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We started our first official Science Day using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding (BSU), which I browsed through yesterday and think it will be perfect for Kindergarten! It’s a K-2 curriculum, with four lines of scientific concepts:

  1. Nature of Matter
  2. Life Science
  3. Physical Science
  4. Earth and Space Science

It’s a very flexible curriculum and you don’t work through it sequentially from beginning to end. Rather, out of the 41 lessons, you start with the beginning lessons in each of the 4 topics mentioned above. There is a handy flowchart to visualize the lesson possibilities. The first lesson was about Organizing, Categorizing, and Classifying. While Satori sat eating a snack, I pointed out the various cupboards in the kitchen and asked her what was in each (plates, drinking cups, utensils, pots, pans, bowls, food, etc…). We talked about other methods of organization in places like libraries, grocery stores, and even our craft kitchen. Once she understood that things are organized into categories, we started our hands-on activities.

Craft Button Assortment

Craft Button Assortment

I got this amazingly varied assortment of buttons of all colors, shapes, sizes and patterns from DickBlick, called their Craft Button Assortment. For under $4, I got a whole pound of wonderful buttons, ready to use for crafts, math, and today, science! They arrived quickly and just in time for our Organizing Activity.

I dumped them all in a tray, and set out 8 smaller trays (we use these all the time) and asked Satori to organize any way she wanted.

Organizing buttons

Organizing buttons

She chose to organize by color, and of course, the first color she tackled was… PINK.

Pink buttons

Pink buttons

While she was busy, I rambled on about how handy it is to organize things. I pulled out one of our Colorado Bird books and showed how they organized the birds by color on every page of the book – water birds, shore birds, fly-catching birds, etc…

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Soon, she had organized several buttons by color. This activity may seem too simple for K-2, but its importance should not be underestimated! Make sure you go over why organization/classifying is important.

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To really drive in the benefits of organizing and categorizing, we then did a second activity. I gathered up 20 various items from our kitchen drawers, trying to be sure they fit into about 6 themes of 2-4 items each. Yes, we had prehistoric mammal beasts hiding in a kitchen drawer! She grabbed them and automatically organized them separate from the rest right away.

20 various items

20 various items

After we named everything together I told her to spend a moment to try to memorize it all. Then, I gathered them all up and hid them in a basket. I asked her to name all the items. She remembered only 3.

So I put them out again and we ORGANIZED them into categories.

Various items organized into categories

Various items organized into categories

Swooped them all up again and asked what she remembered. This time she remembered 13 items! People who are good at memorizing lists use this technique of grouping things in categories to make them easier to remember.

The lesson drove  home that organizing makes life easier in many ways. This initial lesson was the perfect “Foundation” to kick off our science lessons.

I love it when we can combine learning different things in a lesson designed like a game! Here we practiced our animal classification, now a total no-brainer for Satori. Plus we got our first exposure to charts and graphs! Throw a little bit of math in, and I feel our day has been complete. 🙂

While I was updating our last blog post, I asked Satori to gather all her small plastic animal toys and put them in a box. Then we printed this Animal Classification Graph out from Ami at Homeschool share.

Animal Classification Graph

Animal Classification Graph

We put in our own color labels next to each animal. I would’ve drawn the animal, but Satori can sound things out good enough to know what each column is. Then she closed her eyes, and picked her first animal! It was a reptile, so we colored the first column in green.

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I was very pleased that as Satori randomly picked animals from the living room, she actually picked a very balanced animal set of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish and birds! These animals consisted mostly of our Galapagos and Rainforest Animal Toobs, with a couple of random creatures thrown in.

You can’t see the lighter-colored columns, but this was a close race…

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Who was going to win?

Animal race

Animal race

And it was the mammals! What a fun way to wrap up the afternoon.

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We’re rowing The Salamander Room as an intro to the animal kingdom, so this week we’re going over a cursory review of the vertebrates of the Animal Kingdom. I plan to go over this all more thoroughly in the fall, but since we’ve already read a lot of books on mammals, amphibians, and such, I thought it would be easy for Satori to view the Animal Kingdom visually. So I wanted to create a large project fast and easy.

I’m sure there’s many ways to make an Animal Kingdom Classification board, but if you wanted to use our idea, you’ll need a large white board, some ziplock bags (you can make your own pockets too), pictures of different animals (from Internet/magazines), glue, tape, scissors…

I took a large white project board and found this Animal Classification website to cut our colorful explanations of each type of animal. I printed it out on cardstock, here’s our 5 main groups:

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

I glued them to our board and taped up zip bags underneath them. Then Satori got in on the action by sounding out “animal kingdom” with me to spell it out on top.

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All ready to go!

0905-animal-kingdom-023For our animals to classify, you can use many sources to print out animal pictures – Internet, cut from magazines, etc… I had on hand this All About Animals Photo Library from Lakeshore Learning which I purchased for $39.95. It was a worthwhile investment as we love our animals and want to learn about them. It has handy sorting/classifying cards, but most importantly, it has animals of all kinds! Amphibians, insects, mammals, birds, you name it.

All About Animals Photo Library

All About Animals Photo Library

After I selected a handful of animal cards, I handed them to Satori to put them in the right animal place. It has been awhile since we read our Mammal book, so I caught her trying to stick the whale and dolphin in the fish category (she said they have no hair), but we got them in the right place eventually.

Humpback Whale - mammal

Humpback Whale - mammal

Satori also had a bit of confusion now and then on Amphibians verses Reptiles, although just a month ago, I would have too! So while I thought we had learned about amphibians, it’s apparent we’ll have to learn a little bit more about amphibians and reptiles and their differences. A few major differences are that amphibians have moist, smooth skin, lay eggs in water, and have both gills and lung, goes through metamorphosis… Reptiles have scaly/dry skin, lay hard eggs on land, have just lungs, and do not go through metamorphosis.

Frog - amphibian

Frog - amphibian

And here’s the big view of our new Animal Kingdom Classification board with our animal classifications filled out.

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We had a lot of fun doing this project, and most importantly, I could see how much Satori knew about her animals. I have a bunch of DVDs lined up on animals, and now we’re heading off to the library to get some animal books! Later this week, we’ll go over some classification exercises, I should’ve done these first, but oh well.

Satori and I got a lot of shrieks out of this Frilled Lizard.

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