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Spontaneous Learning: Tornadoes


The boys have been talking about tornadoes for the entire month of January, so I had planned on introducing the tornado bottles, quietly, to see what kind of conversation they started.  The boys literally dropped everything that they had been playing with to watch the tornadoes in the bottles.

We had some amazing conversations too.  After each child had gotten a turn to make a tornado, I asked them if they thought that real tornadoes were like the one in the bottle, They all said no, and Aiden told me that real tornadoes are made of clouds, not water.  Xavier noticed that the water in the bottle was spinning, just like the air spins in a real tornado.  After a little discussion, we decided that for a real tornado to form, the air has to make the clouds spin.

I also asked the boys if we should put some glitter in the bottle to see what happened, Gage said that glitter was a good idea, “but not beads, because they would be too heavy”.  We put some blue glitter in the bottle and they boys shook it up to make a tornado, we noticed that the glitter was spinning on the outside, but not going in the middle of the tornado.  Then I reminded the boys that real tornados can pick up really heavy things, so they decided that we should put some beads in the bottle and see what happened. 

Sure enough, the beads got sucked right up in the middle of the tornado.  We watched as the beads flew to the top, dropped to the bottom, and then got picked up by the tornado over and over again.

I was surprised by how long the boys worked with the tornado tube (over an hour) and that they were able to make real connections between what was happening in the bottle, and real tornadoes.



Frozen bubbles!

It has been so cold, but today that was a good thing.  I have been putting this activity on lesson plans for years, but the weather has never been righ for it, today the wind chill was -15 degrees, so I knew we wouldn’t have any problems getting our bubbles to freeze. We bundled up really good and took our dish-soap and water bubble solution outside.  We used pipe cleaner bubble wands and we were able to make some really big bubbles, but after a little practice, we found that the smaller bubbles didn’t pop as easily, so we were actually able to watch them freeze.  This was so cool, and definitely worth getting a little chilly to see!






When the bubbles got really cold, they would start to shrink, and they tore like tissue paper.  When they popped in the air we could see the bubble float to the ground like a balloon. Take advantage of the cold weather to give this activity a try.  We might even see if we can think of other ways to do it. Could we put a bubble in the fridge? The freezer? what happens when a bubble gets too hot?

Chalk It Up!


There are SO many ideas for chalk these days other than just drawing with sidewalk chalk.  You may need to think outside the box and bit or search the internet, Pinterest is my favorite way to do this!  Inside projects can be done with chalk paint to make chalk walls, boards or even turn old board books into mini chalk board books.  You can always practice writing or just draw with chalk on dark construction paper too.DSCN0444

We decided to take some chalk ideas outside and see what happened.  Not all the ideas worked quite like I thought, but the girls had a great time exploring anyway.  Here are a few ideas we tried:

– Paint Chalk: just crush broken chalk pieces and add water (lots of chalk and not too much water or it softens the colors)

– Playing Games with sidewalk chalk

-Drawing on objects other than sidewalk such as rocks, tree bark, etc

– Spray chalk: combine flour, color and warm water in a squirt bottle ( I recommend using liquid watercolors or a lot of food coloring.  We used neon with about 10 drops, but it was not as bright as we hoped.)

– Exploding Chalk Bags: combine cornstarch, vinegar and color in Ziplock bag.  Once outside add a paper towel folded up with baking soda inside the bag and close.  Stand back and watch!  (our first attempt leaked through tiny hole and didn’t pop bag)DSCN0459

Blowing Bubbles!


I thought for those of you who were unable to join us at Bubble Bonanza, I would share some of the many bubble ideas we did and found.  Summer is a great time  to head outside and blow some bubbles!  These days there are so many things you can find to do with bubble mixtures and you don’t have to buy the tiny bubble filled bottles at the store, you can just make your own solution and even add colors or scents to it too.  The bubble solution we used was just water with dish soap and we experimented with the amount of soap to add depending on which activity we were trying to do; glycerin helps the bubbles from popping so easily too.  Adding color makes for bubble art and color or scents create more sensory experiences for children. DSCN0230

Bubble Snakes uses recyclable materials from around the house to creates a line of bubbles.  We just cut a plastic water bottle in the middle and you can attach a washcloth with rubber band or hook a sock around the bottle which is now a large hole.  Dip the cloth covered bottle into bubble solution and blow out of the top of water bottle.  See how long your snake can get!  Experiment with various sizes of bottles or try adding colors to bubbles.

DSCN0244 We searched our homes high and low to find different objects with any type of holes or slits in them.  We then experimented to see if we could blow bubbles with any of them.  Another idea would be to have children have a chart to see if it did blow bubbles or didn’t or even which ones worked best, blew biggest bubble, blew most bubbles, etc.  We used items such as canning rings, fly swatters, slotted spoons, strainers and much more.  We liked the giant flyswatters and the Styrofoam plates with center cut out the best!DSCN0251

 The other stations we had were:

 ~ the human bubble with hula hoops and baby pool to try to get inside the bubble!  We used lots of soap for this one!!

 ~pipe cleaner bubble wands and refill station; the children could try different ways to make wands with pipe cleaners and then tested them out.  We used an empty laundry detergent container with the side spout button as a refill station for the children to get more bubble solution.

~ bubble art canvas with colored bubbles to blow on paper and create art as they popped!

All of the other ideas we had found our on the Bubble pin board on our Pinterest.    And remember to let the children explore and engage as they want, if they are not hurting anyone let them go at it!