Earth Day: Sand Art

Earth day is happening in just a few days on April 22nd. Earth day started all the way back in 1970 and is celebrated every year around the world to support and protect our planet. Today we are going to learn a little about this planet we call, Earth, all while doing a fun sand art activity.  

But, in order to do sand art, we need to make sand right? If you happen to have colored sand at home, good for you! But for those of you who don’t, we are going to make our own.  

So what we need are 5 sandwich baggies, food coloring and salt. I hope you all have that handy. OK. Let’s put half a cup of salt into each of the baggies. This will make way more than we need but better to have more than less, right?  

Let’s pick one of those baggies and add around 8-10 drops of GREEN food coloring. Don’t add too much or else it will make our “sand” too wet and we won’t be able to use it right away. Then I want you to squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible and zipper it shut. Shake and move around your salt until the food coloring has spread around evenly. Crack open your baggie and move on to the next.  

We are going to repeat this with, RED, YELLOW and BLUE. To make orange-ish sand, we will do 4 drops of RED and 4 drops of YELLOW food coloring in our last baggie of salt.  

Now we are ready to get started.  

OK. Hopefully you all printed your template of the Earth and it’s layers before we started, if not, grab a blank piece of paper and you can follow along with me. You’ll see we have a funny picture of the Earth, right? Well, the Earth is made up of different layers, think of an onion. We are going to color and label each of these layers. Let’s work our way in. Does anyone know what the top layer of the Earth is called? 

BLUE – Crust – The crust is the thin outer later of the Earth where we all live. It may look pretty tiny from the picture but it can be anywhere from 3 to 44 miles thick. But compared to the rest of the layers it is relatively thin.  

GREEN – Upper Mantel – begins just beneath the crust and ends at the top of the lower mantle. It is relatively solid. The upper mantle causes the tectonic plates to move and is about 255 miles thick. Heat from the center of the earth can cause these big slabs of earth to move or slip, which causes earth quakes.  

YELLO – Lower Mantel – Reaches down 1796 miles beneath the crust, where it transitions to the outer core. It is made from solid rock. The rock is hot enough to melt, but is solid because of the pressure pushing down on it. 

ORANGE – Outer Core – The Earth’s outer core is made up of iron and nickel and is very hot, up to 5000+ degrees C. The outer core is very important to earth as it creates something called a magnetic field. The magnetic field the outer core creates goes way out in to space and makes a protective barrier around the earth that shields us from the sun’s damaging solar wind. 

RED – Inner Core – The Earth’s inner core is made up of iron and nickel, just like the outer core, but the inner core is so deep within the earth that it’s under so much pressure that, even though it is so hot, it is solid. The inner core is the hottest part of the Earth, and, at over 5000 degrees C, is about as hot as the surface of the sun. 

Fun Facts about the Earth: 

  • Earth is the 3rd planet of the sun 
  • By researching our planet’s rocks, scientists have calculated the Earth to be around 4.5 billion years old! 
  • The Earth is a Goldilocks Planet. It is not too far or too close to the sun. It is just right.  
  • 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. 
  • There are thousands of satellites circling the Earth. Some for communication, some to study the Earth itself and some to study the universe beyond. 
  • Even though you might think you are standing still, the Earth is turning. The speed at the equator is around 1,000 mph. 

How’d it go:

A pretty simple program to prep and run. Overall, it went really well–minus by glue bottle not cooperating at first. Unless you want to make A LOT of salt/sand, I would recommend halving or more the recipe. I used 1/8th cup of salt this time around and 4 drops of food coloring and I still had a TON left over.

Gotta love crafting mixed with science!

That’s all for now!

-M-

4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Boy Bites Bug w/ DIY Chromatography Butterfly 

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck is a middle school juvenile fiction book for 4th-6th graders. 

Will didn’t intend to eat a stinkbug, but when his friend Darryl calls the new kid, Eloy Herrera, a racial slur, he didn’t think he just acted. Now will is Bug Boy and he kind of likes it. 

Intending to keep up his notoriety and title as Bug Boy, Will talks Eloy into helping him get his classmates to eat bugs. But the more Will learns about Eloy and entomophagy in general, the more sincere he becomes about his project. For Will, eating bugs is no longer just a joke but everyone sees it that way. And what’s worse, he really likes Eloy and is afraid he may have ruined this budding friendship. 

What can Will do to make everyone understand his real intentions when all anyone can see if a joke? 

Discussion Questions: 

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes? 

2. What is the difference between entomophagy and entomology?  

3. Will doesn’t intend to eat a stinkbug but he does it anyway. Why? And why is this so important to the story? 

4. In many cultures eating insects is commonly practiced. Have you ever eaten a bug? Why do you think there is a stigma around eating bugs? 

5. What do you think about Will as a character? Is he relatable, over-the-top, silly…

6. As Will’s friendship with Elroy grows, he and Darryl start to grow apart. When Will asks his dad for advice he says: “Sometimes,” Dad said, “people outgrow each other.  It doesn’t mean we stop caring or forget the good times, but maybe we realize we need different things, things that we can’t get from each other anymore.” Have you every “outgrown” a friendship? Or has anyone “outgrown” you? How did it make you feel? 

7. Will gets in the whole mess because he didn’t like how Darryl was treat Eloy but Will has his own prejudices that he isn’t even aware. What are some examples? 

8. What did you think about the “Buck-a-Bug” fundraiser? Was Will able to successfully turn Entomophagy from a joke into a good cause? 

9. In the background of this story, is Will’s longing to be on the varsity wrestling team. Before his big match his coach says, “Take a breath… Whatever’s going on, it’ll still be there when you get off the matt.” Do you ever feel like you can escape into a hobby and let everything else go? 

10. Think about cultural differences around the world. Can you name some things that would be done every day somewhere else, that might see unusual here? And vic-versa, what might we do that other would look on as “different.”  

DIY Activity: Chromatography Butterfly 

Supplies Needed: white coffee filters (large size, not Kcups); non-permanent markers; cup of water; string; scissors; pipe cleaners optional. 

Directions: 

  1. Pick a marker (try with multiple marks on your second attempt and see what happens). 
  1. Take one coffee filter and spread it out on top of a piece of paper. Draw a circle in the flat middle of the filter. 
  1. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again. It will look somewhat like a cone.  
  1. Get a short glass of water and stick the filter in with just the tip of the cone touching the water. Fan out the rest so it balances in the cup.  
  1. Let sit and watch what happens as the filter sucks up the water.  
  1. Flatten it out and place on your paper or newspaper to dry.  
  1. Once dry, take your filter and scrunch it in the middle. Tie the middle with string or your pipe cleaner. If you are using the pipe cleaner, the ends can still out to look like antenna.  
  1. Hang the butterfly with string and watch them fly! 

The Science:  

“Chromatography… is the science of separating mixtures. Mikhail Tsvet discovered that since different color pigments have different weights, they are carried along at different speeds, and end up in different places. So one can use different substances (gas or liquid) to carry the color, and by examining where different tints end, figure out what pigments were combined to make it.” 
-(https://kidminds.org/chromatography-experiments-with-kids-5-ways/)

How’d it go:

We had a great group for book club this month! Some new faces and some really great discussion. We had a little trouble getting the hang of how far to dip our coffee filters into the water, but it was all part of trial and error. This was a good month!

That’s all for now!

-M-

ABC Scavenger Hunt

Today, I had planned a fun, virtual scavenger hunt for my pre-K, K and early elementary school kids. I was totally inspired by a Kelly Clarkson clip I saw.

Here’s what I had planned out:

Children who are read to from birth have a larger vocabulary and have a higher success rate of being lifelong readers and learners. When we talk about early literacy tools we tend to look at these five principles: Read, Sing, Play, Write and Talk. Today we are going to be using letters of the alphabet to go on a scavenger hunt around our houses.  

Before we get started, let’s sing our alphabet. I will hold up the letters while we sing, so don’t sing too fast! A, B, C, D… 

Let’s try one more time and this time, I am going to sing and sign the alphabet in American Sign Language. A, B, C, D… 

If you are interested in learning more about sign language, you can check out the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library: https://www.marylanddcdl.org/  

OK. So the way this is going to work, I am going to hold up a letter. We are all going to read this letter together and when I say go, I want you to find something in your house that starts with that letter.

For example, if I hold up the letter A, I might get and hold up an APPLE. We will then spotlight a few of you to show us the items you found. So think about the letter and the object you are going to get. If I can figure out who ran back first, I will spotlight you first.  

We’ll try to fit in as many letters as we can before our time is up! Are you ready? 

How’d it go:

This worked out even better than I had hoped! We had somewhere between 15-20 kids, which was the perfect amount to give everyone a chance to be spotlighted a couple of times. We got through about half the alphabet in our 30 minutes and the kids seemed to have a really good time hunting around their houses and actually getting to interact on screen.

This program took little to no prep on my end and the switching spotlights, was probably the hardest part.  

Maybe a color themed scavenger hunt is in my future!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Virtual Family Storytime: All Things Birds!

For this virtual family storyime we are going to do all things birds! Eggs, feathers, wings and more!

Here’s what I have planned:

  • Early Literacy Tips: today but I am going to highlight READ. 
    • Reading to our children not only instills a love of reading but helps to expand their vocabulary and build comprehension skills. Early literacy tip for caregivers- When you are out walking or driving, point out colors and words on road signs. 
  • Hello, Hello, Hello
    • In this rhyme we practice saying hello in different ways and languages.

Hello, hello, hello. 
It’s time to say hello. 
Hello, today, to all my friends. 
Hello, hello, hello. 
(English, ASL, Spanish, French, etc.) 

  • Fun Fact: Migration.
    • We’re getting closer and closer to Spring. So soon all of the birds that migrated south will be coming home. Migrating is a big word. Migrating happens when a bird or animal moves from one place, to another depending on the season. So when the weather gets cold, many birds fly sound where it is warmer. Butterflies migrate too.  
  • Music Song:  Flitter Flutter by Johnette Downing on The Second Line – Scarf Activity Songs album 
  • Letters/Writing: we will practice writing the letter “B” and learn “B” in ASL; We will write “Bird” and learn “Bird” in ASL. We will follow the same pattern with “E” and “Egg.”
  • Book – Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins read with permission from Candlewick Press 
    • I have a finger puppet woodpecker that I am going to use with this book.
  • Movement Song: Sleeping Bunnies by the Kiboomers 
    • We are going to do “sleeping birdies” instead of sleeping bunnies.

See the birdies sleeping  
Till it’s nearly noon 
Shall we wake them with a merry tune 
They’re so still  
Are they ill 
Wake up birdies 
Hop little birdies  
Hop hop hop, 
Hop little birdies  
Hop hop hop  
Hop little birdies  
Hop hop hop  
Hop little birdies, now we STOP!   
(Jump/Skip) 

  • Flannel Story – Bird Shapes 
    • This is a flannel story I saw when I attended a storytime with my daughter a few years ago. It was so cute I had to re-create it myself!
  • Rhyme: 10 Little Feathers 
    • To the tune of 10 Little Indians. I am going to show a few real life feathers before we start this rhyme.

1 little, 2 little, 3 little feathers 
4 little, 5 little, 6 little feathers 
7 little, 8 little, 9 little feathers 
10 little feathers in a row. 

  • Book – The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett read with permission of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
  • Folder Story – Once There Was an Egg 
    • This is one I made up from scratch, so I am interested to see how it goes. Folder stories work really well for virtual storytimes.

Once there was a blue egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around. 
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped a blue bird, looking for a snack! 

Once there was a green egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around.  
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped a turtle, looking for a snack!  
 
Once there was a red egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around.  
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped a platypus, looking for a snack!  
 
Once there was a yellow egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around.  
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped a butterfly, looking for a snack!  

Once there was an orange egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around.  
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped an alligator, looking for a snack! 

Once there was a pink and purple polka dotted egg, shiny and round. 
It rolled this way, it rolled that way, 
It rolled all around.  
Then suddenly… it started with a creeeek. 
And then a louder craaaack. 
And OUT popped a DINOSAUR, looking for a snack!  

  • Book – Froodle by Antoinette Portis read with permission of MacMillian Publishers 
  • Take Away: Letter “B” pipecleaner bird feeder
    • I am going to show them a sample of a letter “B” that I made out of a pipe cleaner and strung with Cheerios to hang outside as a bird feeder.
  • Our Hands Say Thank You…
    • A simple rhyme where you say “thank you” instead of “goodbye.”

Our hands say thank you with 
A clap, clap, clap; 
Our feet say thank you with a 
Tap, tap, tap. 
Clap, clap, clap! 
Tap, tap, tap! 
We roll our hands around, and say, 
“Good-bye.” 

  • Extra: if we have more time, I also have “Two Little Blackbirds” and “Five Little Ducks” in my pocket.

How’d it go:

Overall, everything went really well. I rushed a tad at the end to fit everything in but other than that we had a bird-rific time!

That’s all for now!

-M-

George Crum: A Potato Chip STEM Challenge

In honor of Black History Month, I held a mini-virtual history lesson, paired with a fun STEM challenge. This was a challenge I’d seen from pictures in the past and I even tested it out a few months ago with my 4-6th grade book club.

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum. Or so the legend tells it. Crum was a Native American/African American chef at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. When a customer complained that his fries were too thick and soggy, Crum sliced them as thin as he could, added lots of salt and fried them to a crisp! And so chips were born.

After giving the kids a mini history lesson about the potato and what we know about George Crum’s life. We discussed the various myths and then we talked about how stories can often change through the telling, like the telephone game and how history can sometimes be biased based on whose telling.

From there I introduced our challenge. The challenge: Build a ring using only Pringles potato chips. For this challenge, you need a full sized can of Pringles and a flat surface. I warned the kids NOT to eat their chips or else they might run out before they completed their ring.

We thought about three questions in getting ready to do the building:

  1. How will the base of your ring be support the top?​
  2. How will you layer your chips? Will you work off a set pattern? If so, what pattern?​
  3. What will you do if you need to reevaluate your plans?​

Then we went in to a little of the science. We talked about how as the sides of the ring get taller, gravity pushes down on the chips. This can cause them to slide down as your ring begins to curve. In order for the chips to not slide, there has to be enough frictional force on the sides of the chips so that gravity can’t push them down​.

And then the race was on!

How’d it go:
It ended up being a snow day at my house, so I had a three year old and a 6mo old “helping” me with the program but other than that it went great. We had a great turn out and some of my colleagues helped me to commentary and spotlight the kids rings as they were building.

The success of this program has me thinking up so many STEM/History possibilities. Time to get my research hat on!

That’s all for now!

-M-