Posts Tagged ‘preschool science’

(Please note that this post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.)

After planning all kinds of winter/snow activities for January for our homeschool co-op preschoolers, we ended up having weather in the 70’s each time we met for class. No worries—we just pulled out Snowmen All Year, a book that imagines what it might be like to build a snowman that could stay and have fun in every season.

Since this was one of the sequels to Snowmen at Night, and since we had just recently done a plethora of Snowmen at Night activities, I thought this book would be perfect.

But, we didn’t stop there. We also read Snow Dude, the story of a little snowman who runs away from everyone, its verse mimicking the rhythm of The Gingerbread Man.

The kids enjoyed both books, but unanimously agreed that their favorite of the day was Sneezy the Snowman, the story of a poor little snowman who just can’t get comfortable. Each time he shivers with cold, he seeks to warm himself up…either by drinking hot chocolate, sitting in a hot tub, or leaning over a campfire. Of course, each time he melts and has to be completely rebuilt.

Regardless of which winter books you read together, you and your preschooler can have a blast with the following snowman games, crafts, science experiment, and snack.

Note: Although I did the following activities with a group of 3-to-5 year olds, you could easily adapt each one to suit a single child.  And you’ll probably have less mess to clean up. 😉

Science Experiment: Melting Ice

I  brought in a container of crushed ice and let each child fill up a clear, plastic cup.

I also set out some small bowls of water and let the kids take turns adding drops of food coloring.

After mixing them up, they got busy transferring the colored water to their cups of ice. Using an eyedropper for this was challenging for some of them, and all of them got a good workout for those little hand muscles!

As they took turns squeezing the colors, we watched as the colored water began to melt the crushed ice.

I’ll be honest here: this activity lasted way longer than I’d intended, as the kiddos were all completely fascinated by the colorful, melting ice. They wanted to add more and more drops of colored water, and enjoyed watching as the original colors mixed together to form new ones. (“Look! The bottom is turning purple!”)

In the end, I let them dump out the bowls of colored water into the larger container I’d brought in.

They enjoyed this so much that even when the older kids went outside for lunch, the preschoolers wanted to keep playing with this experiment. I’d say that means the activity was a success! (I got the idea here.)

Game: Snowball, Blowball

Laugh all you want, but the preschoolers loved the title of this simple game I created. I gave each pair of children a snowball (or ping pong ball…shhhh…) and told them they had to try to blow it off the other side of the table while keeping their hands clasped behind their backs. The child on the opposite side was trying to do the same thing, of course, and let me tell you this was a HOOT to watch!

They were literally jumping up and down, screaming and squealing (much to the dismay of the class next door, I’m sure…Sorry, guys.)

I had to promise them we’d play this one again next week…even if it’s up in the 80’s then! Hint: If playing with one child, YOU can get on the other side of the table. Or, if there is an older sibling in the house, I am pretty sure he’d enjoy helping out for this one.

Craft: Balloon painting

For our first craft, I set out a plate of white paint and let each child dip a balloon in it. We then created snowmen by pressing the balloon on colored construction paper: lightly for the head, a little harder for the middle, and hardest for the lower body.

The harder you press, of course, the bigger the snowball will be. Hint: The key to making actual circles is to raise the balloon straight up after pressing the paint on the paper. I also gave them each a cotton swab to dip into the paint so they could add snowflakes all around their snowmen.

Of course we added buttons and facial features, too. I love how this little guy stood a cotton swab on end to represent the carrot nose. And doesn’t it look just like he’s juggling all those snowballs?

As always, each child’s creation was so different from the others’. (I love that!)

Hint: Remember to worry about whether your preschooler is having a great time, NOT whether her art project is turning out the way it’s “supposed to look.” (It looks right. Trust me.)

Game: Snowball Toss

Again we let our ping pong balls represent snowballs, and I set a plastic container in front of the kids for them to try to toss them into, while standing behind a line of masking tape. They took turns seeing who could land the most snowballs in the container.  Hint: If playing with one child, you could move the container farther from the tape line each time they toss the snowballs, to add an extra challenge.

Snack: Snowman Slices

By this time your little snowball thrower will have worked up an appetite, which means it’s time to pull out some bananas, raisins, and pretzel sticks for a healthy snack your child can create himself. Give your little one a rounded knife (I used the kind that’s often used for cutting into a cheese ball or other spread…Surely there’s a name for that but I have no idea what it is…) and show him how to cut the banana in slices and use them to create a snowman body—complete with pretzel arms.

Now, I’ll grant you that this isn’t the most beautiful snack to look at, but your child will LOVE the grown-up activity of using a knife and will want to slice and slice and slice. Besides that, it’s healthy and tasty, and she’ll get the snowman idea well enough.

(This snack is an adaptation of an idea I found here. )

Craft: Marshmallow Snowflakes

Here’s a simple craft idea that requires nothing but a piece of construction paper, a bottle of glue, and some mini-marshmallows. Let your child choose a color of paper and show her how to squeeze liquid glue onto it in a snowflake pattern. Doing this herself means she not only gets to create the design of her choice; it also provides another opportunity to work out those hand muscles, which is so important for little ones who are learning to write.

Once the glue is ready, give her a plate of marshmallows…

…and let her go to town sticking the marshmallows onto the glue to make a 3-D snowflake all her own.

Notice, once again, how differently they all turned out.

I got the idea here but chose to leave out the glitter…for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain. 😉

Do not be surprised when numerous marshmallows never make it to the glue design…

(But that’s one reason you give them SOME marshmallows on a plate…not the whole bag!)

Game: Snowball Search

For our last game, I opened up a package of “snowballs” (cotton balls) and hid them all over the room for the kids to find.

Since we were playing in a group, I gave a limit to how many each child could find, and when they reached it they had to help someone else find theirs. If you are playing with one child, you can let her find them all, and even let her have a turn hiding them for you to find, afterward!

While we were cleaning up, one of the girls became very curious about whether these snowballs would melt…so I let them add some water and see what happened.

And yes, the kids convinced themselves they truly did melt, and then had fun squishing them around in their hands. Hint: Don’t feel tied to only the activities you plan for your little one. Let him take the lead occasionally in determining what you do next!

I hope you enjoy these snowman activities. If you do them with your child, I’d love to hear about it. (And if you haven’t already, why not stop by and check out the activities for Snowmen at Night, too, for more “snowy” fun?)

Enjoy learning together!

(Please note that this post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.)

Snowmen at Night is one of THOSE books…you know, the ones that combine fun, colorful illustrations and a lyrical text to make any preschooler want to read it again and again and again. (And since it is highly unlikely we’ll see any actual snow all winter here in South Texas, we have to rely on books like this to enjoy the concept!)

In addition to the joy the book itself is sure to provide, here are ten fun activities inspired by Snowmen at Night. So grab your favorite preschooler and get ready to have some snowy fun, wherever you may live!

Note: I did these with the preschool group in our homeschool co-op, but each activity is easily adaptable and can be done with just you and your preschooler.

Snack: Snowman Buttons

OK, I’ll be honest here. This wasn’t really a planned thing. But the minute we got into the classroom, everyone was already “just starving”…and I certainly didn’t want any starving kids on my conscience…so I quickly poured out a pile of “snowman buttons” for them to snack on while we set up our other activities. (Hey, it worked…)

Snowman Buttons

Snowman Buttons

We read the book, Snowmen at Night, in which a little boy notices how different his snowman looks the morning after he builds him, and wonders what in the world snowmen do at night to end up with such a disheveled appearance. The older kids in the group understood that his snowman was really just starting to melt, but thoroughly enjoyed going along with the boy’s suppositions of what goes on when the sun goes down: sledding, ice skating, snowball fights, games and races, and drinks of ice cold cocoa provided by their snowmoms. (You really need to read this one to your kids!)

Imagination and dramatization: Sneaky Snowmen

Once we’d read the book, I pulled out our family’s big tub of winter gear (which we almost never need but have anyway for some reason.)

Each child picked out the hat, scarf, and mittens that would transform her into a snowman…

…and then I “built” each one by positioning them just so.

Next I said good-night to my little snowmen and pretended to go to sleep, telling them to do “whatever snowmen do at night.” While I snoozed and snored, they danced and jumped around. When I woke up, they froze, and I marveled at the changes that had taken place while I was sleeping. They LOVED this and asked to do it again and again and again.

Movement: Sledding

Like the snowmen in the book, we decided we would enjoy going sledding. Obviously, if you live where it snows, this will be done a little differently. Here, where we only read about snow in books, our sled of choice was a big laundry basket with a rope attached, and our snowy slope was a grassy area outside the building. Each snowman got a turn, and the others pretended to be sled dogs pulling their snowman down a snowy hill. All the riding snowman had to do was say “please,” then hang on and enjoy the ride.

Get ready...Get set...

Get ready…Get set…

Go!

Go!

Sledding wasn’t the only way the snowmen in the book had fun at night. They also engaged in snowman games and races…so we did, too! We started with a big bowl of “snowballs” (or, in our case, ping pong balls)…

…and I came up with a couple of fun, easy games to keep the kids moving on this beautiful, 70-something-degree January day. (You could, of course, do these indoors if you experience real winter where you live.)

Game/Movement: Spoons and Snowballs

First up was a game where each child had to carry a snowball in a spoon and dump it in a big bowl several feet away, then run back and give the spoon to their teammate to take over.  This was trickier than it sounds! Each time they dropped a snowball, they had to stop, pick it up, put it back in their spoon, and then keep running. We continued taking turns, but if you are playing this game with just one child, you could time him (using the stopwatch on your cell phone) to see how many he can get in a specified time, or to see how long it takes to get a certain number to the bowl. Let your child try to beat his own time each round.

Game/Movement: Scooping Snowballs

Next up I gave each child a measuring cup and had them scoop up as many snowballs as they could from the basket and run with them to their team’s bowl.

Although there was only one bowl per team, everyone was scooping and running (and squealing) at the same time. If you are doing this with one child, you might want to adapt the game as mentioned above, or have your own bowl and race against your child.

Once all the snowballs had been transferred, we counted the contents of each bowl to see which team had scooped the most. Sometimes the snowballs made it into the right bowl…

…and sometimes, not so much. But, just look at their faces!

(And yes, one of those is a Halloween-themed bowl…but it was big, and they didn’t seem to mind, or even notice!)

Snack: Snowman Donuts

All that running around will make your preschooler hungry, so you’re going to want to create a fun snack together to take the edge off that hungry tummy. Why not make this easy, adorable snowman donut?

All you need is one powdered donut and one candy corn piece per child, as well as a tube of black decorator frosting. I got the idea for this snack from this picture, but replaced the food clay he used for the eyes and mouth with other ingredients. This way the kids could do the whole project themselves—which they loved—and squeezing the tube and inserting the nose provided some fine motor practice as well.

Of course, they wanted more candy corn afterward, and they giggled each time they asked if they could please eat another nose.

Craft: Silly Snowman Collage

I purchased a package of small, white doilies and gave three of these “snowballs” to each child to glue onto colored construction paper. I then presented them with a tray full of bits and pieces that each child could use to create her individual snowman’s features.

Although I had specific snowman parts in mind when I chose items to fill the tray, I intentionally did not give the children any specific instructions other than to design their own snowmen. I love how differently they all turned out! The oldest kids’ creations looked somewhat like you might expect…

…while the younger ones’ concoctions definitely had their own unique styles!

(I adapted the above idea from here.)

Next I gave them some “snowflakes” (a.k.a. Honeycomb cereal pieces) to add to their pictures…

…but I think only one child ended up actually gluing them on her picture. (Can you guess where all the rest went?)

Science Experiment: Floating Snowball

Next I brought out a hair dryer and let each child predict what might happen to our snowball (ping pong ball) if we held it above the running hair dryer. Each child’s answer was different, and they were anxious to see what would happen.

Seeing the “floating snowball” brought some great facial expressions!  I had seen the idea here and here, but since I was working with three-to-five year olds I didn’t go into any explanation about air currents or air pressure. I simply let them experience the wonder, and enjoyed watching their reactions. Each one wanted a turn to hold the hairdryer and make the snowball float.

Please note that when you do this experiment you will need to have the heat setting on your hair dryer turned completely off. The cool air works just fine and will be safe for little hands.

Craft: Splendid Snowflakes

Here’s another idea I found here: I started with a package of incredibly gaudy doilies I found at the dollar store. (Well, I say they were gaudy…but, if you asked the kids, they were “beautiful golden snowflakes.”)

We laid them down on paper plates and used a sponge brush to cover them (and the plates) with blue paint.

The idea was to remove the doily when we were finished to find that the negative space left behind would resemble a gorgeous snowflake…which it did…

…but the kids were all just as excited about the “blue snowflakes” they had made, and refused to throw their painted doilies away. I have to agree, they looked very pretty!

If you are doing this with just one child, you could let her lay several doilies on plates and paint each one a different color, then hang them from your tree or ceiling for a falling-snow effect.

Just for fun: Snow Play

We couldn’t conclude our Snowmen at Night fun without getting our hands on some “snow,” so I brought out a can of shaving cream and squirted it onto the table in front of each child. They had a great time squishing it…

…and smooshing it.

Then they decided they wanted to turn themselves into snowmen, so they smeared it all over themselves. Good thing shaving cream cleans up easily. (And they all smelled so good afterward!)

No matter the climate where you live, there is plenty of wintery fun to be had while reading Snowmen at Night.

Update: If you enjoyed these activities, you may want to check out Sneezy the Snowman, too!

Enjoy learning together!

In Genesis 11:1-9 we find the story of The Tower of Babel. It’s a story about a group of people who tried to rebel against God’s plan for them. It’s a story of how God thwarted their efforts. And it’s a great reminder for young and old alike that we need to do things God’s way, whether we understand them or not!

Remi and I had a great time learning about The Tower of Babel through fun activities and snacks. Here’s what we did; I hope you enjoy this story, too!

Bible:

Of course, the very first thing we always do is read the Bible story. It’s important to teach your little one WHY it was wrong for the people to build the tower. Way back in Genesis 1, God had said (in verse 28) to “fill the earth.” We talked about the house we recently built, and how silly it would be to have all this space but spend all our time crammed together in one room. In the same way, God had created a great big world as a home for the people he made, and He wanted them to spread out! But, they refused, and chose to do things their own way, until God took over and did it for them. (v. 8 “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth…..”)

Movement:

As a movement activity, we played a game I made up called “Stop and Scatter.” When I called “STOP!” Remi had to freeze in one place to show how the people disobeyed God by refusing to fill the earth. When I called out “SCATTER!” she moved all around the house from one place to another to show how the people should have obeyed God . She loved this and it provided a great opportunity to contrast obedience and disobedience. (Plus, I love games that require no supplies and no advance preparation!)

"Scattering" like God said to do...

“Scattering” like God said to do…

(And no, the princess dress had nothing to do with the Bible story OR the activity. She just tends to wear them around the house and on this day her sister had made her a crown to go along with the dress.)

Math/Science:

We did a couple of fun, easy activities to reinforce the story. First, I cut some strips of construction paper in various lengths and had Remi arrange the pieces in order, from longest (on the bottom) to shortest (on the top), which created a tower shape. I printed the words of Genesis 11:4 on the bottom of a piece of paper and she glued the strips onto this background. (I got the idea here.) This was a good visual discrimination activity, as well, and squeezing glue from a bottle is great for those little hand muscles. (If your child is very young, glue sticks are a safe and easy alternative.)

Next, I did the obvious. I pulled out our big tub of wooden blocks and let her go to town building her own tower. Of course, she didn’t get to finish it, just like the people in the land of Shinar weren’t allowed to finish theirs! Remember to review the Bible story with every activity you do together. Building time is a great time for your little one to tell the story back to you!

Just for fun:

I told Remi I really needed her help. I then gave her several requests and instructions, but all were in a foreign language. (I spoke Dutch to her, but you could use any foreign language you know. And don’t worry if you aren’t bilingual. You can always speak Pig Latin!) This illustrated for her how it would have been impossible for the people to work together successfully once God confused their language.

Snack time:

For our snack we made Tower of Babel Nachos! We started with some bricks (tortilla chips) and mortar (grated cheese):

Bricks and mortar for our tower

Bricks and mortar for our tower

We used our building materials to carefully construct a big tower of yummy nachos to share with the rest of the family.

Tower of Babel Nachos

Tower of Babel Nachos

This Bible story is great for reinforcing importance concepts like obeying, trusting God’s plan, and following His instructions. Talk about these concepts with your child as you enjoy the various activities together, and please let me know how they go if you try any of my ideas with your little ones.

Enjoy learning together!

We had a great time learning about the promise God made to Noah to never again destroy the whole earth with a flood. Genesis 9 tells us how He set His rainbow in the clouds as a reminder of that promise.

I’ll share here all the fun things we did to go along with this Bible story, including a craft, a game, a snack, a project, and a simple science experiment, as well as activities for nature discovery and visual discrimination. Are you ready?

Game: Rainbow m&m Sort

I got the template for this printout here, and—as is often the case—I adapted it before printing and laminating. Since my daughter is only three, I skipped the die-rolling component for now, and just let her match up the m&m colors to the rainbow template. (You could have your child roll a die to determine which color gets placed if you want to make it a little more challenging. I decided to save that for later.)

I told Remi she could eat the brown ones, since they weren’t needed for the game. In the end, most of what she did was place the candy—whatever color she happened to pick up—onto the rainbow for about two seconds, and then pop it into her mouth when she thought I wasn’t looking! The first time not many m&m’s ended up on the template, but when we pulled this activity out again the next day, she filled up the whole rainbow—and felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was completed!  This game was just plain fun, but was also great practice for visual discrimination (and yes, even self-control!)

Does she really think I don’t know what’s in her mouth?

Craft: A Rainbow in the Clouds

This was a simple craft, but it provided a great opportunity to review the Bible story while we “worked.”

Where did God put His rainbow? What does it mean? Will we ever have a flood again? (Yes, but it won’t destroy the whole world.)

We turned these…..

…into THIS—a beautiful rainbow in the clouds, and a creation for a little one to be very proud of.

We even picked out her dress in honor of this Bible story!

Remi loves using my paper trimmer—with my supervision and help, of course—so I let her help me get the strips of construction paper ready.

Squeezing out all that glue before adding the cotton-ball clouds is a perfect workout for those little hand muscles!

Gluing on the paper strips gave us a chance to talk about the colors of a rainbow, i.e. that every rainbow consists of the same colors, that they are always in the same order, and what that order is. No, I don’t expect her to memorize the correct order right now! (But you may be ready to do that with your child, depending on his age.)

Snack: Rainbow Sherbet

This one was a no-brainer! It was yummy, something we don’t usually keep in the house, and super quick and easy.  And no, we didn’t eat it the same day we worked with the m&m’s…..

Science experiment: Milk Rainbows

I’m a firm believer that there are only two reasons to do science with young children. One is to expose them to evidence of the all-powerful God who created everything in existence, and the other is just to have FUN! Please don’t make the mistake of making science a chore for your little one. Let her experiment, play, and have fun!

And if you’re learning about God’s rainbow promise, why not start by making milk rainbows? I’ve seen activities like this all over the internet (like here and here). We adapted ours this way:

1. I put some milk in a shallow dish. (I chose a white one so the colors would really show up.)

2. I let my girls add a few drops each of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to the milk.

3. We let it spread for a few seconds, then added a drop of liquid dish soap in the middle. Here’s what happened:

(There were lots of oohs and ahhs!)

4. I let Remi turn the dish slightly to swirl the colors around in the milk.

5. My 10-year-old daughter was watching us do this experiment, so I explained to her what was happening: The fat and protein molecules were moving around in reaction to the dish soap we added, and the food coloring allowed us to see the movement of the molecules. If you are doing this only with a young child, you may want to simply tell him that there are things going on all around us that we don’t even notice, but that God can see everything and He knows what’s happening, even when we can’t see it. (Or, just let him enjoy the pretty colors and swirls!) Simple and fun…

I also showed Remi how, if we hold a CD up to the sunlight, we can see the light reflecting off of it in rainbow colors. (She thought that was pretty cool!)  How’s that for a zero cost, zero prep science activity?

Visual Discrimination Activity: Pompom Sort

I gave Remi a divided tray and an assortment of rainbow-colored pompoms in three different sizes and let her sort them into compartments by color. (We used a sorting tray made just for these kinds of activities, but you could use a muffin pan, egg carton, divided craft box, or whatever you have available. Pompoms can usually be found at the dollar store, but you could substitute beads, buttons, etc.)

This was a little too quick and easy for her, but after she got them all sorted, she asked for some tongs so she could do it again with more of a challenge. Doing it this way provided great motor skills practice, too. (These are regular kitchen tongs I got from the dollar store just for Remi to use.)

Next she wanted an empty water bottle to put the pompoms in, which is great “work” for developing hand-eye coordination. **HINT: Follow your child’s lead and let him take the activities you plan in the right direction for him.**

Project: String Rainbow Cereal

This one is a classic. I’m pretty sure there’s a rule somewhere that says that at some point, your child has to string cereal pieces together to make a necklace. (Right?) Besides, it’s great for your little one’s hand-eye coordination, and something that can be done fairly independently.

You only need two ingredients: Fruit Loop-type cereal, and something on which to string it, like a shoelace or a piece of yarn. I used a lace from a sewing card set we own, and tied a big knot in the end to get her started (so the pieces wouldn’t slip off).

Granted, at times there seemed to be more of this going on…..

…..than this:

There were even times that both were happening simultaneously.

In the end, Remi decided she didn’t want it to be a necklace after all. She considered a headband…..

…..but opted instead for something she could swing around and around to get the dog’s attention. (???)  Again, whatever she chose was fine with me. The point was to give her the experience and let her get creative with it.

And now, for my favorite of all the Rainbow-Promise-related activities we enjoyed:

Nature and Movement Activity: Rainbow Walk

This is a great way to get outside with your little one and take a closer look at God’s beautiful creation. It requires no advanced planning or preparation, and all you need is your child and a camera. Just throw on some flip-flops and head outdoors with your little tyke and the goal of finding every color of the rainbow in nature.

This was a great opportunity to review which colors comprise a rainbow, and we didn’t even make it to the end of our block before finding every single one of them. Remi had a great time hunting for the different colors and taking some of her own pictures. I encouraged her to look beyond the flower beds and notice colors all around her. Here’s a sample of what we found for each—in proper rainbow order, of course!

Variations:

If the weather’s bad, you could do this same activity inside your home.

You could skip the camera and simply find the colors, or take a clipboard and some crayons along and have your child draw each object she finds.

Or, you could take a piece of paper in each color outside with you, and have your little one attach something she finds in each color to the proper page.

Get creative if you want to! I’m all for simple, but you could take this fun activity as far as you choose.

I hope you enjoy experiencing these activities with a little one you love, but even more, I encourage you to use them to reinforce a beautiful story of God’s promise to all mankind.

(This lesson makes a great follow-up to our Noah’s ark activities.)

Enjoy learning together!