Science is EVERYWHERE!!

“Kids are intuitively scientific thinkers.  Our job is to encourage this natural process of thinking and learning.”  At our latest General Meeting, we welcomed speaker Sharon Farrell, who inspired us to find the scientific process in all aspects of the world around us and our little ones.  Preschoolers, especially, are consummate scientists: their insatiable curiosity makes them determined explorers; their sense of wonder about the world makes them astute observers; their fearlessness makes them creative experimenters.

At LCP, our little scientists are constantly using ALL five senses to explore their environment.  They determine and classify items by such qualities as color, size, shape, odor, texture, pattern, weight, pitch, frequency, and/or flavor.  They communicate their discoveries with one other, sharing their interesting observations, and captivating adults with their infectious enthusiasm!  Here, students are using tweezers to explore the finer details of a sunflower, and they appear to be pretty fascinated by their findings!

sunflower

Our sharp little scientific thinkers are also experts at asking questions and manipulating their environment to change one variable at a time in order to answer their specific questions.  Here, they explored the intricacies of powdered paint on melting ice, discovering how the colors mixed, how the powdered paint became liquid as the ice melted, and why painting the ice made it disappear faster!

ice & powdered paint

 Our teachers are invaluable facilitators in the scientific process, asking questions to help kids explain their observations, make predictions, and design their own experiments to test their ideas and come to new conclusions.  Some of our favorite guiding phrases include:

“What would happen if…”

“I wonder…”

“What do you think?”

“Let’s find out!”

“Let’s do the experiment!”

“Well…what happened?”

teach

Ice castle creations are not only fun and beautiful, but are also an opportunity to investigate the effect of salt and liquid watercolor on ice.  This captivated look is the mark of a perceptive observer and true scientist!

ice castles

 What happens when you mix white glue, borax, and water?  FLUBBER!  Mixing these ingredients, our LCP scientists investigated changes of state and matter.  They molded, stretched, bounced, and pushed the Flubber through baskets to see what physical changes would occur.  They also experimented with gelatin and watercolor-filled pipets.  They squeezed the watercolor into the gelatin and watched in awe as they saw how the color dispersed through the substance.

flubber

Our burgeoning scientists are also learning important safety rules about taking special care around sharp, hot, or otherwise potentially dangerous objects.

safety

 LCP scientists really enjoy exploring the world outside, expressing their love and appreciation for nature.  On our nature hike, they used magnifying glasses to get a closer look at the wonderous outdoors.  They searched for bugs, found a spider, and experienced the changing temperatures and colors of Fall.  Their enthusiasm for the natural world encouraged them to ask questions, look for patterns, and communicate their observations.

nature hike

One budding scientist noticed this leaf’s icy façade and, after attributing it to the works of the magical Jack Frost, he came to this insightful conclusion:  “I guess it was so cold that the dew musta froze!”

leaf

However, as Sharon reminded us, the scientific process is not limited to the Science Center and its activities!  The creative thinking skills required and fostered by science can be found in all areas of preschool!  Kids are excited every Monday to discover what new material fills the sensory tub.  Whether it may be colored rice, oatmeal and spices, or warm bubbles, our preschoolers find new and interesting ways to observe, interact, and experiment with the sensory substance each week.  They measure with cups and spoons, fill with funnels, mix with spoons, all while feeling with adept fingers and smelling with keen noses.

sensory tub

Each week also brings new playdough to investigate and manipulate, with its many colors and textures.  Our scientists experiment with mixing, rolling, cutting, forming, building, and hiding objects inside.  They make models to better understand how things work, creating smaller versions of real-life objects.

playdough

Scientific thinking has been linked to school success.  The ability to form logical connections between ideas, think critically, and use evidence to support conclusions are all very valuable skills.  It is our task as parents and teachers to encourage these, as well as the verbal and written communication skills required in the scientific process, so that our enthusiastic little scientists will become the BIG thinkers of tomorrow.

big thinkers

big thinkers 2

guide

Go For It!

If you are looking for an amazing day trip for the family, you have got to go to Berkeley, California to visit the Adventure Playground. While we are surrounded by cookie cutter playgrounds: slides, swings, monkey bars, climbing walls, bark, the Berkeley Adventure Playground is a reminder of what a playground would look like if kids designed them.  And at Berkeley Adventure Playground, the kids really do take part in creating the playground.

My husband and I recently took our 6 year old son for his birthday date to the Adventure Playground. We had read about it in the Travel section of the Sacramento Bee and knew that he would love it. It was an hour and 45 minute drive, but well worth it.

The play structures are made of old pieces of plywood, hammered together in a way that seems totally random and seems to lack all structural integrity.  There are tunnels to nowhere. These tunnels are all shapes and sizes. While at most typical suburbia parks, parents can easily chase their child through the structure, at this playground, there are holes and tunnels and rooms, that only children can squeeze into.

Everything looks weathered.  This may be because the playground is located on the marina. The wind and salt water may be the culprits of this weathering, but probably not. More likely, it is the constant painting and hammering that is taking place.

You enter the playground into a work area. Kids are painting, sawing, hammering, pulling nails, and creating with their parents. A ramshackle booth is set up with a young man behind a weathered countertop.  If you ask him for supplies, he will tell you you need to go on a scavenger hunt first to earn your tools. The child has to find nails, or pieces of trash, or wood splinters,  or even better, a Mr. Dangerous (a piece of wood with a nail sticking out). You may be saying to yourself, “What are these things doing on the playground?”  Yes. It is true. This playground is dangerous. And this is amazing. In a culture that protects our children from everything, there is something completely refreshing about entering a play area that is dangerous. It is as though we are saying to our kids, “I trust you.”

After scavenging for junk, the man at the counter exchanges the junk for tools. One tool at a time.  Then the child and parent are off to create.  Some parents hover. Some parents are more excited about the creation than the kid. Some parents have no idea what they are doing. But everyone is creating. The nails are cheap. The wood breaks often because it too is old and probably recycled.  The paint runs out. By the end of the day there was only brown left but the kids didn’t seem to mind and they just kept painting.

Some of these creations went home with the children, some were hung in trees, some were nailed to play structures and added as another component to the already random structure.

The children climb and play, and many stand in line for the zip line that ends in a pile of dirt.  The kids are actually dragged along this pile of dirt long enough that their faces are dirty, their clothes are dirty and they are smiling so big.

As I wandered around with my 6 year old, I was stunned and awestruck by so much that was going on.  This is a place of intense imagination. But what struck me the most was the young man behind the weathered counter passing out tools and paint.  As children asked him for supplies and told him their ideas, he just kept saying, “Go for it.”  How often do kids get to hear those three words? How often do we hear their ideas, and just accept them and support them?

It was probably a child who said, let’s take all this junk and turn it into a playground. And fortunately some adult in Berkeley, California was brave enough to hear that idea and say, “Go for it.” And magically old plywood, old surfboards, old fire hoses, and old tires were turned into a playground reminiscent of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.

Before the rain comes, take a trip to the Berkeley Adventure Playground. Did I mention it is totally free? Seriously, go for it.

 

A “Climbing wall”

climbing wall

 

 

Wood used for building

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Inside a play structure: old tires and fire hoses used for climbing and children’s graffiti on the walls

 

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A play structure: How do I get inside?

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Wooden creations hanging in a tree

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Fire hoses used as balancing ropes and bridges

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Not your typical slide structure. Not your typical playground.

playground

 

A Visit to Horton Pumpkin Patch

All three classes visited Horton Iris Farm last week to search for the perfect pumpkin.  The experience seems so special when you are able to drive up a dirt driveway, park on a grassy lot, get a personal tour by the farmer himself, feed goats, meet baby chicks, and pick pumpkins that are grown right here in Loomis.

Gathering for the hay ride:

2 day rachel

A trip around the farm:

2 day trailer

2 day marc

3 day

“If Farmer Doug can do it, why shouldn’t we give it a try?”:

tots tractors

A pumpkin for everyone:

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Irises and goats:

3 day kids running

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A happy day had by all!

tots

Thank you Hortons for such a wonderful day!

LCP Trike-a-thon

Thanks for everyone’s help with the Trike-a-thon.  It was a great success.

With their clown hats, glasses and ties, the kids rode around in circles. Some very briefly and some for as long as we would let them.

 

Cormick

Evan

Jordyn

Mia

Orianna

 

The Loomis Community Preschoolers did a lot of clowning around!

 

Visiting an Apple Orchard

Loomis Community Preschool visited Machado’s Apple Orchard this week!

We started in the orchards, tasting peaches, apples, and pears.

9-19 juicy

We made our way through the orchard to a picnic table where we…

…enjoyed apples with our friends

9-19 friends

9-19 apple anyone?

…and drank apple juice.

9-19 apple juice

The day was so enjoyable it left us saying, “More please?”

9-19 more please

More to come this week with apple painting and apple taste-testing in the classroom.

If you bought some apples on the field trip, why not try making delicious apple chips with your kids?

 

 

4 Reasons Kids Are Amazing

1. They are unfazed by the salty feeling left on your hands after you dig your fingers into a pile of play dough.

9-13 playdough

2. They think it is fun to trap one another and hide in small spaces.

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3. They don’t make assumptions.  Who says you have to paint with a paint brush?

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4. They have the ability to unknowingly mock the adults around them, by creating a picture of adulthood: “I am so consumed with my phone, I can’t even put it down to eat a meal with my friends.”

9-13 phone

We would all be a lot smarter if we paid more attention to the preschoolers in our lives.