Sunday, May 15, 2011

And Now Time for Some Much Needed Rain...

We have enjoyed a week of spectacular spring weather, with highs in the mid-70's, and lows warm enough to turn off the furnace for good. So much gardening in a week! And now we are heading into a rainy stretch that is expected to last through most of the coming week. Can you spell, "galoshes?"

Sunny warm followed by a cool and rainy spell means lots of growing things in the days to come! It's time to add linear measurement to your gardening observations and notebooking activities.

Kids love measuring things. By simply adding rulers and tape measures to your basket of "school tools," you will encourage your child to try his hand at measuring things. Here are some tips for working on measurement with your child:

  • Use both American Customary (i.e., inches) and metric (centimeter) rulers. The world is metric, so we owe it to our American children to teach them metric measurement. Metric measurement also helps with place value (1s, 10s, 100s, 1000s).
  • Watch for common measuring errors. Children commonly confuse inches and centimeters, start with the wrong end of the ruler, or start measuring with any random number in the middle of the ruler. Practice choosing the proper side and finding the "zero" end.
  • Include some non-standard measurement, too. How many erasers long is it? How many hair clips tall is it? (From one teacher to another: the following real objects are about 1 inch long -- the first finger joint of most adults; a small paperclip; the length from the end of the eraser to the bottom of the metal "sleeve" on a pencil).
  • Talk about where "feet" came from. (Here's a link to a cool list of the origins of some common measurement units, from Fact Monster, if you don't know). Then take turns measuring your sidewalk, the edge of the flower bed, the width of the driveway, using heel-to-toe measurement. Compare and talk about why there was a difference.
  • Estimate first.  Kids (especially once they get to eight and nine) like to have the "right" answer, and rebel at estimating. Use real opportunities to show the value of a ballpark figure (e.g., About how many bags of wood chips do we need?) Have kids write their estimate in pen, then switch to pencil for their measurement, to keep them from going back and changing their estimate.
  • Change up your tools, for variety and fun. Include rulers, retractable tape measures, dressmaker's tapes, yardsticks. Buy a supply of inexpensive plastic rulers at the dollar store. Photocopy rulers onto cardstock, cut apart and keep a supply in a can with your school supplies.

I have posted a new activity on one of my previous web pages, entitled, "Adopt-a-Plant." The activity includes downloadable data collection forms that can be used as part of your measurement activities in the garden.

Also check out my newest page on our trip to Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. The page outlines a week-long (minimum) unit of study that follows up our field trip, including a biomes study, nature study through notebooking, fractals in nature, and connections to the Creation and Noah's Ark Bible stories.

Are you intrigued with the topic of notebooking? Check out the 5-year "birthday sale-a-bration" at The Notebooking Treasury, featuring extended subscriptions, bonuses for new subscriptions and renewals this month, and weekly prize drawings.

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." --  Mahatma Gandhi