Blanket of Air – Activities

FOCUS: The air we breathe is part of the Earth’s atmosphere, a layer of gases that surrounds the planet, protecting us from harmful radiation and keeping us warm. Although air is invisible, we’ll discover that it takes up space, exerts pressure and has weight, can be heated, cooled, and compressed, and always seeks to equalize its pressure. It is important to understand our atmosphere, because without air, animals and plants could not survive.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about air.

Give each small group of children an empty bag, and ask, “What’s in the bag?” Now ask children to twist the neck of the bag shut with a twist-tie, and have them feel it again. Is the bag really empty?

Materials: Plastic bag and twist tie, one for each group.

STATIONS: The following activities are best done in small groups and could be set up in stations: Paper Flip, Air Trap, Pump Action, Rise and Fall, and Diving Dropper. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Activities

Blanket of Air – Puppet Show

Half Full or Half Empty?

 

Characters: Freddy Frog, Teddy Toad, Wilma Worm, Frieda Fish, Water Lily, Davy Dragonfly

Props:  Two tea cups attached to stage, one on stick so it can tip.

 

Freddy Frog  Look, Teddy Toad. My cup is half full.

Teddy Toad  My cup is half empty.  I always get less. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Puppet Show

Blanket of Air – Standards

BLANKET OF AIR ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Blanket of Air – Standards

Nature of Sound – Background

If a tree falls in the forest, a bird sings, or a beaver slaps its tail, does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? To think about this riddle, we need to understand the nature of sound – what it is and how we perceive it. Sound is important in our lives and the lives of other animals. Our sense of hearing helps us learn about and monitor our surroundings. And for animals that chirp, croak, bark, or talk, sound provides a highly effective means of communication.

Sound is what we hear when something is vibrating. Pluck a rubber band or a guitar string, and we hear a sound. How does the sound reach our ears? As the string vibrates, oscillating rapidly back and forth, it pushes or compresses the air Continue reading Nature of Sound – Background

Nature of Sound – Activities

FOCUS: Sound is what we hear when something is vibrating. The vibrating object – whether a violin string, a singing bird, or a gurgling brook – creates a sound wave that travels to our ears, where we interpret its meaning. Sound waves need a medium like air, water, or a solid through which to move; they cannot pass through a vacuum. The Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere provide a way for sounds to travel. Many animals depend on sound to learn about their surroundings and to communicate with others of their kind.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about sound.

Ask children to put their hands on their own throats as they make a noise like a frog and sing like a bird. What do they notice? Next, ask all children to make a “shush” sound. Do they notice a difference?

PAINT STICK ORCHESTRA
Objective: To investigate what is happening when something makes a sound.

Give each child or pair of children a paint stick. Have one child place the stick flat on a table or desk, so that about two thirds of it extends out beyond the edge. Have the child hold the stick firmly, pressing down on it with the heel of one or both hands. Have the other child pluck the free end of the stick so that it vibrates up and down. Does it make a sound? What about when it stops moving? (The sound stops.) Have everyone sing a note and feel their throats to feel the vibrating vocal chords. If available, play a guitar string, drum or cymbal to show how it vibrates when making a sound. What is happening when something makes a sound? (It is vibrating.) Have them experiment with making the stick shorter (less of it extending beyond the table edge) and longer (more of the stick extending beyond the table edge). How does the sound change? (Longer is slower and sounds lower.)

Optional: Have the children “play” paint sticks as you conduct them. Conduct them to play faster and slower, louder and softer, as you wave your arms, and then to stop when you stop.

Materials: wooden paint sticks, one for each child or pair of children; optional: guitar, drum, cymbal or other instruments.

PUPPET SHOW “Calls of the Wild”
Objective: To learn how different animals hear and make sounds, and how sounds are important in their lives. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Activities

Nature of Sound – Puppet Show

Calls of the Wild

Characters: Harry Hare, Chelsea Chickadee, Woodrow Woodpecker, Jenny Jay, Oliver Owl.

Props: cup of water and a straw; signs for audience participation: “chick-a-dee, dee, dee,” “whshhhhh,” “jay-jay-jay.”

Directions: Ahead of time, assign people in the audience a sound to make when their sign appears. It may be helpful to have one person to do sound effects and hold up the signs for audience participation.

Harry Hare   Gee, it’s almost morning and I’m still hungry. I’d like to go across the field to get to the bramble patch, but it might be dangerous. I’d better listen with my ears to be sure it’s safe. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Puppet Show

Nature of Sound – Standards

NATURE OF SOUND ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Nature of Sound – Standards

Water – Background

From ice crystals to raindrops, water in its many forms is a remarkable substance that is essential to all living things. Most organisms are made largely of water, many also live in or on the water, and all require water to survive. The Earth’s water is a finite resource but one that is constantly on the move. As it cycles from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and back, it changes form. Water evaporates into vapor, condenses into droplets, and precipitates as rain or snow. Much of the water that falls on land is transported back to the air by plants, a process that is only possible because of water’s unique properties.

The Earth’s water was formed billions of years ago as the planet itself was forming, though there is still much to learn about how this came about. Water is Continue reading Water – Background

Water – Activities

FOCUS: The Earth’s water is in oceans, lakes, and rivers, in the atmosphere and underground, inside plants and animals, and frozen in glaciers. The water present today is the same water that has been here for millions of years, though it is constantly in motion, moving from place to place. Water evaporates into vapor, condenses into clouds, precipitates as rain or snow, and transpires through plants as it moves between atmosphere and land, over and over again in a cycle that is powered by the sun and essential to living things.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about water.

Give each small group of children a bucket of water, a bowl of ice, some cups, and some spoons. Allow them to explore the materials, and ask what they notice and wonder about water.

Materials: basin of water, spoons, cups, and ice, set for each group; optional: funnels.

HOT, COLD, AND FROZEN (Grades 3-6)
Objective: To compare the density of water at different temperatures.

Ask the children what happens to air when you heat it up. (It gets lighter and rises.) Would water get heavier or lighter when heated? Ask for ideas about a way that you could test this. Continue reading Water – Activities

Water – Standards

THE WATER CYCLE ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Water – Standards

Wind and Clouds Aloft – Background

Watching the sky can be peaceful or exciting, depending on the day or hour. Sometimes the sky is as still as a painting with snow-white clouds on a deep blue canvas. At other times ragged clouds race across the sky, propelled by high winds aloft. Sky-watching may take us on flights of fancy or lead us to ponder why the wind blows, or how clouds take such different shapes, or what wind and clouds can tell us about the weather.

Winds, or flowing air currents, are caused by warm air rising and cool air flowing in to take its place. Because the sun heats the Earth unequally, the atmosphere is heated unequally too, warming and rising in some parts, cooling and sinking in others. This creates areas of low pressure, where the air has Continue reading Wind and Clouds Aloft – Background

Wind and Clouds Aloft – Activities

FOCUS: Winds, or flowing air currents, are caused by warm air rising and cool air flowing in to take its place. Winds pick up moisture from bodies of water, and clouds form when the moisture in them condenses into tiny water droplets. Depending on the conditions of wind, moisture, and temperature aloft, different kinds of clouds take form. Together clouds and wind interact to bring us all kinds of weather. Wind power can be harnessed for our use, with old and new technologies.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about wind and clouds.

Take children outside to observe the wind and clouds. Ask them to close their eyes, and ask them how the wind feels and sounds. Ask them to open their eyes to look at the clouds. Ask them to describe the clouds. Do all of the clouds look the same?

CLASS CLOUD SORT
Objective: To look for patterns of similarities and differences in photographs of clouds, grouping them into some basic cloud categories.

Ahead of time, place three puppets (cumulus, stratus, cirrus) at different locations in the room. Hand out a card to each child. Continue reading Wind and Clouds Aloft – Activities

Wind and Clouds Aloft – Puppet Show

Head in the Clouds

Characters: Benjy Bear, Wilma Wind, Chippy Chipmunk, Gus Cumulus, Stanley Stratus, Siri Cirrus

Props:  Cumulonimbus, water spray bottle

Benjy Bear  Brr!  It’s windy and cold today. I thought spring was here, but it feels like winter’s back. Hey, Wilma Wind, why are you so cold today?

Wilma Wind  Because I’m blowing from the north where it’s still freezing. I thought I’d bring you a refreshing blast of polar air. Continue reading Wind and Clouds Aloft – Puppet Show

Wind and Clouds Aloft – Standards

WIND AND CLOUDS ALOFT ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Wind and Clouds Aloft – Standards

Get Your Bearings – Background

Animals are always on the move, traveling from place to place to look for mates, find food, tend their young, or migrate to and from a faraway winter home. To do so, animals must have a sense of where they are and a way to navigate between destinations. Many aspects of the physical world provide important cues for animals on the go, some that we can sense and others that are outside our range of perception. What environmental cues do animals use to get their bearings, and how do people find their way?

From an early age, we begin to develop a sense of direction, an understanding of where we are inside our homes, which soon expands to school and beyond. One of the ways we orient is by forming a mental map of familiar places – a picture in Continue reading Get Your Bearings – Background