Monday, July 29, 2019

Learning about bees


Our bee study started when our dear 75 year old neighbor built a beehive and got a swarm of bees to move in! He showed it to the boys and since then Alex has been asking for "bees work". 

Since I try my best to follow their interests, I obliged (plus I also find bees very interesting). Here is a summary of all the activities we did to learn more about bees!

We started with the bee anatomy puzzle. Since I did not have a puzzle I made one out of felt. I added French cards with body parts from Boutique Documents Montessori and we read Petites leçons de choses” by Jean-Pierre PicandetWe also talked about the differences between bees, wasps, hornets... all the beautiful (and stinging) insects that live right out our front door.

I gave the boys the puzzle taken apart and they loved rebuilding it. It was clearly the highlight of this work.
We then worked on the life cycle of the bee. We have read quite a few books, but the French book about bees “Les Abeilles” by Imagerie Animale has an amazing life cycle. Then we used the Life Cycle of a Bee Safari TOOBs with more printouts from Boutique Documents Montessori.

We talked about the 3 different types of bees (queen, drones and workers) and how a worker bee lives only about 6 weeks and has many jobs during its life starting with housekeeping and nursing to finally becoming a field bee around 3 weeks old. The bottom print represents the life's work of a worker bee and each hexagon represents a day of a worker bees life (from Hatching Curiosity).
We also went to the children's museum (Chattanooga, TN) and visited the bee exhibit and the beehive that can be seen through the glass! This, as usual, was a huge favorite and a great way to see bees first hand.


Here are our favorite books about bees:
- “The Bee” by My First discoveries
“Les Abeilles” by Imagerie Animale
- “Mélie” by Isabelle Maquoy
- "Les Insectes de mon Jardin" by YOUPI! La petite encyclopedie des grands curieux
- "Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book" by Britta Teckentrup


Counting bees small world: a small world to find and count the bees and to play with!
The small world is made entirely of natural materials (rocks, leaves, sticks, flowers...) and the bees are little bee erasers that are great as loose parts!
Bee art with permanent markers, round stamper and liquid watercolors!
Permanent markers are a treat for the boys (although Matisse at 3 years old needs to be watched closely). Permanent markers look great with liquid watercolor and the round stampers made a nice beehive looking background. I also drew a step by step tutorial on how to draw a bee. 

Although, here is an important lesson: the sponge round is NOT a good idea with liquid watercolor, they put too much on it and then there is paint leaking everywhere!If you want a river though, it's the way to go! ;)
Honey cake and honey tasting!
We made a cake and really enjoyed tasting it! We also read “Bees: A Honeyed History” by Piotr Socha which is a fantastic book about bees! It's a very complete book; in addition to the usual topics (anatomy, life cycle, organization...) it even includes some fun history, bee products, etc.

We also tasted different types of honey, learned that they are made from different flowers and investigated honeycombs
Bee playdough: with yellow, white and black playdough, bee cookie stamps (aren't they stunning?), little bee erasers, hexagons, beads and a few tools.

At first they carefully played with the stamps, then added yellow beads for pollen, then carefully added the bees... And then they got the knife and cut it all up and mix it all together, flattened it and had tons of fun with the mushed playdough!
Bee Sensory Bin: with yellow rice as pollen, white pompoms as eggs and yellow/orange pompoms as honey! We used an ice cube tray as honeycomb cells and learned that typically the bottom part of the nest is reserved for the nursery, the middle part for the pollen and the top part for the honey.

Alex also asked why pollen is yellow. Since I didn't know we "Googled it" (to this day I still wonder when Google became a verb!!) and found out that although the predominant color not all plants produce yellow pollen; some produce orange pollen e.g. dandelion, others blue pollen, e.g. fuchsia, while some may produce pollen in various shades of red. Plant pollen tends to appear yellow because it contains flavonoids that are known to have protective properties against exposure from the sun. In addition, since insect pollinators such as bees, can't see red, plants produce yellow (or sometimes blue) pollen to attract them.
And oh irony! Right at the end of our bee study we had a water leak under the kitchen, so my husband goes under the house and pulls some wall boards and discovers a huge honeybees nest. We are now trying to get them relocated by a beekeeper. They need to take the queen out and the bees should follow. However we need to find the beekeeper who is willing to do that and see how that goes...
Learning all about bees with hands on activities for preschoolers
Learning all about bees with hands on activities for preschoolers

Learning all about bees with hands on activities for preschoolers

Learning all about bees with hands on activities for preschoolers

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Water Play Activities

Fun water play activities for kids - 5 minutes setup for your baby, toddler or preschooler
It is summer and we have been trying to keep cool. The best way we have found is to play in water! Since I have 3 boys 5 years old and under (including a baby who mouths and chews everything) I have come up with 9 simple water bins that are baby friendly, only take minutes to put together and require mostly things you can find around your house!
Kitchen utensils. Bowls and spoons for transfer, spoons for splashing and a strainer to make a waterfall. If you have children who enjoy pretend play they may also make you a soup with what they find! Mine made me a bee and rock soup! Yum!
Balls and strainer. Great for fishing the balls out, playing with the balls and straining the water. You can use different types of balls of different materials and see which ones floats and which ones sink.
Soap foam. This one was the biggest hit! It was so simple: some dish soap in water and a couple whisks. Then I whisked it really fast for a while until there was a nice layer of thick soap, you can also use an egg beater (if you can find yours, I'm not  sure where mine is). This was used as a pretend world with snow and ice, as a car wash, a foot wash, bubbles to blow... it was the one that kept them playing the most!

You can also add toys and play hide and seek under the foam or hide letters or numbers to add some fun learning to their play.
Sponges and paint brushes. To fill with water and squeeze. To paint around the yard with water. To clean furniture, toys, and more! My boys really enjoyed cleaning everything! The baby loved eating the sponges and even took chunks out... so if you have a baby who mouths everything and has teeth, keep away!
Colored ice cubes. Great sensory play for the little and big ones. I used very few drops of food coloring in the ice trays before placing them in the freezer.  If you don’t want the water to look brown at the end I recommend using complementary colors. Also, our ice cubes were small and melted too fast so I recommend freezing full bowls of water, we have done it before and it lasts much longer!

You can also freeze different items in the bowls such as: flowers, orange slices, letters or numbers, toy cars, dinosaurs. You can also add salt, warm water or even hammer to melt and break the ice.
Duplos. These are great for little builders! It’s a slightly different experience from your usual “dry” Duplos and my boys started to build right away and float their boats!
Wood toys. I pulled out all our wooden boats and this made for some simple boat pretend play.
Sea animals and shells. Since birth my middle child has been obsessed by sharks and dolphins. This is his Schleich shark collection. I added them to a water bin and added a couple shells (big enough and strong enough that they would not be a problem for my mouthing baby). This made for great pretend fun and the shells can be use for luring as well.
Glow in the dark stars and bracelets. We did this at night before July 4th with the big guys. This is not for the babies as the bracelets contains toxic chemicals and can be easily broken if they are chewed on. The big boys enjoyed playing with the lights more than the water but it was an interesting combination!

For more fun you can add spray bottles, water beads (for older kids only), shells, letters, nature such as pinecones, branches, rocks... float or sink activities are always a hit too! And there are also water balloons (they make some eco friendly ones now) and sprinklers!

Go to my Instagram page
to see the bins in action!

Fun water play activities for kids - 5 minutes setup for your baby, toddler or preschooler

Our Favorite Art Activities

When we are home we have a few to go art activities that we enjoy doing. But first, we always have an art cart with art supplies availabl...