I set aside the first two weeks in April to begin a weather theme, also known as our April Showers bring May flowers time of the year :) Instead of the two weeks that I hoped to be able to cover everything in, we are still working on learning about the weather, here at the end of April. What happened? :LIFE: That's what. Sometimes, I find our lives getting busy, and less time to devote to being in the school room. I don't like when that happens, and find myself always looking for ways to be better organized in some area here or there, so that we can have a little more of a steady routine, regardless of time of year or circumstance. Sometimes, though you just can't help it.
My husband spent a week working nights, which really throws our day off - in a good way, of course, because I try not to push a work period too much when he is able to be at home. I think the time they can spend with him whenever possible is of absolute importance, and that is how we began our month of April. Add to that, baseball season .........
|Hoss has played T-Ball for the past two years, and this is his first year to play machine pitch :) He is loving it, and has secured the position of catcher for the year, much to his delight!|
|Our future player :) I have never had a child love any kind of sport the same way that Buddy Boy does! In this picture, he was watching our team up to bat, and trying to imitate them as the hit the ball :)|
...and things tend to get really busy, really fast!
However, we HAVE managed to get in some great, and really fun, weather work.
Before starting anything focused specifically on the weather, I wanted to explain the difference in solids, liquids, and gases.
Over breakfast one morning, I filled an ice cube tray with water, showed them the liquid state of it, and stuck it in the freezer. We went on to eat, get ready for the day, and do our Monday morning cleaning, which usually takes about an hour. After we sat back down at the table, I retrieved the ice cube tray and brought it back in to show everyone that the liquid that was in there before had since turned into a solid, and explained in simple terms that the molecules inside of the water had gotten so cold that they froze together and made a solid. Then we went in to the kitchen and placed the ice cubes into a pan, and the kids watched them turn back in to a liquid, as I explained to them that as they began to heat up, the molecules began to spread out. When they got hot enough, the molecules would separate and turn into our third state of matter - a gas. They thought it was neat to see me hold the glass pan lid just over the pan and watch the steam make the lid cloudy. I thought it would be fun to get a little action in, so the pictures below show up acting out the cycle from a solid to a gas.
|First a solid,|
|Then heated up to make a liquid form, where the molecules were spread out,|
|And finally, a gas! They loved running all over the living room and showing the molecles spreading out. I think standing on the coffee table was the favored place to go to - it's usually strictly off limits, but of course - who can limit a gas? :)|
I got many of the ideas for our weather unit from blog links that I saw on Living Montessori Now's posts here, here, and here. The print out below that shows the water cycle came from Our Little Monkeys in their April Showers preschool pack. I also got some great print out games that are on the shelves, as well, including match the shadow, patterns, and a roll the dice game that my children have loved!
|The water cycle, complete with glass bead 'water droplets' to follow through the cycle|
|One of the printables for patterns that I laminated and put on a tray on their shelves (ignore the plate in the background - she wanted to do this after dinner one night, I think it was)|
The next experiement we did (all of these were began as a group work together - I have found that if we have a group work of any kind, it's easiest to do in the morning, that way everyone can be involved) can be found all over the blogosphere, so I can't pin point where I saw this first, because I have seen in in several places. I did this one twice, once in the afternoon for the older two children, and again the next day when everyone was awake. I placed boiling hot water in a glass jar, about 3/4 of the way full. Then Hoss ran to get about 10 pieces of ice, and placed them on a plate. When he brought them back to the table, we placed the plate on top of the jar, sealing in the steam.
This took some patience, and Little Mama was almost ready to give up watching for it, when they finally began to see rain pouring down the inside of the jar.
After watching it rain for a few minutes, they discovered that if they quickly picked up the plate, they could see a 'cloud' (the steam) come out of the jar, which made for several cloud appearances and a great way to reinforce the fact that rain comes from clouds.
I found free 3 part cards for the different types of clouds from this blog site that I stumbled upon while looking around at different weather units. I printed and laminated them, then placed them on the shelf in the blue buckets that you see in the picture. While the little ones were asleep, Little Mama, Hoss, and I worked together on them (they really like to do things WITH me when they can, instead of choosing to do a lot of their work independantly. I am not sure if this because they get the time with me, or if it's just that they were used to doing thing led by me always when we did traditional school methods at home).
I found a number of different weather related and cloud books at our wonderful library which I have switched out as we changed weeks and the different areas of the weather that we are studying. I caught this picture one day in between a couple different experiments that we were doing together. I love when my older children read to the younger ones :)
This work has stayed on our shelves from the beginning and has gotten the most use out of all of them, all month long :) I found this idea here at My Montessori Preschool. I took a stainless cake pan (I wanted something with higher sides than any of my trays have) and placed two small white bowls (Dollar Tree find), a dropper (I stole it from a bottle of ear drops that were used up), and a folded rag. They used it just as the link explains - first they filled one small white bowl with water, half way full. Then they took a cotton ball from the other small white bowl, filled the dropper, and held it over the bowl with water. They loved dropping water into the cotton ball, and waiting for it to 'rain'. The end was probably their favorite part - when they felt that it was full enough and beginning to 'rain', they caused a 'thunderstorm' (they squeezed every bit of the water out of the cotton ball. One of our favorite books to read went well with this work - Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld - all about a small cumulus cloud that finds her purpose by puffing up and *letting it pour* to help others who need the water.
Our next weather-related group experiement was another idea that can be found many places on the web. Using glass jars (I always said I wouldn't be saving glass jars from sauce etc., but now I find myself doing just that for times like this), we made it rain again. I am trying to make sure that clouds and their purpose is solidified in their heads. This was very fun for them - a little shaving cream on top of half a jar of water, and add in some food coloring, and you will have delight from all your young students :) They loved getting to :carefully: use the food coloring to make it rain, and after using their own colors, even shared, which ended up making a muddy brown color in most of the jars after mixing a couple colors together, but they enjoyed it.
After we made our clouds rain in the jars, I sprayed shaving cream into plastic ziploc bags and let them draw in the clouds a little that way. That kept their attention and they enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough - I could tell that they would enjoy my next crazy idea even better - so the bags had to go! I squeezed all the shaving cream on to the table, and used the rest of the can as well. They LOVED it! Little Mama said, "It feels Sooo good in between my fingers!" and I can't even begin to tell you how many times I heard, "Thank You - I Loved That!" from all of them. As insanely crazy as this sounds, we probably will do that again before too much longer. They really enjoyed it, and the sensorial part of it was a big hit.
|I threw in a few sponges, and they enjoyed scrubbing the table and making pictures in the shaving cream.|
We are not finished with our weather theme quite yet - I want to go in to more in depth studies of different types of weather, hopefully studying tornadoes, hurricanes, and if they enjoy it enough, we may study some winter-related storms, I'll just see how far they want to take it.
That's not all we have been doing - I think I need to do a school days post to show some other things we do that aren't group related. That's just another post for another day.
I hope you have enjoyed this and would love to hear your ideas on what you have done in teaching your children about all kinds of weather.