Sunday, February 27, 2011

Science Sunday – How Light Travels

Science Sunday 
Both M and I really enjoyed our science lesson this week.  Since we talked a bit about light and shadows, it would have been perfect for Groundhog’s day, but I was too late to realize it – darn! 

First we got a flashlight that actually had batteries in it and works (hard to find around here lately with a crazy boy who constantly takes things apart).  Then we made M’s bedroom as dark as possible.  A dark room and a flashlight – this alone would have been enough to keep him happy for a while!

We went around the house gathering up a few things to see if light would shine through them or not.  Our collection (with some random things on M’s dresser):things to shine our light onA wooden box, wooden block, blue glass votive holder, jar (with water), ceramic vase, a basket (not shown), and an empty coffee creamer bottle – we tried to find a variety of things that would block the light, let a little light through, and let all of the light through.

Once we had a good collection we began placing each one in front of the flashlight.   translucent bottle

translucent basket 

clear votive holder

For some items the light shone right through onto the wall.  Some items lit up, but didn’t let much light through, and some items didn’t let any light through at all, but cast a shadow on the wall.  At this point we talked about “transparent”, “translucent”, and “opaque”.  M loves new vocabulary, and used each term correctly as we talked about the items.  (That doesn’t mean it really stuck in his mind, but that’s ok!)

After a bit of talking about shadows, and some coaxing in the right direction, we realized that light does not go around things, but must travel in a straight line (you’d really think this was obvious, but not so much when you are trying to put it into words). 

Next came the really fun part.  We made a pinhole camera.  Here’s a quick tutorial:

1. measure out 4 equal sections of cardstock (black if you have it), plus a little tab (you can see the pencil lines if you look really hard!):pinhole camera tutorial 1 

2. use double stick tape to line it with black paper.  If you used black cardstock, skip this part:pinhole camera tutorial 2

3. fold your cardstock along your lines, so that it forms a cube with an empty top and bottom, with the black on the inside.  Use the tab to glue or tape in place:pinhole camera tutorial 3 

4. cover one empty end with tracing paper or parchment paper (it needs to be translucent enough that you can see through it pretty well, but don’t use something totally clear):pinhole camera tutorial 4

5. cover the other empty end with another piece of black paper.

6. poke a tiny hole in the middle of the black end:pinhole camera tutorial 5

Ta, da!  A pinhole camera!

We stood near a window, and pointed the tiny hole towards the window.  Then we covered our heads and the camera with a thick towel, to block out all the light we could:M trying out the pinhole camera on his own

We looked at the parchment paper side and saw a picture of what was outside our window… upside down!  The trees were upside down, M’s little sun catcher was upside down, and so on.  It was very, very cool!  There was no way for me to capture a photo of it though, so you will have to just imagine (or make one for yourself!).

our view

our view through the pinhole camera








The reason everything appeared upside down is that light travels in a straight line.  So the light from the top of the window went through the little hole, but couldn’t turn and go to the top of the opposite side of the cube; it just kept going straight, until it landed at the bottom of the cube on the parchment paper.  Same goes for the light at the bottom of the window traveling through until it hit the top of the parchment light works - a photo from our text book

M was very impressed that the trees were upside down, and interestingly enough (totally not planned), our Bible story that morning had been about the blind man that Jesus cured, who first saw the trees upside down.  Very cool indeed.  So we talked a bit about how great it is that God made our eyes in a special way so that things are turned again and we see everything right side up.  That God – He really did think of everything, didn’t he?! :)

Have a beautiful day! :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video by Dr. Gordon Neufeld

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I am reading Dr. Neufeld’s book, Hold Onto Your Kids.  In his book he compares a child’s need for secure attachment to his parents to a child’s physical need for food.  If a child is not secure in the fact that food will be provided for him, and that in fact, more than enough food will be provided, he will be so preoccupied with food that he will not be able to move on from that point and grow.  The same is true for love – a child needs enough and more than enough love and affection and security in order to grow out of that stage and into a more independent and mature person. 

I was really touched by this video by Dr. Neufeld, which speaks a bit to the same point.  I hope you’ll watch it – it is only 5 minutes long, but I’d suggest watching it at a time when you can give it your full attention.

Have a beautiful day! :)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Preschool Necessary? (Part three)

part one   part two

{I’m also going to address the “over-mothering” issue (mentioned in part one) as it just seems to fit here.}

M is often on the receiving end of comments like these:  “Why are you being so shy?!”  “Come on, M!  You know these kids!”  “Stop being so shy!  You’re just being silly!”  I cringe every time I hear something like this said to him. 

Being shy is not wrong.  Being outgoing is not wrong.  They are simply different ways of being“Shy” does not automatically equal “unhappy”!  (But hearing things like the above comments can certainly affect a shy child’s happiness and inner peace.)

When I was a child I heard similar comments pretty often.  Not once did it make me feel more comfortable in the situation, or make me feel not shy.  It only made me very self-conscious, and aware that it wasn’t ok with everyone for me to just be me.

Well-meaning people have told us that preschool will “help” M overcome his shyness.  I suppose it could change his behavior, yes – but at what cost?  There is something to be said for the child who chooses to observe and understand a situation before jumping into it.  I’m not sure I want to “fix” this trait in M; it may serve him well throughout his life! 

I’ve discovered a much easier way to help him become comfortable in new situations: listen to and respect his instincts. 

In my opinion, this is how children learn to respect and value others. If we truly understand the dignity and intrinsic value of ourselves, we tend to recognize and appreciate the value of others!  This really is the basis of true respect for others. 

I have heard that you know if you are an introvert or an extrovert by how you relax and re-energize.  Does it energize you to be at a party with friends, talking and having fun?  Then you’re most likely an extrovert.  Does it energize you to spend time alone, simply being by yourself and thinking or enjoying a hobby?  Then you are probably an introvert. 

For introverted children, being in large groups, while it may be fun, can also be very stressful.  I’ve noticed that M’s “shyness” manifests itself in a variety of ways in large groups – he may be clingy, act really wild and hyperactive (definitely a sign he is feeling some stress), sometimes it even comes out as anger he can’t control.   Why would I send him into, what for him is a stressful situation, without also providing him with the emotional security he needs?  If, at 4 or 5 years old, he can’t depend on his mother for that security, to whom will he turn in order to find it?  Isn’t that, in part, what mothers are for?

I don’t believe maturity can be rushed along, and I think it’s a mistake to try.  My husband and I often comment on how kids are so different now than we were at that age.  It seems like they are growing up more quickly, but never truly maturing.  It’s my opinion that real maturity and true independence will naturally develop if the needs of children, appropriate to their development level, are met.   

I think of what I do with M in new social settings as a sort of emotional “scaffolding”.  Often, when I’m helping M learn something new, I’ll “scaffold” the activity for him, setting him up to succeed little by little until he has the skill or information mastered (I’ve talked about this in some of our preschool activity posts).  Comfort with the material, and a few rungs of success behind him, give him much more confidence than simply forcing him to do something he’s not ready for. 

For example, when we are starting a new class or activity, if he wants me to sit on the floor with him, I will.  If something I can do will make him feel secure enough that he can forget himself and really get into what is going on around him, I do it.  Eventually, his comfort in the environment and his level of confidence will increase; I can’t force this to happen, but I can create an environment in which it will happen naturally.  At the right speed for him, I slowly move into the background.  Being close to him during this time when he needs me also allows me to model correct behavior for him – listening to the leader, following directions, keeping my hands to myself (and reminding M of all this as necessary).  If I didn’t do this, the insecurity and discomfort he would feel, would be his focus, and he would not really get anything out of the class or party or whatever it is. 

Is allowing him the time to observe and get comfortable somehow smothering, giving too much attention, or coddling? Does it stem from a desire to keep him from growing up?

No.  It’s simply allowing him to be himself and letting him depend on me for the safe place he needs for the time being; this is the foundation from which he can grow into a mature and independent person.  You can’t learn and grow if you’re busy just trying to feel secure where you are.

As mothers, we don’t hesitate to take responsibility for meeting the physical and emotional needs of our infants.  There’s a temptation, though, as they grow and get past that stage of total neediness, to feel that we just can’t wait for them to grow up.  Sure, children want independence, and it’s great to teach them how to brush their own teeth, button their shirts, tie their shoes for themselves, etc.  But are we expecting them to become emotionally independent too soon?  I admit that sometimes I’ve just been tired of being needed!  But thankfully I always come back to wanting what is truly best for M, even though it may take some effort and sacrifice on my part.

A reader recently recommended a book to me: Hold Onto Your Kids, by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D.  (Thank you, Claire!)  I have just started reading it, but the basic premise of the book seems to be that children must be and need to be dependent on someone and feel emotionally attached to someone, hopefully one or both parents.  If a child does not have that relationship with his parents, he will find it somewhere else – it is just that basic of a need.  If a child has been allowed to depend on his parents to meet that need for attachment, he will not have such a strong need to find acceptance among his peers.  In other words, he’ll be secure enough to be his own person.  And yes, this is important even in early childhood. 

Emotional and psychological independence, in time, will grow naturally from a secure foundation.  It’s not something we have to rush along.

It’s not about “sheltering” or being over-protective.  It’s about helping him grow up in a way that allows him to know himself and become a healthy adult who will influence his world instead of being influenced by it.  And that is one of many wonderful things that I want for him.  

Note: I will be out of town for the next couple of weeks, then on a little break, and so won’t get to part 4 (academics in preschool) until sometime in May.  Other posts will (hopefully) be scheduled for my time away though, so keep reading! ;)

Have a beautiful day! :)










Sunday, February 20, 2011

Montessori Homeschooling

I love the idea of Montessori, but have often wished for something that was geared more for homeschooling a child in the Montessori method, as everything seems to be for the classroom.  The idea that children should start Montessori schooling before age 3, which means sending them to a school is the one area that makes me uncomfortable with the method. 

I think a child of that age should be with Mama if at all possible!

So I was very happy to hear about a new Montessori homeschool program for ages 3 to 6.  If you are interested you can check it out at NAMC!  This program includes curriculum and materials, and looks great!

Have a beautiful day! :)


Science Sunday – Water’s Surface Tension & Exploding Colors

Science Sunday 

colors "exploding" on milk as surface tension is broken

We talked about water’s “skin” this week – the stuff that holds water together – also known as surface tension.

We used the following supplies:supplies for experimenta bowl of water, food coloring, a small container of dish soap, two pipettes, wax paper, a sponge, a saucer, and some milk.

First to see surface tension, M chose to make the water in our bowl yellow, then he used one of the pipettes to drop the colored water onto the wax paper.  We watched how the water rolled up into little balls:water drops on wax paper let us see surface tension 

Then M used the other pipette to place one drop of dish soap onto the balls of water:a drop of soap breaks surface tension The soap broke the surface tension, causing the water to run.  This is how water washes laundry, dishes, dirty little boys, etc. ;)  The soap breaks down the water tension so the water can flow freely into all the crevices where dirt is. (We used the sponge to wipe up after this part.)

Then came the very cool part. :)  Exploding colors!  We poured a small amount of milk onto a saucer, then added one drop of each food color into it.  See how the drops of colored water just sit in the milk?food coloring drops on saucer of milk 

Then we dripped soap into the saucer, and wow did the colors “explode” – really!  It was pretty neat to watch, and both M and I were amazed at how quickly the color ran through the milk.  It was lots of fun and M did this over and over again (that jug of milk was getting old anyway ;) ).drop of soap breaks surface tension, and the colors explode

Have a beautiful day! :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Books of the Week – Feb. 19, 2011

Library Mouse, A Friend’s Tale, by Daniel Kirk is a sequel to Library Mouse.  These are both cute stories about a mouse who lives in a library and writes books at night, leaving them out for children to read.  In this particular book, a little boy named Tom finds out that the mysterious writer is really a mouse and writes a story about his new friend.  Both of these books are great for encouraging children to make up their own stories, and even create and illustrate their own books.  We love almost any book by Daniel Kirk, by the way.

 Three Cheers for Tacky, by Helen Lester.  I’m not a huge fan of Tacky the Penguin, but in this story he’s much less irritating than he is in some of the others.  M loves him and his interesting personality.  Tacky is an odd bird, but he knows how to be himself and not worry about what anyone else thinks.

 Mattland, by Hazel Hutchins.  I first heard about this book when Natalie wrote about it here.  M definitely loves this book – it tells the story of a boy’s imagination in a really captivating way (honestly, Daddy and I love it too).  I love how the main character, through his creativity, resolves some not-so-happy feelings and also opens the door to new friendships.  

Fine Feathered Friends, by Tish Rabe is in the Cat in the Hat Learning Library series (I also got this one from Natalie’s post).  It was, hands down, the hit of the week.  This book does a great job with the rhyming, which makes it so much fun to read.  And there’s a really neat flying machine in it, which M wants. ;)  It also has a lot of great information about birds!

For more reviews of children’s books, check out Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

Have a beautiful day! :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Learning by Heart – week 16


“The mother’s heart is the

child’s schoolroom”
Henry Ward Beecher

{M is 4 years old}

We were fighting colds (and losing) this week, so not a lot happened on the preschool front.

Here are a few of the activities I threw together on the spur of the moment for M…

Hammering “nails” (golf tees) into a cardboard box:golf tees and cardboard boxHonestly, I’m not sure what, if any, skill this works on.   Practical life, maybe?  But it sure is fun.  He used to love doing this with styrofoam, but cardboard does not give as easily as you might think and gave him a new challenge.  He decided to add some colored paper to make a design:hammering tees into the boxAnd then he turned the whole thing into a surprise for Daddy.  The “design” on the left is a smiley face, and on the right he used the golf tees to spell his name.  What?  You don’t see it? ;)finished design

More “picture pies”, like those mentioned in last week’s post:"picture pies"


About a year ago I found a little wooden puzzle on sale at Michael’s.  They are basically tan gram pieces, except the two large triangles that are normally in tan grams were cut into 4 medium-sized triangles.  I’ve looked all over the internet for printable puzzles to use with these, but haven’t had much luck in finding ones large enough to actually place the pieces on.  I finally picked up a book full of puzzles (I can’t remember the name and I’m too lazy to go look right now).  I’ve copied a few of the puzzles and enlarged them.  I’ve been placing a new puzzle on our fridge every few days and M has really enjoyed doing them.  He does need some help, but I’ve been very impressed at how well he’s done with these:fridge tan grams

completed tan gramI glued magnetic strips to the backs of the pieces, and used wood glue to make the 4 medium triangles into 2 large triangles like a traditional tan gram set would have.


We have had some beautiful weather, and M bundled up to go outside and ride his bike on the cleared-off driveway.  Ah, the feeling of freedom that comes from a bike. :)M, riding his bike


And, of course, there was some valentine making.  I will not bore you with the hundreds of valentines M made, but I’d like to show you the ones he was most excited about:valentine for Max

valentine for Thor

back of Thor's valentine These are for Max and Thor, two dogs.  Yep – he loves them and a whole lot of love went into making these valentines. :)


We also baked up some yummy valentine cookies, which we also painted.  I think I first saw the idea over at The Artful Parent - she used food coloring and water for the paint.  I’ve been reading MaryAnn Kohl’s book, Discovering Great Artists, and in it she mentions egg yolk painting, which sounded awfully interesting to me, so we decided to combine the two ideas.  We whipped together an egg and some food coloring, painted it onto cut out heart cookies, and had a lot of fun!egg yolk "paint"

cutting heart cookies

painting cookies

ready to bake finished cookies - a few of them were close to being burnt! Yum!

I’m linking this post up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up; be sure to check them out!

Have a beautiful day! :)


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Science Sunday – melting ice and floating air


Well, we did two experiments this week…

experiment 1 – melting ice:

M wanted to make colored ice, which he does from time to time (and likes to melt them in his bath water), and somehow this gave him the bright idea of doing a “simonasperiment” (science experiment) with ice: make ice and see how long it takes for it to melt.

I remembered Ticia’s family did something similar a while back, so I asked M to think of different ways to melt ice.  We came up with 4 ideas:

  1. let it sit out in the room
  2. let it sit in hot water
  3. put it in the microwave
  4. sprinkle salt on it (this idea was my contribution, and he thought I was nuts, hee hee)

So, we filled 4 small snack containers with water, and set them out in our extremely cold breezeway (which gets used as an extra freezer in winter, seriously), and brought them in when we remembered them about 3 days later. ;)

M predicted that the microwave would melt the ice first, the hot water would be second, the salt would be third, and the ice block sitting out in room temperature would take the longest to melt.

We checked the clock and wrote the time down, then quickly put one in some hot water:pouring hot water over ice

ice in hot water 

One in an empty bowl:ice left at room temperature

We poured salt on the third one:pouring salt on ice

salted ice

Then we put the 4th one in the microwave for 30 seconds on high:melting ice in the microwave We kept checking it at 30 second intervals, and it was almost completely melted at 4min, 30 seconds.  It took a total of about 5 minutes to melt the ice in the microwave.  This was the one to melt the quickest, so M’s prediction was correct, but it took much longer than I imagined!

M was correct in all of his predictions!  The warm water melted the ice in about 17 minutes (we changed the water 3 times during this time in an effort to keep it in warm water), The salt-covered ice melted in 2 hours and 38 minutes, and the ice left out in the room took 6 hours to melt.


experiment 2 – floating air:

This was another experiment from this fun book:image

We filled our kitchen sink and gathered up several things that looked empty, but were really full of air – a pan, a plastic bottle, a bowl, and a cup.  Each of these things floated in our sink, until we filled them with water.  Filling them with water made them sink:floating and sinking items with air in them

We tried putting glass pebbles in the empty bottle to see how many it would take to make it sink.  We found that the bottle would only sink to the depth of the pebbles.  Any air in the bottle made it float, regardless of how heavy it was getting.placing pebbles in empty jar

I told M how sometimes deep sea divers use special balloons to raise things from the bottom of the water to the top.  We grabbed a spoon, which we knew was a “sinker” from our previous “sink or float” experiment, and dropped it in the sink.  Then I blew up a balloon and tied a very short piece of yarn to it.  We place it down in the water and tied the other end to the spoon.  Because the balloon was full of air, it went back up to the surface, and brought the spoon with it, making it float just beneath the surface of the water.  M thought this was very cool.  Air is pretty strong stuff! balloon floating a spoon up from the bottom

We also learned how submarines work.  Subs have chambers that fill up with water, making them sink.  When it’s time to rise, air is blown into the chambers, and pushes the water out, making the sub slowly rise to the surface. 

I made a hole in the bottom of our bottle, and another hole in the cap (which was not a very easy thing to do, let me tell you).  We filled our “sub” with water and it sank to the bottom of the sink.  Then we inserted a straw into the hole on the lid and M blew air into the bottle, which pushed the water out the hole in the bottom:M blowing air into his "submarine"and that made his submarine rise to the top.  He loved this, and did it over and over again!

Be sure to check out Science Sunday for more great science ideas!

Have a beautiful day! :)


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