Color Mixing with Bubbles! Lesson Plan

by Emily McGowan | Lakeshore Early Childhood Product Development Manager


Forget everything you thought you knew about blowing bubbles! We’ve come up with a way to add educational value to this carefree outdoor activity. Use this lesson plan to let kids blow bubbles and learn all about color mixing at the same time.

Note: This lesson is designed for preschool–kindergarten. While this lesson plan was created for the classroom, it’s also a fun activity to try at home!

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Objectives:

  • Kids will identify red, yellow and blue as primary colors.
  • Kids will learn how primary colors combine to create secondary colors.

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Read aloud Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
  2. Ask kids to recall the three colors of paint the mice jumped into in Mouse Paint (red, yellow and blue). Explain that the colors red, yellow and blue are called primary colors.
  3. Encourage kids to share what they learned about mixing these primary colors together. (They will make new colors!)
  4. Pour some clear bubble solution into two different trays. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to one tray and yellow food coloring to the other.
  5. Ask a volunteer to blow blue and yellow bubbles onto a sheet of white chart paper or butcher paper. Ask kids to observe what happens when the two colors mix on the paper. (Yellow and blue make green.)
  6. Remind kids that mixing two primary colors together will make a secondary color, like green.

Guided Practice:

  1. Pair up the kids and take them outside for this activity. Give each pair two trays of clear bubble solution, a bubble wand and a sheet of white paper.
  2. Have each pair select two primary colors (red, yellow and/or blue). Help kids add a few drops of one food coloring to the first tray and a few drops of the other food coloring to the second tray.
  3. Encourage the partners to take turns blowing bubbles onto the paper, mixing their two primary colors together to discover what new color they can make.
  4. Allow the paper to dry and display the colorful bubble creations on a bulletin board or refrigerator. Invite kids to share what they discovered. (Red and blue = purple; yellow and blue = green; and yellow and red = orange.)

Download this lesson plan.

Float Your Boat Lesson Plan

by Bethany Hernandez | Lakeshore Product Developer

From paper airplanes to plastic-bag parachutes, kids love to see what they can create from everyday items. Our lesson plan will captivate students as they design and construct aluminum foil boats—then see how many pennies they can transport safely across a plastic-tub ocean! Along the way, kids will get hands-on experience with the concept of buoyancy.

Float Your Boat Lesson Plan

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Note: This lesson is designed for 1st–2nd graders. While this lesson plan was created for the classroom, it’s also a fun activity to try at home!

Download the lesson plan. 

Objectives:

  • Students will predict how many pennies an aluminum foil boat will hold before it sinks.
  • Students will test their predictions and record the results.

You will need:

Introduction:

Before you start the activity, get your students excited to learn about floating…and sinking! Ask if anyone has ever traveled on a boat. Ask if they can remember what kind of boat it was and have them estimate how many passengers might have been on board. Ask students if there can ever be too many people on a boat. If so, what might happen?

Keep the discussion going until kids understand that too much weight on a boat may cause it to sink.

Float Your Boat Lesson

Directions:

  1. Give kids a Float Your Boat Record Sheet. Announce that they’re investigators. Their mission is to discover how many pennies can float in a foil boat before it sinks.
  2. Pass out large sheets of aluminum foil and ask kids to bend and fold the foil any way they like to make a boat—as long as it’s designed to hold pennies and float.
  3.  Ask kids to record their boat’s design in the record sheet. Explain that it will help their investigations.
  4. Have kids guess how many pennies their boat will hold. Be sure to write that number in the record sheet.

Guided/Independent Practice:

  1. Divide the class into groups or pairs.
  2. Provide each group with a tub full of water and a handful of pennies. It’s time to test the predictions!
  3. Have kids add penny passengers to their boat until it sinks! Ask them to look at the record sheet. Did their boat hold more or fewer pennies than they predicted? Record the actual amount of pennies each boat held to wrap up the investigation.

You can keep the learning going long after the first investigation is over. Talk with your students about their boat designs. Ask them why they think some boats held more pennies than others without sinking. Explain that boats with greater surface area have greater buoyancy—and can therefore hold more weight. Finally, invite students to share how they would update their boats to hold more pennies and why.

5 Fun & Effective Test Prep Tips

by Patti Clark | Lakeshore VP of Research & Development

It’s that time of year again—when state testing begins in classrooms across the country. Standardized testing has become a reality in today’s classrooms, and it’s important to help students perform to the best of their ability—but that doesn’t have to mean “teaching to the test,” pounding students with endless drills or trying to squeeze one more thing into an ever-busy school day. Here are some tips for making test prep quick, effective, meaningful—and even fun for kids!

1. Charge Kids Up with a Daily “Brainiac” Question

Test Prep

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Make a “Daily Brainiac” area on a bulletin board or whiteboard. Display a daily math question for students to solve and explain—either in a math journal or on a piece of paper.  Give students a few minutes to work out the problem, and then discuss the answer and students’ strategies for solving the problem.  After the class discussion, recognize a student who was able to explain their reasoning as the “Super Brainiac” of the day. This is a great activity to do in the weeks before testing begins, but you can start as early as the first week of school—giving students the quick, daily practice they need to ace these problems on test day.

2. Race to the Finish—with Weekly Comprehension Sprints

To show reading comprehension, most standardized tests now ask students to back up their answers with examples from a text. Learning to find text evidence is a great comprehension strategy—even when students are answering basic multiple-choice questions. To help kids practice, set up a weekly “comprehension sprint.” Divide students into teams. Have students read a text passage and then place copies of the passage—along with several comprehension questions—on a wall or bulletin board. (You’ll need one copy of the passage and questions for each team.) Give each team member a different color highlighter. On the count of three, one student from each team races to their team’s copy of the passage. The team member answers one question—highlighting the text evidence in the passage—and then races back so the next team member can run to answer a question. Continue play until all questions are answered. Then come together as a class to discuss the answers and the evidence that was selected.

3. Get Kids Excited with a Math Quiz Game Show

This is a fun way to get the whole class involved in problem solving—and discuss different math strategies. Give each student a write & wipe answer board or lapboard and a write & wipe marker. Write a “test prep” problem on the board and ask students to solve it on their individual boards. When they’ve solved it, ask students to hold up their boards.  Discuss the answer and compare students’ methods of reasoning in solving the problem. For extra motivation, award points for correct answers and ask students to add up their own scores. Award extra points to students who can explain their answers.

Test Prep

4. Use Anchor Charts to Give Strategies for Answering Test Questions

Anchor charts that you display in class can help reinforce test-taking strategies students will use on test day. Teach students specific strategies for solving each type of question they may see on a test. Then make an anchor chart for each one, such as Strategies for Multiple-Choice Questions, Strategies for Extended Response Questions, Strategies for Word Problems, and so on. Display the anchor charts around the room and refer back to them often as students engage in classwork. You may have to take the charts down during actual testing, but if you use them throughout the year, your students will know them inside and out.

Test Prep

For additional reinforcement, use math & language test prep activities that provide extra practice with test-taking skills. Remind students to reference the anchor charts as they work through the questions. Then use the answer keys to help students analyze their responses.

5. Regularly Use Computers or Tablets for Classwork

Many of today’s standardized tests are being given online. Students will need to answer language arts questions by typing out extended responses, and they will need to type explanations of their reasoning when solving math problems. Be sure to give students plenty of digital/keyboard experience by having them type responses to classroom questions on their tablets, computers or Chromebooks. Also, it is important that they practice responding directly to questions, rather than writing their answers on paper first and then typing them. This way, they will be fully prepared for an all-digital test-taking experience.

Water Drop Experiment

by Eric Chyo | Lakeshore Elementary Product Development Manager

If your students have ever done an accidental belly flop into a swimming pool, they know firsthand what surface tension is. The flat surface of the water pushes back on their skin, causing it to sting. But when you try to explain surface tension to students in terms of molecules, you may notice that a few students can’t quite conceptualize what you mean. This simple experiment makes it easier for students to visualize how water molecules stick together to create surface tension—and keeps them actively involved in the investigation.

Note: This experiment is designed for 3rd – 5th graders. While this lesson plan was created for the classroom, it’s also a fun activity to try at home!

Download the lesson plan.

surface tension lesson

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Objectives:

• Exploring the concept of surface tension
• Making and testing a hypothesis by estimating the number of water drops that can fit on a penny and testing their predictions
• Analyzing data by averaging and comparing figures

You will need:

Introduction:

Ask students if they have ever seen a mosquito or other small bug sitting on the surface of a body of water. Explain that the surface of the water acts as “skin.” It tends to hold together because the water molecules are attracted to each other. This is called surface tension. Tell students that they are going to conduct an experiment that demonstrates how water molecules stick together to create surface tension.

Directions:

  1. Give each student a penny. Ask students to predict how many drops of water will fit on the surface without overflowing.
  2. Encourage volunteers to share their predictions and explain their reasoning. Did they base their predictions on the size of the drops? The size of the penny? Something else?
  3. Distribute copies of the Water Drop Record Sheet, and instruct students to record their predictions in the correct box on their sheet.

Guided/Independent Practice:

  1. Divide the class into groups of two or three. Provide each group with an eyedropper and a cup of water.
  2. Instruct students to place the penny tails up and hold the eyedropper one inch above the surface. Have students count the drops as they add them one at a time to the surface of the penny.
  3. Prompt students to record the number of drops the penny held before any amount of water overflowed. Have them calculate the difference between their predictions and the results.
  4. Have students complete the experiment two more times and record the results in the spaces provided.
  5. Ask students to average the results by adding the total number of drops from all three trials and dividing that total by 3. Instruct them to record the average on their sheet.
  6. For further investigation, have students repeat the experiment with the variables listed on the chart at the bottom of their sheet. Encourage them to record any observations in the space provided.

Conclusion:

Explain to students that the surface tension causes the drops of water to stick together on the penny instead of rolling off. The molecules of water on the surface of the penny are attracted to each other, so they tend to combine into one large drop rather than overflowing. Finally, discuss how the results changed when students changed each variable. Invite students to share their thoughts and observations.

The Very Real Benefits of Pretend Play

by Patti Clark | Lakeshore VP of Research & Development

I am often amazed at the power of children’s imaginations. Leave a cardboard box unattended, and it’s soon being transformed into a rocket ship, puppet theater or baby doll crib. Give kids a few dress-up clothes, and they’re soon pretending to be Mom and Dad—or dashing off on their next superhero adventure. While such activities are traditionally thought of as play, acting out pretend situations is actually important work that children’s brains are wired to do—preparing for real-life roles and situations they’ll face in the future.

Pretend Play

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By encouraging pretend play at home, parents can help their children build essential skills that are key to their development, including:

Creativity – When we think of creativity, we often think of artistic pursuits, like painting a picture. But creativity is a tool that all of us use in our daily lives. As adults, we often use creative problem solving to tackle everyday challenges at work and at home. These can include complex tasks that involve months of planning and coordination, as well as simple tasks like inventing a great family dinner using only a few items left in the fridge. Children prepare for real-life problem solving by engaging in pretend play, which flexes their creative muscles in a big way.

Social-Emotional Skills – By acting out pretend situations with peers and with adults, children have many opportunities to develop valuable social skills like sharing and taking turns. They’ll also explore different ways to express their feelings and ideas—whether they’re speaking for an action figure or caring for a baby doll. And, when children pretend to be another person or animal, they practice seeing the world from a new perspective, which helps them develop empathy for others.

Language and Literacy – Pretend play fosters oral language development by encouraging children to talk, test out and even use new words as they take on different roles and characters. For example, during vehicle play, children might explore words such as “hitch,” “haul,” and “soar.” Children will also learn new words when playing with their peers, and they’ll begin to recognize words they see on pretend play props, such as menus and road signs. This is important because there is a direct correlation between the number of words young children know and their future reading success.

Cognitive and Math Skills – From sorting play money to building a castle by stacking up blocks, pretend play encourages children to use real-life props that promote early mathematical learning. As children play and explore, they begin comparing and sorting objects, counting, measuring and recognizing shapes—to name just a few of the skills that children are learning!

Children will naturally find their own ways to engage in pretend play, but here are a few simple ways that parents can guide kids along and help them make the most of these very special learning opportunities.

  1. Brainstorm pretend play ideas with your child. Grab a pencil and paper and work with your child to create a list of fun pretend play ideas. If your child needs help coming up with ideas, focus on a topic he or she is interested in. For example, if you just read a book about dinosaurs together, suggest acting out the life of a T. rex! Or, if your child likes other animals, your list might include making a jungle habitat, acting out an animal rescue or playing vet. Whenever your child is looking for something to do, pull out the list and encourage your child to pick an idea.
  2. Provide props. A few simple props can go a long way! Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
    • Create a grocery store by supplying shopping bags, play money and items to shop for, such as real or pretend food.
    • Open a vet’s office for your child’s stuffed animals by supplying bandages, a doctor’s coat and plenty of paper to make X-rays, charts and office forms.
    • Go on a pretend train ride by setting up chairs, pulling out a suitcase or two, and cutting tickets out of construction paper.
    • Turn a large box into a fire truck or police vehicle, leaving one end of the box open for children to enter and cutting a large hole out of the top for kids’ heads!
    • Get out children’s old Halloween costumes and let their imaginations run wild!
  3. Schedule play dates. Help your child build friendships and give them new opportunities for pretend play at the same time. Start the play date with a structured activity (such as a game or art project), allowing children time to break the ice and get comfortable with each other. Then pull out your list of pretend play adventures—or let the kids think of new ideas together!
  4. Join in the fun. Set aside a small block of time to join your child in pretend play. Your child will love having you as a customer in their store or as a character in an exciting adventure. Inspire your child’s imagination and encourage your child to lead the activity by asking questions like, Who should I be? or Where are we going?
  5. Make time for playtime. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that open-ended pretend play is part of your child’s daily routine. For every hour that children spend watching a movie or playing games on the computer, encourage an hour or more of pretend play with the screen off. This will give children the freedom to invent their own mental images—and develop essential skills that will last a lifetime.