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Day at the Beach

August 15, 2008

School is creeping up on us. My children are chock full of excitement this year, with little worries bubbling over here and there. Each day I glance at our calendar I see the very clearly written: First Day of School. As a teaching grad student, this means my summer is ending soon too, and I must mentally prepare myself to reenter this other world away from my children and their concerns.

So today we escaped to the beach.

Absolutely lovely. We packed up around lunchtime, eating a small bit before we left and packing more (and more) for the beach. We grabbed pails, books for me, some sunscreen. It’s a little trek for us, but a nice drive, and we stopped on the way to pick up some local plums and apples (the Gravensteins are in!) to add to our basket. I wasn’t sure if it would be as sunny there as it was at our house (and had packed layers in case), but it was perfect. A little breeze. Sunshine. Happy kids.

Mrs. Miniver- Perfect Beach Read

Mrs. Miniver- Perfect Beach Read

While they played in the waves, being chased and chasing them, digging holes (there really is no substitue for digging and filling a hole at the beach), I kept one eye on them, and one eye on my reading.

One of the books I brought to peruse was Nature in a Nutshell for Kids by Jean Potter, which I saw recommended at Soulemama (I think). I’ve persused A LOT of nature and science books for children, and done a good amount of projects with preschool groups, but I’m always looking for new ideas. Usually I find a few scattered projects in a book, but this one is overflowing with great small scale experiments and exploration, and has wonderful explanations that can easily be explained to children. While this book would definietly be appropriate for preschool age children (3+), it would also work for up to 8 years, at least. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it divides the projects based on season, which is exactly how I like to introduce science concepts to children.

For example: it is summer, so I go to the pictorial coded summer section. I want to do a project with my children about the ocean, or beach to follow up on our outing today and some of our talk on the way home about how much water is in the world, and how many oceans there are. In 5 minutes I am able to locate at least 5 different quick projects. A couple of my favorites (that we will probably try tomorrow) are: Dense Dip: Why is it easier to float in the ocean than in a swimming pool? and Wind Waves: How are waves made?.

Which brings me to two other wonderuful things about this book! The projects are based out of questions that children ask (that I usually can’t answer– like today’s question from my daughter: “Where did water come from?”), and the projects are done using mostly things you can find on a nature walk or nature exursion, or around your house. For the two projects I mentioned I will need: a large cake pan, water, drinking straw, 2 bowls, food coloring, salt, spoon, and two eggs. I should also only need about 20 minutes to complete both explorations/explantions with my children.

Which is a lot shorter than it will take me to explain where water came from, so consider this my diversion tactic until I can get a handle on that one.

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