Saturday, September 11, 2010

Science Sunday

This week wasn't all that big on science for us, but we slipped in a few things.  I wanted to take a step back and introduce the idea of a hypothesis.  So, I wrote the word down one night at dinner, and we talked about what it meant, and how scientists make a hypothesis/guess and then carry out experiments to see if their hypotheses are correct.  I used simple/silly examples first, like "If I drop this ball, what is your hypothesis about what will happen to the ball?  Will it fall down, go up, or go sideways?"  Then, since I wanted to make a glacier for our Iceland play scene, I asked him what his hypothesis was about what would happen to a pan of water if I put it in the freezer.  It took a little prodding (what happens to water when it gets cold?), but he got it.  Later, he was playing with a ball in the living room and I heard him mumbling, "Yes, my hypothesis was right!"  :D

He also picked a focus animal for the week (giraffe, which we posted about here).  Next week we'll be studying the orangutan.

Since this week is a bit light on science, I thought I'd take the opportunity to mention two great science activity books.  We have yet to do any of the experiments from them, but I hope we can soon.

Simple Nature Experiments with Everyday Materials (Sorry for the lack of an image, but you can see a customer image if you click on the link).  This is a handy little paperback, with over 80 one-two page experiment descriptions.  I was surprised to see it is only $4 on Amazon.  Some of the ideas that I like (obviously some of these aren't the most original in the book, but these are ones that caught my eye for a young child in particular):
  • "Soak it up" - a simple experiment with soil in a coffee can that shows the presence of water in soil.
  •  "Ocean motion" - creating an ocean in a bottle.
  • "You crack me up!" - wetting sandstone and freezing it to see what happens (cracks from water absorption/expansion).
  • "Hey, What's Inside?" - examining lima beans under microscope to spot the embryos.
  • "Green Highways" - celery stick in colored water to demonstrate osmosis.
  • "Hanging On" - hanging a plant upside down in such a way as to demonstrate how powerfully a plant will struggle to grow toward a lightsource.
  • "It's Absolutely Degrading!" - burying things to demonstrate decomposition.
There is a lot in there for $4!  We have a library copy, but I think I might invest in our own.

Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils: A Hands-On Resource for TeachersHealthy Foods from Healthy Soils: A Hands-On Resource for Teachers
 I felt terrible when I realized recently that I hadn't reviewed this book yet.  I received a publisher review copy ages ago, and was instantly impressed by all of the wonderful ideas and the way that the book is organized.  I really wanted to do its review justice by doing an experiment before reviewing it, and my son was so young, that it just never happened.  And truth be told, the ones that I thought would most suit him at the time involved food, and he was just too picky of an eater to accomodate my requests.  Anyway, I am rectifying my faux pas now!  This is a large (black and white) paperback book full of approximately 50 lessons.  Some of my favorites (some of these start at grade K and some are clearly for older kids):
  • What Is Locally Grown?  Map the sources of the food you eat.
  • Anatomy in Action.  Build a model digestive track.
  • Read the small print.  Practice consumer skills.  (re: food nutrition labels)
  • What are "Whole Foods?"  Differentiate between processed and unprocessed food.
  • Pick a Food, Any Food.  Classify a "typical" diet using a Venn diagram.
  • Guess with Gusto!  Play a guessing game to experience the range of senses.
  • Taste Buds Rule.  Explore the sweet, the sour, the salty, and "umami."
  • What's for Lunch?  Travel the Internet to learn about lunch around the globe.
  • Dollars and Sense.  Calculate and compare prices based on nutrients.  (Awesome idea!)
  • Farm to Table.  Calculate the travel costs for foods you consume.  (Love this too).
The lessons are really comprehensive; each one contains the following sections:
  • Recommended Grades (in the K-6 range)
  • Goals
  • Key Points
  • Background
  • What You'll Need
  • How To Do It
  • Classroom Conversations
  • Want To Do More?
  • Lesson Links (other lessons in the book that tie in nicely) 
  • Literature Links (recommended reading)
  • Resources (many online)
  • Benchmarks (where the lesson ties into the Benchmarks for Science Literacy)
I love this book, and I'm glad I recently remembered that I have it.  Hopefully I can feature some specific lessons as we put them into practice in the coming months/years.

I am linking this post up with Science Sunday.

Comment: What science-related fun have you been up to this week?  Where do you get your ideas?

Disclosure: If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with  I received a publisher copy of Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils in order to write this review.


Christy said...

I have to look for that book! Sounds great.

I introduced hypothesis by having the kids throw water balloons from different heights after making educated guesses about the splash that would occur.

Great post.

Raising a Happy Child said...

Strangely, hands-on science is the subject I am struggling with most. We did all the obvious ones - freezing, heating, various food coloring, touch and taste, etc. But it's clear that daughter doesn't really understand the processes behind those experiments, and I don't expect her to at this point. To her it's just another activity and to me it's a lot of planning. I figure she will do science in school - her future elementary happens to specialize in science.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

So much fun to overhear your lesson being carried into their play!

Phyllis said...

I love the fact that you are teaching the concepts of a science experiment in everyday life/play.

Eva said...

neat, I'll have to check out those books :)

Brimful Curiosities said...

hypothesis - a fun word to teach a toddler. Even I like saying it. I'll have to try talking about it with my little guy.

Britt said...

Cool! That nature book looks fun!

I finally remembered the science idea I had-- I have a heat pack that works by chemical reaction and then you can put it in boiling water to "reset" the reaction. I think we're going to introduce the word "exothermic" to our vocabularies, lol.

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Christy I remember you posting about water balloons - looked like fun! I can picture my son now "You [I] don't want the balloons to break!!", possibly followed by tears depending on whether he's napped that day. Someday, though! :)

@Raising I hate doing experiments when I know he's not getting the science behind it too. I mean, if he is having fun, then that's good anyway, but if he's not really having fun AND not comprehending anything, then what's the point?

@Britt Sounds like a great idea -- I could probably use the lesson myself. ;)

Thanks for commenting, everyone. I've been slow to respond to comments lately due to the growing frequency of "no nap days" around here.

Ticia said...

Things have calmed down now and I'm checking out the stuff I missed from a few weeks ago.

My kids love to say they "have a hypothesis," and it cracks me up to hear them say it.

Those look like some interesting books to check out.