What to teach at home? Celebrate World Science Day!
So as part of a homeschooling-network-building workshop in our area of Saudi Arabia – I had this vision for a full on Science Workshop! We had a range of children from reception to Year 6 who signed up for our workshop. So a plan was drawn up, key friends, helpers and supporters sought out and the resources put together! Today was World Science Day! (for us of course). The aim of the day was to show children how Science is simply everywhere and how much fun it is experimenting and discovering! We had an absolute blast and I’m sure the mamas involved enjoyed it as much as the children. So to inspire our readers to try something similar on a smaller scale at home, here’s what we did:
We set up 3 rooms in my home: The Biology Room, The Chemistry Room and The Physics Room (You could easily set up 3 tables at home on a smaller scale or even work over a period of 3 days or 3 weeks or even months – a little at a time). The children were split into 3 groups and rotated around each room doing activities generally catered to their level and ability – although they enjoyed all the activities set out. So a tip here would be to use differentiation with your own children of different ages by the follow up activity and let them learn and discover together as a group!
Here are the activities and experiments we did in each area of Science – pick and choose what works for you and celebrate World Science Day too!
The Biology Room!
Planting seeds (All Primary Ages – 4-11)
A lovely activity that all ages can do – in our case we were sprouting wheat grains. Follow up activities include making up a diary of changes children notice with the pot each day. This ensures they take care of the seeds – but watering (spraying some water) the pot each day. They should sprout within a few days!
How Plants Transport Water (Primary ages 4-8)
This is always a favourite in our house. All you need is white flowers, food colouring, clear cups and water! Add a few drops of food colouring to the the cups already half-filled with water. Snip your flower stems at an angle and put inside the water. We followed up by drawing the flower in a coloured water and predicting what may happen. After a few hours the petals started to show a bit of colour!
Living Things and Life-Cycles (Primary ages 4-11)
World Science Day can also be celebrated by taking a trip to a Zoo or farm. Luckily for us we were able to bring the animals to us! So we had 2 quails and a special spiny-tailed Lizard bought in by one of our Homeschooling mamas! It was lovely for the children to learn about the lifecycle of a quail and its habitats. What a great experience! Follow up activities included drawing and labelling the quail for the younger ages and thinking about habitats and food chain for the older kids.
How to make compost! (Primary Ages 8- 11)
This is a brilliant activity for this age group as they learn about rotting food. It could also work as something you decide to do at home in the garden for a while. We asked all the children to save some fruit skin or peel, paper, cardboard, plant leaves, old flowers for a few days before World Science Day. The children were able to see how the food rotted at home. Today, the older children got a taste of how to actually make compost – using layers of green (fruit peel, skin, and plants) and brown (newspaper, cardboard etc). Definitely one to try at home as a family!
Understanding how our Digestive System works! (Primary Ages 8-11)
A fantastic practical way of helping children understand how food is broken down in our body. Use wooden castanets (or a thick piece of cardboard) to break down the bread – aim to break it into small pieces – you could even add a drop of water as saliva. Then let that broken down food fall through a cardboard kitchen roll representing the esophagus or food pipe. Squeeze the roll as it falls through into a sip lock bag representing the stomach. Add a little warm water and seal the bag. Children can take turns breaking down the broken down bread further in the sealed bag. Next use a long balloon, attach a funnel to it and pour in the liquid from the ‘stomach’ into the long balloon representing the small intestine. Prick holes in it with a needle or pin and allow children to squeeze the balloon to let out the liquid. Explain how this represents the nutrients entering our body to give us energy. The final part is snip the bottom of the balloon and explain that the waste product of the food comes out through the large intestine when we go to the toilet!
The Chemistry Room!
A quick way of inflating a balloon (Primary Ages 4-11)
We put a few table spoons of vinegar in the bottle. We used a funnel to put some Baking Soda in to the balloon. Attached the balloon onto the bottle ensuring the baking soda didn’t fall in. Finally lifted up the balloon to allow the baking soda to fall and react with the vinegar in the bottle. Carbon dioxide was released from the chemical reaction which helped to inflate a balloon! A great way to introduce chemical reactions.
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Creating a cloud in a jar (Primary Ages 7-11)
This lovely activity is perfectly linked to clouds, weather and the water cycle. We followed the steps here to create a cloud in a jar using a clear glass jar, warm water, food colouring, hairspray and ice. Click here to find out what to do.
Rainbow Colour Mixing (Primary Ages 4-8)
This wonderful activity was such a joy to watch! Pour a small amount of water into a shallow plate. Add drops of food colouring. Dip a q-tip into the fairy liquid and dab into the milk – watch what happens!
Colour Mixing Explosions (Primary Age 4-6)
This experiment is as easy as ever. All you need is a lot of baking soda to put into a shallow tray like below. Put some vinegar into 3 different cups. Add in blue, red and yellow food colouring. Make predictions with the children – what will happen if they mix red and yellow etc and let them discover it for themselves! A fun and easy way to teach secondary colours.
Making Clean Water – Filtration Experiment! (Primary Age 8 -11)
Using funnels and different filters (cotton fabric, net fabric and coffee filter paper), children experiment to see which is the best filter. Pour in dirty water (in our case water mixed with sand) – Great follow up activity of writing up the experiment, predicting, writing results and coming to a final conclusion.
The Erupting Volcano (Primary Ages 5- 11)
Who wouldn’t want to make this erupting volcano? Quite simply, you need a plastic cup and plate, a cone shaped volcano, vinegar and red food colouring, a little fairy liquid and some baking soda! This time you add the food colouring to the some water in the cup, add the washing up liquid, put over the cone and pour in baking soda until you see it erupting. You may want to use a smaller cup or increase the quantity of vinegar for better results!
Cornflour Slime (Primary Ages 4-7)
A fab sensory activity and experiment looking at the non-newtonian corn flour slime, mixing water and cornflour plus a little food colouring. See the difference in texture as you pick the slime and dab it while in the bowl.
Dissolving Experiment (Primary Ages 7-11)
A simple experiment, predicting and finding out what happens when we dissolve substances in hot and cold water. Do they dissolve or not. We used salt, sand, coffee and flour.
The Physics Room!
Electrical circuits and conductors of electricity (Primary Ages 7-11)
This was the perfect experiment for this age group as they looked at what completed an electrical circuit and what made a good conductor of electricity, testing objects such as a plastic ruler, a metal spoon and a scissors with plastic handles. Follow up work included writing up a prediction and then jotting down their results and what they found out about electricity.
Magnetic and Non-magnetic (Primary Ages 4-7)
Children were given a bag of objects to sort whether they were magnetic of non-magnetic. They could predict before and then write up or draw the results. Ask them what they noticed about the objects that were magnetic.
Forces – making Catapults (Primary Ages 8-11)
A fantastic practical way of learning about forces by making a catapult using just wooden lolly sticks and elastic bands. Click here for more instructions on how to make your own catapult!
All About Space: Primary Ages (4-11)
There is so much to cover in the topic of space and each area can be catered towards the different age group of children. Our 4-6 year olds looked at light and dark and created shadows, learning about sunlight as well. Our 7-8 year olds learnt about the phases of the moon and night and day, whilst our 9-11 yr olds learnt about how we have seasons. We also gave each group an opportunity to find out their own facts about space encourage an independent way of investigating facts in Science.
For this particular topic, we also held a poster competition on the mention of space related verses in the Qur’an. This could also be a fab follow up activity linking in religion as well!
And that was all our World Science Day intensive session today – but as it was well planned, with a good number of adults on board, it was a success! A big THANK-YOU to all those who helped and took part! Hoping you will be tempted to try this at home too 🙂