It is so nice when those days come that things actually work!
This, for me, is a lovely thing mainly in the realm of science and crafts. I am learning that most of the time, simpler is better. The simpler the experiment the more chance it will work as it should. The simpler the craft the more chance it will actually look like the example!
I must say, I am also learning that those two things don’t matter as much as I thought they did. So we have to modify a craft to make it work…ok. So the science experiment doesn’t work as it should, or not at all…ok, we can still learn from it.
In this homeschool process, I am being molded and stretched as much if not more than my kiddos.
With M2 (my youngest, 3-year-old daughter), we have started doing an “unofficial” letter of the week focus. Lately, she is getting “bored” more and more, so we needed to do a few more “structured” learning activities to help challenge her. One of the success projects comes from this letter focus.
Some time back, I happened upon a free preschool letter of the week curriculum – Look What I Can Do! Preschool Curriculum. It is in e-book format and in my opinion it is nothing fancy. Personally, I wouldn’t pay $20 for it, but if you can nab it for free or at a discount, it is worth it. It helps me to have a letter schedule to follow for each week. I have learned that it is easier to change a curriculum than to start from scratch and come up with my own. So, I have been following their letter schedule, but skipping some activities and adding others.
The first successful activity for the day involved soap “exploding” in the microwave. The letter focus of the week was ‘S’ so we called it Soap Science. This is one of the activities listed in the curriculum mentioned above.
Successful Activity #1: Soap Science
materials needed: medium or large glass bowl, knife, bar of IVORY soap, microwave, sensory bin (optional)
Step 1: take all paper off the bar of IVORY soap
Step 2: cut bar of soap into 3 or 4 pieces and place in glass bowl
Step 3: place in microwave and heat for 1.5 – 2 minutes
Step 4: let your kids watch and be amazed
The soap will be too hot to handle at first. After the soap cools, it has a really neat crumbly texture so we added it to our sensory bin for the kids to explore. We ended up doing three bars of soap and had a decent amount to play with in the bin.
You can find this experiment on YouTube here. Note: On the YouTube video she uses a paper plate. I found a glass bowl does much better at containing the expanding soap.
I will say that the only thing I would warn about is the strong smell of the soap in the sensory bin. If you or your kiddos are smell sensitive, be ready for a strong aroma.
A great extension for this activity would be to use other brands of soap and observe/compare how much or how little the different soaps expand. (Evidently, the soap expands due to the content of air in the bar. The air heats up and expands, causing the soap to “grow”.)
Our other successful activity comes from M1’s (my oldest, 5-year-old son) science unit. He is studying Jupiter and over at It’s A Boy’s Life,they made a fun paper Jupiter using liquid starch and food coloring. I didn’t have any liquid starch on hand, so I used food coloring, shaving cream, and white cardstock.
Successful Activity #2: Shaving Cream Jupiter
Materials needed: pie pan (or something to contain the shaving cream), shaving cream, food color (we used brown, red, yellow, for Jupiter colors), white cardstock cut into a circle, ruler, parchment paper or cookie sheet (something to scrape shaving cream onto), pencil or something to stir with
Step 1: fill pie pan with shaving cream and level off
Step 2: put a few drops of each food coloring onto shaving cream
Step 3: stir the colors to make a fun pattern (we use this time to talk about how Jupiter is a windy planet, and they can pretend to be the wind)
Step 4: press firmly (but not too hard) the cardstock circle onto the colored shaving cream. I like to rub my fingers over the paper to make sure the color is adhering to every part of the paper.
Step 5: lift cardstock circle off the shaving cream
Step 6: place the cardstock circle on the parchment paper and use ruler to scrape off shaving cream
And now you have your Jupiter!
The color adheres immediately and will not smudge or smear. Here is a YouTube video that can also help…click here.
These were really great activities that captured the kids (and my) imagination and creativity. Not everyday is like this in our little homeschool, however, when it happens it is a marvelous thing.