Winter Fun

It doesn’t usually snow much here in the city, though in the surrounding mountains it does. So it’s a real treat when it does. Today we went for a walk to a nearby park in the hopes of building a snowman. But the snow wasn’t very sticky and I couldn’t get much of a snowball started. Instead we made a pile of snow which was shaped like a cone and DD decided it was a “snow volcano”. She noted some leaves at the bottom of the pile and said that was the lava that had flowed down the volcano. So we added some more leaves to complete the lava flow. Does that count as science? :-)

Last week we went to the library and got more dinosaur books as well as a book of home experiments. DD isn’t quite interested in doing them yet, and I think most of them would be lost on her, but she saw the word “science” and decided she must have it. Still, it gives me great ideas for when the kids are a bit older.

One of the dinosaur books we got was a new one, DK’s Dinosaur Encyclopedia. Most dinosaur books seem to be pretty much the same, featuring the same cast of popular beasts, but this one has been interesting. They have photos of 3D models which really bring the animals to life, and for each one a scale image next to a human. For example, I didn’t realize that Pterygotus, an ancient sea scorpion that predated fish, was about 7 feet long! I always imagined it about the size of a lobster. Dunkleosteus was one of the first fish, so-called bony fish since skeletons hadn’t evolved yet and they were covered with armor; it was over 16 feet long!! Again, I’d seen pictures of this kind of animal before, but always assumed it was the size of a salmon. One of DD’s favorites is Cothurnocystis, a soft-bodied creature with a “notochord” – the evolutionary debut of what would become vertebrates. Anyways, the book is so good that I think we’ll be ordering our own copy soon.

Finally, we started on some Math with DD. We were playing with markers and I was drawing letters and numbers for DS. Out of boredom I started writing small equations. DD has seen them before and knows they are “math” but hasn’t yet really grasped the concept of addition. So I wrote “1 + 2 = ” and asked her what the answer was. I told her to first take one marker from the pile, then take 2 markers. Then I asked her how many she had in her hand. Three! From there we went on to do a few more small equations. And I also showed her that different groups can add up to the same amount. Like 1 + 4 and 2 + 3 both equal 5. She still hasn’t quite got it, but it was apparent that being able to manipulate objects was getting the point across much better than drawing it out or explaining it with fingers, etc. I’ve always suspected that Math could be much better taught in general, and I think using “manipulatives” is an excellent way to go. I think we’ll look into getting some Miquon Math or whichever one is the “manipulatives” program. Posted by Picasa

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