Category Archives: science

Human Body: Skin and Hair

Our human body unit has come to an end. Tomorrow I will be posting a list of our resources/printables- but as far as my daughter is concerned- we are done! And it feels good. This has been quite an educational journey for Boo and I. Tootsie (one of the MANY names we have given this human body chart) has taught us a lot about the body and how it works.

The skin and hair were really quite easy. We watched a video about the skin (Boo probably replayed this video 30 times) We talked about how our skin gets wrinkly after we take a bath. I had 2 extra body cutouts that I made- we took one for the skin- which we placed on top of the bones. We painted the skin a peachy color, and it looked marvelous. Then we put it on top of the bones and it didn’t line up AT ALL. Somehow all the body cutouts that I cut at the same time are a bit different. I set to work cutting off limbs and taping them back together so it would match up more… in the end it looks better, still not “perfect” but  we are happy with it (or do I say her?). Another adjustment I made was taping the muscle layer underneath the skin layer- the red plastic was just too floppy on it’s own. The hair was just yellow yarn- we also added yarn eyebrows. The second extra body cut out was used as a frame for clothes.

Painting the skin… It is REALLY hard to see the body on top of the matching dropcloth (brown paper courtesy of thanks for sending us yards of this brown paper with our last purchase) And I have admitted this in the past- we love to craft on the floor!

Tootsie is all painted! Just a reminder that this is a separate layer- the bones and organs body chart was taking a break! You can see the yarn hair, eye and mouth cutouts, nose, and red lips (extra red plastic from her muscles). And we had to make her modest. 🙂

The clothes layer was our third body cut-out- minus the head, hands, and feet. Boo and I used material to cut out a shirt, which we glued onto the brown paper. I used the brown paper for two reasons- first, it gave her clothes some support so they weren’t floppy, and second, I didn’t want to attach the clothes to the person- because we did it this way I am able to tape the clothes layer on her shoulders. If that makes sense….

For pants, Boo wanted to cut out orange and blue paper. She is all about the scissors recently.

Voila! Our person! You can see that the three body cut-outs aren’t a perfect match. Learn from my mistake- make sure that the layers line up correctly before you invest a lot of time into the project!

I just love this side look of Tootsie. 

I honestly admit- this is one girl that is definitely more beautiful on the inside than out. This weekend our final human body post will have all links to all our printables and resources!
Happy Teaching!

Montessori Jar: Cleaning Pennies

Boo and I have been a slacking in doing our Montessori Jar since we moved in December (OK, truth be told we had been slacking WAY before our move, and most of the activities that were in her jar mysteriously disappeared only to be found smushed in her plastic vanity drawer where they are at this very moment). Needless to say, I am excited to be back in the Montessori activity game!
I found the cleaning penny idea at The Science Explorer. We set to work gathering the materials- 20 dull and dirty pennies, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, clear shallow bowl, and 2 paper towels labeled “Rinsed” and “Not Rinsed” (the website suggests doing activities with nails and bolts- we just stuck to the pennies).

Gather your materials. I just love the little Rudolph face in the background! She was our little cheerleader during the activity:)
Stir salt in the vinegar until its dissolved. This was a great time to discuss with Boo what “dissolves” means.

Take a penny and dip it halfway into the vinegar and salt mixture. Count to 10 and…

Half of your penny is clean! So cool!!

After doing this a couple times (since it was super exciting for both of us), dump all your pennies into the vinegar/salt mixture.

After 5 minutes, take half your pennies and put them on the “Not Rinsed” paper towel.

 Take the other half of your pennies and rinse them well. Place these on the “Rinsed” paper towel. And now it’s time to wait.

After one hour, the “Not Rinsed” pennies will have a nice blue tint to them! The reason is that the copper atoms are joining with oxygen atoms and chlorine atoms from the salt.

This was a super easy science experiment that Boo and I both enjoyed. We just love science around here!!:)
Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Digestive System

This is the area of the human body that my daughter has been so anxious to study! Hilarious, seeing though most people are grossed out by the whole process. 🙂 I have to honestly admit that I, as an adult, am learning so much about the human body.

Our body has a digestive system now! Yippee! 

We did a couple activities to start off our learning exploration. First, we just talked about the whole process. Boo was just naturally inquisitive about this topic, so it wasn’t another boring lecture (think of Charlie Brown’s teacher!) I explained everything from the mouth to the large intestine and everything in-between. We also talked a little bit about the liver and how it produces bile. This was especially of interest to Boo because our dog Sammy had a sock stuck in his duodenum (part of the small intestine) and would throw up bile. At first Boo was proud that Sammy threw up the icky green liquid- I had to explain to her that bile coming out of our mouth is not a good thing!

Our next learning activity was watching this short clip on the digestive system. My daughter thought this was SO fascinating. I like that it was short and sweet, and used proper terminology. I got the idea to use this clip from Spell Outloud. We watched the movie AT LEAST five times per Boo’s request!

It was time for a more hands on activity using a paper towel tube, baggie, water, and bread (another activity inspired from Spell Outloud.
The paper towel tube was our esophagus and the bag of water was the stomach and stomach acid. As we put pieces of bread into the esophagus, we discussed how it is a tube with muscles that help move the food down towards the stomach.

Putting the bread down the esophagus
Squeezing the esophagus, mimicking the muscle movement that brings the food toward the stomach

Once the bread reached the stomach, we talked about how the acids break it down into smaller pieces called chime. As you can imagine, watching bread turn into a liquidy goop was extremely fascinating and we had to repeat the experiment a few times.

“WOW! Can we do this AGAIN?” I just love this face!

The last step was adding the digestive system to our body! I know the proportions are off a bit- but I am still happy with how it turned out!

The upper part of the digestive system: the upper throat meeting up with the blue trachea and pink esophagus 
The lower part of the digestive system: liver, pancreas, gall bladder, stomach,  and small and large intestines. 

I hope that in some way this will help and inspire you as you teach your kiddos about the digestive system!

For more ideas on the human body, follow my board on Pinterest!

Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Circulatory System

It’s time for another post on the human body! Today we talked about the circulatory system…. more specifically the heart, arteries, veins, and lungs. Before we set out for our activities I had two goals: First, I wanted my daughter to know that the red arteries deliver oxygen, while the blue veins carry out the “garbage” (the term carbon dioxide was not part of today’s lesson!!) The second goal was to add the circulatory system to our human body.

Two ways to teach your child about the circulatory system:
I drew an enormous chalk figure of the human body in our unfinished basement, and made sure to include the trachea, lungs, heart, arteries, and veins. I also pulled out my red and blue unifix cubes for the blood. I also grabbed some cans of silly string we had sitting around.
Example #1: We tossed all the red cubes in a ginormous dump truck from my daughter’s sandbox. I told Boo that the blood goes to the lungs to get air, then we blew on the red blocks. We delivered red oxygenated blood by “driving” the truck down the arteries and tossing red blocks throughout the body.

Dispersing the oxygenated blood by driving the truck down the artery path.

The dump truck then turned around, and drove up the veins while Boo picked up the blue blocks- AKA garbage (for older kids I would use the term carbon dioxide!).

Collecting the garbage (carbon dioxide) into the dump truck and driving it back to the heart up the vein path.

When the truck got back to the lungs, it dumped out the garbage, then we ran it up the trachea and breathed it out! I know a lot of the technical stuff may not be remembered, but we had fun…and at the end of the day, thats what counts.

Example #2:  We cleaned up the blocks and played the game again, but this time we used silly string. And it was a lot more captivating. We started at the heart, went to the lungs to get our air, then back down the heart and into the arteries. My daughter enjoyed squirting the silly string throughout the body, although she had a difficult time pushing down on the valve. The silly string…I mean oxygen…. was picked up in the trusty dump truck along the vein path and hauled away to the lungs, were it was exhaled.

After picking up the carbon dioxide (silly string), Boo dumped it into the lungs. Right after doing this,  she picked up the silly string and exhaled it by running up the trachea and out the mouth.

After our kinesthetic illustrations of the circulatory system, we went upstairs and added the components to our human body chart. The heart was printed out from this site, and the veins and arteries were pieces of old embroidery floss (yarn would work just as well).

Look at our body develop- this is turning out to be such a fun project!!

We had plans to make a stethoscope and listen to our heart beats, but that didn’t happen…. we were able to  feel our heart beats with our hands before and after running around. This is a great time to discuss why our heart beats increase when we exercise and the importance of oxygen to our muscles.

I couldn’t resist adding this cute School House Rock video on the circulatory system. It’s classic, educational film at it’s best.

For more ideas on the human body, follow my board on pinterest!

Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Respiratory System

The past couple of days we tackled the respiratory system. It was a bit of a challenge to get Boo excited to learn about lungs… honestly, how many four year olds are excited to learn about lungs! And although she was convinced our lung activities would be boring, we ended up having a pretty good time. And I think we actually learned a few things along the way!!!

We started our breathing exploration playing a fun game called Oxygen Cycle. I adapted the game I found at PE Central to meet the needs of my four year old. To play this game I drew an outline of a person with sidewalk chalk… making sure to add a mouth, trachea, lungs, and muscles. The only supplies you need are beanbags. The oxygen (pile of beanbags) started out at the mouth. Boo would run to the mouth, get some oxygen, run down the trachea path, through the lungs, and then to a muscle. When she got to the muscle she would have to perform a little exercise- like arm circles, jump in place, etc- until she ran out of oxygen. Then it was back through the lungs, trachea, and to the mouth to get more oxygen and repeat the process. And while we were playing Boo made some adjustments- like deciding it was much more efficient to ride her bike down the trachea path instead of running. And then piling her bike with ALL the beanbags instead of going back and forth. 🙂 We both had a good time, and that’s what counts!

We watched an episode of Blue’s Clue’s that talks about taking a deep breath when you feel frustrated. Not that my Sweet Pea is ever frustrated- ha! Good lesson on how deep breathing relaxes our body. (For those that are curious and want to watch this with your little ones it is Season 2 Episode 18)
Our little family spent an evening doing various lung activities (found here). We took a straw and taped string on the end. Boo blew into the straw and watched the string elevate. The longer/deeper the breaths were, the longer the string would float. 

 The same concept was also illustrated by blowing into a harmonica. Deeper breaths would play longer notes, and shorter breaths would play shorter notes.

 We practiced blowing feathers with deep/short breaths.

And then we made a lung! It was SO much fun! A must-do if you are planning on teaching your child about the respiratory system. I followed the steps found here and it worked perfectly. A great visual of the trachea, lungs, and diaphragm. And how the diaphragm contracts during the breathing process. Boo  was able to see that the diaphragm goes down to create room for the lungs as they expand.

We couldn’t forget to add lungs to our body (Boo has named her Bony. What a name, right?)

 We glued some bubble wrap on top of the lung picture (since there is air in our lungs) and added a diaphragm.

Last but not least… a great resource in teaching kids yoga breathing techniques (as well as lots of other yoga poses). 
For more ideas check out my Pinterest board on the human body:

Tomorrow we talk about the circulatory system! Boo told me tonight she wants to add meat to her body chart…any suggestions? 🙂
Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Lymphatic System

What child isn’t fascinated with germs? Today we talked about the lymphatic system- more specifically how our body gets rid of those germy bugs!

Disclaimer: I am not in the medical field and I hope what I am teaching my daughter is somewhat accurate!! Ha! 
We looked at the lymph nodes in our human body encyclopedia (my daughter refers to the nodes as “beans”, which makes sense because they are so small!). We talked about white blood cells: how they are the guys that fight the germies and that some of these cells are stored in the lymph nodes.  
I then had a visual to show my daughter why lymph nodes get swollen. We inserted white blood cells (aka cotton balls) into the lymph node (aka balloon). The more white blood cells, the bigger the balloon got! 

We then pulled out our body chart.  Lymph nodes were added using green thumbprints- and although they are found throughout the entire body, we just stuck them in a few spots.

We couldn’t forget to add white blood cells- little dots of white paint with a q-tip.

Boo decided it was time for a break…..

 Then it was back to work taping on the lymph vessels using green embroidery floss.

The last thing we added was the spleen. We talked about how one of the jobs of the spleen (referred to as the “big bean”) is to store extra white blood cells. We might go back tomorrow and actually paint some cells on the spleen!

Boo and I played a quick game of Germ Attack… germs entered various parts of the body and the white blood cells (cotton balls) raced along the lymph vessel to attack the germs!

We tried watching the Once Upon a Time video on the lymphatic system– but we only got through the first part (it’s a three part series). This would be much more entertaining for an older child!

Here is a closer look at our body with the lymphatic system:

For more ideas check out my Pinterest board on the human body:

Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Brain

Day 2 of our human body exploration was all about the brain.
I first asked Boo if she knew what the skull protected. The response was a glazed over “HUH?” look- I am sure all you teachers out there have seen this look before! I told Boo to look inside the skull for the answer. She lifted the flap and…..

what do you know, the skull protects the brain!
In order to demonstrate the importance of the skull, we did a little experiment with eggs. I told my daughter a made-up on the spot story about a girl who was playing with baby ibexes on a tall mountain and then suddenly slipped and fell. At this point I told Boo to drop an egg on the floor. She was a bit hesitant at first- thinking it MUST be some type of joke to just throw food on the floor on purpose- but after seeing I was serious about it down came the egg. And what a mess it made. A great visual on why our brains need protection! We did drop another egg that was wrapped up with cotton and snuggled inside a plastic easter egg shell. It suffered only minor injuries- a small crack- nothing serious. Our brains need protection: lesson learned.

Later that day we watched a VERY cute video on the nervous system from School House Rock. My daughter loved it and so we watched it a few times. A great visual on how the brain sends signals to the rest of our body. This would be a great way to introduce the role of the spinal cord and nerves… we briefly talked about them, but our objective today was about the brain. Maybe when Boo is 5 we will have a more detailed discussion about the nervous system! 🙂

There are SO many fun ideas out there on teaching your kiddo about the brain. Follow my board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Tomorrow we tackle the lymph nodes!!
Happy Teaching!

Human Body: Skeleton

My four year old is a very scientific little girl who is extremely interested in learning about the human body. We just started a fun little mini unit on the body- so prepare yourself for A LOT of posts on this subject!
You can’t talk about the human body without talking about the skeleton. I mean, without it we would be a lump of squishy organs and skin! Ha! To get us ready for our skeleton learning journey I decided to make a child-size paper body chart.

At first I had great intentions of making separate body charts for each of the different systems- muscles, nervous, circulatory, digestive, etc BUT I decided as we learned about each system we would add it to just one paper body.
To make the paper body I traced my daughter on brown packing paper (thank you Amazon for shipping your products with SO much extra paper!!)
I searched online for a human skeleton cut out and was so thrilled to find this child-size skeleton printout. I had to make some adjustments- my daughter isn’t quite that tall yet, so I shrunk the size a bit before printing. Due to size issues, I also had to add a different pelvic bone (found here), ribs (found here), and I ended up drawing a skull.

Skull opens to make room for the brain
Ribs open to make room for some internal organs

The ribs are cut open so I can insert different organs as we learn about them, and the skull is actually two papers taped together at the top so I can put the brain inside. I am super excited about how this project is turning out! We will be adding to this paper body as we learn about different organs and systems.

Putting the skeleton together was a family event- Boo is happily stirring juice while intently staring at the bones as we talk about them. And FYI: gluing bones on a body outline that is not a perfect match is tricky! 

We watched a School House Rock video on the skeleton, talked about calcium, and I printed out some X-Ray cards found at Chasing Marcus. We tried watching the Once Upon a Time series on the skeleton– not my favorite, but someone out there in the blogosphere might enjoy watching it.

Boo watching skeleton movies online–don’t look too closely at my super messy desk!

For more skeleton fun- check out my blog post on skeletons– it is definitely Halloween-ish, but it can be educational! There is also a post on a glow-in-the dark skeleton game that was lots of fun.

Next post will be about the human brain!
Happy Teaching!

Cultural Activities- More on Montessori

I started writing a series of posts on Montessori and only recently realized that I had never finished…oops! I was originally going to do separate posts for Science and Culture and I don’t remember why. From what I remember from David Gettman’s book Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives culture includes science (please correct me if I am wrong.. it’s been over a year since I read the book!)

David Gettman suggests the following sequence for teaching culture. Included in the list are some activities that I have found online. Enjoy!
Period One:
Period Two:
Period Three:
Period Four:
Period Five:
  • plant life cycles- online tutorial for kids on the plant life cycle- from seed to dispersal. Youtube also has several different time lapse videos of seeds growing that are pretty cool!
  • time line
Period Six:
  • reading classified cards in geography, nature studies, and history 
  • fact books from the library
Period Seven:
  • definition stages of classified cards in geography, nature studies, and history
  • field nature observation work
You must check out this detailed scope and sequence of geography pdf. It is amazing!
Happy Teaching!

Learning About Seasons

My little gal and I recently learned a little bit about weather and the seasons. We didn’t spend a lot of time on this unit since there were some glorious days that were SO nice that we opted to go play outside instead!

Here is what we actually did accomplish:

  • Number recognition game using weather and numbered dice. (read more about it here)
  • Learned about a thermometer and watched the mercury change in different temperatures.
  • Sorted seasonal items in our exploration journals and talked about different holidays during each season.
  • Dressed weather people according to the season.
  • Read books about seasons and clouds
This unit was at the perfect time- This week we have had rain, snow, hail, wind, and sunshiny days!
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