Children are use their natural curiosity to set a base for future scientific discoveries.  Children do not just watch their world they engage in active learning as they make observations and discoveries. When they are outside they can watch a spider in a web, discover roly-poly bugs in the dirt, find a worm and move it to the garden. As they explore their world they are using the scientific process of inquiry:observing, asking questions, forming hypothesis, investigating, gathering data, drawing conclusions, and building ideas that lead to new questions.  (And, oh how they can ask questions!) Science Education should not be about memorizing achieved scientific knowledge, but about living a life of scientific inquiry according to the scientific methodDavid Hawkins,The Informed Vison: Essays on Learning and Human Nature

It is important to have a partnership with the children as they are engaged in discoveries of their world. Children are active constructors of their own understanding of the world around them and developmentally appropriate teaching practices provide the optimal balance of adult-guided and child-guided experiences. Copple and Bredekamp

There needs to be a balance between adult and child guided learning as the children explore their world.  Sometimes the learning is more exploratory play and completely child guided, sometimes it is adult supported learning that allows the child to pursue their interests with an adult adding to the learning with their knowledge of the subject, while sometimes it is a blend of adult and child guided learning that allows a give and take learning based on interests, knowledge and observations.  

These three types of scientific learning are happening every day at preschool as the children investigate the world around them.

Flutter, flutter, Butterfly 
Flutter, flutter, butterfly.
Floating in the bright blue sky
Floating by for all to see,
Floating by so merrily.
Flutter, flutter, butterfly,
Floating in the bright blue sky


Caterpillar, caterpillar

See him crawl See him crawl

Crawling on the ground

Crawling all around

See him crawl See him crawl.

Butterfly, butterfly

In the air, in the air

Flying up and down

Flying all around

Butterfly, butterfly

Big bugs, small bugs, big bugs, small bugs,
See them crawl on the wall?
Creepy, creepy, crawling, never, never falling.
Bug, bugs, bugs, bugs, bugs, bugs. 

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As we spend more time outside we will have many opportunities to think like scientists.  Many key components of scientific thinking are imbedded in the way children play. Children are natural observers and are very inquisitive.  During the next few weeks I would like to encourage the children to use their senses and develop observational skills by: asking questions, describing what they see, predicting what will happen, explaining what they think is happening, using tools, communicating their ideas with others.

We will be using the greenhouse as our outside science and art lab/classroom.  During the next few weeks we will be planting seeds, making nest art sculptures, experimenting with water, observing the birds nesting in the play area, documenting plant growth, talking about the what is growing in our garden, using tools and documenting the changes in the seeds as they grow.  

Remember that there is a connection between learning and playing. Children learn best while playing.

While we are outside we will have many opportunities to engage in learning during playactivities.  These activities may be ones that are pre-planned, ones that are completely child driven or a combination of the two.  Many times, when I set out an activity for the children they will engage in the activity as I had planned.   Just as many times, I have seen the children take what I have set out and go a different direction – learning through play is never static or contained but it is fluid and spills out in many directions.  The natural curiosity combined with imagination and a mind open to new ideas creates many avenues for learning through play and scientific thinking.

When I was a kid I had a lab. It wasn’t a laboratory in the sense that I would measure and do important experiments.  Instead, I would play.  Richard Feyman – Nobel Prize Recipient in Physics

Nest for a Bird

Here is a nest for a birdie

Here is have for a bee

Here is a hole for bunny

And here is a home for me


Two little black birds. . .sitting on a hill
One named Jack . .. one named Jill
Fly away Jack. . .fly away Jill
Come back Jack. . .come back Jill

Five Little Ducks & Five Little Quail 

Five little ducks went out to play (Wiggle five fingers on one hand)
And met five quail that came their way. (Wiggle five fingers on other hand.)
The five little quail went to get a snack (put quail hand behind back.)
And the five little ducks went quack, quack, quack (use hand to form duck bill)

5 Little Ducks

Five little ducks went out to play  Over the hills and far away

Mommy and Daddy duck said quack quack quack

But only 4 little ducks came back (then 3, 2, 1, none of the 5 little ducks came back)

Sad Mommy and Daddy duck went quack quack quack

And all of the five little ducks came back.


Five little ducks paddling to shore,
One paddled away, then there were four;
Four little ducks paddling towards me,
One paddled away, then there were three:
Three little ducks paddling towards you,
One paddled away, then there were two:
Two little ducks paddling in the sun,
One paddled away, then there was one:
It paddled away then there was none.

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This week we will be talking about rain and umbrellas.  It looks like we will have an opportunity to use them this week! We will be outside working in our garden.  This week the children will be planting some seeds and we will be talking about what is growing in our play area.

The children had fun building Leprechaun houses last week.  The small wooden blocks, rocks and other natural materials will be out for the children to build with.   We will be monitoring our rain gauge.  We will make some rain gauges to see where it rains the most and where it rains the least in the play area.

We will be planting peas and nasturtiums this week during class.  We will continue to plant our garden through the month of April. If you are planting a garden at home, and have extra seeds, we would love to plant them at preschool!

Gardening is one way to teach the children empathy for living things.  When they garden they learn responsibility as they care for their plants.  Being outside in nature is allows children to see living things in their environment. As we work in our garden, and observe the worms, bugs and birds in the play area, we are developing a community that has an interest in caring for plants and wildlife.  The preschool garden is a certified a Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation and we will continue to build up the garden to support the urban wildlife in our neighborhood.  Last year our garden attracted songbirds, hummingbirds and butterflies. As the children are learning to protect living things in our garden they will be learning empathy and respect for all living things.

Kahn (1997) proposes that children can develop empathy toward both nature and people, and that empathy in one domain can generalize to another domain.  This conceptualization suggests that as children demonstrate prosocial behaviors such as caring and empathy toward animals and plants, their understanding of perspectives, needs, and feelings of people can deepen as well.  

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea

– Robert Louis Stevenson 

The Rain

Pitter-patter, raindrops,
Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella
To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over,
And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud,
And grow and grow and grow

Thunder crashes.
Lightening flashes.
Rain makes puddles,
I make splashes.

Rain on the green grass,
And rain on the tree,
Rain on the rooftop,
But no rain on me!

“Pitter-patter, pitter-patter”, Can you hear the rain?

“Pitter-patter, pitter-patter”, on the window pane.

“Pitter-patter, pitter-patter”, lets go out and play.I just love to jump in puddles on a rainy d

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This week we will be looking at colors.  We will talk about rainbows, the sun in the sky and clouds.  There will be a rainbow of colors in all the rooms this week.  The children will have an opportunity to talk about all the colors they see in the classroom and outside.  The spring flowers are one way you can talk with your child about colors as you walk around your neighborhood.  The daffodils are out and the tulips are getting ready to bloom – lots of colors to talk about and to practice “focus”.  You can play ‘I SPY’ as you walk:  I spy something___(insert a color).  Kids love this game and then you can let them take turns being the leader and the one who gets to find something for you to ‘spy’.

Other ways you can work on focus – switch words to a familiar song and see if your child notices ( wheels on the train instead of bus).  This is a fun and creative way to sing songs that encourages focus and listening skills.   Play a sorting game when you clean up toys – let’s find all the blue toys, put all the round toys in the basket, who has a soft toy?   Try singing a song while waiting in a line or restaurant.  It gives the child a tool for managing a situation that they cannot control and allows them an outlet to deal with frustration that they might have waiting in a line, for food to come, sitting at a table.


There’s a great, big rainbow
In the sky,
With pretty colors
Way up high.

When it starts to rain
And the sun comes out-
A beautiful rainbow
Will pop out!

I see rainbows, I see rainbows,
Way up high In the sky. 

They are red and orange, Yellow, green and blue.
Purple, too. What a view!

I see rainbows, I see rainbows,
Way up high In the sky.

They are made from sunshine,
Shinning through the rain.
What a view In skies so blue!



Here is a bunny with ears so funny

And here is her hole in the ground

When a noise she hears, she pricks up her ears

And jumps in her hole in the ground.

Baby Bird

A mother bird laid and egg with care

And when it hatched a baby was there

She ate and she ate 

and she grew and she grew 

and then one day away she flew

Story of Colors (similar to Brown Brown Bear)

Red kite, orange butterfly, yellow sun, green grass, blue bird, purple flower,  rainbow

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This week we will be exploring clouds, colors, science and colloidal suspensions ( a big word for messy fun) at the art table.

Colloidal Suspension

 ~ a mixture having particles of one component, with diameters between 10 −7and 10 −9metres, suspended in a continuous phase of another component. The mixture has properties between those of a solution and a fine suspension

~ a colloid that has a continuous liquid phase in which a solid is suspended in a liquid.

As we talk about clouds outside there are several ways you can bring that learning inside.  One of them is to make ‘goop’ to explore- as we will at the art table.  By combining cornstarch and water you get a mixture that is both solid and liquid – and lots of fun to play with.  It is a sensory experience that is both clean and messy. And lucky for the art station worker – it’s a project that is easy to clean up.  The cornstarch just brushes off clothing, wipes up off floors and disappears off of hands when they are dipped in water.  Clean, messy, fun!  We will be discussing shapes, texture and colors at school this week.  Our story will talk about different shapes you see in the cloud formations.  Ask your child what they see in the sky, in a reflection in a puddle or in a nature book. You can increase their vocabulary with ‘big’ scientific words as well as adjectives that describe shapes textures and colors.  

 In Mind in the MakingEllen Galinsky writes about 7 Essential Skills. Looking at things closely helps children develop focus.  True focus means they are alert, engaged and able to stay attentive during the activity.  As they experiment with the goop this week they will be focusing on shape, texture, design and then during circle time they will be focusing on similar shapes in the story It Looked Like Spilt Milk.This will encourage their Working Memory.  Working Memory allows you to take information you already have and connect that information with new information or experiences.  This happens when they sing a familiar song, remember what comes next and can make a prediction based on existing information. They will use both focus and working memory at preschool this week.

Did You Ever See a Cloud?

Did you ever see a cloud, a cloud, a cloud?

Did you ever see a cloud that looked like a ____?

A big one, a little one, a quiet one, a loud one?

Did you ever see a cloud that looked like a ____

Did you ever see a cat? A dog? A plane?

Ask your child to think of words that describe what clouds look like.


The clouds are passing by,
The clouds are passing by,
Way up high in the sky,
The clouds are passing by.

The clouds are passing by,
Way up in the sky,
Sometimes fast, sometimes slow,
The clouds are passing 

5 Little Clouds

5 little clouds floating in the sky

First one said I’ll drop rain when I go by 

Second one said I’ll fill the sky with flashes of light (lightening)

Third one said I’ll make noise with all my might (thunder)

Fourth one said I’ll change the rain into snow 

Fifth one said when the sun comes out I’ll make a rainbow.

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This week we will continue with our transportation theme.  The trains will still be out and we will add vehicles to our play.  Starting on Tuesday there will be construction vehicles in the sensory table, vehicles at the art table and vehicle puzzles at table toys. Children love things that move. In the block area we will be experimenting with the ramps and vehicles as well as the balls and ramps.  We will have the ramps outside as well.

We will be singing our train songs again this week as well as adding some new vehicle songs.

Drive, Drive, Drive 
 Drive, drive, drive your car,
 All around the town.
 Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom,
 Up the hills and down.

 Turn, turn, turn the key,
 Make the engine roar,
 Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom,
 Let’s go to the store.

 Press, press, press the pedal,
 Give the engine gas,
 Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom,
 Now we’re going fast.

 Turn, turn, turn the wheel,
 That is how we steer.
 Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom,
 Make a turn right here.

 Push, push, push the brake,
 Make the car slow down.
 Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom,
 Now we are in town.

Traffic Light Song.
Can you see the traffic light,
traffic light, traffic light?
Green means Go and Yellow means Slow, 
and Red means STOP, STOP, STOP!

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Train Week


Children love trains. We will have them in all the rooms this week. Our art project will have the children use shapes to build their own train. The art activity uses pre-math skills. The ‘train pieces’ will be circles, triangles, rectangles and squares. As you discuss different shapes with your child you are building their math vocabulary. You can help your child with the names of shapes as they name objects in their home environment – a door is a rectangle, the dinner plate is a circle, the window is a square, a stop sign is an octagon, etc. They can recognize and compare 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes as they compare the 2-dimensial train they make at the art table with the 3-dimensional wooden trains in the blocks area and with the 2-dimensional train puzzles at table toys. As the children learn about shapes we will give them opportunities to create and take apart shapes –- make a square from 2 triangles, a rectangle from 2 squares, a circle from 2 half circles. At the playdough table you can encourage the children to create new shapes — cut the ball in half, roll the snake into a circle — as they experiment with the playdough. Using words such as turn (rotation), flip (reflection), slide (translation) identifies spatial visualization terms that will later be used in geometry. Using these terms with toys – “turn your Teddy Bear over” – will then be used with directions for shapes – “turn the triangle shape piece so it fits inside the puzzle”. At Circle Time we will continue to use words that expand their spatial orientation vocabulary. Above, below, in front, behind, over, under are positional words that allows children to understand where things are in their world. The spoon is beside your bowl, you are under the table, a bird is flying over the house are sentences that teach spatial orientation. While reading Freight Train we will use positional words that describe where the train is going. Using descriptive words with your child you can help them develop a stronger math-based vocabulary. When you talk with your child try using descriptive vocabulary words that include shape, size, and placement.

Down By the Station
Down by the station
Early in the morning
See the little pufferbellies
All in a row
See the engine driver
Turn the little handle
Whoo Whoo Choo Choo
Off we go!

Little Red Caboose
Little red caboose, choo, choo, choo
Little red caboose, choo, choo, choo
Little red caboose behind the train, train, train,
Smokestack on his back, back, back, back
Chugging down the track, track, track, track
Little red caboose behind the train.

Choo, Choo Peanut Butter
A peanut sat on a railroad track
His heart was all a flutter.
Around the bend came a choo-choo train
Uh Oh! … peanut butter!

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After you take the frozen ice out of you containers you can explore with the cold ice blocks on the table.  Watch as it glides across the table, look at it with a magnifying glass, shine light through the ice, touch it and see what happens to the ice as it melts from the heat of your hand.  After you have explored the frozen water set the ice block on a cookie sheet with sides or a shallow pan.  Using table salt or coarse salt – or both – sprinkle the ice with salt.  Let the salt sit for awhile and watch as it ‘eats’ away at the ice.  Shine a flashlight through the ice, use the magnifying glasses again and look at the new shapes made by the salt.

Add color to the ice sculptures and watch as the color makes its way through the crevices created by the salt.If you want to make a permanent reminder of this experiment use paper or paper towel to make an imprint of the colors on your ice sculpture.


This is an idea sent in by Colleen, Mom of Finn (Bears class)
Does your child like to excavate and dig in the dirt?  Give them a block of ice with a toy or some kind of “treasure”  frozen inside.  Let them figure out how to get it out.  Chip away with a spoon, some kind of wooden or metal  tool, a small toy hammer and chisel.  Ask if they can think of another way to get the toy out.  Look at the toy with a magnifying glass and with light shining through it.  Make shadows …. Explore!


This is a fun art project and by adding a small drop of watercolors to a squiggle of salt, you can demonstrate capillary action. This is the property of liquids that allows them to move in small spaces without external help. The same principle is shown when water “spreads out” on a paper towel, or a flower in colored water takes on the color of the water. The water colors aren’t only a science lesson, they’re super pretty! 
1. Lay a piece of heavy paper (it can be construction paper, cardstock or anything else that won’t warp when wet) on top of some newspaper. With a bottle of glue, “draw” whatever patterns you desire. You could write a message, or draw a nice Valentine heart, or just some Picasso-esque squiggles. Make sure the glue lines are pretty thick, but not big puddle2. Pour normal table salt over the wet glue. You’ll need a lot of salt for this. Make sure it gets onto all the glue. You can do this by tilting the paper after the salt is on it. Then shake off all the excess salt onto the newspaper or into a plastic container.3. Using watercolors, paint the salt whatever colors you please. Make sure the paint is nice and watery so the paint brush doesn’t actually have to touch the salt that often. Don’t let it get too wet though, or it’ll wash the salt away. I recommend experimentation.I love the intensity of the color you get with this technique, especially against a darker paper, and the tie-dye-like effect. Happy art making!


Becky, Mom of Wyatt, Bea and Wesley (Orcas class) sent in this idea.Make Snow Ice Cream while we still have some snow outside.. Easy and delicious. Use half and half, sugar, vanilla and, of course, snow. The kids loved it!


Have a picnic in the living room.  (Or under the dining room table, on the bed in the bedroom.). Bring out a table cloth to sit on and let them decide what food to have for the picnic.Decide on a theme.  Stuffed animals are often guests at these picnics.  How about a Pajama Picnic where everyone wears their jammies?  Or a fancy picnic, a clothes on backwards picnic?  Then you can read a book while you finish your picnic treats.


Always a fun way to spend the afternoon. Fill up a storage container with water.  One where you can see through the container is best.  Set it on a a plastic garbage bag and towel to absorb the splashed water.   Go on a treasure hunt around the house to find items that may “sink” and items that may “float”.  Decide what items will go in the “sink’ collection and what items are in the ‘float’ collection.  You can make a graph and see if they were correct with their decision on what items would  sink and what items would float.


Play some music and when it stops everyone freezes.  Decide on how they should freeze — like an animal, like a letter of the alphabet, something silly, a yoga position, etc.
RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT is also a fun version of this stop and go kind of game.

Enjoy your day with the kids.  The snow will go away and we will be back to ’normal’  soon and this will just be a memory.  A fun memory!   

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It looks like we may have one more Snow Day before it turns back to Seattle Slush Days.

Here are some ideas I found online at They looked like fun. While it is still cold enough I am going to go try the frozen bubble idea.
Ornella, Mom of Jackson,Oliver and Wilder (in the Orcas Class)had a fun idea. Bury glow sticks in the snow and go look for them. It is similar to the colored ice cube hunt but you can do it at night! Such a great idea!

Cold Mold

Borrow some pans from the kitchen. Use them to build crystal fairy castles or to create cakes for a cold-weather “buffet”

Ice Maker

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, blow bubbles and watch them freeze on the wand.

For the Birds

Hollow out an orange and fill with seeds to feed your feathered friends.

Ice and Easy

Freeze colored water into ice cubes, then hide them around the yard for a wintertime scavenger hunt”

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As we enter our third day of Snow Days it may be harder to find enough snow to play in outside  so bring some inside!  Get a large pan, cookie sheet with sides or a plastic storage box – the under-the-bed sweater boxes are the best.  Put the container on the floor with a garbage liner and towel to protect your floor or on the kitchen table.
Here re three ideas for inside snow activities.  Kev had River paint with paint brushes and set up a science activity to watch how long it took for the snow to melt.Danielle had Ansel use a squeeze bottle to change the snow to green.  If you have pictures of your child painting the snow please send them to me and we will add them to our snow wall.

Paint the snow….
Use paint brushes, eye droppers or squeeze bottles to paint the snow with food coloring or liquid paint.  If you do not have any of those tools you can just use spoons to drop the paint onto the snow.  It is fun to mix the colors and watch them blend.


Next idea …..

Play with dinosaurs or animals in the snow.


Build a construction site in the snow …


Snow is a great sensory activity for your child.  Talk about how it feels, how it changes (melts, molds/forms shapes, crystalizes).  You can watch as it changes back into water and discuss why it does that.  And, of course, talk about the weather – cold and sunny, wet and cloudy, snowy and windy)
Have fun exploring the snow with your child.

Hope to see you soon!

Teacher Janice

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