April Fools’ Day came early to our house this year with a visit from Punxsutawney Phyllis. Phyllis, as you may recall, was on her world tour to promote her newest book, April Fool, Phyllis! Now the real April Fools’ Day (Sunday) has snuck up on me.
This year the boys are old enough to understand practical jokes and the purpose of the day. They love telling jokes and think just about anything is funny. It got me thinking, what sort of pranks could I play on them to celebrate the day? So, without further ado, here are a few ideas I’ve come up with thus far.
- Make a fake pillow mommy under the covers and wait for the unsuspecting boys to rush in and announce, “Time to wake up!”
- Dye their milk green and tell them it came from a green cow. (FamilyFun had a similar idea.)
- Declare it backwards day and let them wear their clothes backwards.
- Give them an apple…with a gummy worm climbing out of it.
- In the spirit of the Punxsutawney clan, create my own treasure hunt. I have to think carefully about the prize though. No maple candies for us with Easter and all that Easter candy right around the corner.
Do you have a favorite April Fools’ Day prank? I’d love to hear your ideas for injecting some fun into the day.
First I send a big thank you to fellow blogger Mamadestroy for prompting this post and providing the source materials. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Some of you have been following our adventures as we attempt to grow painted lady butterflies from caterpillars. Our little guys should be making a chrysalis any day now.
Now here’s your chance to get into the butterfly act and become scientists from the comfort of your armchairs without committing to raising caterpillars.
Scientist need your help tracking monarch migration. Each fall, monarchs migrate to Mexico (and some to Southern California) where they spend the winter. Come spring, the females return to the U.S. and lay their eggs on milkweed in the southern U.S. Once the caterpillars hatch into butterflies this new generation continues north for the summer.
Monarch migration is mysterious. The butterflies overwinter in the same forests year after year. Amazingly, these butterflies know where to fly even though no monarch makes the trip to Mexico more than one. Still, logging in Mexico has made monarch migration a “threatened phenomenon” since many of the trees where monarchs spend the winter have been destroyed.
You can help the monarchs. Record sightings of monarch butterflies, eggs and caterpillars, as well as milkweed (their food source)….here. This data helps scientists learn how climate change and other factors affect this butterfly beauty.
The site also has integrated maps of reported sightings…here. The Kids section provides a host of resources, including videos of caterpillars hatching from their eggs and butterflies bursting from their chrysalis. National Geographic Kids also has a wonderful overview of creature including video…here. If you are a teacher or homeschooling parent, these resources would be an excellent accompaniment to a spring unit or caterpillar study.
Have you seen a monarch in your neighborhood? Report it and help scientists learn more about this fascinating creature.
Here’s a fun spring activity that touches on many different subject areas — spring seed sorting.
Here’s what you need:
- Various seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, beans, apple seeds, popcorn, strawberry seeds, pear seeds, for example)
- White paper
Here’s what you do:
- Have your child sort the seeds by color and shape
- Squirt glue on the paper, and have your child glue the like seeds together
- You can give your child the names of the seeds you’ve provided and have him/her guess which is which
- Label the seeds
More things to do and discuss:
- Do the sizes of the seeds predict how big the plant will be?
- Seeds contain embryonic (baby) plants, as well as the food they need to grow. Which of your seeds do we eat as food? If you pop the popcorn, you can see the white food puffed up. Yum!
- How are strawberry seeds different from all other seeds? (Answer: They live on the outside of the strawberry).
- How are the black sunflower seeds that birds eat different from the sunflower seeds people eat? (Answer: The tough seed coat has been removed.)
- What do seeds need to germinate? Can you start a seed without water? Light? Soil? (Hint: You can germinate seeds without soil. Try wetting a paper towel, placing a seed inside and putting it in a plastic baggie. Tape the baggie to a well-lit window and see what happens.)
- Encourage your child to try new foods so they have more seeds to add to their collection.
Nancy Elizabeth Wallace’s book, Seeds, Seeds, Seeds, prompted this activity. In the book Buddy receives a package from his Grandpa with five seed-related activities for him to explore. You can easily replicate Grandpa’s activities in your own home.
The caterpillars are here!
They survived an overnight on our porch (I forgot to check for delivery…ooops!) They also endured a trip to Cooper’s school yesterday where the curious preschoolers crowded around and watched them eat and eat and eat.
Growing butterflies has proved to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster, however. So far this morning, only one of our five caterpillars is eating, and he’s markedly bigger than the others. I’m not sure what might have happened overnight. Uh oh! This may require a second effort, perhaps one where I remember to check the porch for packages.
We continue to water our seeds and keep them in the windowsill. So far, no sprouts, but I’m crossing my fingers.
Yesterday was the first day of spring. This year, I’m working hard to make sure we have lots of spring fun. Aside from our seed-related activities, I’ve ordered painted lady caterpillars from Insect Lore. Choosing among ladybugs, butterflies and ants was tough, but butterflies definitely offer the most drama.
So, here’s the deal. Insect Lore is shipping us caterpillars in a cup with special food. The caterpillars should feed, molt and grow for about a week. (Did you know, caterpillars molt? As they grown they burst out of their skin, revealing the new skin underneath. Eric Carle never mentioned that one.) Then they should build a chrysalis and transform into butterflies within about a week.
Our kit includes a special butterfly-net habitat so we can feed and watch the butterflies for a couple of days before we release them into our backyard. I’ve already double-checked to make sure painted ladies will survive in our area. I know from research I’m doing for a book that some butterflies are very picky eaters. Monarchs stick to milkweed. Karner Blues love only lupine.
The boys are excited. One of their Nature’s Miracles books is called Once There Was a Caterpillar. We’ve read it over and over to learn about the caterpillar life cycle: eggs, caterpillar, pupa (in a chrysalis), butterfly. As I’ve noted before, I love this series because each book contains ideas for talking with your children about the subject. as well as activity suggestions, books to read and useful Web sites.
Do you have any spring activities on your agenda? How do you celebrate the arrival of sunshine, warmth and new life?
March 20th marks the first day of spring this year. At our house, I’m hoping spring will mean the end of an intense winter storm with high winds and cold rain. Didn’t the Punxsutawney clan predict only six more weeks of winter?
Nevertheless, we are celebrating the beginning of spring at our house by engaging in a number of spring activities. As we drive and play outside, I encourage the boys to look for signs of spring: buds and blossoms on trees, ants scurrying about, birds singing their spring songs, bunnies hopping, warming weather. We’ve talked about spring weather and how it differs from winter. (NOTE: Click here for a Kindergarten spring weather lesson plan.) Finally, last week I took Cooper and Finley to Lowe’s where they each picked a packet of seeds and a pair of gardening gloves. We started our seeds in egg cartons since it’s still too cold to sow them outside. They are so excited about their plants, spritzing them with a spray bottle every day; I am crossing my fingers they germinate.
Many of our spring activities have been inspired by Scholastic’s Nature’s Miracles book series by Judith Anderson and Mike Gordon. The set includes four books — one each about seeds, caterpillars, tadpoles and raindrops. Each book explains a natural cycle; for example Once There Was a Seed begins with a young girl and her grandfather planting a seed and follows that seed as it sprouts, blooms, produces pollen, and dies and spreads its seeds starting the cycle over again. The back of the book includes for reading the book with your child and suggestions for more spring activities, books for additional reading and helpful Web sites.
Hopefully warm spring weather has made it your way. Happy spring!
First a big thank you to two fantastic bloggers who shared some sunshine with me this weekend. Check out Vivian Kirkfield at Positive Parent Participation and Jarmila Victoria Del Boccio at Making the Write Connections. These two ladies were gracious enough to pass on the Sunshine Award.
Here’s what makes me happy: hundreds of preschoolers, toddlers and their parents squealing with delight, dancing in their seats and screaming like crazy for….Sid the Science Kid. Never heard of Sid? Imagine animated, childlike Muppets conducting hands-on science investigations and encouraging kids to investigate, explore and discover. That’s Sid, a creation of The Jim Henson Company, which airs on PBS.
My children have enjoyed the show for a couple of years now. So, when PBS SoCal hosted “Little Scientist Day” featuring Sid at the California Science Center, I snapped up tickets. We enjoyed “real-live” Sid singing songs from the show and had a sneak peek at a yet-to-be-aired Easter episode about rocks. The museum also had a number of investigations set up throughout. We made slime out of polyvinyl alcohol and sodium borate. You can to the same thing at home with school glue and borax (scroll to the bottom of that post for directions for making “alien goop.”)
As a parent of budding scientists, I love the Sid show. Each episode includes a real science investigation that you can replicate at home from instructions on the PBS Parents site. We’ve made applesauce to discuss irreversible change, bounced balls to explore elasticity and much more. Each activity includes learning objectives, a materials list and step-by-step procedures.
Parents and teachers also can follow the two Sid-related blogs for more activity ideas and ways to implement the investigations at home and school.:
Let’s face it, children are natural scientists. Early introduction to hands-on investigations plays into their natural curiosity and can instill a life-long passion for science.