Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Week 26, day 2

Tuesday: Science. Today's theme at Titmouse Club was fish. The kids learned about some of the differences between fish and other aquatic creatures (whales, octopus), and how fishes' senses differ from ours. They painted pictures of fish to make fish puppets (by taping the pictures to popsicle sticks). On the nature walk, they had the opportunity to wave nets around in the water, resulting in their catching lots of mud. Net fishing requires more finesse than the average preschooler can muster.

Once home, P and E wanted to play with a new game E bought with birthday money from his great-grandparents. Chutes and Ladders has some educational value for a 4-year-old (counting, some adding, cause and effect), so I let them play the game until lunch. After lunch, we played again, and this time everyone seemed to hit every chute, so we ended up starting school later in the day than I'd hoped. While we were in the middle of our review items, my father-in-law came up to tell us that he wanted to show us some pictures of the volcano when we were ready for a break. I used this as incentive for P to stay focused on finishing her math 5-a-day.

The pictures were stunningly beautiful. My father-in-law talked to the kids about how, in some of the pictures, you could see the heavier rock particles raining out as the lighter ones rose in billows of ash (for example, in pictures 12 and 14 in the second link). We also discussed how it was hard for the people and animals to breathe through the ash, but how volcanic ash enriches the soil and helps plants to grow. Once we'd looked at the pictures, I decided to do an experiment with the kids to demonstrate static electricity (to give them some idea of why there's so much lightning correlated with the ash cloud). We blew up a balloon, rubbed it on a wool sweater, and made each child's hair stand up (even B's; he looked on with his standard expression of mild astonishment). I managed to get it to stick to the ceiling as well. I also ripped up a piece of paper into tiny scraps, and combed E's hair with a plastic comb which then picked up the scraps of paper. We tried to actually see a spark by rubbing 2 balloons on the wool and moving them closer to each other, but I suppose it was too humid - in any case, that experiment failed. I couldn't get the balloon to stick to the ceiling downstairs, which may mean it's more humid downstairs? It did pull the kids' hair up, though.

Later on, we read a library book about freshwater fish. The book contained much of the same information as the kids heard at Titmouse Club in more detail, but both kids sat still through the entire book. I was surprised, because I would have estimated it at about 3rd grade level, but when a child is interested in a subject you can never tell how much they'll be willing to concentrate. The book suggested an experiment in which you turn off the lights in your fish tank and the room it's in, and then turn on a flashlight next to the fish tank to see how the fish react. When we did this, each time most of our guppies seemed to slowly gravitate toward the light beam. We have more guppies than we can count. Yesterday the only female of the four we bought in August that didn't promptly turn belly up finally gave up the ghost. However, she probably gave birth to more than a hundred babies over the course of her lifetime (most of which became lunch for their fathers and half-siblings as well as for her), so I comforted a distraught P with the idea that the dead female had lived a full guppy life. Also, a number of the now-grown baby guppies are female, so there's hope that our guppy population will continue to be larger than we can count.

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