Thanksgiving STEAM Teepee building

Often I feel as though Thanksgiving activities get lost in the middle of Halloween and Christmas.  Here’s a simple STEAM activity that can be tailored for the littlest ones as well as for older ones.  The method I have in this post is just ONE of many ways that you could present this activity to your superheroes.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Brown construction paper (great for little ones)
  • Sticks (real ones or craft sticks, depending on the age of your kiddos)
  • Thanksgiving stickers (we used leaves)
  • Pilgrim and Native American figures (We found a fun kit at Michael’s)
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Since the tots in my class are pretty young (ages 2-3), I provided them with brown construction paper and helped them to roll into a cone.

I left a box of craft sticks out for them in case they wanted to try to use them instead.  Some taped them on to the outside of their Teepees.

Some looked like tents.

The tots then added stickers and craft sticks to the cone to make it look like a Teepee.

All of them looked great!

Using the kit, each child selected either a Pilgrim or Native American and added it to their Teepee or used them to play with.

Pretend Play with their Teepees further extends this activity!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple open-ended STEAM activity that allows children to build a structure using basic supplies.  The challenge is getting it to stand on its own.  Add some specifications to the structures for older kids, such as a height, width, number of sticks, etc…  Adding the Pilgrims and Native American figures also encourages pretend play.  Read a book about Thanksgiving to round out the lesson with a bit of history.

This activity can be modified for any holiday, such as Santa’s Toy Factory, Witch’s Hut, Leprechaun Trap, etc…

 

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Exploring the 5 Senses with Apples

Everyone seems to be in a frenzy over apples in the Fall.  While everyone else is baking and drinking apple cider, I decided to use them for some fun Fall Science.  My middle son just studied the 5 senses in his kindergarten class and that got me thinking… So here’s my apple version of the 5 senses!  No fancy stuff needed.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Apples (any variety will do, but a few different ones to investigate is great)
  • knife
  • apple corer (optional)
  • magnifying glass (optional but they are fun to use)

Our first Sense is the sense of Sight.  We talked about our eyes.  Where are they on our face?  How many eyes do we have? What do we use them for?

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Then we used our eyes to look at the different apples.  What shape are they?  What colors are the apples?  How many do we have?

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We also used our magnifying glass to take a closer look.

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Next we discussed our sense of Touch.  We talked about our fingers and hands and what we use them for.  We counted our fingers too! (See how I sneak math into my science!) What do the apples feel like?  Are they soft or hard?  Are they smooth or bumpy?  Are they heavy or light?

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Moving on to the next one, we talked about our sense of Smell.  What do we use to smell with?  Where is our nose?  How many noses do we have?

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Then we smelled the apples with our noses.  Sniff Sniff!

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The fourth sense uses our ears to Hear.  We pointed to our ears.  How many ears do we have?  What are they used for?

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Using the apple slicer, we listened to the sound of the apple being sliced. Crunch!

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We grabbed a slice and touched it and discussed how the inside of an apple feels different from the outside.  It felt wet and sticky.  We touched the core and sliced it open and investigated the seeds inside with our sense of touch and sense of sight.

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Of course, the magnifying glass was necessary to get a closer look!

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We also smelled the inside of the apple and it smelled sweet.

Lastly, we used our fifth sense, taste, when we licked our apple and then bit into it!  YUM!!

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What a fun way to use apples to learn about the five senses!

During October, you might also want to try using the 5 senses to investigate pumpkins!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple observation activity for the youngest scientists as well as older ones.  Identifying the 5 senses and the body parts that are used for each is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.  Comparing the inside and the outside of the apple using the senses is also a great observation activity as well.  Connecting the 5 senses to a food that they are familiar with is a great way to connect everyday life to science.  So much learning from a simple activity!

For more apple science activities, try:

Cranberry Science

It’s almost Thanksgiving and it’s time to make the cranberry sauce and why not throw in a quick bit of science while the kids help you make the sauce?  Cranberry sauce is quick and easy to make at home and we took some time to explore some fun with cranberries.  (When I mentioned this to my mother, she groaned and said, “Why do you have to find science in everything?”  To which I replied, “Because science is in everything we do!”)

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • fresh cranberries
  • dried cranberries
  • glasses (I used some old jam jars)
  • ginger ale (or any carbonated clear drink)
  • knife (for adult use only)IMG_4174

Fresh vs. Dried Cranberries:

I had the boys compare the dried and fresh cranberries.  They held it in their hands and noticed that the fresh ones were round, smooth, shiny and hard.  The dried ones were “bendy”, wrinkled, bumpy and darker in color.  Then they tasted them.  You should have seen my son’s face when he tasted the fresh cranberries! (He spit it out so quickly that I couldn’t get a picture!)

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Then I asked them what they thought would happen if we put both kinds of cranberries in water.  My middle son guessed that they would both sink.

IMG_4178 So, why do the fresh cranberries float and the dried cranberries sink?  We decided to cut a fresh cranberry open to see if that might give us any clues.

IMG_4180 Aha! If you look closely, you can see that cranberries are filled with air pockets.  This allows them to float in water.  The dried cranberries don’t have any air in them and so they sink.

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My eldest son decided to keep a record of our experimentation and our results.

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After observing the cranberries in the water, my middle son wondered if the cranberries would “dance” in soda like raisins do.  (Check out my “Dancing Raisins” and “Hopping Corn and Cranberries”  5-minute activities to see what he’s referring to.  Super easy and perfect for the holidays when there’s plenty of soda around!)

So, of course, I grabbed a can of ginger ale and we added fresh cranberries and dried cranberries and observed what happened.

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The cranberries DID dance, but not the same way as the raisins did.  I LOVE that my son was able to make the connection to an experiment we did awhile ago.  I guess they DO pay attention to their mom… sometimes.

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Making Cranberry Sauce:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I asked my sister-in-law if I could make the cranberry sauce, specifically so I could justify buying a bag of fresh cranberries to use to investigate.  So, I had my middle son help me make the sauce.  Measuring  is a great math skill and pouring and mixing carefully are great to develop fine motor skills.  I try to include my kids in cooking/baking whenever I can, even if it takes me 3 times as long to complete my task.

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The fun part came when we added the cranberries to the sugar/water mixture.

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As my son mixed, he heard some “popping” sounds.  As we looked carefully at the pot, he noticed the cranberries were “exploding”.

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So I asked him why that might be happening.  This was a great way to bring back the concept that cranberries are filled with air pockets and when the air heats up, they have to get out of the cranberries so they “explode”.

He also noticed the sauce getting thicker and not so watery.  We talked about how the water was evaporating into steam and the cranberries were also helping to thicken up the sauce.

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And now we’re ready for some turkey to go with our sauce!  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Science behind the Activity:

Who would have thought there was so much learning to be had from cranberries? Cooking/baking are great ways to expose children to how things can change when heated up, mixed, etc…  It’s a great time to bring in math concepts such as measuring and for the little ones, fine motor skills such as pouring and mixing.

Comparing the dried and fresh cranberries brings in the concept of observing changes and comparing/contrasting different items.  By cutting open the cranberry, we were able to explain why fresh cranberries float in water.

 

Observing Pumpkins using our 5 Senses

It’s Pumpkin Season and there is so much fun learning to be had with pumpkins.   Before we began experimenting with our pumpkins, we decided to investigate our pumpkins using our 5 senses.  So before you get busy carving your pumpkin, take some time to explore and investigate your soon-to-be Jack O Lantern

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Pumpkin (we used the small decorative ones with the Tiny Tots)
  • Pumpkin carving tool
  • Metal spoon or scooper
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying Glass
  • tray/plate

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We first held the pumpkins in our hands and felt it from the outside using our hands (Sense of Touch).  Ask them questions to guide their observations: Is it hard or soft?  Bumpy or smooth? What about the stem?  Using their eyes (Sense of Sight), ask them what color it is and what shape it looks like.

Then I cut the top off and asked them to listen (Sense of Hearing) to the sound of the carving knife.  The older kids thought it sounded like a saw.

Then I had them lift it out themselves to see what was inside

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Using our Sense of Sight and Touch, I asked the kids to feel the inside of the pumpkin.  The pulp and seeds definitely were a deterrent for some of the youngest toddlers.

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This toddler won’t touch the seeds.

I asked them if they could use their Sense of Smell to describe what they smelled.  Most said the pumpkins were “stinky”.

I gave the Tiny Tots spoons and tweezers to scrape the seeds and pulp out.  Then I asked them to touch the seeds.  How does it feel?  Most said “slimy” and “slippery” and “gooey”.

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Magnifying glasses are fun to observe things with so I handed them small and big magnifying glasses.

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For older kids, I had them compare difference between the seeds of the white pumpkins and the orange ones.

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I also asked them to predict how many seeds might be in each pumpkin and asked them to count to see how good their guess was.  My superheroes kept losing count and eventually gave up 🙂

Lastly, the Sense of Taste was applied to the pumpkin seeds after we roasted them in the oven.  I asked my boys to hear the crunch of the seeds and the taste of the seeds.  Neither of them were fans of the roasted seeds.  Great, that means more for me!

Once you have hollowed out the pumpkins, try the Pumpkin Volcanoes experiment!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple observation activity for the youngest scientists as well as older ones.  Identifying the 5 senses and the body parts that are used for each is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers while using tweezers and spoons and observing is great for preschoolers and young elementary students.  So much learning from a simple activity!

Apple Float or Sink?

Fall is a fun time to play with apples and go apple picking.   If you have a few extra apples laying around, here’s a great investigation for the tiny tots in your home to investigate whether apples sink or float when placed in water.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • apples of different varieties (we used, Fuji, Granny Smith and Red Delicious)
  • Bin with water
  • Knife (to cut apples, for adult use only)

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Have your superheroes hold the apples in their hands and predict what will happen when it is placed in water.  We tried 3 different types of apples, making a hypothesis (prediction) before placing each one in the water.

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First the Granny Smith apple

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Then the Red Delicious and Fuji apples

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All three apples floated.  There was no difference between the 3 varieties.  But why did they float?  Apples have a lot of small air pockets inside that cause them to float in water.

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But what about the individual apple parts?  Do all the apple parts float? We decided to find out by cutting an apple open and testing each part in a cup of water.

What we noticed was the apple pieces and the peel still floated in water.

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But, the stem and the seeds did not float.

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This was a great investigation on floating and sinking using apples!  And while you have a bunch of apple parts lying around, try exploring your 5 senses using apples.  Or let the little ones “bob” for apples!

For more Apple Science Activities, try:

The Science behind the Activity:

Apples contain quite a bit of air inside them which causes the overall density of the apple to be less than that of water, so it floats.  By testing the individual parts, we can see that not all parts of the apple float in water but when all the parts are put together they do.