Science = School Success for Young Children

Science = School Success for Young Children. Take a look around our world!

Science is all around us!

Young children are natural born scientists.  How many times have we heard our child ask “WHY”?  From questioning rules to natural curiosity, their questioning is a result of them trying to figure things out.  Observing, experimenting and questioning are all key skills for school and life.

Simple Science Everyday

Without expensive equipment or science expertise, you can provide great science opportunities for your child. The experiments can also be done multiple times with minor adjustments to see new results. That doesn’t happen when you put together a puzzle!  Here are some easy science ideas.

  • Observe everyday activities and talk with your child about how they work.
  • Observe outdoor animals such as birds, squirrels and insects.  Talk about their body parts, where they live and what they eat.
  • Look at the sky in the daytime and watch the clouds.  Build your child’s vocabulary by describing how they look.
  • At night, look at the stars and the moon.  Watch it over a period of a week and see if it looks different.  Your child can even ask them to draw pictures of what they see.
  • Try some science experiments with everyday items.  Play with water both in the house and outside.  Watch it evaporate outside or experiment with sinking and floating items.
  • Try baking with your child and talk about what happens when you mix and bake.  Talk about the materials and how it bakes

Throughout your science time together, continue to ask your child questions.  If you don’t know what to ask, think back to your basic 5 +1 writing questions (who, what, when, where, why and how). Science experiments will have many “why” and “how” questions, but don’t forget the others also. For example:

  • What happens when _________
  • Where do you think the water goes when you don’t see it in the puddle anymore?
  • Who would be the best person in our family that could run as fast as the cheetah?

I Don’t Know Questions

It’s OK not to know an answer when your child asks a question.  But how do you tell your child that you don’t know? The following responses will help you move from “I don’t know” to “let’s learn it together”.  

  • I don’t know, what do you think?
  • I don’t know, how can we find out?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if _______ is the answer?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if it has anything to do with ________
  • I don’t know, how about if we try?
  • I don’t know how can we figure this out?
  • I don’t know, is there anyone else you think would know the answer?
  • I don’t know, where can we look to find the answer?
  • I don’t know, let’s think about this.
  • I don’t know, maybe that will work, can you think of anything else that might work? 
  • I don’t know, I’m not sure if that will work.
  • I don’t know but I don’t think so because _________.  Does that make sense?  What do you think now?
  • I don’t know, maybe we should look it up.  Where could we look?
  • I don’t know, let’s give it a try!

Studies show that children’s natural curiosity about science can be a path to a variety of career opportunities in their future.  In today’s world, there are more and more jobs that include technology skills.  These changes have even created a new look at science by describing the subject as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and adding an A for Art to make it STEAM.  Whatever term you use, Science is important for children to develop critical thinking skills they will need throughout their lives.

Coming Next Month: STEM and STEAM for young kids

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Children’s Book Week 2019

Children’s Book Week celebrations will be held at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country April 29-May 5.

Children's Book Week in 2019 is  April 29-May 5
Celebrate April 29-May 5

Children’s Book Week (CBW) is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It originated in the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of CBW. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.

Teachers and parents are encouraged to celebrate this week with their own events and self-made projects to help boost the pleasure in reading among young readers. Learn more about this year’s celebration and see what events will be held nationwide and happening in your area.

Children's Book Week celebrations last all year long!
CBW celebrations last all year long!

The celebration lasts all year long. 
Look for another dedicated week in the fall, November 4-10!

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Audience Etiquette for Kids

Parents can help their child learn what is expected of them as audience members.
Parents can help their child learn what is expected of them as audience members.

Attending a live presentation or performance is fun. It is also a great opportunity to teach kids what is expected of them in terms of audience etiquette. 

Audience Etiquette Can Be Different

When we give kids new opportunities, we sometimes forget to prepare them on what to expect in the new situation.  Lost in our excitement we tend to give an overview but not a lot of details.   Audience behavior changes depending on the situation.  For example, at a basketball game a spectator is expected to cheer for a basket but at the ballet we don’t cheer at a beautiful pirouette. At some theater events, audience participation is encouraged and at others it’s important to wait until the end to show your appreciation. A little preparation can go a long way.

Audience Etiquette at the Theater

Now that I’m retired, I have time to give my grandkids different experiences.  Research studies show that the arts are an important part of boosting performance in all areas of life.  Art helps to create well- rounded, confident and creative people. In live theater the audience is an essential part of the performance process. Reviewing audience etiquette prior to the show along with some gentle reminders during the show may be helpful.

Important Points to Highlight

The success of a presentation depends in part on the audience members. You can show your support for the actors by remembering 3 important things: 

  • Paying Attention and Listening – The most important element of being a great audience member is paying attention and listening to the actors.  Not only does it help to understand the show it also shows respect for the actors that are working hard to entertain you.  
  • Sitting still/Eyes on stage– The actors can see and hear you so avoid activities that will distract them from their roles.  Help them by not talking, eating or drinking during the presentation.
  • Appropriate Response – If you enjoyed yourself, please feel free to clap at the end of the presentation to show your appreciation.

By attending theater events children are engaged in learning.  Along with the lifelong benefits of engagement in the arts is the fun that your child will have today. So, sit back and enjoy the show!

Coming Soon: The Positives of Theater Education on Kids

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Easter Eggs: The Day After

Creative ways to re-purpose all those Easter eggs this year!
Creative ways to re-purpose all those Easter eggs this year!

This Easter we will be celebrating with 5 of our 8 grandkids (all under the age of 6) with 4 of them participating in an Easter Egg Hunt.  Now, mathematically, for each of them to “find” 20 Easter eggs; we will need 80 plastic eggs.  Now that’s “eggstravagant”. 

I’ve always been about recycling or re-purposing items.  Maybe it’s the teacher in me that was always looking for something FREE or to use something that I had in another way. Today, upcycling is the popular term and plastic Easter eggs are the perfect material to get your creativity flowing. 

Plastic Egg Uses All Year Long

  • Spring Garland – String some wire (fishing wire works great) through the eggs to make some fancy garland.
  • Portion control – great size for a little treat that can fit in a lunchbox or handbag.
  • Maracas– Fill with anything that will make noise.  Let  your music flow.  Depending on the filler, your little musician will be either play loudly or softly.  Be sure to put tape around the egg after filling.  Your young artists can also decorate their Maracas.  
  • Bird Feeders– Who doesn’t love homemade bird feeders?  Put the string through the eggs (many eggs have a hole in the end), put peanut butter or icing all over egg and roll in bird seed. Simple quick and kids love it.
  • Make a wreath– Glue the eggs on a wire frame.  To make a large wreath glue the eggs onto a pool noodle. Frames and pool noodles are only $1 at your local dollar store.
  • Bathtub toys– They are colorful, float and can be filled with water.  A perfect bathtub toys.
  • Craft storage – Perfect holder for small craft supplies such as googly eyes, and beads. For some crafts you can even color code your eggs.
  • Learning numbers and letters– A permanent marker can be used to match upper and lower letters, and numbers or letters.  You can also spell out words and letter sounds.  Save those “real” egg cartons for perfect storage.   
  • Money holders– Holds loose change in your handbag or car.
  • Storage– Good size for play dough, or slime.
  • Color identification – ½ and ½ – Good way to demonstrate ½ and whole by showing how an egg is composed of 2 halves.  Helps when you demonstrate using 2 different colors.
  • Containers for Sensory Items- Perfect size to scoop items such as; rice, flakes, beans, noodles, sand etc.
  • Picture frame decorations – Glue the egg halves around a plain picture frame to create a colorful frame.
  • Shake & Guess– Fill the eggs with items for kids to guess their contents (e.g. coins, rice, rocks, pebbles)
  • Mismatch Eggs– Have kids “fix” the eggs to be all one color.
  • Sand Toy – Perfect or shoveling sand at the beach.  Small to fit in your suitcase and cheap so you can throw out when done.
  • Egg Race – Balance a plastic egg on a spoon and compete against others in a race.  Plastic eggs can be filled with water or dirt to give them weight.
  • Small Storage- Perfect for buttons, sewing kits, cotton balls, band-aids, jewelry, screws.

Happy Easter Folks!  Hope you have an Eggcelent Day!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Math Enrichment Problems: April Grades 2-3

Monthly Math Enrichment problems will give your child an opportunity to practice challenging math problems by trying problem solving strategies.

Math Enrichment Problems

Welcome to the 4th month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies: 

  • Draw a picture 
  • Guess and Check 
  • Guess and Check 
  • Use a table or list 
  • Find a pattern 
  • Logical reasoning 
  • Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. Abby has 60 cents in pennies, nickels and dimes.  She has at least one of each coin.  What is the difference between the largest number of coins that she could have and the smallest number of coins that she could have?
  2. There are 18 children in Room A and 6 children in Room B.  If ____ children move from Room A to Room B, there will be twice as many children in Room B as in Room A.
  3. Amy and Ann were playing tic-tac-toe.  Amy won 4 games and Ann won 4 more games than Amy.  If there were 9 ties, how many games of tic-tac-toe did they play?
  4. A parking meter gives 30 minutes of parking for a quarter and 10 minutes for a dime.  Mrs. Jaynor feels she will need 2 hours and 15 minutes on the meter.  What is the least amount of money she should put in the meter?
  5. Brooklyn added up all the single-digit odd numbers and all the single-digit even numbers.  What was her sum?
  6. There were 9 coins on a table totaling $1.20, consisting of nickels, dimes and quarters.  Al, Ben and Casey each pick up 3 coins.  Al has 3 times as much money as Casey.  Al has as much money as Ben and Casey together.  What 3 coins did Al pick up?
  7. Find 2 two numbers that multiply to 9 and add to 10?


  1. (36) Most coins: 1D, 1N, 45P = 47 coins Least: 5D, 1N, 5P = 11 coins                             47-11 = 36
  2. (10) There are 24 total children (18 +6).  The result must be 8 children in Room A and 16 in Room B.  This can be done by moving 10 children from Room A to Room B.
  3. (21) Amy won 4 games, Ann won 8 games, (4 more than Amy) and 9 ties. 4 + 8 + 9 = 21.
  4. ($1.20) Four quarters (2 hours) and two dimes (20 minutes) would be the least expensive way to cover the time period.
  5. (45) 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 0 + 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 = 45
  6. (2Q, 1D) Al has 60cents, Ben has 40 cents and Casey has 20 cents. Al’s 3 coins are 2 quarters and 1 dime.
  7. (9 and 1) 9 X 1 = 9 and 9+1 =10

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Transitions Are Helped by Lineup Strategies

Fun techniques to get kids to line up quickly and quietly will help transitions.
Getting kids to line up quietly without disruption helps transitions.

Transitions are important to maintain a positive learning environment in the classroom. Getting kids to line up quietly without disruption can sometimes be difficult. Therefore, it’s beneficial for teachers to have a variety of techniques in their toolbox to manage transitions in an efficient way. These techniques will also help build your students listening skills, vocabulary skills, and problem-solving ability.

8 strategies to line up to help student transitions

  • Create additional line jobs- Making other jobs as important as line leader can make more kids feel special (e.g. caboose, door holder, line leader, important paper holder).
  • Assign each student a number – Have each student choose a number from a deck of numbers and line up in that order. Be sure to explain the idea of randomness.
  • Alphabetical order – By last name or first name.
  • Various categories – Some suggestions include hair color, shirt color, eye color, pets, siblings, birth order, favorite sport, favorite ice cream flavor, birthday other, types of shoes etc.
  • Make it a listening game – Ex. “I’m thinking of a person that ______”. The more specific you get the faster it is to line up. Kids love it!
  • Draw Daily Numbers – Use popsicle sticks, poker chips, or a deck of cards to determine order.
  • Treat additional positions in line as important – Yeay, you’re 3rd in line today. Who is 6th? This helps diminish the spotlight on being “first”. Event experienced – Give examples of experiences e.g. rode in a car today, rode on a bus, or having hot lunch today Be careful not to choose a topic that creates a competitive scenario. (e.g. Have gone to Disney World)

Try some of these fun ideas with your students and see which ones work best for your class.  You’ll soon be lining them up quickly and quietly and creating learning opportunities.   

Try some of these fun ideas with your students and see which ones work best for your class.  You’ll soon be lining them up quickly and quietly and creating learning opportunities.   

Isn't education all about reaching the kids?

Check for Understanding: Are Kids Learning?

Checking for Understanding (CFU) is an important step in the teaching and learning process. When teachers check for understanding they identify learning goals, assess learning, provide feedback, and plan instruction based on student needs.

Using hand gestures is a good strategy to check for understanding.
Using hand gestures is a good strategy to check for understanding.

Teaching is NOT about teaching but about LEARNING

Checking for Understanding (CFU) is an important step in the teaching and learning process. Throughout the lesson, teachers check that students are learning. This allows a teacher to identify a child’s learning needs and adjust their teaching.  When teachers check for understanding they identify learning goals, assess learning, provide feedback, and plan instruction based on student needs.

How Do I Know They Are REALLY Learning?

There are hundreds of variations of classroom assessment techniques.  A useful ratio of work time to checking for understanding is seven minutes of work time, followed by two minutes of teacher- directed clarifications.  Here are suggestions for how you can add some variety to informal assessments.

Check for Understanding 7 Quick Ideas

  • 3-2-1- Students write 3 ideas about topic, 2 uses or examples and 1 question or idea that might be unclear
  • Response Color Items (cards, poker chips, popsicle sticks) -Students display items: (Red = Stop-I need help, Green = Keep going, -I understand, Yellow = I’m a little confused.
  • Muddiest Point – Students write down the most difficult or confusing part of a lesson on post-its or individual whiteboards.
  • Use gestures – Hand/thumb up/down signals, fingers up (5=understand, 3=a little confused, 1-don’t get it!
  • Glass, Bugs, Mud – Students identify their understanding or readiness for application using the windshield metaphor for clear vision.  Glass: totally clear; bugs: a little fuzzy; mud: I can barely see.
  • Table Tags– Students sit in areas that are designated (e.g. color, symbols) by their level of understanding. They move to a new area when relevant.   
  •  Exit Slips -At the end of a lesson students write down a few main ideas from the lesson or ask any questions that are unclear. This information is used to modify the next lesson.

Check for Understanding: Extended Ideas

  • One Minute Paper– Students write a response to a prompt or question. Papers can be collected or used for discussion.
  • Think-Pair-Share (Turn and Talk)- Students share their knowledge with another student. During sharing the teacher circulates to listen to discussions.
  • Concept Maps– Student use drawings or diagrams to organize information.
  • Quiz Show Format– A great review strategy to reinforce information.  (e.g. Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
  • Use “graphic organizers” (KWL), Anticipation Guides, outlines, concept maps) to account for learning.
  • Summarize the main idea – Students write one or two sentences, and share it with a neighbor.

Checking for understanding is NOT a lesson extension. Checking for Understanding is an integral part of every lesson. Using it often will teach kids that learning involves sharing both what they know and don’t.  

Next Post:  Part II: Check for Understanding: Implementation and Teacher Effectiveness

Earth Day is April 22, 2019

A collection of lesson plans and resources will help teachers and students prepare for Earth Day on April 22nd. Take a look and please share with others.

Earth Day started in 1970 as a day to gather national support for environmental issues.  On that day millions of people participated and the day continues to be widely celebrated on April 22ndToday, common activities include planting trees, cleaning up litter or simply enjoying nature through hiking, gardening, or taking a stroll in a park. 

Top 5 Earth Day Resources

This collection of lesson plans and resources will help teachers and students prepare for the celebration on April 22nd. Take a look and please share with others.

Earth Day Network

The site offers a comprehensive listing of activities that includes discussions of environmental issues and educational resources for parents and teachers.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Check out the Classroom Resources link. There are many activities specifically for the exhibits BUT they can also be used without a fieldtrip to the museum.  Curriculum videos and Games and Activities links are excellent.  Lessons for PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 cover marine life, ocean environments, and plastic pollution.

Celebrate Earth Day (Scholastic)

Lessons and activities (including printables) for grades 5-8 that promote environmental awareness.  In general, Scholastic does a great job in posting classroom resources. 

Environmental Protection Coloring Book!  

Love this site for its simplicity.  Easy downloadable coloring sheets to celebrate Earth Day.  The site I used with the grandkids this year.

Earth Day History (K-12)

There are 13 brief videos showing the green movement since the first Earth Day in 1970. Be sure to check this site out throughout the year since it includes a link to “This Day in History”.

Whatever you do in the classroom be sure to take a few minutes to go outside and enjoy our world!

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April is Young Child Month

Years of research have shown that the early years are important in shaping how children grow and learn. Therefore, whether children are learning at home or in school, learning needs to be high quality.

April is the "Month of the Young Child".
April is the “Month of the Young Child”.

Years of research have shown that the early years are important in shaping how a young child will grow and learn. Therefore, learning has to be high quality both at school and home. Along with basic academic skills, social and emotional development are important. A child’s ability to control emotions and develop relationships have been found to be a strong predictor of academic success.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sponsors the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) each year to promote the awareness about the needs of young children.  This year the week is April 8th -12th. This is a good time for parents and teachers to take an inventory of their child’s abilities. Let’s take the entire month of April to see how our kids are doing.Let’s make April the “Month of the Young Child”.  

Emotional Learning

  • Young children need to learn about their emotions so encourage them to express them verbally.
  • Model appropriate emotions at home
  • Give your child choices
  • Use feeling words to help kids understand how they are feeling.

Social Learning

  • What do you do in your family to promote positive relationships?
  • Teach and model empathy and caring.
  • Use children’s books to teach kindness.
  • Teach your child the steps on problem solving.

Academic (Cognitive) Learning i

  • Point out words and letters in the environment
  • Talk, Talk and Talk some more!
  • Encourage writing, coloring and drawing with a variety of materials.  
  • Read to your child everyday
  • Children learn best through hands-on experiences
  • Limit the use of electronic media.
  • Practice problem solving

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8. It helps connect early childhood practice, policy, and research. Although membership is available, there are many FREE resources to support early learning. Check out the resources to help support young children in school and at home.