Besides being cheap when it comes to doing science,I also like to think of ideas that help connect the curriculum and kids to the real world!
In Pre-K and K here in Virginia, teachers have to teach children about the senses. Senses are really important to scientists. They help us collect information which can be used to help us answer our questions. Typically I have created center activities in which children learn about each sense and the body parts that are associated with either sight, smell, taste, hearing, or feeling. But when I was at my mother-in-laws last week, my kids gave me a great idea!
As we were watering her flowers, my daughter Beth noticed grandma has a rosemary plant. Both of us were excited as we love the smell! This is where the idea came from!Why not create a sense garden in that spot of the school yard that needs a little bit of freshening up! So what could you plant?
For sense of Sight: plant various plants that will showcase color throughout the spring or even in the fall-roses, tulips, maybe even plant a flowering bush!
For Smell-this is my favorite-plant basil, thyme, rosemary!
For Texture-Lamb's Ear for the softness of its leaves, Coreopsis for its feathery leaves, or a Sedum such as Hen and Chicks for their spiky leaves.
For Sound-if you can, add a small pond with running water or a small outdoor fountain! Or use some wind chimes. You can also put up a bird feeder to draw birds to your garden.
For Taste-be sure to get approval-but you could plant some berry bushes!
So how do you connect a garden to the curriculum-easy-have children go out and explore the plants and work with you to generate words that describe the plants.This is a great way to build vocabulary.
Writing-you can work with children to write what they hear when they go out into the garden or to write sentences that describe what the garden looks like to someone who is not there.
Measurement-a sense garden is great opportunity to measure how plants change over time-students use non-standard or standard units of measurements to measure plants.
How to build a raised garden-found this at home depot-http://www.homedepotgardenclub.com/us/en/landscaping/projects/how-to-build-a-raised-garden-bed?contentid=1142
or here is another idea-simply plant the plants in containers! My mother-in-law took an area by her pool and dug up the grass, put down weed blocker paper, covered the paper with rocks,and then planted her herbs and other items in containers! This way you could move the garden if you needed to! Much cheaper as well-with containers you don't have to buy all the other materials to make a raised garden bed!
I love being cheap! Especially when it comes to teaching and teaching science! As I sit through various trainings, I love to take an idea and figure out how to do the same thing for less. Here is an example of one of my favorite activities to do with preschoolers.
The gist of the activity deals with how do you form various colors from the three main primary colors. You can find everything for this activity at Wal-Mart!
In the cooking section, go and get 3 condiment bottles-you can find them for about 99cents! Then go to the beauty section and find clear hair gel. Next, go to the paper/plastic section and find zip-lock sandwich baggies. Lastly, go to the baking section and find the food coloring.
In the clear condiment bottles, put some hair gel in all three bottles. Then add the food coloring and shake really hard! This will mix up the color throughout the gel. Once you are done-you will have three bottles with your three primary colors. The next step involves squeezing some out into your plastic bag. Let's say we want to make green-put a dab of blue hair gel and the yellow hair gel, seal the bag, and then using your finger, move the gels together. Eureka! You have just made green. I know it is hard to tell from my photos-but trust me-the kids love this! Great activity for motor skills!
Last week I had the honor of presenting at the I Teach K conference in Las Vegas-what an experience! I love getting K teachers excited about science.
So I know you must be looking at the picture and thinking to yourself-what were they doing? Well...we were doing science. See sometimes things are not always what they seem. The teachers began this activity by first making observations of their object (they were told not to look throught their object). They listed the color of their object, the shape of their object,and even listed words that described the texture of the object. The teachers were then asked to indicate what they thought the object would do-duh!!! they are glasses! Well, not ordinary glasses. These glasses have light refracting lenses in them so when you look at a light source, you will see the colors in the spectrum. While the teachers got excited about this activity, remember the goal of science is to get students working and thinking like a scientist. So how do we turn this simple activity into an experiment-easy-just change the type of light you look at-natural versus man-made! Or you can change the shape of the light source. Just don't look at the sun! Not good for your eyes!
I have spent the last 20 years in education teaching science and working to get other teachers excited about teaching science. I am the mother of 2 wonderful children who teach me everyday! Science is a passion and I love helping parents and teachers get excited about science!