Posts Tagged With: science for kids

Create an Easy Archaeology Dig Site For Kids!

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Perfect for a warm Spring day, and lots of fun to boot, try setting up an archaeology dig site for your kids!  Captain, like many 5 year olds, loves dinosaurs and digging in the earth.  She asked me to set up this dig site for her, and it was terrific fun.

You’ll Need:

Plastic dinosaur bones (preferably the ones that snap apart so that the dinosaur can be reassembled at the end.) Or, for younger kids, solid plastic or rubber dinosaurs (no assembly required)

Digging tools like little shovels and a spade

Different sized paintbrushes

Camera

2 paper signs for the dig sites.  I recommend doing 2 separate sites, even if they are close together, if you have the space.  This mimics “real” archaeology, as there are often multiple sites in the same area.  I made signs that said “Archaeology Dig Site #1 of 2” and “Archaeology Dig Site #2 of 2”. This was the perfect time to show Captain what 1 of “any” number means.  I explained at the site that it is like when you receive multiple packages from one source and they are marked in this way to keep track of how many there is total.  She got it immediately.

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Go outside, without the kiddos, dig some holes and plant the bones/dinosaurs.  Be sure to count the parts so that you don’t lose track of them!  Tape a little sign on a tree, or lay it on the ground, to mark the two sites.

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At the site, encourage the kids to dig first with stick, shovel or spade. When they discover a bone, they can use the paintbrushes to remove dirt. Explain (if they don’t already know!) that when an archaeologist gets close to a fossil, they are extremely careful to not chip or break the piece. Brushes and other tools might be used for a very long time to ensure that no damage is done to the relic.  After each bone is discovered, Captain carried it over to a separate area so that it didn’t get stepped on. This collection-area is where the bones will be identified, photographed, and reassembled.

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We took turns taking photos as there is ALWAYS a photographer at the site.  Here at the collection area, Captain is assembling a triceratops.

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I found all the pieces Mom!

I was surprised at how much time Captain took with this activity.  We talked about fossils, relics, and what kinds dinosaurs could have walked the earth, in our area, millions of years ago.  We are currently saving our money (Captain donated her Scooby Doo wallet full of coins :)) for a trip next summer to a real archaeology dig in Utah.  We can’t wait!

You can find some fun archaeology (Egyptian) worksheets & coloring sheets here at schoolexpress.com.  Dinosaur coloring pages can be found at EducationalColoringPages, and dinosaur craft ideas and coloring pages can be found at DLTK’s crafts for kids.

I hope you have fun setting up and digging for bones with your kids.  It is wonderful family time and exciting for imaginations!

Ancient, dusty, good thoughts to all,

Karen

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Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Simple Way to Excite Young Scientists: Go on a “Specimen Tube Walk”!

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Captain had a blast with her test tubes today!

Who wouldn’t love collecting little bits of nature into neat little vials?  It is so much fun!  Today Captain requested some specimen vials to go outside and collect some samples of nature.  She told me that she needed to go out alone and “be a real scientist”, and she had a great time!  She stuffed her pockets with 5 little vials that I found at Target in the dollar bin (they were $1 for a pack of 10~ great price!) and proudly walked out the door.  I can’t believe how valuable these simple tubes are for homeschooling, or for just about any curious child.  It is a great way to get kids outside exploring and collecting, and the learning possibilities can go on from there.

For example, Captain collected her plants and brought them back to the house for identification.  The vials each had a separate specimen contained within.  She had gathered: wild strawberry leaves, rosemary, oregano, a wild grass and the leaf of a wild plant that is native to our area, that we have been meaning to identify.  The act itself of collecting the samples is great fun, but to be able to find out what is inside these cute little vials is the basis for scientific experimentation in all of its budding wonder!  If you are lucky enough to have a decent microscope, kids can really have fun looking at their treasures up close.  What happens when you compare a pine needle with a strand of your own hair? Hmmm.. We plan to get a microscope as soon as we can since Captain is ready for it, and the cheap one we bought doesn’t work…It will be a joyful addition to sample-collecting!!

Even very young kids can have fun with these tubes, as long as they are old enough to know not to pop the caps into their mouths.  The vials are made of sturdy plastic and are terrific to fill with sand, plants, tiny pebbles, pine needles, colored water, etc.  (They are helpful storage for leftover glitter as well 🙂 ) I want to add that kids don’t necessarily need to be “learning something” by collecting samples and having fun stuffing test tubes.  The very act of being excited to collect things, especially bits of nature, is very stimulating for kids, and it doesn’t hurt that science exploration grows from the basic desire to gather and observe!

I highly recommend inviting kids to go on a “specimen tube walk”! Each child should have about 5 vials for collection and it is wise to instruct them to take their time and be selective.  The tubes can be purchased at learning stores, and sometimes at dollar stores, so if you see them, grab some up for future projects! Plastic test tubes with caps can also be purchased on Amazon.  They come in a pack of 10 for around $8 with free shipping.  Learning Resources has a terrific 6 pack (with rack) of larger size test tubes with colorful lids for about $12 (We really want to try these!).

We would love to hear about your adventures with specimen vials, or other fun uses for them, here on kartwheels.

Happy exploring!  Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

15 Fabulous Ladybug Facts For Budding Entomologists!

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I can’t help myself but to forever photograph the ladybugs of Sequoia National Forest!

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The scientific name for ladybug is Coccinellidae. Sounds romantic, eh? 

Ladybugs are truly beautiful, beneficial, and deserving of some major praise as we polish up the house, shake out our rugs, and open our hearts to spring.  Okay, I can’t promise that I am going to get the windows washed anytime soon, but I can say that I might just be forgiven if I am caught bumbling around in the forest with a camera looking for more of these beauties!

My 5 year old loves ladybugs, as so many kids do, and we adults could spare a few moments to give a nod, and learn a bit about these lovelies as well.  Here are some fabulous ladybug facts for all of us insect-lovers! At the bottom of the page are links to my sources as well as links to some fun ladybug crafts and coloring pages for the kids.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do and thanks for reading on!

1. There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world.

2. Ladybugs can have spots, stripes, or no markings at all, and come  in many different colors. The most familiar ladybug in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug.  They have 6 short legs.

3. Ladybugs breathe through openings on the sides of their bodies.

4. The seven-spotted lady bug is native to Europe.  They were brought to North America in the mid-1900’s to control aphid populations.

5. Ladybugs are also called “lady beetles” or “ladybird beetles”.  They get their name from European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests ate their crops.  The ladybugs came to the rescue, and the farmers called them “beetle of our Lady” which became shortened to lady beetle or ladybug.

6. Ladybugs (and aphids) were studied by NASA up in space (1999)!

7. A ladybug can retract its head into it’s body.

8. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime.  They eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. Farmers and gardeners love them!

9. In many cultures ladybugs are considered good luck.

10. A ladybug’s bright coloring tells predators that they will taste terrible. When threatened, ladybugs secrete an oily, yucky-tasking fluid from their leg joints.

11. Birds are the main predators of ladybugs, but frogs, wasps, spiders and dragonflies like to eat them too.

12. There are both male and female ladybugs and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart without a microscope, except that females are usually larger.

13. According to Alive and The Sierra Club, pesticides and GMO’s are threatening ladybugs.

14. Ladybugs are most active from spring to fall.  When it gets cold, they hibernate.

15. The ladybug is the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Tennessee!

Thanks for reading and happy spring to all!

Karen

Visit  The Ladybug Lady and Nat Geo Kids for more information and pics! Click here for more about entomology.

Click here for a cute ladybug terra cotta wind chime craft!

Click here for free printable insect coloring pages!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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