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!
Springtime! Flowers bloom, gardens grow, and baby critters are found everywhere. What is the science of all of this? Time to investigate beans and eggs!
All school children sooner or later sprout something. Beans, avocado seeds, and Chia seeds are three good starters. Beans and Chia seeds sprout quickly. The avocado seed takes longer, but will produce a bigger plant.
Soaking beans in water is the first step. Bottles made it easy to see how a full bottle of beans can hold more water than it looks like. Beans should be moved to a more open container to absorb the water or they will get stuck (We learned that the hard way).
Allow students to peel the beans and look for the bean “germ”. They will be amazed at how small a plant is in the beginning.
This hands on experience can be used as a journaling event. Seeds can be planted in a root farm to let students view their growth. Charts can be kept as the plant grows. Have fun growing beans!
As the decorations around the house are changing, there is one item that makes an interesting science experiment: Ornamental Corn.
Corn is a domesticated grass. Corn is not found in the wild, but was developed from a wild grass called teosinte and grown by American natives. They planted it and made various corn dishes including corn bread, corn pudding, corn soup, and fried corn cakes. Voyagers traveling to and from the “new world” brought corn back to Europe.
Native Americans in North America introduced corn to early settlers, and saved them from starvation by trading with them, and taught them how to plant, and cultivate corn using fish for fertilizer. WOW!
Modern Ornamental Corn can be examined by the students. Take it apart to see the individual hard kernels. Soak the husks in water and fashion a doll. The bare cob is rough and could be used to wash things.
Soak a piece of the corn in water and watch it sprout. Chart its growth.
Ask the children what they think it needs to survive. This activity is a good one to use when teaching children how to journal. Write down what happens each day!
Monday morning and the students are calling me over to the Discovery Table. They are excited about the celery! Over the weekend it drank all the water and we inspected the mud. ROOTS! Look in the lower left hand corner of the picture. Sure enough, adding dirt helped the plant grow roots. Now it is time to add all our findings to our journals.
Have a great week!
Students often ask me, “Are you a scientist?”
“Well, yes I am,” I reply. “And so are YOU!”
Science is everywhere. A scientist is a scientific investigator, often thought to be skilled in natural science, but there are many fields to study! You merely have to ask a question and search for an answer. The process you go through will make you a scientist.
Watching plants grow facilitates the scientific method. Our question this week was, will celery regrow after the stalks are cut off. Some said no, throw it away. Several children thought maybe it would and others were not willing to take a guess. We placed the end of the celery stalk in a shallow bowl of water and each morning recorded the changes that were observed.
What will we do? Should we add dirt? Does it need more or less water? Why had it only grown ¼ of an inch yesterday and ½ of an inch today? NOW the students are asking questions and ready to make predictions. They are developing problem-solving skills while becoming comfortable with exploring the world around them. They are learning how each person can be a scientist!
- Day one: Not much change, but the top looked dry. The students wanted to take droppers and drop water on top of the celery.
- Day two: There was a change, but it was hard to define. Someone remarked that the celery no longer looks flat on top and maybe it was green in color.
- Day three: The center of the celery looked fuzzy.
- Day four: There is a definite change! Tiny leaves are growing out of the center and some of the smaller stalks are getting taller.
- Day five: The plant is growing! Examining the whole plant, the students were disappointed to find that the roots are not growing. WHY?