Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sixteen Tornadoes Touch Down in Norwalk!

This class is so enamored of tornadoes that despite the fact that we do not have that weather phenomenon in our area, we decided to do some investigating. 

We read a very interesting first person account that was actually given by a four year old in 1935.  The children were mesmerized when we read that she climbed down in to her basement and listened to the terrible noises of the storm. When she was able to come back up the stairs, the house was intact, but it had been picked up, spun around and set back down backwards.  The front door was now where the back door had been. 

Finding a gem to read like this does take some work on your part as the teacher. 

First¸ you do need to make a commitment to visiting your local libraries each time your students’ interests change and making good friends with the librarians.  This is key, as you will be testing the limits of how many books they want to comfortably let you check out at a time.

Second, you need read through the material.  Most non-fiction books are not geared to be a read alouds for preschool age children, but they have fantastic photographs!  Don’t lose out on the opportunity to use these books; skim, find appropriate snippets and share them when they fit.

           The activity we chose to help them understand the concept of the cold air crashing against the warm air and starting to spin forming the tornado is the tornado tube.  I have made these before with children and knew they were a big hit, so we decided that each child would want his/her own. 

           This is when it can be tough with emergent curriculum because you often don’t have a lot of time for advanced planning and for one tornado tube you need two empty 2 liter soda bottles.  You have rely on involved parents and send out notes and email requesting what you need and why!  Within a week and a half I had enough to make 16 tubes. 

           For those of you who have never made them:
1.         1.Remove labels from bottles and wash them out.  
                Caps are not needed, but the two bottles 
                 have to be the same shape.
2.         2.Fill one bottle half way with water.
               We added a bit of color for interest.
3.         3.Cover the lid of the first bottle with very strong 
                foil-such as from a takeout container.
4.         4.Poke a hole in the foil about 1cm wide
5.         5.Put the other bottle on the top and seal tightly 
                with duct tape.
6.         6.Turn the bottle over so the water is at the top.
                While holding the middle where the duct tape
                is swirl the top very fast in a circular motion     
                and then stop.  A tornado should begin.

These storms sure brought smiles!!  Give it a try.  Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Its Raining.....INSIDE!!

We had been talking about what causes rain to form. 

I then provoked the children with the question, “do you think we could make it rain inside the classroom?"

We then proceeded to do this several different ways.
1.       We used eye droppers to drop water on cotton ball “clouds” until they were saturated and “rained” down.
2.       We poured very hot water into a large glass bowl and covered it with a tray and then watched the condensation form on the sides and top until it “rained” down into the bowl.

But the last way was the best…..
We hung two large hooks above our water table (we did have to find a support beam-water is VERY heavy).  We originally tied rope to these hooks and then added pulleys.  From this we hung a large planter box with the bottom removed so the holes were free on the bottom.  This way the box could be raised up and down so the children could reach it, and yet it could be high enough to give the effect of rain falling from the ceiling. 
At first the children filled the large basin using pitchers and water from the water table. 

The following week we filled a large bucket on the floor with water and added a water pump.  This reenacted the water cycle effect of the water coming off the lakes and oceans rising up to the clouds and the forming rain.

Physics and Earth Science at four years old!

To see what some others are learning with their play, you've been invited to come over and play at the Childhood 101 "We Play" link up

We Play

Monday, April 19, 2010

Check More Than the Weather Report

We just returned from a planned week long vacation-this one was not storm induced! 

It was a good time to check our initial list of questions and wonderings to see which ones we had experimented with and made some discoveries about and which ones we needed to spend time investigating. 

This brought the children back in to the planning process of their learning. We realized we still had many questions about tornadoes.  At independent book time, the children found all of the tornado books and brought them to the easel.  We’ll be reading parts of them all during the week.  The children like to put sticky notes on the pages that intrigue them.  This is what research looks like at four years old. 

We also started making tornado tubes out of two 2 liter soda bottles so the children could get the feel for the way the wind has to swirl in order to start the funnel effect. 

The discussion that started to happened after just today’s “research” about the similarities and differences between tornadoes and hurricanes and then comparing them both to our storm a few weeks ago was quite incredible-and happened naturally as the children talked to one another. 

This happened because the children were invested in their learning. 

When the children play such an integral role in the learning process their experience is much more enriched-and so is mine!!