by Lilla E. Green
This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology
"What kind of science is 'snap, crackle & pop' science?' you may ask.
Good question! I'm glad you asked!
It's the kind of 'hands-on' activities that cause one's eyes to pop. This is the kind of science that's as simple as cereal which snaps and crackles. It involves each of your senses, and all of your attention. It's fun-science. Don't you just love spending time doing things that are interesting as well as informational? Well, then, this site is for you!
Did you know that science is everywhere? It's in the kitchen, the basement and even the bathroom. Both grandparents and toddlers perform science experiments all day long, without even knowing it.
Please come along with me, and enjoy some of the activities done by three and four-year olds at the Hartigan Elementary Arts Specialty School. The Chicago Foundation for Education endorsed a three-year old project entitled "Creepy Crawlies For Munchkins" which has brought smiles and giggles from several Bronzeville preschoolers. The teachers of the preschool classrooms collaborated with the teachers in the science lab, and together with the school's Science Club members, they presented introductory life science lessons to the children.
Some "creepy crawlies" that we've experimented with are:
Here is an example of a lesson, using the scientific method, which introduces
preschoolers to living things. If you're interested in teaching a discovery activity
to older children, click here.
Maybe you'd like a life science lesson about the human body digestive
system geared toward grades preschool - third grade. Click here.
Check out the health lesson also,
where cartoon characters help you teach!
Life Science: Millipedes
Problem: What characteristics help a giant millipede survive in its environment?
(Pupils are urged to observe the animal and its living quarters before guessing how it survives.)
Materials: two giant millipedes (See Science Boreal Laboratories) in an enclosed ten-gallon aquarium (screen lid); bedding made of leaf litter, called demetris, chalkboard / chart paper on easel, 9"x12" manilla art paper, crayons, pre-cut black circles, with a four-inch diameter.
1. Discuss the tropical rainforest and its hot, humid temperature. Show pupils pictures of plants / trees found only in this biome. Have them discuss what type of clothes children wear in this climate. Show pictures or film clips of insects that thrive in this environment.
2. Take a millipede out of the environment and allow pupils to observe its hard shell, its many, many legs, its color and its manner of movement.
3. Allow pupils to interact with the animal. Urge them to name the animals. Have them compare the millipede with an earthworm or another "creepy crawly." Ask them questions such as:
Why is it black?
Why does it have so many legs?
Why is the shell hard?
Can it see?
Why does it eat dead leaves?
Why does it crawl so slowly?
What other creatures in the rainforest crawl on the ground?
Who might eat the millipede?
Can the millipede defend itself?
Why might a millipede be a great pet?
Why is / isn't it a "scary" creature?
4. Draw a millipede on the blackboard / chart paper, using five circles, counting circles as you draw the animal. Ask the pupils to do the same thing on their manila art paper.
5. On the blackboard, tape five to ten giant-sized teacher-made vines with leaves. Cut out the pupils' manilla millipedes and insert them in and around the vines on the chalkboard. Have pupils realize that the creatures need to be under the leaves on the vine, to keep from being seen by other animals in the forest that may want to eat them.
6. In a follow-up lesson, have pupils paste five black construction paper circles together, making newer millipedes for the chalkboard diorama.
Results / Conclusion: Pupils realize that these creatures called millipedes are sturdy, shy pets who help eat the leaves on the forest floor of the rainforest.
If you'd like some background information on insects, visit the following links:
The Insects Homepage
Preschool Curriculum Science
Lastly, I'd like you to visit the following website that helps parents and educators to teach little "munchkins." It has helped me tremendously and it offers free publications. The following lesson is a sample of that publication:
Activities in the Community
Our communities provide still more opportunities to learn science.
Discuss expectations with your children ahead of time. What do they think they'll find at the zoo? Very young or insecure children may go to the zoo with a more positive attitude if they are assured that it has food stands, water fountains, and bathrooms.
Don't try to see everything in one visit. Zoos are such busy places that they can overwhelm youngsters, particularly preschoolers and those in primary grades.
Try to visit zoos at off times or hours (in winter, for example, or very early on a Saturday morning). This provides some peace and quiet and gives children unobstructed views of the animals.
Look for special exhibits and facilities for children, such as "family learning labs" or petting zoos. Here, children can touch and examine animals and engage in projects specially designed for them. For example, at the HERPlab (derived from the word herpetology) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., visitors can learn about reptiles and amphibians by doing everything from assembling a turtle skeleton to locating the different parts of a snake.
Plan follow-up activities and projects. A child who particularly liked the flamingos and ducks may enjoy building a bird house for the back yard. One who liked the mud turtle may enjoy using a margarine tub as a base to a papier-maché turtle.
The following links might be helpful also.
Ants Social Behavior
AES Bug Club Home Page
Insects! (Pre-School, Science)