Friday, September 30, 2011

Boning up on Our Skeleton

It’s that time a year when skeletons are all around us.  Many children find them fascinating, while others may be a little afraid.  This week’s activity will uses Halloween decorations to help our budding scientists learn what’s going on under their skin.  Next week we will build on that knowledge to see how many animals have similar bodies to ours even if they look very different from the outside. 
Parent  Background Guide   Our skeletal system provides the scaffolding that holds our bodies upright.  It supports and protects the organs and serves as an anchor point for the muscles that allow both large and small movements.  There are approximately 206 bones while some individuals have more or less because some bones fuse together or fail to fuse together over time.   The skeleton makes up 30-40% of the weight of the human body.  
This week’s activity
Masking Tape
One paper skeleton for each child – many are available that are around 3 foot tall which would be preferable for this activity.  Dollar Tree or other “Everything is $1” stores are a good source for this item.
You can also make your own using this link:
Paper skeleton prepared for
my four year olds.
Preparation:   Take or cut apart the skeleton at the major joints.  Determine how many parts to divide the skeleton into based upon your child’s age and attentions span.  For example, for older toddlers you may want to leave the arms and legs in one piece.  For preschoolers you will probably want to separate the leg into three segments, upper leg (  ), lower leg, and foot.  I would not suggest separating the bones of hands and feet.    If you desire and the skull is of the correct size, make the skull into a mask so that the child can wear it.
Discovery time:  Now it’s time to play match the body parts, help your child to match the bones up to their body, when they guess correctly, use masking tape to tape the bones to their clothes.  If they don’t guess correctly keep trying different parts on until you child is wearing a skeleton.  My children loved to look at themselves in our large mirror.  HINT – help your children to understand that we are symmetrical, that if they find a leg bone on one side,  the one on the other side will look the same. 
Tying it together:  Now that your child has a skeleton that they can see it is time to explain that there is one under our skin as well.  I did this by having my children gently push on hard parts of their bodies like their arms and soft parts of their bodies like their bellies.  You can discuss how the hard parts are where their bones are and that the bones help them to walk and play by giving their body structure.  You could make a comparison also to their hard and soft toys, sometimes hard toys like toy cars can move on their own whereas their soft stuffed animals are stuck in one place.  Our bones are wonderful things!
Adaptations:  If your child is sensitive to sensory stimuli and may not like you to tape the items to their clothing you could use this adaptation:  Have the child lie down on a piece of cardboard or large piece of paper and trace their outline.  You can then match the bones up to their “body” without making them uncomfortable.
Fun Facts

•  Your thigh bone, the femur is the longest bone in your body-- it's about 1/4 of your height.
• The bone responsible for your ability to hear, the stirrup bone in the ear, is the smallest bone in your body which can measure 1/10 of an inch.
• Did you know that humans and giraffes have the same number of bones in their
necks? Giraffe neck vertebrae are just much longer, about the length of a human forearm.
Thank you and your little scientists for exploring with us!  Today’s activity was a first for The Preschool Scientist so please let me know what you liked and didn’t like about the activity, information, and format.  I will be creating activities for my family and yours and posting one each weekend.  Please see my page information if you would like to know how I have structured the “curriculum” for this website.  I hope to give you ideas about enjoying the world around us with your children and preparing them for kindergarten by addressing the same types of content they will see in their first year of school.  Check back on Tuesdays for a short toddler activity on the same topic.  From my home to yours, happy inquiring!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Look Ahead at October's Themes and Supplies

This October we will be studying the Life Sciences.  I have chosen some topics to go with the Halloween themes that we see all around us at this time of year.  The first two weeks we will have activities featuring skeletons and body parts,  the second two weeks will be devoted to the creepy crawlies before it gets to cold in some parts of the country and they become hard to find.

October Supplies and Topics
Week 1:  Boning up on our Skeleton
Masking Tape

One paper skeleton for each child – many are available that are around 3 foot tall which would be preferable for this activity.  Dollar Tree or other “Everything is $1” stores are a good source for this item. You can also make your own using this link:
Week 2:  Animals and Us
2-3 Realistic shaped stuffed animals

Week 3:  Bug Hunt
For Each Child:  Toddler or larger paintbrush – up to 3” would work great so long as little hands can control it.
Trowel or hand shovel.
Magnifying Glass
Optional:  Camera to “collect” your scientist's finds.

Week 4:  Hanging Around the Web with Spiders
Water Spray Bottle
Optional items for preserving spider webs:
Talcum Powder
Black construction paper

Come explore with us!

Welcome to The Preschool Scientist!

About the blog
No one is too young to be a Scientist and the natural curiosity of preschoolers makes them especially good at learning about the world around them. They want to know the whys of everything and this is an amazing time to help them answer their own questions. This blog is dedicated to giving you ideas, tools, and the background you need to help your preschoolers to explore the world around us. I will be using a framework of topics based on the California State Kindergarten Standards for Science Education, so that I can make sure to cover a number of different areas and so that we can help to prepare our children for school. I am planning to keep each activity under $5.00, free if possible. The activities will be easy to do and play based because children learn best while having fun. My goal is to post a new activity each Saturday morning. The activities are tailored for children from ages 3-5. On Tuesdays, I will post a short toddler activity that works to teach the same subject material in a simpler way. If you stop in often, then together we will be studying in different fields each month on a three month rotation. In October, our activities will be from the life sciences. In November, look for us to explore the non-living world around us with an earth science unit. In the next few days you can expect the first of our activities and a supply list for the entire month.  I will also be publishing a book review each month so that you can see what resource materials I am using with my children at home.   I hope you enjoy sharing these activities with your family, and that you will share with me how they worked for you.

About Me
I am a stay-at-home mom with 4 children.  I have 4 year old twins, a one year old, and a baby.  I am NOT a super mom.  In fact, one of the biggest reasons that I am writing this blog and sharing these ideas with you is that I found that I wasn't exploring enough with my own children.  I love science, and I love to learn and teach, but in the day to day living with my children  I was busy and it wasn't getting done.  I want to help both myself and others by planning one EASY activity every week, something short that we can all fit in our schedule, something fun so our children will keep asking more questions.  The Preschool Scientist is here for my family and for yours and I hope it gives you the motivation and opportunity to play, inquire, and grow with your children, one activity at a time.

Not-So Important Credentials
We are all our best childrens' teacher.  You still might ask where I get my ideas and knowledge.  I am  (or I was before taking years off) a certified high school biology teacher.  I taught Earth Science to ninth graders for one LONG year before getting married.  I also had one of the most fabulous jobs a teacher could ask for as an educator and outreach coordinator for the Honolulu Zoo Society.