Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oreo's Don't Phase Me: Phun with Moon Phases

We started out asking the kids what they already knew existed in space. 

Then we played a game that allowed every child to tell us what they already knew about space - and wrote it on post it notes and stuck them to our Guinea Pig - I mean...happy volunteer. 

She was covered so we knew a lot of things that existed in space. One prevalent answer was the moon. We talked about each how the moon's appearance change during the month and the names of each phase, after we drew them on the board. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Constellations: Kids Create their Own

This is a fun, literacy activity we invented by accident - born out of imagination and a constellation conversation.

We were talking about stars and the groups of stars that form patterns when viewed from Earth - constellations. We talked about the 88 different constellations listed by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy.

We talked about some of the more famous constellations like the Big Dipper and Orion.

Then we began talking about how when we look at stars we can see other patterns that may look like animals, mythological creatures, people, or inanimate objects such as a microscope or a heart.

We gave the kids some black paper and foil stars and let them create artwork based on constellations from their imaginations. To sneak in a little literacy, they all wrote a paragraph about their imagination constellations.

We decided we could kick these projects up a notch by making them GLOW! We have the kids some fluorescent markers and paints and let them do their projects under a black light. This was an instant hit.

We have learned that it is a little easier to use WHITE paper and standard highlighter markers. The florescent colors show up much better on white paper and the highlighters are easier for children to write with (and less expensive) than florescent paint.

The kids LOVE writing their own florescent messages. 

This one is GLOWING literally and figuratively – GLOWING!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Afterschool Constitution

Afterschool Constitution - In many afterschool programs, the adults develop and enforce the rules.  In many more programs, rules are generated through a discussion with the children.  Staff then help children rephrase their suggested rules for the official rules document.  Many programs do rules with kids, and then develop consequences for misbehavior through group discussion.  

Take this a step further and sneak in some social studies.  Print copies of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitutional Convention, and the US Constitution.  Talk with the children about the meaning and relevance of each.  

Announce your idea to create a “Constitution of the Children’s Choice Afterschool Program” (insert the name of your program here).  The goal is to capture the flavor of the US Constitution in your program document - “We the children, in order to form a more awesome program…”  Have them write an initial draft and revise it for clear communication of ideas, and edit it for all writing conventions.  

When the final document is complete, transfer it to a poster board and have a program meeting to review what they created and agreed to.  All children sign their “John Hancocks.” Take this a step further.  

Have kids create a U.S. Bill of Rights My Way! First put each amendment into modern context, by paraphrasing it using terms that they truly understand.  Each amendment is paraphrased in 10 words or less.  For Amendment #3 on the unlawful quartering of soldiers in homes during any time whether in peace time or war, our kids said, “No soldiers in my crib – never, ever!” 
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