Turning Ordinary Subjects into Science Lessons

My boys are quite the little scientists.  They just love science and I find that much of our learning naturally centers around science because of their interests.

I know how much they enjoy science and learning about the how's and why's of how things work so I try to plan activities around that.

Though I have often noticed that even when I don't plan a bunch of science lessons for us; most subjects get turned into mini science lessons anyway.

Don't believe me?  Here is a summary of our day with a little explanation of how our ordinary subjects turn into science lessons.

We started our morning by watching a documentary I had recorded last night about Australia and ocean life.  This was the only science lesson I had planned for our day.

My 6 year old really was trying to pay attention; he's my animal lover and is very interested in ocean animals right.

We turned to math a fun new game called Target!  All of them were able to play even though it was a game about place value.  To start with I drew a large target on plain white paper.  Three circles; the smallest in the center labeled Hundreds, the middle labeled Tens and the largest labeled Ones.  Then we each get a scoring card (pictured below w/ the target).  You'll need 9 small objects to throw onto the target, we used paper clips, but pennies, dried beans, pom- poms, etc would also work.  To start the game one person throws all 9 paper clips at the target (all must land within a circle or be thrown again; if on the line move to the largest value).  Once all 9 clips are on the board the person who threw them must fill in on the score card the amount of hundreds, tens, and ones they have.  Once all players have had a turn whoever has the highest score for that round wins.

Continue playing as many rounds as they want until they get bored and decide to quit.  I found this in a book called "Games for Learning."  I love this book as it's filled with tons of quick 10 minute game ideas for reading and math.

Game and scoreboard
If you're wondering how math turned into a science lesson it has to do with the boys discovery of HOW to throw the objects.  They kept experimenting with different ways to drop, throw, and toss their clips to get them to land just the way they wanted and planned.  They talked about trajectory, gravity, and even force of objects on one another.

We played Boggle today for some spelling fun.  My boys got their game for Christmas from my brother and we hadn't yet had a chance to play.  For the first time we didn't write anything down or keep score.  I worked with them to show them all the words I had found to help them get used to the game and then we played a few real rounds.  They seemed to enjoy it even though they only managed to come up with a few words each.  We'll definitely play again. However it's amazing how many "science" words crop up in our game play.  Everything from animal names to how and why.

Even our writing activity included science! I love when two subjects are covered at once!

My kids didn't complain about writing since they only had to write a sentence or two and they got to write in invisible ink!  Alec filled up three whole pages!

The minute I said we were going to write an invisible message Ian offered to go get this special pen he has and I said we don't need that.  As I was about to tell them what we were going to do Alec interrupted me and said "you just need lemonade! That works for secret writing."  Since we were in fact using lemon juice I just stared at him a bit dumbfounded.  Finally I asked "how did you know that?!"  He laughed and said he remembered reading about it in a book.  He couldn't remember what book, just that it was a chapter book he once read in school.

He's my first grader and honestly I have the hardest time keeping him challenged.  We tried the experiment out anyway.  I just took some lemon juice and squeezed it into a small bowl.  Then I gave them each a blank piece of paper and a q-tip to write with.  They made me leave the room since the lemon juice does show up at first until it dries.  Even then it's not totally invisible since the paper does buckle a bit and tends to look old and wrinkly. 

Once dry we tried to make the ink "magically" appear by lying it in the sun.

Want to know the science behind it?  

I did too but really didn't know (the book "101 reading activities" didn't explain how it works) so I googled it and discovered that the acidic lemon juice weakens the paper so that when you apply heat that part of the paper burns first and the letters appear.

Don't have lemons or lemon juice?

 No problem this technique is also supposed to work with apple juice, orange juice, vinegar, and white wine.

Not a beautiful sunny day?

That's OK, you can also hold the paper up to a light bulb or using a pressing cloth and iron, iron the back side and the message will appear.  I was going to use the iron, figuring it would work best and be the quickest but with us finishing up a solar energy unit last week this tied into it nicely.

The boys hard at work writing
Unfortunately the sun didn't seem to do all that much for it.  We bought the papers inside at the end of the day and I tried pressing them with a hot iron; we were still disappointed with the results but were able to read them when we placed them against the window.

Message revealed

Art today focused on watercolor resists.

We drew pictures with white crayon and then decided what parts of the drawing we wanted to keep white or mostly white.  They colored some areas with white crayon and filled in others with rubber cement.  Once the rubber cement was all dry we colored in the picture using watercolors.  Once the watercolors were dry we removed the rubber cement to reveal the white paper underneath and discussed the different effects of the crayon vs. the rubber cement.

This sort of brought some science into our art but that was all the better!

Peeling the rubber cement off the finished works of art
We finished our work early and went for a walk and then my sister and her boys came up for a swim.  The boys brought boogie board into the lake today and "taught" each other how to ride them.  They had fun playing and creating new water games.

It's always neat to listen to them question the whys and hows and the what ifs they come up with.

Most children naturally think in this scientific manor and if left to explore (safely) can develop quite a gift for experimentation without even knowing they are being scientific.   

"Why does this keep tipping?"
 "What if we try laying on it the other way?"
 "how about if we try it like this?"... I find math crops up a lot during our play too.

Evan wanted me to count how long he could hold his breath underwater and next thing I knew he was trying to add the times together!  Later he came in and asked if he could have two pops for himself and two for his cousin; "4!" he says when I asked him how many?   But that's a good topic for another day!

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