Friday, January 15, 2016

Kidding Around: Snowy Science

I haven't done a ton of science programming as part of my monthly Kindergarten through 2nd grade programs (aka Kidding Around), so this month I decided to remedy this with a program I called "Snowy Science". The basis of this program was for the kids to explore science concepts related to snow/winter.

When I originally planned to do this program I had no way of knowing I would face two slight difficulties in executing it. First of all, it ended up falling the day after a month long renovation project that had the library closed for certain days and hours. I think this had a serious impact on program registration and attendance. Secondly, the weather had been unseasonably warm and decidedly not snowy at all. With no indoor freezer storage at my library, that fact seriously limited my options for activities involving actual ice/snow.

Despite these obstacles, I'd say this program worked out pretty well. Registration was down (four kids attended), but it made for a small group that had a lot of fun. I was able to buy ice at the last minute and find a few different materials to fill in as "snow".

What we did:  

Exploring ice


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This was the only portion of the program that actually involved cold. The basic idea behind the activity was to explore a few scientific concepts and get practice making predictions and observations. I gave each child a piece of ice and a cup of room temperature water. We began by talking about what would happen to the ice if it was put in the water. We talked about what ice is and about the states of matter. Finally, we put the ice in the water and observed it melting. Then I brought out some hot water for comparison. Once again we made our predictions and performed the same experiment. The kids were engaged and seemed to understand most of what we were talking about so I considered this experiment a big success.

Building marshmallow snowmen


Some of my favorite activities with kids involve building with food, so it was no surprise I incorporated that into this program. The idea was to explore building, engineering and gravity by stack and building with marshmallows. I first let the kids see what they could build on their own, and then allowed them to advantage of toothpicks. If I had a bigger group of kids I might have incorporated teamwork skills by having them work to build a large snowman together.

Parachute play with "snowballs"


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I decided to incorporate my parachute into this program because I had never done it with elementary aged kids and it sounded like a lot of fun. It actually does involve some science because it is a fun way to explore the concepts of forces and energy. To fit in with our winter theme I crumpled up paper to make "snowballs" and had the kids bounce them on the chute. We talked about the speed of the balls as we bounced them at different rates, and about the forces involved in making them fly as high as possible. Definitely a highlight of the program!


Shaving cream art

We ended the program with the messiest part, painting with "snow" (aka shaving cream). This activity actually involves the scientific principles of light, dark and color mixing. We started out simple, each child got a plate full of shaving cream. Before doing anything I asked them to make a few observations about it. Observations included "It's white." and "It's soft." among others. Next I brought out my food coloring. I had the kids start out with one color food coloring. We talked about how much to add, and what would make the color a lighter or darker shade. Finally, they each choose a second color to add and make a new color. With this new creation they moved on to the art portion of this"STEAM" program. As you can see from the above picture this was a very "hands on" activity.

Final observations

For a small and simple program this was a lot of fun. The cost was pretty low as well (around $10). All I had to purchase was the ice, a bag of marshmallows and a few containers of shaving cream. I will definitely keep this one in mind for the future because I think it would work even better with a larger group.

That's it for this month's "Kidding Around". Next month we are having a "Big Game Bash" so any suggestions for football themed activities are greatly appreciated!

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