No matter how you do it, seems like Summer Reading just knocks everyone off their schedules and takes over your life, whether it be a couple weeks or an entire summer. I'm back with a post about the first in a mini-series of preschool science programs.
I started off with the hello song The Learning Groove uses on their cds. Its fun and easy to teach, and while you name all the kids' names, the way the song works it doesn't take up 10 minutes to greet each child. If I have an uneven amount, I say hello to myself, to the grownups, to moms, to dads, to grandmas, etc.
Then we read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. My group was 3-6 year olds, so I paraphrased some of the longer pages towards the end of the book as the littles were getting restless!
I photocopied a set of life cycle cards from Garden Adventures which was a great resource. Thankfully, I was able to find a copy (not listed on WorldCat) in my state to borrow. We talked about what was happening, and named the various parts of the plant as it grew roots, sprouted, grew buds, flowered, and grew fruit.
After the group portion, I let the caregivers and kids work their way at their own pace through three stations:
1. Plant a Seed
I had small pots purchased at the dollar store leftover from a spring program that they decorated with stickers and permanent markers. They planted grass seeds and could bag their pot up in a lunch bag for easy transport home. The first time I planted seeds at the library, I made the mistake of having water on the tables. While an important part of the process, it turned lots of dirt into mud, which of course ended up on the floor and was hard to clean up (we have carpeting in all but the entryway of our library). So now, dirt does get spilled, but at least it is dry and vacuums up easily.
2. Seed Sorting & Weighing
With some last-minute advice from seasoned preschool science presenter, Amy K, I purchased a balance scale. (She recommends this one, I purchased this one at a Lakeshore store near my house). Not the most accurate thing I've ever used, but it worked for our purposes of exploratory play. I purchased several varieties of seeds at the dollar store (they were just 25 cents a pack!) and dumped them out into mini-Frisbee (really any plate would work, I just happened to grab these that morning). We made grids with masking tape on the tables (I couldn't find ice cube trays on my dollar store trip) for kids to sort seeds into groups of the same seed, and see how many seeds it took to balance out a small gladiola bulb.
3. Flower Measuring
I had intended to print out some pictures of flowers, or purchase some real flowers, but that didn't happen. Instead, I pulled out some flowers I use in storytimes and music programs that I purchased at, you guessed it, the dollar store. I had a yard stick, rulers, and unifix cubes available for kids to measure with.
On each table I posed some questions to the caregivers to help inspire their conversations with the kids as they worked. Naturally some did a great job, and others were more content to chat among themselves, but hey--win some, lose some.