Friday, January 30, 2015

Preschool STEM: Magnets!

Our final session of Preschool STEM focused on Magnets!

Children learned a little bit about what magnets are and how they work, and they got to try a few hands-on magnetic activities! Missed the program but want to try some of this fun at home? Pull those magnets off your refrigerator and give some of these activities a try!
  • Test magnets on all sorts of surfaces and items in your home to see what they stick to. What do the items that stick to the magnet have in common? What types of materials are they made of?
  • Have a magnet hunt! Stick a magnet to something in your home and have your child try to find it. Take turns: have your child put the magnet somewhere it sticks, and you find it!
  • Place something small and metal like a paperclip in a cup of water, then challenge your preschooler to make the paperclip move without putting anything in the water or pouring any of the water out. Does it work with other objects (that may or may not be magnetic)?
Our craft was a fishing rod utilizing a magnet, and you can make your own out of common household materials. We tied a string onto a straw and then a magnet onto the other end of the string (we reinforced it with tape, because the string kept slipping). Then we made paper fish and clipped paperclips on their noses. Now kids could "fish" with their magnets!

That was the last of our Preschool STEM programs for this season, but we'll do them again so keep an eye on our schedule

And in the meantime, have you visited our HATCH Makerspace yet? It's an amazing space in the Arsenal Project Mall where people of all ages can experiment with hands-on items, many of which incorporate STEM elements! Find out more at our HATCH website!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today's Preschool STEM Tips!

This morning was our second session of Preschool STEM, and we learned about Tools and Measurement. We discussed how we use various tools to complete different tasks, and we learned how measuring works. Then kids got to do some hands-on experimenting with scissors, rulers, measuring tape, magnifying glasses, and scales!

Most of the tools we utilized today are things you probably have at home! Grab your scissors, rulers, and bathroom scales and try them out with your little one!

  • Do you have a ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape at home? You can measure all sorts of things in and around your house! Measure the length of your hand, arm, foot, or finger. How does your size compare to other people, animals, or items in your house?
  • Is there a scale in your bathroom or kitchen? What can you find to weigh? If you don't have a scale, you can compare the weight of two small things by holding one in each hand.
  • Let your child practice using scissors (safety scissors with blunt tips are best for little ones). Using scissors helps strengthen children's hand muscles, specifically the abductor pollicis brevis at the base of the thumb. This will make their hands strong enough to hold a writing utensil later!

We also used magnifying glasses at today's program. If you don't have a magnifying glass at home, you can make one using water and a clear, concave surface like part of a plastic bottle. Emma Vanstone explains how in this Science Sparks article.

Vanstone, Emma. "Make your own Magnifying Glass!" Science Sparks: Making Science Fun for Kids

Missed today's session? Don't worry, we still have one more Preschool STEM program! Join us next week, Thursday, January 29 at 10:15am, when we'll be learning about Magnetism! No need to register, just come on by with your three-, four-, or five-year-old!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Preschool STEM Programs this January!

This month we've got three weeks of Preschool STEM programs, the first of which was this morning! These programs focus on developing an interest and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math concepts for preschoolers. For each of the three weeks, children will get to try lots of hands-on experiments to develop the early basic understandings necessary to be ready for in-depth STEM education once they start school.

We had the first of these programs this morning, focusing on Light and Shadows. Kids learned about what makes shadows, how shadows move and change depending on the angle and distance of the light source, what happens when light passes through colored paddles, and more!

Couldn't make it this morning? You've still got two more chances to try this fun program!

Thursday, January 22 at 10:15am: Tools and Measurement
Thursday, January 29: 10:15am: Magnets

They're all for children ages 3-5, and there's no need to register. And don't worry, the programs do not build on each other, so you will not feel out of the loop if you've missed any previous programs.


As you tried the activities at each station, you may have noticed signs with ideas for "Activities to try at home." Give some of these a try around the house to extend what we learned about today!
  • Shadow Puppets: Use your puppet at home with a flashlight or lamp. You can make more puppets with paper and sticks or straws.
  • Shadow Theatre: You can make your own shaddow puppet theatre at home! Drape a light-colored sheet between to chairs with a light behind it. Or aim a light or flashlight at a wall.
  • Shadow Tracing: Trace your shadow under a lamp or flashlight. Or when it gets warmer, try tracing parts of your shadow with chalk outside on a sunny day.
  • Light Paddles: We used plastic light paddles today, but you can make your own version. Use markers to color onto plastic wrap, then stretch it across the glass of a flashlight. Now you can create whatever color flashlights you want!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Additional Dog B.O.N.E.S. Programs in January!

We've just added more dates and times for our January Dog B.O.N.E.S. program, where independent readers can spend a little time reading aloud to a dog! It's a great opportunity for children to improve their reading fluency skills, as they practice reading with someone who never interrupts, never judges, and just listens patiently and unconditionally. The fact that this someone is also furry and adorable never hurts.

Thursday, January 22, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 24, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 29, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

We do ask that readers register for a specific, fifteen-minute time slot, so please stop in or call 617-972-6435 to register.