Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blood! (Making a Model)

It’s almost Halloween so a little gore is a good thing, right?! Plus, it’s been ages since my son and I have done any human body-related science activities.

Within the last week or two, my son and I have had conversations about both scabs and white blood cells. This activity is the perfect complement to those discussions.

We made a model of blood! 

Here’s what we used:
4 teaspoons of yellow jello powder
1/3 cup of boiling water
½ cup of cold water
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. of red Perler beads
50 tiny clear seed beads
1 white 9-millimeter pony bead
Liquid measuring cups
Clear glass bowl

This activity came from the amazing book Squirt! The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About Blood by Trudee Romanek.

It is chock full of astonishingly awesome facts about the blood in our bodies, explaining everything from scab science to blood types (O, A, B, or AB), bone marrow, leeches, how blood is pumped through the heart, and more. Comprehensive is an understatement!

While there was a lot that was too advanced for my son, there was a lot that wasn’t. I simply stuck to the things I knew he’d understand.

Romanek’s book taught us the “blood basics:”
Most of our blood is plasma, which contains nutrients from food, hormones, proteins, etc.
White blood cells fight germs and illness.
Platelets stop an injury from bleeding.
Red blood cells carry oxygen.

How to Make a Blood Model
Step 1: Mix 4 teaspoons of yellow jello powder with 1/3 c. boiling water. Stir until dissolved.

Step 2: Add ½ cup cold water. Stir. Then pour into a clear glass bowl and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Step 3: Remove from the refrigerator. The jello will be thicker but not set. Stir in the red beads (aka red blood cells).

Step 4: Add the white bead (aka white blood cell) and clear beads (aka platelets). Stir.

Your model of blood will show you how much red and white blood cells and platelets are floating in your blood’s plasma!

Draw it!
To keep my son from forgetting the make-up of blood, he drew a picture of his model on a worksheet I made. 

Download a PDF of this worksheet here.
Inside his large drop of blood was 1 huge white blood cell, several large red blood cells, and a few small purple platelets, all floating in yellow plasma.

How Much Blood is in Your Body?
The average person has 70 milliliters (ml) of blood for every kilogram they weigh, according to Romanek’s book.

My son weighs 46 pounds (he’s a skinny mini) or 20.865232 kilograms (kg).
70 ml x 20.865232 kg = 1,460.6 ml of blood (or almost 1 and a half liters)!!

Check out our other human body-themed activities:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Love in Many Languages Puzzles

Have you seen that commercial from Allstate? The one with the male (supposedly) French model she met on the Internet? My seven year old has been walking around the house saying “bonjour” thanks to this little marketing spot.

To springboard off his new found interest in foreign languages, I made him a series of four heart-shaped puzzles.

Each heart contains three pieces: the shape of a country, that country’s flag, and the way you say “I love you” in the language spoken there.
Download a free 2-page PDF of these puzzles here.
I printed the puzzles on cardstock, spray glued them to craft foam and cut them out. Then I jumbled them all together so my son had to really work to put them together.

He referred to his Reader’s Digest Children’s Atlas (which has each country’s flag in the back) for help.

While this wasn’t an extensive foreign language lesson, it was fun to exchange I love yous with my son in a language other than English!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Upcycled Marble Roll Game (Math Facts Fun)

If you use FINISH® Quantum® dishwashing tablets, chances are good that you have 90 percent of the materials you need to make a fun marble roll game for your kids.

This sweet little game is so adaptable. You can practice tons of math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.), or simply ask kids to try and slowly tip the board to roll the marble from one odd number to the next, getting the marble from the top to the bottom row. This is fun at home and great for the car, too!

We played Shake-ah, Shake-ah Subtraction with our upcycled marble roll game.

How to Make an Upcycled Marble Roll Game
Simply save ALL the plastic packaging from FINISH Quantum next time you buy it. You need the plastic grid cover that holds the tablets in place and the “bowl” they sit in.

Remove all the cardboard and sticky glue (I used Goo Gone). Now download the numbers I made, print onto sticker paper, cut out, and peel-and-stick to each rectangle between the ridges of the plastic plate. Note: The ridges should be sticking up around the border of each number. I put the numbers in random order.

Glue a thin strip of craft foam around the interior of the bowl about a 3/4 inch up from the bottom (I used spray glue). Make sure the space is deep enough to allow a marble to roll around freely.

Now place a marble in the bowl and the numbered grid cover on top (numbers facing down). The edges should rest on the craft foam border you added inside the bowl. REMEMBER: The marble and the numbers should be INSIDE the bowl.

On the back of the game, run a thin bead of hot glue around the perimeter to secure the numbered grid so it doesn’t slip out. Let dry.

Shake-ah, Shake-ah Subtraction Instructions
Player 1 shakes the game board, muttering “shake-ah, shake-ah STOP.” He/she pays attention to where the marble stops. This is one number in their subtraction problem. One more “shake-ah, shake-ah STOP” and the player now has two numbers. The smaller number is subtracted from the bigger number and the difference is the score.

Play alternates between players for any number of rounds. The player with the highest score wins!

Does Your Child Speak Subtraction?
Before my son and I got shakin’ and played with our upcycled game, we reviewed some subtraction vocabulary by reading Loreen Leedy’s Subtraction Action. I love her characters and my son loves solving the problems sprinkled throughout the book. (It’s especially entertaining when you read aloud and give Mrs. Prime a crazy accent!)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Secret Message Spelling Practice

Wow. My son's doing the challenge list of spelling words at school. Let's just say this momma got pretty comfortable working on only a few troublesome words a week. 

Now the entire list is troublesome (a second grader spelling migration?)!! Good thing my son is up for the challenge ... and it's a good thing I am too!

My secret-code lovin' boy had a lot of fun with this spelling practice activity. While it took a little prep and a small prize I'd purchased at Target, it was worth the small investment I made. Here's how to get it ready:

  1. Grab 26 index cards and in bold marker write one letter of the alphabet on each.
  2. Look at your son/daughter’s spelling word list. What words did he/she miss on the pretest? Pick four of the most challenging words for secret message spelling practice.
  3. Count each letter in those words (NOTE: if words repeat letters, count them each time they appear).
  4. The total number of letters is the number of words long your secret message must be. Get creative!
  5. Once you’ve written your message, begin writing one word on the back of each letter card so that as the child spells the word, the message begins to reveal itself. Note: I numbered the words so that letters from the first word were preceded by a numeral one. If the letter is used more than once, put the second (or even third word) on a line below the other(s).

(30 letters total in four spelling words) 

Spelling is hard and practice is boring. Think hard! When you spell correctly, a prize is yours. Get yourself something sweet and there you’ll find a different kind of treat.
(30 words in the surprise phrase)

Give the child the index cards and ask that they first put them in alphabetical order, and then lay them out so each is visible.

Call out the first spelling word to your child in the predetermined order (remember, you must call the words in the same order that you used during preparation). Have your son/daughter write the spelling word down on a piece of paper (1.). When they’ve spelled the word, have them turn over the letter cards to match what’s written on the paper (2.).

Have them record the words they see and turn the card back over (3.). Oops! If there’s no word on the back, or no word with the right numeral (i.e. the number one when you’re on the first word), a spelling error has occurred. Have your son/daughter draw a line through the word on the back of the cards after they've used it to avoid confusion if letters are repeated.

Encourage your child with clues to correct the misspelling. Keep going and call out the second spelling word. Repeat the process until the secret message has been revealed (our message was a clue that led my son to a hidden prize).

I used pencil to write the secret message words on the back of my index cards. Simply erase away the old words and it’s time for next week’s challenge words and a new secret message.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fraction Match (in the Grass) Card Game

They’re working on fractions in my son’s second grade class. When he told me that he thought it was kind of hard, I asked him, “Should we practice a little extra at home?”

“Yeah!” he responded. “Maybe you can make me a fraction game, Mom.”

Here it is. And here's what you need to make it.
  1. Fraction cards (download a PDF here)
  2. Heavyweight card stock to print the cards on (six sheets)
  3. Scrapbook paper imprinted with grass pattern (six sheets)
  4. Glue to adhere the scrapbook paper to the back of the card stock (I used spray glue)

Print the cards on card stock. Glue the scrapbook paper to the back. Cut the cards out.

How to Play
Fraction Match is a modified “Go Fish” game. Deal each player six cards. Spread the remaining cards face-down (i.e. grass up) in between the players.

Each player lays their six cards face up in front of them in a row. If any of the cards represent the same fraction, they should be put together in one pile. In order for any match to be complete, the player must have THREE cards that represent the same fraction.

Every match has THREE cards.

Player 1 can either trade a singular card from their “hand” with an opponent or draw from the grass (the pile in the center). Note: Cards cannot be traded if a pile of two cards has already been started by the opponent (for example: ¾ and a pie with three of the four pieces colored in). Only single cards can be traded.

When a player has all three cards that make a fraction match, the pile is turned over to reveal the grass on the back of the cards.

Play continues back and forth between players until all the cards in front of one player have been matched, the piles have been turned over, and are therefore, all grass side face-up. This player wins!

Looking for a great book to pair with this activity? Read Loreen Leedy's Fraction Action! My son loved this book and had fun answering the word problems scattered throughout.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DIY Balancing Scale

When my son came home from school with math homework that asked him to estimate the weight of objects, judging which was heavier, I knew it was time to make a DIY balancing scale. This idea is brainchild of Quirky Momma Deirdre Smith, aka JDaniel4’s Mom.

Construction is simple. I used a wire pants hanger from the dry cleaner, yarn, and two sturdy paper cups. At the two bottom ends of the hanger, I hung yarn, to which I tied a paper cup (I’d punched holes in the paper cup just below the rim).

The cardboard tube on the pants hanger kept the yarn from moving along the bottom of the hanger. Note: Make sure your cups hang equal distance.

Now hang over a door knob and get ready for some math fun!

My son grabbed lots of small objects. I grabbed a handful of quarters.

He put an object in one cup and balanced the scale with quarters in the other cup. We recorded the weights.

1 matchbox car = 4 quarters
1 calculator = 5 quarters
1 LEGO Ninjago spinner = 5 quarters
1 mini flashlight = 6 quarters
1 yoda writing pen = 3 quarters
2 rocks = 3 quarters

Now I asked him what object weighed the most. “Easy!” he said. “The flashlight!” I asked him how he knew that was the heaviest. “Because it took the most quarters to balance it.”

“Why not use rocks as a unit of measurement?” I asked. This required some thought. After a long pause, he said, “Because they’re not the same size?”

“YES! The quarters are a good unit of measurement because they all weigh the same. The rocks do not.”

I kept the questions coming. My son was up to the challenge. “If the yoda pen and the 2 rocks both took 3 quarters each to balance the scale, what conclusion can we form?”

“They weigh the same!” he said. We put them in the cups and, lo and behold, the scale was balanced. The hanger was level.

When I asked my son later what his favorite part of the day was, believe it or not, our DIY scale was it. I LOVE that my son loves learning!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spelling Battleship

I wish I could claim this idea as my own, but truthfully, it’s not.

When the well of inspiration ran dry, I turned to my Pinterest boards.

Finding Spelling Battleship on the blog Mrs. T’s First Grade Class, was an experience akin to someone slapping me upside the head, having an “ah-ha” moment, or finding a $20 bill in an old pair of jeans.

Instantly I knew my son would go cRaZY for this!

Battleship is his favorite “board” game right now. Since Jill’s game board was a little smaller than I wanted, I made my own.

All you need is to print two and make sure you have a folder to stand up between players. Oh, and spelling words. You're going to need a handful of those too.

Download a free PDF of this game board here.

Now I picked five of the most challenging words from my son’s spelling list; I specifically picked words that varied in length.

Now we both added the words, one letter per box, to the grid on the left side of the game board. Note: words should not be written diagonally.

Now Player 1 calls out a coordinate (e.g. D2) with the hope that the opponent has written one of the words’ letters in that box. Each time Player 1 calls a coordinate, he/she marks an “X” in that space on the right side of their game board.

If a letter is in the space called, Player 2 says so (and can even indicate the word that was hit or the letter), and instead of an X, Player 1 writes an O in the box called. Player 2 puts an X through the box that was called as well, covering the letter, on the left side of their game board. Coordinates that don't hit letters can also be recorded by Player 2 if they so desire.

Play alternates between two players. When the coordinates for an entire word are hit, the player must announce it. The aim is to call coordinates that successfully locate all the spelling words.

This is SUCH a fun way to reinforce spelling! Thanks, Jill, for sharing your genius!