Cultivate Wonder

Exploring Science with Children

Bones, Bones, Bones

One of my favorite science storytimes is all about bones. (See:“The Foot Bone’s Connected to the Ankle Bone”) Partly because I just love S.D. Schindler’s outrageously funny illustrations for Skeleton Hiccups. bodybonesThis year I added a new find: Body Bones by Shelly Rotner and David A. White (Holiday House , 2014), with stunning illustrations that allow children to literally see inside people and animals — to see how bones support and structure living things.

The follow up activity is one I remember from my own childhood: lying down on a huge sheet a paper (huge from my childhood memory) and having someone draw around you so there is an outline of your body.  Accompanying adults are encouraged to participate in Wonderworks, and activities like this require it.

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I love the interaction that you can see going on in the photographs below. I provided a basic outline of a skeleton, and many children and parents chose to use these as a reference, to draw in the bones where they go.

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I overheard great conversations like, “yes, that’s where your ribs go, but I think they are a little longer than that. Can you make them longer?”

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I think the Body Bones book encouraged more children in the past to try this. One child did bones on one side of the paper, then flipped it over and drew their clothes!

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As in the past, I was delighted by the range and variety of their creativity.

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My Anatomy

For our final week of summer session Wonderworks, we learned all about the parts of our bodies and how they work together to make us who we are.

After our opening song, Energy, by Nancy Stewart, we all took a moment to stop and feel how quickly our hearts were beating (it is a long song with a lot of movement). We talked about our day’s theme and allowed our heartbeats to return to normal, and then, we tried to feel them again.  We noticed that our hearts had settled down and were no longer beating as rapidly.

We read our two books back to back, beginning with Tedd Arnold’s very humorous picture book, Parts. Next, we moved on to the very engaging and informative beginning reader Fascinating! Human Bodies, by Katherine Kenah. This was an excellent book for our theme, as it not only discussed some of the different parts of the body – internal and external, but also introduced fun facts that the children really enjoyed. We learned that like fingerprints, the iris of each human eye is unique. We also learned that the longest case of hiccups lasted 69 years!  If you are interested in teaching preschool age children about the inner workings of the human body, I highly recommend this pairing.

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After we finished our books, we did two songs with bean bags. First, we did the popular Beanie Bag Dance from Greg and Steve’s Kids In Action album. In this song, the children dance along to the music while cues in the song tell them on which body part to put their bean bag. The second song that we did was a much quieter song and one that we’ve never tried before, called Up Goes the Castle.  It is sung by Ernie from Sesame Street. In this song Ernie instructs you to lie on the floor and put your hands on your stomach (I asked them to lie on the floor and place their bean bags on their stomachs), and then as he sings the song (which is about a castle moving up and down on a mountain), the children watched their beanbags as they rose and fell on their stomachs. Before beginning this song, we talked about how our lungs got bigger and smaller when we breathed in and out.  We practiced breathing in and out and noticing how our chests got bigger and smaller. *I must be honest, I was worried that the children would have a difficult time staying still and would move around or get up before the song had ended; however, they did not. Over twenty children all remained on their backs with their bean bags on their bellies for a song that was 3:30 seconds long. I will definitely use this song again.*

For our activity, I made packets of organs and skeletons (from the website: Confessions of a Homeschooler: Life Size Human Anatomy Activity) for the children and their adults to cut out together and to arrange and glue on to large sheets of butcher paper. I had examples hanging up so that they would know where everything should go (basically). The adults were able to first trace an outline of the children in crayons, and then, they cut out the organs, colored and labeled them and glued them into place. This was actually a much more time consuming activity than I had anticipated, and so the overall storytime, which is ordinarily 45 minutes (including activity) went over by an additional 45 mintues (I had nothing going on in the room after, so this was not a problem, but if you are on a stricter schedule, you might want to schedule more time or to make this as a take home activity).

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As far as our Wonderworks program goes, I would say that this was probably one of my favorite themes.  It was not only fun but also very educational.  The books were enjoyable and engaging, the the songs were fun and relevant, and both the children and their adults had a great time working together on the activity.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer! We’ll be back again soon when Wonderworks fall session begins at the end of August. Feel free to contact Robin Gibson or myself, Jen Thomas, anytime. We’re always happy to share ideas and get to know other individuals interested in STEAM programming.

 

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The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone . . .

A recent STEM storytime was all about bones. We began by discussing bones (Can you see them? Can you feel them?) and introduced some vocabulary, including “skeleton” and “skull.” Our first book was Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler, with fantastic realistic and funny illustrations by S.D. Schindler.skeleton

Then children pointed to different bones in their body to the song “Lazy Bones.” (Tune of “Dem Bones”, with the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, etc.)

After moving our bones around, we looked at Jessica’s X-Ray by Pat Zonta, which includes x-rays of a child’s arm, head, and a coin-swallowing toddler’s rib cage!

Next we read parts of  Bones: Skeletons and how they work by Steve Jenkins, an author anyone interested in appealing science books for children should know. We talked about how different animals have different skeletons, and they were wowed by the fold-out pages of the snake skeleton.

We also watched and danced with Count von Count from Sesame Street to the song “Bones, bones, bones, bones, bones inside of you.”

Another fun book on this topic is You Can’t See Your Bones with Binoculars: A Guide to Your 206 Bones by Harriet Ziefert.

For this week’s activity, we supplied large pieces of butcher paper. The children lay flat and parents traced around them. Some drew in bones, while others were very creative. Some drew what they were wearing, while others made swamp monsters! A skeleton pattern gave them a visual if they did want to draw bones and others took it for a take-home activity.BonesCollage

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