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Saturday, February 13, 2016

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LEGO Engineering Preschool Challenge 2 (STEM): Houses

It's time for our second LEGO Engineering Preschool Challenge!


Were you here for our first LEGO Engineering Preschool Challenge?  It's a wonderful way to invite your kiddos to build something!

These LEGO Challenges are also a venture into the exciting world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). STEM investigations combine three or four of these areas to create a learning experience that integrates a variety of skills and is more memorable for your kiddos..

I've always considered physics and engineering branches of science.  As your children work through this challenge, they are engaging loads of science processing skills, including questioning, observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, problem solving, and evaluating.  They are using math skills like measuring, comparing, adding, and subtracting.  And, they are doing it on a level that is precisely adapted to their capabilities because they are leading the construction themselves!  At the same time, they are gaining confidence that they can be successful creators and problem solvers!

Today's challenge is particularly fun because children love to imagine what their house will look like when they grow up!

We started out by looking at a full-size house built entirely from LEGOS!!  You can see it here.

You can see James May take you on a brief "tour" of his house in this video:


Challenge your kiddos to make their own (miniature!) house and make a video "tour" of it when they're done!

Just give them access to a big pile of LEGOS (and, in our case, the LEGO and Mega Bloks usually end up mixed together!) and let them get started.  When you give them the LEGOS and invite them to get started, they can create anything they imagine!  Swimming pool in the house?  Sure!  Bathtub in the bedroom?  Why not?!  What will your children create?  When they're done, have a "show and tell" moment for everyone to share what they've created!







They can use tech as simple as a smart phone or tablet to make their video!

Do your kiddos love LEGOS?  Then check out my {FREE} Penguin LEGO counting mat and spelling/reading activity! Also, be sure to pop back and see our other LEGO preschool challenges coming up!

Also be sure to visit these other STEM Saturday Activities:

Print and Draw STEM Creative Prompts from Handmade Kids Art
Color Changing Flower Science Activity from Little Bins for Little Hands




I may share at any of these parties!



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Friday, February 12, 2016

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Edible Chocolate Play Dough

What's the perfect play dough for a Valentine's party?  Edible chocolate play dough, of course!  And really, do you need a holiday to play with something as wonderful as chocolate play dough?  Definitely not!  This is perfect to play with any time of the year!



I especially love play dough because it strengthens fine motor skills, provides sensory input, and is a wonderful outlet for creative, imaginary fun!

I really wanted to use play dough as a gathering activity at our Valentine party; but, this year, we have a child who cannot have sugar joining us.  And, this kiddo tends to taste things.  Soooo, I decided to play around a bit and make an edible chocolate play dough recipe.



It provides all the benefits of normal playdough, but it is safe for them to put in their mouths (even though I don't think it is very yummy)!  It is really easy to make -- in fact, it only uses four ingredients!

You can experiment with your own play dough recipe or just use ours.  Key concepts when making play dough are simply balancing oils and flours to make the right consistency play dough.

Edible Chocolate Play Dough Recipe

Simple Supplies:

One of the best parts of this chocolate play dough is that it only has four ingredients!!  And they're very flexible...if you don't have almond milk, use normal milk!

* 1 cup almond milk.  You can probably use normal milk--we just happened to have almond milk, so that's what I used.

* 2/3 cup vegetable oil

* 4.5 - 5 cups flour

* 1 package sugar free instant pudding & pie filling mix.  Here's a picture so you know what I used.  This is NOT a sponsored post or paid product placement...it's just what we used, so I'm sharing it.  :)

Easy How To:

1- Mix the chocolate pudding with the milk until the pudding mix is dissolved.

2- Add the oil.

3- Add 4 1/2 cups flour.  Mix it in thoroughly.  When you cannot stir anymore, knead the dough until it is ready.  If it is too wet, add more flour in 1/3 cup increments.  If it is too dry, add more oil in 1 Tablespoon increments.

4- That's it!  You're ready to play!!



This edible chocolate play dough is perfect!  It is silky soft, rolls easily, pinches, pulls, and stretches!  Our kids loved it!!


I love watching those fine motor skills at work!



Note: This play dough recipe does not "keep."  Make a batch, play with it, smell it, love it, use it for a lesson or play date, and then toss it at the end of the day.

I would love to hear if you made our edible chocolate play dough!!  You can email me pictures or share them on our Facebook wall!

Do you love edible play dough?  Have you tried my Edible Scented Salt-Free Rainbow Dough, Edible Pumpkin Dough, or my Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough!

February's 12 Months of the Best Sensory Dough Recipes theme is Edible Dough!


Check out all these other great ideas for edible play doughs:



Edible Jelly Bean Playdough | Lemon Lime Adventures
Edible Peanut Butter Playdough | Powerful Mothering
Edible Chocolate Play Dough | Preschool Powol Packets
Edible Ice Cream Dough | Natural Beach Living
Roti Dough | In The Playroom
Edible Cream Cheese Playdough | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Edible Birthday Cake Dough | The Life of Jennifer Dawn




I may share at any of these parties!



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Thursday, February 11, 2016

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What's Inside Your Blood - An Edible Model

This fun edible model of blood and what's inside blood is perfect for elementary, kindergarten, and even preschool kiddos!  And, since it's edible, when you're done learning and talking about blood and its contents, you can eat the model!



Building this model is a fun activity to do with your kiddos while you talk about blood and what's inside it.  I recommend preparing the "plasma" in advance, and then -- as you discuss the different components of blood -- let your children choose different food items to represent each type of cell or other items in the blood.

I made our "plasma" using a pudding mixture.  Since blood travels in blood vessels, I made a "blood vessel" out of a plastic baggie.  Then we talked about the plasma and different parts of blood.  The kids chose different items to represent each component of blood as we went along.

Here is a summary of the parts of blood we used.  You can get even more detailed with older children or only use a few of these with younger children:

What's in blood?

#1: Plasma: 
in the model: pudding
* Plasma is the light yellowish liquid that carries everything else in the blood.
* About 55% of blood is plasma.
* Plasma is a mixture of water, protein, sugar, fat, and salts.
* Plasma transports blood cells, nutrients, waste, antibodies, hormones, proteins, and more.

#2: Red Blood Cells (or erythrocytes):
in the model: raisins
* About 45% of blood is made of red blood cells.
* Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which binds to oxygen and carries it all over the body.
* Red blood cells also carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs.

#3: White Blood Cells (or leukocytes):
in the model: bananas & pineapple
* White blood cells protect the body from infections.  They find and destroy pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
* There are many different types of white blood cells.  Neutrophils are some of the first cells to find an injury or infection.  They can destroy bacteria and viruses while also summoning other cells to help protect the body.  Lyphocytes also attack pathogens, make antibodies, and regulate the immune respondse.

#4: Platelets (or thrombocytes):
in the model: appkes
* Platelets are fragments of cells that help form blood clots and scabs.
* Platelets make a base of cells that other cells can stick to when they need to create a scab.  Fibrin also helps this process.

It is also fun to point out that if you eat too much fat, your plasma turns a white, milky color, but this is reversible as your body cleans the fat our of your blood.  Also, if you have an infection you will have more white blood cells than normal since they will be on duty destroying infectious pathogens.  And finally, kids love to learn that blood is made inside your bones!  Red blood cells need replacing every few months and neutrophils only "live" for a day or two, so your bones (the inside, or bone marrow) are constantly making new blood cells!

I hope you have fun making your own edible model of blood and what's inside your blood!  This would go great with a "My Body" unit or a unit on your immune system!

This post is part of our Early Elementary Series!  You will love these other great ideas of My Body - themed activities from the Early Elementary Team:

STEM Respiratory System Investigation Asthma versus Healthy from Life Over C's

What's Inside Your Blood - An Edible Model from Preschool Powol Packets

Human Body Printables for Kids from Living Life and Learning

Telling the Time - Body Clock from Rainy Day Mum

Human Body Games for Kidsfrom The Natural Homeschool

5 Senses Unit from 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Hands-On Learning about Taste Budsfrom Look! We’re Learning!

Bones from Sugar Aunts

Human Body Math from Planet Smarty Pants

Parts of the Eye Painting from Still Playing School







I may share at any of these parties!



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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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Building Tens Castles (Preschool/Kindergarten Math)

Building Tens Castles is a fun and easy way to learn and review basic math facts (what adds up to ten/deconstructing ten).  My older preschoolers and kindergartener love building, so this is a perfect fit for playful math. You can also use it as an informal assessment.



Simple Supplies:

* building blocks (we use wooden blocks--affiliate link HERE--but you can really use whatever kind you have handy.

* 4-5 bowls

* table or floor space to spread out and work

* optional: favorite action or doll figurines


Easy How To:

You can set this up for a formal 1-on-1 activity, or just integrate it into your regular play.  I prefer to play.

1- To set it up, place your choice of blocks (between 1 and 10) in each bowl.

2- Explain to your child that Tens Castles can only be built with 10 blocks.  He needs to count the blocks in the bowl, figure out how many more he needs, and build the castle.  You can put out the figurine to wait for its castle to be built!



3- Repeat a couple times with different numbers of blocks!

4- Advanced/older kids can also subtract.  Put between 11 and 20 blocks in a bowl, and let your kiddo figure out how many he needs to take away to build a Tens Castle!




We are joining the Learning With Manipulatives team to bring you a great collection of building block learning ideas!!


Here are more great ideas for learning with different kinds of building blocks:



Amazon Affiliate Links:






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Monday, February 8, 2016

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LEGO Engineering Preschool Challenge 1 (STEM): Cars

This LEGO Engineering STEM Preschool Challenge kept our crew busy for almost an hour!



First they worked on the challenge--making their own creations.  Then they made more variations.  Then they played with their masterpieces!

This challenge incorporates three of the four STEM components (science, engineering, and math) just by building.  You could easily add the last component (technology) by letting them drive their cars down a ramp and timing how long they continue to drive.  You could also let them make videos of their cars with a smart phone or camera.

I've always considered physics and engineering branches of science.  As your children work through this challenge, they are engaging loads of science processing skills, including questioning, observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, problem solving, and evaluating.  They are using math skills like measuring, comparing, adding, and subtracting.  And, they are doing it on a level that is precisely adapted to their capabilities because they are leading the construction themselves!  At the same time, they are gaining confidence that they can be successful creators and problem solvers!

You can present this challenge to your children as the morning begins or set it up in a classroom as a science center. Or you could set out the LEGOS and see if they create the challenge themselves!

What is the challenge?

Build a car with LEGOS.

Older children may be ready for a bigger challenge:

Build a car that moves.

Or bigger still, build a car that moves by itself!

Give them the LEGOS  (which, in our case, is a giant LEGO / Mega Bloks combo bin!) and let them get started!






Do your kiddos love LEGOS?  Then check out my {FREE} Penguin LEGO counting mat and spelling/reading activity! Also, be sure to pop back and see our other LEGO preschool challenges coming up!

And if you love STEM and science activities, check out my collection of 100+ Science Activities!



We are joining in the 28 Days of Hands-On STEM activities for Kids!  Check out the homepage to see a list of all the great STEM activities you can look forward to this month!







I may share at any of these parties!



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Saturday, February 6, 2016

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Ice Cube Igloo STEM Project!

Creating an ice cube igloo is a wonderful STEM project that gives kids practice in science, math, engineering, physics, fine motor skills, and patience! It is loads of fun for groups and/or individuals!


Igloos fit in perfectly with our Arctic theme this month, but you could also build them when you talk about winter, polar regions, or states of matter!

To make your own igloo, you need the following

Simple Supplies:

* ice
* salt
* water
* something to build on (we used a plate)
* blender
* freezer

Easy How To:

1- Make an icy "glue" to hold the ice cubes together by blending up about two cups of ice.  Add just enough water so that the ice is soft and moldable, but not liquid. I "cut" the water in with a fork.  It should hold it's shape (or a snowball shape!) easily when you squeeze it together.  When I was a kid living in Utah, we used to call this "slush," so as we built we talked about our "slushy" mixture!



2- Arrange the ice in your igloo shape around a plate or on another building surface.


3- Fill in the gaps between the ice with slushy!


4- Sprinkle salt on top of the ice cubes to encourage them to melt the tiniest bit.  The melted water will freeze to any ice that touches it.  Add another layer of ice and slushy.  My kids were fascinated by the way the ice cubes stuck together and how the slushy could change its shape as you molded it and then re-freeze.  I should add that we live in Houston, so my kids have had a lot less experience with ice and snow than some!


5- Put it in the freezer to harden.  Then repeat steps 2-5 until your igloo is as tall as you want it.  Check out my video to "watch" ours grow!  (If it doesn't load, you can watch it here.)

Working with the slushy and the ice and designing the igloo takes a lot of experimenting and trial and error.  Often, our kiddo would slap a piece of ice or slushy onto the igloo only to watch it break and fall off.  This is okay!  Let them engineer the perfect igloo!  They will figure out how much pressure is okay and how much is too much, and will love their igloo even more.




6- Use slushy to form the top of the igloo.  Also add slushy to the sides to make it air-tight and stronger!


7- Ta da!  Your igloo is done!  We took about two days to build ours and just did each step in between other lessons and activities, letting it freeze while we were busy.  My kids pointed out that a real igloo built in the arctic would have re-frozen as they were building it.  They were also very impressed with the amount of work it would have taken someone to build a life-size igloo, as our 14-inch tall igloo took quite a bit of care and effort!


You can play with your igloo, show it off, or just store it in the freezer for a while!  We had some arctic animals move in!



Your kids can also experiment with the ice and slushy to make different ice sculptures and creations!  
My son continued to grind snow, make ice, and experiment & play with it for two days after we finished!



I loved how the entire project modeled a real-life solution to a problem (housing in the artic), and gave our kiddos experience with the cold ice and snow while staying in a nice warm environment.  And, of course, we talked about how people living in the arctic now do not usually make igloos.  It was still a fun connection to the past and to an environment different than theirs!
The project also let them experience first-hand states of matter: how water freezes into ice and ice melts into water.  For more experiments with this, check out our Frozen Water Magic Science and Elsa's Ice Castle Science Play!


Would you make an igloo with your kiddos?  I'd love to see it!  Feel free to leave a comment, send me an email, or say 'Hi' on Facebook!


Do you love science?  Be sure to check out my collection of 100+ science activities here!

STEM Saturday.jpg

You will also love these science activities from the STEM Saturday bloggers:

Ice Cube Igloo STEM Project from Preschool Powol Packets
DIY Engineering Project Kit from The Homeschool Scientist
Glow Stick Science from Little Bins for Little Hands





I may share at any of these parties!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!





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