Simple Machines Continued


This week we continued working with simple machines. We used materials to demonstrate a simple wedge, lever and pulley. One afternoon, the children made their own pulleys to take home.




We sorted pictures that showed examples of these types of machines. For example, a doorstop, a pair of pliers and some sailboat rigging. It was fun discussing if pliers were a wedge or a lever. Some machines are both! One card showed a crane that was being used to lift material for constructing a building.


If you have extra time this weekend, you may want to go see the enormous cranes that are being used to build an apartment building downtown on First and Washington Street. Talk about strong pulleys!

Simple Machines- wheels and inclined planes

This week we began studying simple machines. We began by exploring wheels. First, we compared pulling someone on a wagon turned upside down (using no wheels) to pulling someone on a wagon using the wheels. All of the children found that it was much easier to use the wheels! We thought of many machines that utilize wheels and some children made a list of those machines.



We also demonstrated how the wheel concept works as a table top activity.



The next simple machine we explored was the inclined plane. Here we lifted a stack of heavy books by pulling them up with a rope. This proved to be a difficult task!



We then asked the children to pull the books up using an inclined plane. A smooth piece of wood was used. This was much easier!



We then used table top works to continue this experimentation.


These types of activities gives the children a concrete experience of the definition of what a machine is: things which make work easier.

Both of these experiments are from the wonderful book, “Nurturing the Young Scientist: Experiences in Physics for Children” by Meg Murphy Fedorowicz.

Meet “North” and “South”


This week we were so lucky to adopt two adorable dwarf hamsters! They are a wonderful addition to our classroom! We have had such fun watching them move about, watching them eat and fight with each other. North and South were named by our afternoon children on Monday after deciding they should be named after the continents. One child suggested North and South America and it was automatically shortened to North and South.


These little guys are quite social! Although they like to take naps during the day, often they are seen coming up to the sides and climbing up to get close to our faces. They like to climb on top of their water bottle and run in their wheel! We feed them every other day but often give them a cucumber slice as a treat!



Our last week of Antarctica study came to a close today. All week long the children have been exploring the idea of a frozen surface and some of the animals that live on or near Antarctica.


The grand finale to our study was when one of our fabulous Grandmothers (THANK YOU NANA!) came to tell us about her recent trip to this cold and frozen continent! We learned about who lives in Antarctica. We learned about scientists studying climate change. We learned about how to travel to Antarctica. We learned about the “penguin highway.”


The talk was not all about penguins, other animals live there too! Susan told us about the zodiac boats they would take to go see whales too! We learned about how penguins waddle and some slide on their bellies. They often walk in lines and push each other into the water. They also leap out of the water to come back on land!


Susan passed out many pictures of her trip. One included the inside of a penguin’s mouth. It looks like there are teeth on this one’s tongue! We learned how the penguins eat krill and bring food back to their mate and baby chick.


The children learned so much about Antarctica today!
Again, thank you to Susan for coming to visit and tell us about Antarctica!

More Penguins


This week we studied more penguins! Like last week, the children had an opportunity to make little penguins. It was the Chinstrap and the Gentoo this week. One teacher wore a bike helmet to help the children understand why it was called a “chinstrap” penguin! They also were able to make a book about various penguins.




As we began our study of Antarctica this week, we also decided to study penguins! After some discussions regarding penguins (what type of vertebrate, where they live, what they eat etc..) we made parts of a penguin books. We learned that the males have a ‘brood pouch’ for the egg they hold on their feet for six weeks.


We also made an emperor penguin and macaroni penguin. One special emperor penguin had to also have a Valentines heart!




We also played a game and sang a song about penguins and their eggs. We took turns holding the eggs on our feet and waddling around. (Made of felt and stuffing)
“Penguins, penguins, having fun! Waddling in the winter sun. Waddling fast and waddling slow. Waddling to and waddling fro!” (repeat first two lines)

Vertebrate Puzzles


We have recently received some new puzzles in our classroom. There is one puzzle for each type of vertebrate. Some of the children have been very interested in making their own vertebrate page. They take one of the puzzles to a table and trace each piece. This is tricky and requires strong fine motor skills. Some children are not at all bothered to have extra large wobbly pieces for their puzzles but others like a teacher to assist in the tracing so their piece looks like the wooden one.



After they are done tracing, they cut out the pieces and glue them to a piece of paper. Once dried, the child retrieves a control card that has the names of the parts of the particular animal. They use a ruler to make a line and then write the name of the part. One child decided to make all five pages in one week and assemble into a book!



One of the afternoon children had a question. Why does all of the water in rivers not sink into the ground? We decided to help him see the answer by making it a concrete experience!


We made a small model of a river by gluing and taping styrofoam pieces to make different elevations into a plastic tray. We then put a layer of modeling clay over all of it.


We then poured water with some blue food coloring in it on the top and watched how the water flowed quickly down. We talked about where water comes from that forms rivers.


In addition to the hands on experiment, we made our own parts of a river booklet to take home.



This past week we studied electricity in some of the afternoons. The children were given a balloon and shown how to create static electricity. Rubbing the balloon created static electricity because the balloons become negatively charged and have taken some of the electrons from the hair, thus, leaving them positively charged. The hair (positive) then rises to meet the balloon (negative) as opposites attract.

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We then showed the children our circuit board. Here they were able to see how to light up the bulb by creating a circuit. Many children were very interested in the circuit and ended up experimenting with ways to change the circuit.