Early Childhood Theme Unit- Farm (Part 2)
Fall is a great time of year to use farm produce in science experiments. Here are a few you can try:
Even if you don’t carve pumpkins in the fall, this pumpkin science unit can be so much fun.
If you carve pumpkins in the fall, keep it after it has been displayed. If you do not, ask someone if you can have theirs when they are finished with it. It is ok if a little mold is on the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin in an airtight container that can be seen through. A clear rubber tub or an XXL Zip top bag will work fine. Place the pumpkin where it can be watched. Record changes daily. If you have more than one pumpkin, place them in two different places: one that is light and sunny, and one that is dark and cool. Compare the changes in the two pumpkins over time. Does the mold look different? How many different types of mold do you see?
Measure pumpkins and record your findings. Science and math
If you have a farmer’s market near you, go with a tape measure and explain to the farmer that you are doing science experiments and ask if you may measure different kinds of pumpkins. What was the smallest pumpkin? How big was the largest pumpkin? What was the difference in the sizes? Do math problems with the measurements. What was the average size of the pumpkins you measured?
Gut a pumpkin
Take the top off of the pumpkin. Remove the seeds. Activities to do with the seeds:
- Count them
- Roast them
- Grow them
Write about the experience. Draw or take photos to create a book that your child will be able to read, because of the experience.
Grow a pumpkin
Remove the top of a pumpkin. The small pie size pumpkins work great for this. Pour in potting soil, water, and wait for the seeds to grow. This is an awesome experiment. The seeds will grow and the pumpkin will begin to rot. There have been times, the plants will actually poke through the rotting pumpkin. At this point, put the pumpkin in a pot with soil until danger of frost is over in the spring. Plant the whole thing in the ground and watch the pumpkins grow.
Make a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin. You can use canned pumpkin, but with measuring, adding ingredients, and watching it bake and become more solid, you have a science lesson. For a non-baked version, search online for “Pumpkin Pie In A Cup”. There are several recipes for this activity.
This is a great time of year to look at other plants in the squash family with all of the ornamental squashes, gourds, and pumpkins. Many stores have bags of ornamentals. I like to put them on my table in the autumn. When you are finished, just toss them in a corner outdoors, where they will be undisturbed and in the spring, you are likely to have ornamental squash plants! Next year, you won’t have to buy them!
All across the country, corn grows in abundance. There are basically three types of corn: sweet corn, popcorn, and field corn. Any of these can be used with these experiments.
You can take any dried corn cob, place it in a small tub with a small amount of water, and corn will sprout, right on the cob. These can be kept alive through the winter by planting the cob in a window box and putting them in the garden in the spring.
Pop a Corn Cob
Simply take a dried ear of corn, put it in a brown paper bag, close the top, and microwave. The corn will pop on the cob. As with any popcorn in the microwave, take it out as the popping diminishes.
Fill small a glass jar 3/4 full of water. Mix in 2 tablespoons of baking soda and mix well. Add a drop or two of food coloring and 10 to 15 popcorn kernels. Then add a few drops of vinegar. The kernels will start to move in one or two minutes.
Talk to your child about the individual corn parts. Kernel (seed), husk, silk, leaf, cob.
What a great time to study apples!
You will need an apple and Vitamin C.
What to do:
Cut an apple in half. Place 2-3 Vitamin C tablets in a small zip top bag. Crush the vitamins into a powder. On one of the apple halves, sprinkle the powder. Leave both halves where they can be observed over the next several hours.
What is happening:
When an apple is cut, oxidation takes place. Polyphenoloxidase is an enzyme in the apple. When it reacts with oxygen, the apple begins to brown. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Oxidation in our bodies, causes wrinkles and other health problems.
Apple Seed Graph
During the autumn, enjoy apples. If your family eats many apples and different varieties, this is a good time to record investigative information about those apples. You can graph:
- Number of seeds
- 4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cut an apple in half and watch it rust.
Slice apples and place them in a dehydrator. If no dehydrator is available, they can be dried in the oven or even outdoors. The outdoor process takes 2-3 days on a hot, sunny day.
Make Applesauce from fresh apples.
This is a very simple recipe, and one I used every year in the classroom to make applesauce. I found it, this time, at Laura’s Sweet Spot (now, http://thegreenforks.com).
From: Laura’s Sweet Spot
Serves: 4 to 6
In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.
Make Apple Butter from fresh apples. A simple, slow cooker version can be found at http://www.pickyourown.org/pdfs/applebutter.pdf
Egg Shell Collage
Prepare hard boiled eggs fro snack time. Have your children help you remove the shells. Dye, only the shells, in different colors of food coloring/vinegar. Remove them from the dye, and allow them to dry. Use the colored shells to make a collage.
Make Potato Stamps
Carve shapes in a potato, which has been cut in half. Dip the potato in paint and stamp onto construction paper.
Farm Animal book
Fold several pieces of paper in half, forming a book. Have your child draw a different farm animal each day. Be sure and write the name of the animal (or have your child write the name) on each page. Provide pictures of the animal your child is drawing. Talk about shapes and the overall outline of the animal. Compare to other animals.
This one will shock your children. Using mud, that has been mixed to about the consistency of paint, mix with dish soap. Allow your child to use the mud as paint. You can also have a picture of a pig, printed on pink paper, and your child can paint the mud on the pig!!
Make a chick using hand prints and foot. Trace and cut around your child’s hand onto light brown or gold colored paper. Trace and cut around your child’s foot, with his shoe on, onto yellow paper. Draw eyes and a beak on the toe end of your foot. This will be your chick. Glue both hand cut outs, fingers up, on the bottom of the foot. This becomes your nest. If you have any small crafting feathers, add these to the top for an extra cute chick! It will look something like this:
Who is Missing?
Make animal cards, by using pictures of farm animals. Line up the cards (4 to 5) and give your child a few seconds to look at all the cards. Have him close his eyes and remove one of the cards. Can he tell you which one is missing? Mix them up and do this several times.
Who Is In The Barn?
For this activity, have a big red barn, cut from construction paper. Cut the door into several small pieces so you can pull back one at a time. Using the animal cards from the previous activity, place an animal behind the door. Open the door, one segment at a time, to see if your child can guess which animal is in the barn.
Using the cards, once again, line up 3-4 animals. Go over the order of the animals with your child and give her time to get the sequence in her head. Mix up the cards and see if she can repeat the sequence. This is a good time to talk about ordinal numbers. Which came first, second, fourth, third. (Example is to show to mix the order up, as to have a true assessment of your child’s knowledge, rather than just rote learning.)
Feel Like a Veggie
Put several fresh vegetables in a pillow case and make a feely bag. Your child reaches in, selects a veggie (or fruit), and describes what is being felt. Can he guess the veggie or fruit?
Dress the Chicken
You will need a bag of feathers for this activity (or cut feathers out of paper)
Using a chicken or turkey pattern, without feathers make up to 10 copies. Program each chicken with a number 1 to 10. Your child puts the correct number of feathers on each bird.
Make sure, no matter what theme you are teaching, that you include math skills like: sorting, counting, matching, shape and number recognition, understanding relationships, estimating, observing, sequencing, writing numbers, matching sets w/ numbers, patterning, measuring, and graphing.
Read Chicken Little and The Little Red Hen
Read and discuss Chicken Little and The Little Red Hen with your child. If you have a wheat farm nearby, call and ask if you can visit. A mill would also be a great place to visit. Many times, they will grind wheat for you. Even if you do not have these places near you, you can make biscuits or a loaf of bread with your child.
Egg Letter Match
Using plastic eggs, program the top half with an upper-case letter and the bottom half with a lower-case letter. Take them apart and mix up the halves. Have your child put them together. You may want to mix up colors to make it a bit more challenging. For example, a green top with an orange bottom. When eggs are matched, let your child put them in a real egg carton like the a chicken farmer!
Extension: Put a letter on one half and a picture in the bottom half. Your child finds the beginning letter, or ending letter, or middle sound (if doing vowels).
Nutter Butter Chicks
Using Nutter Butters, make chicks. Here is alink from ediblecrafts.com. The ones I made in the classroom used choc chips for eyes and candy corn for beak.