Friday, April 29, 2016

Dandelion STEM Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Are Dandelions Weeds and Other STEM Activities

Dandelion Math activities: counting, sequencing, comparing, building shapes, measuring length with the ruler, introducing addition and subtraction (without the terms). We included some dandelion science, engineering, and art activities and had a picnic on the lawn.

Dandelions are beautiful flowers that have several benefits for the environment and can be used in the diet. We admired the flowers and made our wishes: kids love blowing on them! Why can dandelions be considered weeds? They can go out of control quickly which makes them unwanted plants in certain areas.

The goal of these activities was to explore why dandelions can be so pervasive people start to consider them weeds. These flowers are members of the daisy family. And yes, daisies can be considered weeds in several states. So do roses if they are out of control and unwanted on a certain flower bed.


Dandelion Sequencing for Preschool and Kindergarten

Pictured below, the sequence is right to left. In reality, we did it left to right:
  • the flower is still closed (we opened it up to find yellow petals inside),
  • a yellow dandelion,
  • yellow petals turned white,
  • seeds on the flower (we picked one to find a seed at the end and to see how well it can fly),
  • the center with all the seeds gone.
To build this sequence for the first time, we started with the yellow flower, then discussed how it looked before (or after), picked an example from the lawn, and placed it on the tray.

This sequence includes 5 elements which might not be easy for preschooler. I mixed up the flowers and invited My Firefly to build a sequence again. She did it three times before managing it on her own. If too difficult, it can be set up as a matching activity with picture clues. We noticed beautiful dandelion free printables here: (this blog is in German).

Dandelion science connection:

Weeds are plants that people don't need. We found a catchy fun song to learn about weeds (or to sing it happily while weeding): Song About Weeds from Capri + 3. There is the cutes video in this article too.

Dandelions can be considered weeds: there are too many of them because their seeds spread up easily with the wind and form new plants.

Dandelion Compare and Contrast

Pictured below:
  • Are these flowers differ by color? What colors do you see? (light and dark yellow).
  • Which does not belong?
  • Which one is different?

Possible answers:
The first one because it has the longest stem. All the other stems are short.
The second one because it has a leaf. All the other flowers do not have leaves.
The last one because it is the biggest flower. Al the other flowers are small.

Dandelion Art Connection:

We took some dandelion indoors for a lovely art project found here: Dandelion Art Project for Kids from My Bright Firefly. We had fun with color mixing and painting, and hung up the picture as a bright reminder of a beautiful spring day.

Long or Short Dandelion Stems: Measuring and Arranging Activities

We are only starting with the ruler. I measured and cut the stems to the 0 to 4" long.

Invitation to measure with the ruler: we positioned the ruler together to see how long each stem is.
Invitation to arrange the stems from the shortest to the longest.

Dandelion Science Connection:

Can you find the flowers with the long stems in the grass?
With the short stem?
Which one was easier to find?
Why do you think some flowers grow taller then the others?

Counting Dandelions. Introduction to Addition and Subraction without the Terms.

Pictured above, pick as many dandelions as the number on the tray.
Pictured below, a different number is on the tray:
  • Do you need more or less dandelions now?
  • How many flowers do we need to add to the tray? This is hands-on: add flowers one by one, count the total, count the new flowers that were added.
  • How many flowers do wee need to take from the tray (for a smaller number)?

Dandelion Engineering Connection:

How many flowers do we need to make a square? How many sticks?

How many dandelions do we need to take from the tray to make a triangle?


Dandelion Patterns

Parts of a Plant

Why dandelions can be considered weeds? We observed, touched, and measured the root; discussed how the root helps dandelion to survive in adverse conditions. We counted the amount of stems and flowers on the plant; reviewed the seeds spreading with the wind.

Invitation to find the parts of a plant matching activity:
We used two plants: one is pictured below, the other is taken apart.

These dandelion STEM activities were very fun! They included a picnic blanket, a basket of simple tools, and a lawn filled with dandelions on a lovely sunny day. We extended the activities indoors:
Dandelion Art Project for Kids from My Bright Firefly.

A to Z Outdoor Activities

A wonderful collection of fun and simple ideas for the outdoor activities this season was brought by Something 2 Offer: A to Z Spring Outdoor Activities Blog Hop.

Alligator Action Rhyme from Preschool Powol Packets. Little alligators will love rolling in grass with these rhymes - how cute!

Ball Games from Creative World of Varya.

Chalkboard Pretend Play from Our Whimsical Days. Spark imagination with this simple set up for lots of fun play with chalk.

Dandelion STEM Activities from My Bright Firefly.

Froggy Fun Outdoors from Mrs. Leblanc's Learners.

Growing Tuff Spot from Tuff Spot Play. Dirty, messy gardening can be so much fun for the little ones!

Hiking with Kids from Royal Baloo. Joining a hiking parenting group can be amazing! So many fun ideas for the nature walk activities and helpful tips for hiking with kids are provided in the article.

Jungle Gym Fun from Something 2 Offer.

Kite Activities from Something 2 Offer. Make flying a kite a family experience; build or decorate it for the "Most Creative Kite" award - great ideas for the outdoor fun with the kite!

Mud Kitchen from Clare's Little Tots.

Nature Art Project from Uno Zwei Tutu.

Pond Life Explorations from Natural Beach Living. Free Pond Life scavenger hunt printable is included.

Rock Painting from Something 2 Offer.

Sidewalk Chalk Math Game from Crafty Mama in Me.

Tactile Nature Letters with Free Printable Letter Templates from Living Montessori Now. Take learning letter sounds outdoors and to the nature walk!

Underground Scavenger Hunt from Preschool Powol Packets. It's amazing what kids can find! Free Underground scavenger hunt printable is included.

Xylophone Outdoor Music from Craft Create Calm. Recycle and create some music outdoors - how fun!

Yellow Photography Scavenger Hunt from Preschool Powol Packets.

Zoo Atlanta Visit from Crafty Mama in Me.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thunderstorm Art Project with Mr. Brown for Preschool and K. Thunderstorm Safety for Kids.

Thunderstorm Safety Art for Kids

Yesterday we had great opportunities to observe thunderstorms and hail from the safety of the house. Today was for fun activities to reflect on the experience and to review new safety rules we have learned.

We built our thunderstorm art project around the gradual changes in nature we observed. Mr. Brown helped us with the sounds of the thunderstorm which made this art project exciting! But safety is first, and we had quite an experience with that yesterday!

Mr. Brown Can Moo!

"Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises" is an excellent book to add to this activity. We read through the first pages and stopped at the sounds of rain, thunder, and lightning. This is the best visual for the sounds!

We also used this opportunity for a quick practice of the digraph -oo- words.

Amazon affiliate link: Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You : Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises (Bright and Early Board Books)

For this activity we used:
  • Dr. Seuss book,
  • cotton balls and white glue,
  • watercolors, a brush, and a dropper,
  • washi tape and self-adhesive gems,
  • green construction paper,
  • Kwik Stix red paint.

Thunderstorm Art Project

The first change in nature we observed is the cloudy sky. That's where we started with our art project. We used green construction paper to represent beautiful and peaceful green grass before the rain. My Firefly used a pencil to outline a cloud, then traced it with the school glue (pictured above).

We had observed the change in colors of the clouds. She loved painting the cotton balls grey with a brush and with drops of paint from the dropper. I reminded her to use the dropper carefully to avoid putting too much water down. Though it wasn't messy. She could only pick up a couple of drops of paint at a time from her watercolor case.

"Dibble dibble dibble dopp," said Mr. Brown. My Firefly's pretty rain drops are made with the pieces of washi tape. She loved working with washi tape while making Dr. Seuss's noises.

"Splatt splatt splatt" was easily drawn with red Kwik Stix solid tempera paint. The vibrant red color is dry in seconds - very handy for making quick lightning strikes. Amazon affiliate link: The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint, Super Quick Drying, 12 Pack (TPG-602)

My Firefly wanted to add self-adhesive gems to her lightning. Now, this lightning looks dangerous!

"Boom boom" Mr. Brown's thunder represented by black and silver washi tape  made the thunderstorm even more dangerous.

Thunderstorm Safety

Since it is only the basics for us, we discussed that lightning is electricity produced by the storm. The lightning strike is very dangerous. That's why it's so important to stay indoors during the storm.

Water is a great conductor of electricity. This knowledge would be too advanced for this age. But the simple fact is it is a bad idea to go jumping in puddles barefoot when there is thunder and lightning around.

Unfortunately, that's what we observed yesterday. A father followed his two kids age 4 and under jumping in puddles barefoot while thunder was heard and lightning was visible. When I actually told that father that the rule is to take kids inside, he replied: "Whose rule?"

This encounter is one of the reasons we are working on thunderstorm rules for two days now... and discussing what to do if we can see somebody else is in danger. This article might be helpful too: Two Questions That Lower Anxiety from Mama Smiles.

The Thunderstorm Art project was so fun!

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Smart Bananas Math Activities for Preschoolers

Preschool and K Hands-on Math Activities

Smart Bananas Math: building and playing with a number line, counting down the number line, circles, measuring length and weight, heavier - lighter, compare and contrast bananas, cutting bananas and water transfer.

Smart Bananas Hands-on Math

Introducing Estimation to Preschoolers

Guess how many bananas are on the tray!

Estimation is not an easy task for preschoolers. With all the support and playful encouragement, we didn't get the estimation number out of My Firefly that day. I mean, look at that face, "I don't know!"

They just don't know how many and don't want to make it up. We made this as a family activity, and everybody estimated right: 10 bananas. Then she stated she thinks there are 10 bananas. Modelling helps, and here is a start!

Building a Number Line, and Counting up and down the Number Line

To check if the estimation was correct, we decided to build a number line. Invitation to build a number line set up: two trays with bananas and numbers.

My Firefly made it to number 5 this time. Commenting the process is important, "One banana, adding one more makes it two (placing down a banana, then the number 2), adding one more banana makes it...

Pictured below, "this one is a sad banana".

We finished our 1 to 10 number line together: she placed a banana, and I placed a number. Counting down the number line went the same way.

Using Bananas to Find the Amount Needed to Make a Bear-Friend Happy (understanding addition and subtraction hands-on)

We had a favorite bear friend visiting. The bear wanted some bananas too! "Hello!" she said, "would you please share some bananas with me? I want 3 bananas!"

Three bananas were placed on the tray (pictured above). "But I want 5 bananas now!"
  • Should we add more bananas to make five?
  • OK, add one more. Is it five? (No.)
  • Should we add one more. Is it five? (Yes!)
  • How many bananas did we add to the tray?

Bear said, "Thank you! But these are too many bananas! I think I only want two." How many bananas do we need to take from the tray?

Compare and Contrast Bananas

Which banana does not belong? (Pictured above.)
Possible answers:
  • The first banana because it is peeled, the rest are not.
  • The second banana because it is facing the right hand, other bananas are facing the lift hand.
  • The last banana because it's on the plate, the other bananas are on the table.

Longer - Shorter: Measuring Bananas with the Ruler

We used a cutting board, a ruler, and a plastic knife to measure and cut bananas in 1" to 5" chunks.
Invitation to arrange from the shortest banana to the longest was fun. In the process, My Firefly discovered the chunks that were of the same length.

Heavier - Lighter: Measuring Bananas with the Scale

This turned into a free play sensory activity with the cutting board and the scale. I stayed around to comment "heavier - lighter" for the developing active vocabulary.

Fun challenge:
What is heavier: a cup of bananas or a cup of water? (Pictured below.) My Firefly loved using a dropper to balance the scale. The green tray is for containing water spills.

We also built circles with bananas. Challenge: can you build a circle with two bananas? 3, 4, 5?

Smart Bananas math activities turned into a fun sensory play and hands-on explorations of the complicated math concepts. How fun!

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Mail Delivery Dramatic Play: Preschool and K Engineering and Math

Mail Delivery Pretend Play Quick Set Up

This fun quick set up using supplies at hand turned out awesome for engineering a mail delivery services and playing with math. Some activities included: building and playing with a number line, practicing writing numbers, counting up and down, squares and triangles, learning manners.

Mail Delivery Preschool Engineering

Challenge: we have these sticks we can use to build houses. What are the shapes used in your houses?

Challenge: this looks like a beautiful community of neighbors. What else do they need to live happily together? (Possible answers: a road, trees)

Challenge: how would a mail carrier find the correct house to deliver toys and flowers to? (Possible answer: A mail carrier would need an address.) Can you make addresses for these houses using this number cards?

Mail Delivery Preschool Math

During our pretend play, lots of different scenarios came up, of course. Pictured below:

The strong wind blew through the neighborhood (showing the wind with hands while picking up a couple of numbers, or mixing them up). Oh, no! What happened? The mail carrier will not be able to deliver mail! Can we fix it?

We set up a little post office at the end of the drive way. Supplies used: paper and a pencil, toys to be delivered, a truck designed to carry a driver, a package, and a piece of paper.

Math challenges: writing down numbers, counting up and down the number line when delivering mail.

After mail delivery set up was cleaned up, My Firefly wanted to draw a picture of the pretend neighborhood.

Math challenge:
  • Color the roof of the second house green,
  • color the roof of the forth house brown,
  • color the roof of the house after the forth one red,
  • color the roof of the house before the second one black,
  • color the roof of the house that is in between the second and the forth houses purple.

As someone might notice, we are falling in love with challenges here. The next ones planned (hopefully) is Banana Math.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dandelion Art Project for Kids

Dandelion Playful Hands-on Exploration Outdoor Activities

Dandelion art project was a lovely outdoor explorations followed by the painting project. We explored and reviewed light and dark colors yellow and green, and had some color mixing fun. This paint project had great opportunities for exploring short - long strokes, or paint brush dabbing; filling negative spaces with dandelions. Learning to manage paints and a brush is a process!

Light - Dark Yellow and Green Explorations and Play

We spent a lovely afternoon on a lawn filled with dandelions. We had some tools and a snack - enjoying the spring weather, and the colors and smells.

We observed dandelions noticing parts of the plant, and colors and shades for each part. Pictured above: fun with dandelion patterns.

Dandelion Art Project for Preschoolers

For this activity we used:
  • a palette,
  • yellow and green tempera paints, white and brown to create new shades,
  • a paint brush and Q-tips,
  • a cup of water and a paper towel.
12" by 12" printed paper, a photograph of the grass, was used for this activity.

Color Mixing Experiments

We discussed the colors we noticed during our outside explorations, then the options of paints on the table for creating lighter - darker yellow and green.

For mixing, I filled a couple of spaces of the palette with yellow and added drops of brown to one of those. For ligter green, we mixed green and white.

Painting Dandelions

On a separate piece of paper, we explored the effects of short and long strokes, dabbing brush and using Q-tips while using light and dark yellow.

I encouraged using dabbing brush or short strokes during the painting time to keep the dark and light yellow strokes visible. If the colors were completely mixed on paper, another layer of short strokes was added.

Kids discover naturally that washing brush before using a different color is a good idea. For us, this process does take time. My Firefly is a fan of brush washing and changing the color of the water in the cup (whenever she remembers to do so). It helps to have a sturdy see-through plastic cup half full with water.

Spring is the best for having fun outside with so many beautiful opportunities for the new discoveries and art projects!

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Happy Chicks on Grass Preschool Art Collaborative Project: Decorating with Lines, Dots, and Patterns

Decorating Chicks with Lines, Dots, and Patterns

Straight and wavy lines, horizontal and vertical, dots, making patterns with colors and shapes were the focus of this fun painting chicks on the grass activity. We visited a chicken coop, reviewed the chicken life cycle, and enjoyed this collaborative painting project.

Chicks on Grass Review

We made some fun observations at the chicken coop. Hens looked so happy walking around on the grass. The rooster greeted us with his load "Hello". That was such an inspiration for our chicken art activities!

Chicken life cycle

Pictured above:

Chicken Life Cycle Free Printables from Natural Beach Living. These are fun hands-on activities using free printables and small world figures.

Life Cycle of a Chicken from I Heart Crafty Things. Beautiful ideas will help building a life cycle in the egg together!

5 Baby Chick Songs and Chants from Teaching Mama. Fun songs will engage kids in rhyming and playing with chicks.

Chicks Collaborative Painting Project, Activity 1

Green, yellow, and blue tempera paint was chosen to paint the landscape. This is a great easy activity for practicing short strokes.

Chicks Collaborative Painting Project, Activity 2

For this activities we used:
  • Yellow chicks silhouettes,
  • tempera paints with glitter mixed in,
  • small paint brushes and q-tips,
  • school glue and a brush for glue,
  • palette for working on the easel.
We were to place chicks onto the grass, then glue them on. It might be more convenient to paint the chicks on the table first since there are small details to be painted. I encouraged painting on the easel as an additional exercise for the hand and arm muscles: The Art Easel for Preschoolers from My Bright Firefly.

Chicks Collaborative Painting Project, Activity 3

The challenge: decorate chick's neck, wing, tail, head by creating patterns with dots and lines.

These chicks are busy with different types of lines and dots.

  1. Q-tips: we made patterns of dots using Q-tips and two colors of paint.
  2. Dabbing brush: we practiced dabbing brush to make the shortest strokes.
  3. Straight lines and wavy lines using paint brush is a skill to practice. The slow motion of the hand produces the thicker line. This wasn't explained, rather given an opportunity to explore.
  4. Negative space: the space in between the lines was filled with a row of dots or by dabbing paint brush. The negative space was finally found during this activity - a great exploration!

I am happy with the discoveries that were made during this project! During this activity, we observed each space separately and discussed the types of lines that would fit in each given space. Wavy lines were new so we painted them together. Negative spaces were found and filled with dots at the end of the activity.

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