Science and Math

Science and Math

Juice Box Boats

YMCA Child Care activity combines a science project with a reminder of the importance of reusing and recycling items to get some extra use out of them. We're making juice box boats, so your child can create their own boat and experience the science behind buoyancy. Learn more about making these boats. You can also change it up and make multiple boats and have some boat races together!

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary – science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences.” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Healthy Popsicles 

If you're looking to stay cool this week, a popsicle usually does the trick! In today's YMCA Child Care activity, we're making popsicles with flavours of your family's choosing with these 50 popsicle recipes full of fruits (and even veggies): http://ow.ly/1nUf50Flhil! Your child can help you pick their favourite flavours, measure and mix the ingredients, and observe their creations freezing. Let us know how they turn out!

"Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary - science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

How do Plants Eat?

Today's YMCA Child Care activity will take you through a fun experiment showcasing how plants use carbon dioxide to feed themselves while releasing oxygen back into the air for us to use! Here's what you'll need:
🍃 A Live Leaf (freshly picked)
💧 Water
🥣 A Bowl
🏔️ A Small Rock

Directions:

  1. Observe the leaf together. What does your child notice about the leaf? Once you have looked over the leaf together, fill your bowl with water and place the leaf in the bowl. Put the rock on top of the leaf to allow it to fully submerge under the water.
  2. Take your bowl with the leaf in it and find a sunny window ledge or a sunny spot outside. Leave the bowl in the sun for a couple of hours. 
  3. After a couple of hours, revisit your leaf, but don't take it out of the water just yet. What do you notice on the leaf? Are there bubbles? Are there bubbles along the edge and sides of the bowl as well? Ask your child if they know how the bubbles were formed. Take this opportunity to let them know that while the leaf is submerged under the water, it is still continuing the process of photosynthesis. It is taking the carbon dioxide, recycling it into food for the plant, and turning the rest into little bubbles of oxygen that are released through the plant's leaves. 

"Science is the knowledge of both the natural and physical world. It is also a 'way of knowing' - or the process through which understanding the natural and physical worlds comes about.”

(Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Fizzy Unicorn Potion

Today’s YMCA Child Care activity is a magical science experiment of mythical proportions…Fizzy Unicorn Potion! Here's what you'll need:
🧪 Foil baking or roasting trays
🧪 Baking soda 
🧪 White vinegar
🧪 Pastel coloured food colouring 
🧪 Eye Droppers
🧪 Glitter
🧪 Small containers or cups

Directions:

  1. Take your foil trays and cover the bottom of them with baking soda. Once the bottom is covered, sprinkle some glitter across the top of the baking soda.
  2. In the small cups, add some vinegar and food colouring until you reach your desired colour. The more drops you add, the more vibrant your potion will be. 
  3. Using your eye droppers, drop the coloured vinegar over the baking soda in the trays. Watch as the baking soda and vinegar fizz and bubble, causing the colours to mix. As you are doing this experiment, take the opportunity to talk about why the baking soda reacts the way it does to the vinegar, what causes it to bubble up and fizz. 

“At play, children learn to make their thinking visible, build theories about how the world works, and practise skills and dispositions for inquiry, negotiation, and problem solving. This learning requires support for involvement in various types of play – exploratory, heuristic, imaginative, language and literate, constructive, and physical; access to a wide variety of materials and equipment; and adventuresome, play and persistent role models who actively engage children in processes of playful exploration, investigation, and problem solving. Children learn about the properties of objects:

  • Playfully exploring and investigating the properties of the objects
  • Experimenting with action and reaction, cause and effect”

(Makkovichuk, L. Hewes, J., Lirette, P., & Thomas, N., Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014).

Snow Volcano

Today’s YMCA Child Care activity is a take on a classic paper mache science experience. Using snow in place of paper mache, we are going to build a snow volcano, that when completed, will have a chemical reaction, causing “lava” to erupt out of the top of it! To get started, gather these items:
🌋 Small container
🌋 Baking Soda
🌋 Food Colouring (whatever colour you would like your lava to be)
🌋 Vinegar
🌋 Snow

Directions:

  1. Taking your container, build your snow up around it to create the volcano. You want to tightly pack your snow in so it stays together during this experience. Leave a hole at the top so that you can add the remaining items. 
  2. Once the volcano has been constructed, add about ½ a cup of baking soda to the container and a few drops of food colouring. 
  3. Pour your vinegar (about 1-2 tablespoons worth) into the baking soda mixture and watch your volcano erupt! While this is happening, take the time to talk about the chemistry behind this experiment. When you mix a base like baking soda and an acid like vinegar, you are causing a gas, or carbon dioxide, to form. Alternatively, if you would like frothier lava, add a little bit of dish soap to the baking soda. 

“Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry,  are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction….From these kind of experiments, children construct knowledge of how their world works.” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Make Your Own Bubbles and Wands

Our YMCA Child Care team is bringing you a bubble-making recipe today! We know there is nothing worse than running out of bubble mix while chasing bubbles around your house, or backyard. Now, you won't have to stop because you have run out, and you can even make your own wands!

Here's how you make the wand:

  • Cut a piece of uncoated wire, approximately 12 inches in length. 
  • At the end of the wire, create a loop and twist the wire onto itself.
  • If the wand is too flimsy, you can twist more strands of wire together to create a stiffer wand.

Now for the bubble mix! Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup liquid dish soap
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons glycerin
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

And this is how you make it:

  1. Combine dish soap and water into a quart-sized jar. Gently stir, or pour the mixture back and forth between two jars to blend without making bubbles. You want to save those bubbles for later!
  2. Add the glycerin and sugar and mix, stir or pour the mixture in quart-sized jars. Remember to be very gentle because we don't want to make bubbles just yet. 
  3. Pour the mixture into jars or glasses that are taller than they are wide. Make sure that there is enough in the jar to fully submerge the end of the bubble wand.

"Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry, are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction. As children move objects, they observe what happens when they push, pull, throw, slide, balance, blow, swing and so on. They further their understanding as they explore the differences and similarities in performing these actions on land, in the air and in water. From these kinds of experiments, children construct knowledge of how their world works. In preschool, these experiments must allow for participation and observable reaction." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Let's Make some Gingerbread!

One of the most traditional smells and activities of the holiday season is gingerbread. Whether it’s an old tradition or the start of a new one many of us take part in the joy of baking and decorating gingerbread houses or gingerbread people.

Here is a link to a recipe to bring to life this fun family tradition at home with your children. Enjoy!

“Opportunities to learn from elders and community leaders can provide authentic and meaningful experiences that connect curriculum to living and life…These connections to family, social, and cultural practices and traditions have the potential to build appreciation for differences and nurture respect and social responsibility within family and community.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014 pg. 24)

Snowman Math

Do you want to build a snowman? Your YMCA Child Care Team knows how popular snowman building is in both outdoor play and the art that we create during the winter months. With that said, your children can create different snowmen using simple items like cotton balls, cut out paper shapes, and buttons. Not all snowmen are the same height, so encourage them to make them as tall or as short as they can! Once many snowmen have been created, you can talk with your child about their heights and compare them to one another, and as your child grows, you too can measure their different heights. 

"Understanding measurement is closely bound with conservation of number. It emerges slowly out of experiences with comparison of sets. This group has more than that one.
Toddlers continually explore measurement and quantity through their play by filling and emptying containers with water or sand. Further mathematical vocabulary, such as "big," "small," "fast," "slow" and "heavy," emerges through this play. 
In the preschool years, the child's experiences with measurement involve non-standard measures. Children should be encouraged to use the language of comparison throughout their play." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Crayon Creation

Here is a fun science activity where you and your child can explore the freezing properties of water and make a cool decoration at the same time!

Materials:
💧 Water
🎨 Food Colouring
🎈 Balloons
✂️ Scissors

Directions:

1. Fill the balloons with water – how much is dependent on how big you want your ice globes to be.

2. Take the food colouring and in each balloon add some drops to the water. Again, the more drops you add the more vibrant the colour will be. You can either squeeze and gently shake the balloon to mix up the food colouring, this will help evenly disperse the colours more. Leaving it to disperse on its own instead will make some neat patterns.

3. If the temperature is cold enough outside you can place your balloons in some snow to freeze overnight. If it’s mild when you do this, place the balloons in the freezer to freeze overnight.

4. Once the water is frozen, take scissors and cut the balloons off your globes. Here are some questions that you can explore together while looking at what the water has done as it’s frozen:

a. Are there bubbles?

b. Is it cloudy in some sections?

c. What did the food colouring do as it dispersed in the balloon?

5. Once you have finished looking at the frozen ice globes use them as decorations outside to add some colour to the winter wonderland.

“Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry, are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction. As children move objects, they observe what happens when they push, pull, throw, slide, balance, blow, swing and so on. They further their understanding as they explore the differences and similarities in performing these actions on land, in the air and in water. From these kinds of experiments, children construct knowledge of how their world works.” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015, pg. 188)

Crayon Creation

Do you have bits and pieces of old crayons that are too small to use? Your YMCA Child Care Team has the solution for you! Follow these simple steps and give these crayons a new life. Turn on your oven light and your children can watch the transformation take place!

🖍️ Preheat oven to 275 degrees
🖍️ Peel the labels off of all the old crayons and cut into small pieces
🖍️ Put muffin liners in a muffin pan and fill these 3/4 of the way full with crayon scraps
🖍️ Heat wax for 7 to 8 minutes or until all crayons are melted
🖍️ Let cool and peel of muffin liners to begin using

"Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry, are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Make Your Own Hot Cocoa

After outdoor adventures like a hike or a trip to your community sledding hill, there is nothing like a cup of hot cocoa to warm everyone up! Your YMCA Child Care Team is bringing you a simple recipe to make your hot cocoa from scratch, or better yet, for your children to make with a little bit of your help! This recipe makes two servings, so make sure to adjust your measurements based on the number of people you are making it for.

☕ 2 Cups Milk 
☕ 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (or Baking Cocoa)
☕ 2 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup (this is optional and the amount can be adjusted based on personal preference)
☕ 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

"Young children meet many meaningful experiences in everyday life that require them to use basic mathematical operations." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Number Maze

Practice numbers with your child while working your way through a maze in this fun activity from our YMCA Child Care team! Here's what you'll need:
🔢 Painters tape
🔢 Sharpie
🔢 Toy car

Directions:

  1. Find a nice space on the floor and create a maze. The larger the maze, the more challenging this activity becomes!
  2. Write down numbers throughout the maze. Again, the higher you go, the more challenging it will be! The correct path through the maze will have numbers going in numerical order. The rest of the maze can have random numbers written down. 
  3. Have your child drive their car through the maze by finding the next number in the correct order until they get to the end. 

“Concepts of numbers must be firmly established through play and everyday experiences before the child can move beyond rote learning of number facts to performing the operations of addition and subtraction with understanding.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Halloween Fizzing Cauldron 

Halloween is the time of year when you can have fun with decorations and pretending to be whatever you want to be. To bring some of your pretend play experiences and science together, our YMCA Child Care team found a spooky activity for you and your child! Dress up as witches on Halloween night and see how to make a fizzing cauldron.

“The early learning educator can play a role in fostering an understanding of science and discovery. This can be done by creating an environment with space, materials and invitations for free play as well as planned activities that extend the children’s interests and exploration.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Halloween Pumpkin Experiment

As we get into the Halloween season, children may be talking a lot about pumpkins and decorations. To help support this emerging interest, our YMCA Child Care team found a science experiment that children can make their own pumpkins using skittles, a plate and warm water. Check out the video here.

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery they learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation and discovery of relationships and effects. The role in science is primary – science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences.” (YMCA Playing To Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Baked apples

As summer ends, many of us are enjoying some of the great fall fruits and vegetables that are being harvested. This YMCA Child Care activity will get you mixing and measuring with your child in the kitchen while enjoying the smells and tastes of apples! Just click here for the recipe. Add variation to the recipe by throwing in a handful of oats into your apple stuffing mixture. 

“Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry, are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction. As children move objects, they observe what happens when they push, pull, throw, slide, balance, blow, swing and so on…From these kinds of experiments, children construct knowledge of how their world works. In preschool, these experiments must allow for participation and observable reaction.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Pumpkin pie playdough

Awaken your senses in this next YMCA Child Care activity by creating fall-inspired pumpkin pie playdough! Have your child(ren) help you measure the different quantities of ingredients and compare each one. As you mix the ingredients together, find out which are the heaviest and which are the lightest. Let's get mixing!
This is a large recipe and you can cut the quantities in half for a smaller amount.

Ingredients:
3 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups of salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons oil
food colouring (approximately 20 drops red and 45 drops of yellow)

Directions:
1) Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes. It will be runny to start, so keep stirring until it thickens.
2) Form your playdough into a ball at the center of the pot and remove from heat.
3) Remove your playdough from the pan and knead well. Add flour as needed to achieve the right consistency.
4) Cool and store in an airtight container.

"One of the first words many babies learn to say or sign is "more" to request more food or continue to play a game like peekaboo. This is often the first concept established in mathematical vocabulary. Toddlers continually explore measurement and quantity through their play by filling and emptying containers with water or sand. Further mathematical vocabulary, such as "big," "small," "fast," "slow" and "heavy," emerges through this play." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Building Boats

Get ready to learn about buoyancy and wind power with this YMCA Child Care activity! Today, we're building twig sailboats and will put them to the test in a race around a tub, small wading pool, or container in the backyard. Just click here to start building your boat! You can modify the activity to see how the wind helps move boats across the water by taking the sail down on one of them and watching which boat wins.

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects…Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Ice Melt

It's time for another YMCA Child Care activity! Here’s a fun experiment to do with your children around reflections, the heat from the sun, and melting ice. This is what you'll need:
🌞 Ice cubes
🌞 White or light-coloured paper
🌞 Black paper
🌞 Aluminum foil

Directions:

  1. Place the two types of paper and a sheet of aluminum foil outside directly in the sunshine.
  2. Place an ice cube on each piece of paper and the aluminum foil.
  3. Have your child guess which ice cube is going to melt faster and observe with your child which ice cubes melt faster. Once the experiment is done and you have your observations completed, ask your child why they think each ice cube melted the way they did? Was their guess at the start accurate? 

“ When we think about offering an environment that is conducive to science and discovery, whatever the age and developmental stage of the child, we need to hold in mind that science involves the child’s own inquiry…An adult may be able to help facilitate the process, clarify the child’s intentions, assist as a play partner, provide suggestions, scaffold appropriate language and make the experience enjoyable. Reflecting on what has been learned, helping an older child represent the process in drawings or writing, discussing what might be done in future situations and extending the learning are ways the play opportunity can be further supported.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Giant Bubble Making

Who doesn’t enjoy chasing bubbles around a yard or field? We all do, but what could make that better? Giant bubbles! our YMCA Child Care team has found a bubble solution that you can make with your child to create giant bubbles. Just visit https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/how-to-make-giant-bubbles to get started. When you're ready, let's see how big you can make your bubbles and how far they float through the air. When you are finished chasing bubbles outside, head indoors and investigate the science behind why bubbles float through the air with your child.

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they learn science by manipulation, observations of the results of the manipulation and discovery of relationships and effects.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

I-Spy Bottles

Do you remember spending hours on end playing 'I-Spy'? Well, now you can create your own 'I-Spy' bottle with items around your home! Here's what you'll need for this next YMCA Child Care activity:
🕵️‍♀️ A clear plastic bottle
🕵️‍♂️ Uncooked rice
🕵️‍♀️ Items around the home that will fit through the bottle (small marble, Lego, paperclips)

What to do:

  • Simply load up your bottle with items from your home and add the uncooked rice around them. 
  • Make sure to leave a little room in the bottle so that you can shake and move the rice around to discover the treasures within. 
  • You can even write a list of all the items you add so that you can check off items as you find them.

"The child's first intellectual operation related to mathematics is spatial exploration. When playing peekaboo, rolling a ball or climbing into a chair, the child is exploring the ways in which she and familiar objects move in space. As she turns a block around in her hand, she is acquiring the concept of shape permanence...Understanding the relationship of self-to space and objects to space is the foundation for learning geometry, as well as many other aspects of mathematical reasoning." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Ice cream in a bag

Nothing helps to enjoy the beautiful summer weather like ice cream. Not everyone has an ice cream maker in their kitchen, so luckily you, and your family, this YMCA Child Care activity will help you make your own ice cream! All you need is a resealable food storage bag! Just follow this recipe to create some delicious ice cream.

"Two aspects of science, physics and chemistry, are grounded in the concept that a direct action produces an immediate reaction. As children move objects, they observe what happens when they push, pull, throw, slide, balance, blow, swing and so on. They further their understanding as they explore the differences and similarities in performing these actions on land, in the air, and in the water. From these kinds of experiments, children construct knowledge of how their world works. In preschool, these experiments must allow for participation and observable reaction." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Bouncy ball

This YMCA Child Care activity will teach you how to make your own bouncy balls with common household items! It only takes 5 minutes, and your children will love experiencing how the texture changes as they add different ingredients. For younger children, be sure to create larger bouncy balls so that these do not pose a choking hazard. To get started, click here

"Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary - science requires a child to touch, taste, feel smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Lava lamps

Get ready for a cool science experiment to learn about liquid densities! This YMCA Child Care activity has us making our own homemade lava lamp! Click here to get started.

“At the painting table, child can observe the thickness of the paint and how it reacts on the paper. They can view the different colours and experiment with the mixing of colours. They can classify the lightness and darkness of colours. These are all examples of chemistry exploration for a young child.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Math bowl

Whether you are inside or outside, this next YMCA Child Care activity will have your child practice their math skills in a game of bowling! 
🎳 Find or make six bowling pins. If you are making your own, you can use recyclables such as plastic pop bottles and add a little dirt or sand inside so that they have some weight. 
🎳 Write numbers on each of the bowling pins. For younger ages, have each pin represent "1" and for older children, you can write bigger numbers on the pins. Use dry erase or tape a paper number on the bowling pin, rather than writing on your bowling pins with a permanent marker. This will allow you to change the numbers and make them larger as your child develops.  
🎳 Set up your bowling pins in a triangle formation. This is three in the back row, two in the middle and one at the front. 
🎳 Using a medium-sized ball, try to knock down as many pins as you can.  
🎳 When the pins fall, you will add the numbers on the pins. 

Tips: 
🎳 Have paper and pencils handy to help with math, or to practice writing numbers. 
🎳 You can use loose materials to count items that represent the written numbers if you are using different numbers for each bowling pin. For example, use one rock to represent the number "1" and two different rocks to represent the number "2" on the bowling pins, so that when they are adding up the pins they can use rocks to count. 
🎳 Make this more difficult for older children by not just doing addition, but try subtraction or multiplication.

"A child who grasps conservation of number knows three is always three no matter what objects make up the set or how they are arranged. She also recognizes that the set can be changed only by the addition or subtraction of objects. Until this concept is established, children will rely on perception rather than logic to make judgments about number. Concepts of number must be firmly established through play and everyday experiences before the child can move beyond rote learning of number facts to performing the operations of addition and subtraction with understanding." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Scattered Germs

Our YMCA Child Care team knows germs are on the top of everyone’s mind lately, and while it's not the easiest conversation, it is an important one to have with your child. To help start a conversation, here's a fun science experiment that you can do at home with ingredients right in your kitchen! Click here to get started.

“The content of science for young children is a sophisticated interplay among concepts, scientific reasoning, the nature of science, and doing science. It is not primarily a science of information. While facts are important, children need to begin to build an understanding of basic concepts and how they connect and apply to the world in which they live. And the thinking processes and skills of science are also important.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
 

Archaeology Dinosaur Dig

Our YMCA Child Care team is taking us on an archaeology exploration this afternoon! You can use this experience to explore how fossils are made, build your own dinosaur out of the bones you have discovered, and learn the names of each of the dinosaurs they have dig out. To get started, click here!

“Young children are, to an extraordinary degree, prototypes of true scientists. They are always probing, exploring, questioning, taking things apart and putting things together, often in unusual configurations. This process of inquiry is the essence of childhood.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Racing Sailboats

Want to have some fun racing sailboats while learning about buoyancy? Our YMCA Child Care team is taking us to the open waters at home to create sailboats! Get started on your sailboat by clicking here.

To help teach your children about how and why things sink and float, have them find items around the house that they can add to their boat. Observe whether or not these items will cause their boat to sink, or remain floating. Together, investigate the properties of the items to see why they may have affected the buoyancy of the boat. 

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary – science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).
 

Germ Art

We've been talking a lot about handwashing and keeping our bodies healthy lately, so our YMCA Child Care team decided to have some fun with germs! Today, we're using a straw and watercolour paint to create germ art. Once your paint is dry, have your children create faces and anything else they want to add to their germs! To get started, click here.

“Art is self-expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art, instead of colouring sheets or pre-cut shapes such as pumpkins or leaves to decorate will encourage creativity and self-esteem while developing fine motor skills.”
(YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Exploring balance and weight

Our YMCA Child Care team has come up with another fun way to experiment with math concepts using materials in your home! This experience is simple to set up but will give endless amounts of fun and inquiry for your child. Here's what you'll need:
✖️ clothing hanger
➕ paper or plastic cups    
➖ string or twine
➗ toys or any items to use to create weights in your cups

Directions:
1.    At the lip of the cup, make two holes on opposing sides, then tie one long piece of string around the cup to create a loop looking handle.
2.    Hang the string on the hooks of the hanger.
3.    Lastly, ask your child what objects they want to weigh.

Think about asking your child the following questions:
1.    Which object will be heavier? 
2.    Which objects will weigh the same?
3.    How many objects do you need to remove from the cup before it will weigh the same as the other cup?
4.    Did your first thought match the end result?

“For the most part, the child plays spontaneously with mathematics toys and equipment…Concepts such as conservation cannot be taught directly. They must be the product of exploration and discovery.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Exploring Ramps with Cars

We have another fun YMCA Child Care activity for you all to explore using ramps! Through this experience you will challenge your children to make predictions of what will happen with the different textures on the ramps.

Click here to see how the editor set up the experience, what materials she uses, how she adapts the materials and what questions she asks the children to spark their thinking!

“Inquiry is born of play at any age, from birth through maturity. Exploring materials, ideas and relationships refines the capacity to think. Children are compelled to inquiry by a deep curiosity and a need to explore and understand their world. Through inquiry, children strive to form relationships among ideas and synthesize new discoveries into existing frameworks of understanding.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Learning Handwashing — How Germs Spread

With the changing health precautions to protect our families from COVID-19, there is no better time to educate your children on the importance of handwashing. This experience is here to support your family on how to do proper handwashing every time!

Our YMCA Child Care Team hopes this helps your family and gets your children excited to clean their hands: click here to explore!

“Children have the right to feel safe. When provided with the space and freedom to take healthy risks, their willingness to do so reflects a sense of security, self-confidence, courage, and body strength. Over time, participation in healthy risk taking builds the skills, knowledge, and resolve that will sustain them as they face new pleasures and challenges.” (Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, 2014)

Colour-matching scavenger hunt

Go on a colour-matching scavenger hunt this weekend! All you need are some paint chips from a hardware store. The mission is simple: find items around your home or yard to match the paint colours! Try to get as close to each shade as possible.

Collect as many different items as you can to match each colour, and then see if there are other ways to sort the items you've found: large to small, hard to soft, heavy to light.

"Classification is a sorting operation in which objects are grouped according to common attributes, such as color, shape, size and thickness. The preschool child will begin to sort by one attribute at a time. The child may shift his focus midway through, moving from one attribute to another. For example, the child may begin sorting by color and then shift to size." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Create your own compost

With spring here in full bloom and gardens starting to get prepped for planting flowers and vegetables, our YMCA Child Care team is sharing their vermicomposting tips! This worm habitat will help compost your kitchen scraps and other green waste into rich, dark soil full of nutrients that can be then used in your garden to help your plants flourish this year. While doing this project, your children will not only learn about the science of composting but will also develop an understanding of the importance of being environmentally responsible. For interesting worm facts and a great step by step guide to building your own worm habitat, click here.

“Children learn environmentally and socially responsible practices:
• Reducing consumption
• Reusing and recycling
• Participating in care of plants and domestic animals, and stewardship of local plant, insect and animal life."
Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, Flight. (2014). Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework.

Die your own flowers

Get a head start on spring with this science activity from YMCA Child Care. Grab a cheap bouquet of carnations next time you're at the grocery store and create a colourful bouquet of flowers!
Supplies:
💐 Glass jars
💐 Food colouring in a variety of colours
💐 White flowers (carnations work great)
💐 Water
💐 Scissors

Directions:
💐 Fill the jars with water and add food colouring to each. The more you add, the more vibrant your flowers will be.
💐 Cut 1-2 inches off the stems of each of your flowers.
💐 Place flowers in each jar.
💐 Observe over the next day and record what you see. Ask questions like, "do the leaves change colours?" "What about the stem?" "Are the petals changing colour from the top of the petal down to the base, or the opposite?"
💐 Once the flowers reach the colour you're happy with, take them out of the jars, re-cut the ends of the stems and arrange in a vase to enjoy!

“Science is the process of observing, thinking, and reflecting on actions and events.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

egg carton greenhouses

Get your children involved in gardening! Make your own egg carton greenhouse, which can be brought indoors and fit into any home.

Click here to get started.

To expand this activity, try these suggestions:
🌱 Make labels for your plants
🌱 Chart the plant growth
🌱 Make a checklist for children to use for watering

“Science and discovery establish a foundation for lifelong respect for and interest in biology, the environment and ecological issues. This is achieved by exploring opportunities to experience the wonders of the natural world, as well as by developing attitudes of respect and responsibility for the environment.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

field trip: canadian farms

Let's explore the amazing world of Canadian farming. Click here to take your tour — you can pick which type of farm you'd like to visit!

Extend your field trip into more activities and learning with these tips:
👨‍🌾 Write about what you learned
👨‍🌾 Draw a picture of your favourite part
👨‍🌾 Build something you saw using LEGO, blocks or recycled materials
 
“Science is the knowledge of both the natural and physical world. It is also a 'way of knowing' – or the process through which understanding the natural and physical worlds comes about.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Field Trip: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

For this virtual field trip, our YMCA Child Care team is taking us to Hawai'i to explore active lava volcanoes! During this trip, you will get to see a volcano and lava from different angles. To begin your trip, visit https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/hawaii-volcanoes/nahuku-lava-tube-tour. After watching this video, your children may be interested in creating their own lava experience. Here is a how-to at home to make your own exploding lava. Another fun experience you can do outside in the sunshine!

Ingredients:

🌋 Vegetable oil
🌋 Water
🌋 Food colouring
🌋 Alka-Seltzer tablets (as many as you would like!)
🌋 A tall, clear container

Directions:

  1. Fill the container with two parts oil and 1-part water. Leave enough room at the top for bubbling.
  2. Add as many drops of food colouring as desired into the container.
  3. Add an Alka-Seltzer tablet, breaking it into smaller pieces and adding it to the mixture slowly.
  4. Give space between yourself and the container, and enjoy your lava explosion!

“Science and discovery establish a foundation for lifelong respect for and interest in biology, the environment and ecological issues. This is achieved by exploring opportunities to experience the wonders of the natural world, as well as by developing attitudes of respect and responsibility for the environments” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

Field Trip: Let's go to Mars

Our YMCA Child Care team is taking us on a trip to the 'red' planet Mars on NASA's Curiosity rover. Navigate the real surface of Mars based on terrain photos that were taken when Curiosity landed on Mars. You can learn about the rover itself, as well as the different features that it found on the planet. Click here to go on this field trip!

After you are done:
🌕 Make your own rover
🌖 Build or draw a planet, or even the solar system
🌗 Create or name you a planet
🌘 Research different stars and constellations
🌑 Make black playdough with shiny objects in it to represent the night sky.

"Curiosity and wonder at the workings of the world should be nurtured and celebrated long past the early childhood years" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

field trip: let's go to the stars!

Let's go on a field trip to the stars with YMCA Child Care! You can visit planets and constellations in the night sky where you live, or from what people in other parts of the world see when they look up. You can find over 60,000 stars and planets, view solar eclipses and watch sunrises.

Click here to explore!

Expand this virtual field trip with more activities:
🌌 Research stories about the constellations
🌌 Draw a picture of the night sky
🌌 Create your own constellation
🌌 Create sensory bags that represent the night sky with dark and shiny objects

"Young children are, to an extraordinary degree, prototypes of true scientists. They are always probing, exploring, questioning, taking things apart and putting things together, often in unusual configurations. This process of inquiry is the essence of childhood. Adults may, at times, become exasperated by children's compulsion to ask why but the lack of curiosity and intrinsic thirst for knowing is often a signal that all is not well with the child. Curiosity and wonder at the workings of the world should be nurtured and celebrated long past the early childhood years." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Field Trip: the calgary zoo

It's YMCA Child Care field trip time! This time we're taking a virtual trip to the Calgary Zoo! In their virtual "Zoo Along With You" program, you can go on live habitat tours with zookeepers, join in on virtual stories and activities, and keep checking in as they post new zoo adventures each week.
 
Click here to go to the zoo!
 
"Children are always interested in the living world... Young children are drawn to these experiences, which provide rich opportunities for discussion and discovery about animal science, ecology and environmentalism. Early childhood educators need to provide the activities and ask questions that support the discovery." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Field Trip: the Museum of Flight

Get ready to take flight, because our YMCA Child Care team is taking you to explore planes at The Museum of Flight. You can explore information and pictures in the aircraft of your choosing. Without going to the airport you can feel like you are truly flying by going into the cockpit and cabin for a virtual 3D tour! To start your tour, click here. For younger children, play a game of "I Spy" and have them describe what they see in the plane as you help them navigate.

Flight activities for when you are on solid ground:
✈️ For younger children, play a game of "I Spy" and have them describe what they see in the plane as you help them navigate.
✈️ Build your own paper airplane and measure how far it will fly. Don't forget to practice flying it from different locations and heights.
✈️ Go fly a kite! Better yet, make your own before you go.
✈️Build a plane and airport out of blocks or cardboard boxes.
✈️Draw a plane and label the different parts that you saw on your tour.

"The content of science for young children is a sophisticated interplay among concepts, scientific reasoning, the nature of science, and doing science. It is not primarily a science of information while facts are important, children need to begin an understanding of basic concepts and how they connect and apply to the world in which they live. And the thinking processes and skills of science are also important (Worth, 2010)" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

Field Trip: Ripley's Aquarium

Our YMCA Child Care team is virtually taking you to the Ripley’s Aquarium! Explore aquatic life through live cameras, check out the calendar for live events, and there are even downloadable resources and worksheets to interact with for a variety of ages! To virtually visit this aquarium, click here.

"Science is the knowledge of both the natural and physical world. It is also a “way of knowing” – or the process through which understanding the natural and physical worlds comes about." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

field trip: royal tyrrell museum

Time for another field trip with YMCA Child Care! This week we're heading to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Walk through the museum from home and explore dinosaurs and more. You can zoom into the information panels as you navigate the exhibits to read about everything you discover.

Extend this trip into more activities! Have your child:
🔍 Write about what they learned
🔍 Draw a picture of their favourite part
🔍 Build something they saw using LEGO, blocks or recycled materials
🔍 Sculpt the dinosaurs out of playdough or clay

Click here to go on this field trip!

“Science and discovery establish a foundation for lifelong respect for and interest in biology, the environment and ecological issues. This is achieved by exploring opportunities to experience the wonders of the natural world, as well as by developing attitudes of respect and responsibility for the environment.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

field trip: san diego zoo

Our YMCA Child Care team thought they'd take you on a trip to the San Diego Zoo. At this zoo, there are live animal cameras for a variety of animals living there. They also provide fun information about each animal so you can learn as you watch. Pack some snacks and head on your field trip here!

"Science and discovery establish a foundation for lifelong respect for and interest in biology, the environment and ecological issues. This is achieved by exploring opportunities to experience the wonders of the natural world, as well as by developing attitudes of respect and responsibility for the environment." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Lego race cars

It's time to build LEGO cars! With the snow finally gone, why not go outside, find a smooth piece of pavement and have a good old-fashioned car race! Have your child develop their building skills while creating their own balloon-powered LEGO car. For a great resource on the construction of these vehicles, our YMCA Child Care team reccommends this article.

“There is no area of play that contributes more to the development of science and discovery than block play. Playing with blocks establishes a foundation of architecture and many fields of design and technology” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

scientific inquiry with an eggsperiment!
Try this science experiment that your child can engage with over the next week! Using household ingredients, your child can observe the effects vinegar has on an egg's shell over time.

Find instructions for this activity here, then use our tips for getting the most out of this activity:

🥚 Ask your children what they see and have them use descriptive words
🥚 Encourage them to make predictions by asking, "what do you think will happen next?"
🥚 Help them draw their experiment or even label it
🥚 Make a chart to track changes and vinegar refills
🥚 Take a picture a day and make an experiment timeline

This science experiment can be fun for all ages but preschool-aged kids and older will be able to truly engage in the science inquiry process.

"Inquiry is born of play at any age, from birth through maturity. Exploring materials, ideas and relationships refines the capacity to think. Children are compelled to inquiry by a deep curiosity and a need to explore and understand their world. Through inquiry, children strive to form relationships among ideas and synthesize new discoveries into existing frameworks of understanding.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
shaving cream rain clouds experiment

This is a fun science experiment to start a discussion on rain, where it comes from, how it falls and why we need it!

Supplies:
🌧️ Jar
🌧️ Shaving cream
🌧️ Food colouring
🌧️ Eye droppers
🌧️ Water

Directions:
🌧️ Fill the jar 3/4 full of water (this will be your atmosphere).
🌧️ Place some shaving cream on top of the jar to make a cloud. Make sure you don't use too much or it will take longer for your rain to fall. Leave it for a minute to let it settle.
🌧️ Using the eye dropper, start dropping food colouring on the top of your shaving cream cloud. As the cloud fills up, you will start to see the rain fall through the water, copying what rain looks like as it falls from rain clouds in the sky.

While this is happening, you can have a discussion by asking questions like these:
🌧️ How are rain clouds formed?
🌧️ What causes the rain to fall?
🌧️ What is the difference between a rainstorm and a thunderstorm?
🌧️ Why do storm clouds look grey?
🌧️ Why do we need rain?

“Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary – science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Soap and Pepper experiment
Our YMCA Child Care team has a cool science experiment that will show your children the importance of using soap to get rid of germs. Here's what you will need:
🦠 A bowl
🦠 Water
🦠 Ground pepper
🦠 Dish Soap

Directions:
1. Fill the bowl with water and grind some pepper across the top of it so that it covers the surface. The pepper is important because it represents your germs.
2. Have your child get the tip of their finger wet with water from the tap. Have them poke their wet finger into the bowl of water and observe what happens to the “germs”. The pepper should stick to their finger and not move anywhere else. Take this opportunity to talk to your child about how the germs didn’t move away from their finger when they just used water.
3. Re-cover the bowl of water with more ground pepper, if needed. This time cover the tip of your child’s finger with a small amount of dish soap. Have them poke their finger into the bowl of water and pepper while making sure they don’t immerse their finger past where the dish soap has been placed. As they do this, the “germs” should repel away from their finger. Again, use this as an opportunity to talk to your children about how the germs moved away as soon as we added soap into the equation and how important it is to use soap when washing our hands to get rid of all of the germs.

“Science is the knowledge of both the natural and physical world. It is also a “way of knowing” - or the process through which understanding the natural and physical worlds comes about.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
Volcano Eggs

Let's make extra special, extra fun eggs with this activity from YMCA Child Care that's half art, half science: it's Volcano Eggs!

Ingredients:
🥚 Baking soda
🥚 White hard-boiled eggs
🥚 Food colouring
🥚 Water
🥚 Vinegar
🥚 Paint brushes
🥚 A big tray, bowl or bin with a good lip on it to contain the mess

Directions:
🥚 Mix a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with a few teaspoons of water and as much food colouring as it takes to get the colour you want. Adjust until you get a good consistency — thick, but paintable.
🥚 Paint your eggs with the mixture! You can splatter extra food colouring on if you want, too. Be creative!
🥚 Pour vinegar onto a painted egg and watch the volcanic eruption that occurs when vinegar meets baking soda!
🥚 Pat the eggs dry or let them air dry This activity is fun for all ages, but needs varying degrees of parent participation, depending on the age of your child.

“Scientific reasoning begins in infancy (Gopnik, Meltzoff & Kuhl, 1999). Babies see how objects move and behave, gather information, build patterns of expectations about the world around them and form general categories.” – Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario early childhood settings, 2007 (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)