learning skills for preschool children as they recognize and put together patterns, following directions, and independent thinking…and it’s fun! The software uses familiar looking objects, such as colorful toys and beads. The oral directions are very clear and simple.

Animal Adventures

Four exotic animal habitats offer adventurous fun: the African savanna, a temperate forest, the Amazon rain forest, and a tide pool. Each habitat comes with its own set of animal games and activities. Students interact with and learn about a variety of animals or create their own animal habitats.

Review of September Software

Programs Featured

September is a BUSY month! Everything is set ready and new.  Rooms change, schedules change and everyone is running to keep up, so to speak.  Please don’t run in the halls!  It helps to have the computer center set up with basic programs that introduce basic computer skills for students new to the computer.  Other students will be happy to see old friends and familiar games.

Reader Rabbit Baby and Toddler

Teaches basic computer skills, mouse skills, language development, auditory discrimination, coordination, kinesthetic development, cause and effect, sound patterns, visual patterns, tracking, predicting, matching, letters, numbers, counting, body parts, identifying emotions, music appreciation, and identifying animal sounds.

Key concepts are shapes, colors, and numbers and letter recognition. Also helps develop vocabulary through music, names of animals and body parts, and the wonderful fingerplays that accompany songs.

Preschool Pals

A Publix community service program to help children think about shopping for healthy foods. Basic computer skills taught through seven fun game zones which introduce preschool concepts like early counting, listening skills, the alphabet, food groups, and art to students. Children play three levels of each game and earn coins every time they complete a level.

Putt Putt Saves the Zoo

Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is a point-and-click adventure game using critical thinking. Putt Putt helps his friends find all the baby animals just in time to open The cartoon zoo! Help Putt-Putt track down everything he needs so he can find the missing baby animals. Fun music videos and mini-games are included to keep things lively.

The player takes control of Putt-Putt with the goal of rescuing six missing baby animals and having fun along the way. The game is played by using the mouse to interact with the environment. By clicking on various areas called Click Points, the player can collect items, talk with other characters, and watch funny animations. Items are collected to help the player solve puzzles.