Here in NZ, we often think that winter has arrived the moment we hit the month of June, even though technically it doesn’t arrive until the WINTER SOLSTICE (which is normally around the 21st of June every year). Of course this also means that our friends in the northern hemisphere are heading into their SUMMER SOLSTICE at the same time!
Click here to see a ‘Brain Pop’ video clip that better models how the earth tilts, and explains how these Solstices work.
The posters are perfect for displaying on your nature table to mark the transition from: spring to summer (if you’re in the northern hemisphere), or autumn/fall to winter (if you’re in the southern hemisphere like me!) They pair really well with our seasonal nature walk recording sheets (as seen below). Going on a nature walk to mark the changing of the seasons is an activity that most kids will love, and once back in the classroom they can reflect on their experiences by recording the seasonal ‘clues’ they spotted on the nature walk sheets.
Which ever hemisphere you’re located on, I hope you’ve had a happy solstice and enjoy the up and coming season!
We use a tried and tested quick microwave recipe – perfect when you’re making big batches of different colours for school – only 4 minutes in the microwave (plus a quick stir in the middle!)
| Mixing the ingredients.  Scraping down the edges before microwaving for 2 minutes.  Removing the crunchy edge.  Mixing the play dough before it’s final 2 minutes in the microwave.|
|Click here to download your FREE copy of this recipe.|
My year 2 classes loved using the playdough as part of our reading rotation – they would choose a language skill card from our alphabet pockets (the alphabet pockets contained list of words with skills/chunks/word families that we’d already discussed…. e.g, ‘ick’ – stick, pick, kick, chick, flick etc.)
They would then pick a word from the card to model in playdough (e.g. if the word card contained all words ending with ‘ick’, they might choose to model a little chick!) At the end of our reading session, that group would present their play dough creations to the class, along with the clue that it’s a word that rhymes with ‘ick’. The rest of the class then had 3 guesses to work out what their creation was! The play dough group always modeled their creations on top of an ice cream container lid as this made it easily transportable and provided some boundaries about how much dough the children could actually use!!
Another great option is giving the play dough group the picture book you most recently read to the class to inspire their creations. They can then share their models with the class and this provided a great opportunity to retell, predict and sequence events.
You’re never to old for play dough, so what ever you’re doing with it, have fun!
You can’t get a more enthusiastic response to a science lesson than producing some magnifying glasses! A tub full of magnifying glasses is an essential part of any well stocked nature table, and is a great way to get your students involved in observing, comparing, describing and asking questions.
A 10 minute magnifying glass lesson can morph into just about any curriculum area….. science (obviously!) language skills, art, research, writing and more. Even your most reluctant learner should get their interest sparked by viewing something new and unusual. You could also take a nature walk to collect some special treasures to study before embarking on your magnifying mission.
1) Your hand (finger prints, pores, fingernails)
2) A friends eyes (or your eyes if you also add a mirror)
3) A piece of hair, pet fur or feathers
4) Fabric, Velcro, zippers and stitching
5) Insects (dried shells, spider webs and slow moving creepy crawlies!)
6) Plants, leaves, wood, bark & flowers
7) Rocks, pebbles or crystals (salt and sugar are also interesting)
8) Soil, dirt and seeds
9) Your lunch! Sandwiches, crackers, fruit, cheese etc.
10) Beach finds – seashells, sand and seaweed
- Hand-lenses are much more powerful than the ‘lollypop’ shaped magnifying glasses, but are trickier to use (you have to hold the lens quite close to your eye and move very close to the object you’re viewing, which is a little scary if you’re trying to view a big hairy spider!) I’d suggest collecting a mixture of magnifying glasses if possible.
- At the first introduction of magnifying glasses to your class, I’d suggest letting the kids be ‘off-task’ and free to explore and have fun (and by that I mean laugh hysterically at each other’s giant eyeballs, check to see who has the most boogers up their nose etc!)
- Encourage them to experiment with how far away to hold their magnifying glasses from their faces and from the object they’re studying (most children hold them far too close to their face). SLOOWWLLYY moving the magnifying glass also works much better than jerking it around
- If you’re worried about your class using glass magnifiers, you can purchase plastic ones at most dollar stores (but plastic lenses scratch far more easily and have varying quality)
- Make some connections between wearing glasses and using a magnifying glasses. Magnifying glasses have a curved ‘convex’ lens that makes things appear bigger – what do glasses have?
- Think outside the box when it comes to magnification – do you have access to digital cameras with a strong zoom lens? (This has the added bonus of being able to save what you observe) Are your students old enough to gently handle a microscope? (These are also an amazing thing to include on your nature table if possible) Even better – does your school have access to a digital microscope? These are awe inspiring when hooked up to your overhead projector…
- Don’t forget to take a photo of your children with their magnifying glasses so they can share their learning with others later
- If you need a little more structure, organise a variety of different stations around the classroom that the children can rotate through (sketching or making notes as they go)
- If you have a special topic that you’re learning about or studying, you might want to use the following sheet to scaffold their observations. The children start by draw a picture in the box about what they can see (before using the magnifying glass) then complete the sheet with their magnifying glass observations – “What can you now see that you couldn’t see before?” You can find your free copy of this sheet below!
|~Download your FREE PRINTABLE here!~|
DISCLAIMER: The author takes no responsibility for cries of “Ohh my gosh Mrs__________ your wrinkles are ginormous” or “Whoa, that’s a lot of grey hairs” etc….
Above all – have some fun! Science is all about observation and asking questions… no need to get too serious!
These bright easy to grow flowers have all sorts of intriguing qualities…..
COOL FACTS ABOUT SNAPDRAGONS:
- The name ‘Snapdragon’ (also sometimes known as the dragon flowers) comes from their supposed resemblance to a dragon’s head. In Asia, snap dragons are called “rabbit’s lips”, and in Holland “lion’s lips!”
- They are native to the rocky areas of Europe, the United States and North Africa.
Things that grow quickly and end up taller than yourself are always impressive, so sunflowers are definitely on the list…
FUN SUNFLOWER ACTIVITIES:
- Plant your seeds in a circular pattern – when they’re fully grown you’ll have a hut! (you might need to provide some supports)
- When the sunflower head has dried, carefully brush off the florets to reveal the seeds. If you’re really careful, you can make a pattern (maybe a face or your initials) while removing the florets.
- Removing the seeds with a pair of tweezers is also a fun fine motor skill challenge that will keep a little one busy for ages!
- You could use some of your seeds in a home made bird feeder (they love sunflower seeds)
In the photo (above left) you can clearly see all the tiny individual florets that make up a sunflower head (with the white seeds underneath). The photo on the right shows the sunflower seeds being removed from the flower head.
COOL SUNFLOWER FACTS INCLUDE:
- If you look really closely at a sunflower, you’ll find that the single flower head is actually made of many tiny flowers called florets! When viewed together these central florets create a “false flower”. This design helps pollinating insects and birds to easily see the sunflower. Each little floret will turn into a seed.
- The stem of a sunflower can grow up to 3 m (10 ft) tall and the flower head can be 30 cm (11.8 in) wide.
- The florets in the sunflower are arranged in an interconnecting spiral pattern (the number of left and right spirals are consecutive Fibonacci numbers)
- There are two kinds of sunflower seeds – black and striped. Sunflower oil (which is used in cooking and margarine) is made from black seeds, and snack food is made from the striped seeds.
- The sunflower is native to the America’s and was used extensively by Native American Indians (for food, as oil, in bread, for medicinal purposes, dyes and body paints).
These flowers are bright, easy to grow and edible! The large seeds are also easy for little hands to sow.FUN NASTURTIUM ACTIVITIES:
- Did you know every part of the plant is edible? Leaves, stalks, seeds and flowers! The addition of flowers to your salad (or straight off the plant) is always a good talking point, and the kids love the drama of daring each other to try the peppery/water cressy flavour (and all the shrieking and hilarity that this causes…!) Young tender leaves are less peppery than older ones.
- You can even use green nasturtium seeds and pods as a substitute for capers – pop a few onto your next pizza!
- If the peppery flavour is not to your taste, show your children how to nibble the end of the tube at the back of the flower and suck out the sweet nectar – yum!
- Nasturtiums are good climbers – make a tee-pee shape out of old sticks and let the plant grow over it to create a hut.
- Make nasturtium flower butter by mixing a handful into some softened butter. Chill in the fridge before using
COOL FACTS INCLUDE:
- Bumblebees and honey bees love immersing themselves inside the deep nasturtium blossoms, so keep a careful eye out when picking or eating.
- Nasturtiums are named after the Latin term for watercress because of their peppery flavour.
- The leaves are high in vitamin C and iron and have strong antibacterial qualities. The flowers contain B vitamins and lots of other beneficial nutrients.