In the book The Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv (2005) links the lack of nature in the lives of children to being part of a “wired generation.” He says attention disorders, depression (yes, in children), and obesity are all due to a “Nature Deficit.” This is an amazing book and a great resource for teachers. I encourage you to read it and bring more nature into your work with children
Kids love to dig and what’s more exciting than finding a Roly Poly? Supply the kids with shovels, magnifying glasses and bug containers and let them go to work. I purchased all of my supplies at the Dollar Store making it very reasonably priced. You could use recycled food containers and spoons found in your kitchen if you don’t have access to these materials.
Here are some fun facts about roly polies that you may not know:
- They are found in most regions of the world and live in moist dark areas, under rocks, bark, leaves and logs.
- They like to eat decaying plants or other vegetation. (What other creatures eat this type of food? Extend your science activity by setting out a fresh carrot with a rotten carrot and see which one the Pill Bugs will eat.)
- Pill bugs have three body parts, seven pairs of legs, two antennae and two eyes. They are ¼ to ½ of an inch in length and can roll into a ball when frightened. These are great facts to discover with your children. Bring out the magnifying glasses!
- Pill bugs are actually not bugs, they are crustaceans. They are related to shrimp and crayfish, breathe with gills, and need humidity or moisture to survive. You can explore other types of crustaceans with children as well.
- The pill bug goes through two stages of development: egg and adult. The female can lay up to 100 eggs, which are held in a pouch (like a kangaroo). After about two months as an egg, they hatch and emerge as a tiny adult. They grow by molting (shedding their skin) and can live up to three years. Good information to research with children. Try checking out a book about pill bugs.
You can explore habitats of all kinds of animals, bugs, or crustaceans. Try creating a roly poly habitat with children out of found materials. However, you also want to help children respect animals and their natural habitats. So make sure they know you ALWAYS put animals back in their natural habitats at the end of every day.
This resource is a great guide to using the scientific method with young children by following their interests. Steps for scientific inquiry (question, observe, predict, experiment, discuss) are outlined and suggestions for how to support children’s thinking during each step are given. Get ready to follow the child’s lead and support them in the inquiry process!
Make homemade bubble solution with liquid dish soap and water. Start with a cup of water and a tablespoon or two of dish soap (Dawn seems to be the most popular choice for making bubble solution) and mix. You can add a little corn syrup or dissolve some sugar in the water to make the bubbles last longer. You can use wands you already have or children can create their own with pipe cleaners or flexible wire.
Goal: Children will experiment with creating bubbles that are different sizes and observe changes from the bubble solution to bubbles to bubbles as they pop.
Some of the most magical experiences come from the simplest materials. Bring out some flashlights and see what magic explorations happen.
This experience supports development in several of the Early Learning Science Goals.
- Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions.
- Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.
- Begin to understand basic safety practices one must follow when exploring and engaging in science and engineering investigations.
- Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.