Friday, April 15, 2011

UPDATED- Nature Study for Preschoolers: Twig Race

Picture Taken on 4-15-2011--Scroll to the bottom to see the UPDATE on this post
 Do you have a preschooler who loves to race?  Are they always racing to see who can be the first up the stairs?  Or the first to the car?   Well, I have a little boy who loves racing.  So we decided to incorporate a little racing in our nature study this week by having a "twig race."  This is an excellent project for you to do with your kids this time of year.

This project came from the book Mudpies to Magnets: A Preschool Science Curriculum.  It is a fantastic book filled with GREAT ideas of exploring science with preschool aged children.  I highly recommend it.

Mudpies to Magnets: A Preschool Science Curriculum

What is a Twig Race?
"The Twig Race utilizes observation of the marvel of spring---the renewed growth of trees as buds and leaves grow from their twigs.  But which grows fastest, the twig on the tree or the cut twig that is taken inside?  The children observe the growth of the twigs both indoors and out.  Who wins the race?  Try it and find out!", Mudpies to Magnets: A Preschool Science Curriculum, p. 127.

How to have a Twig Race?

In the very early spring (like right now!), pick a tree that your children are well associated with to study.  We chose a cherry tree that grows right outside our front door.  We pass this tree several times per day as we go in and out of the house.  So we have plenty of chances to observe it throughout the year.

Talk to the children about the lack of leaves on the tree.  Also, point out the buds on the tree to the child.  Have the child describe the buds as they see them.  (Different trees have different feeling and looking buds.)  Also explain to them the purpose of the buds.

Next explain that we are going to have a race with the tree and see which twig sprouts first:  the twig the tree takes care of OR the twig that we take care of indoors.  Clip a twig off of the tree using a clean cut and put it indoors in water next to a window.    Also, pick a specific twig which you wish to race by tying a piece of brightly colored yarn or ribbon on it.

Everyday observe the twig outdoors and the twig you are taking care of indoors.  Which twig wins the race?

Our results:
The kids and I made a hypothesis on which twig would win the race.  I personally thought that the twig left on the tree would bloom first.  Marcus and Sophie thought that they would win the race by taking very good care of their twig indoors.

Well...who won the race?   In our case, it was the twig left indoors.  (I was quite surprised!)
The buds on our twig are just beginning to bloom into very pretty flowers:

Our indoor twig (picture taken on 4-11-2011)
The twig outdoors is still far from blooming:
Here you can see our outdoor twig we are observing.  We tied it with a red piece of yarn so we could easily find it.  (picture taken on 4-11-2011)
We are going to continue to observe our twig indoors and out to watch for other changes.

Well, thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoy this special time spent with your children getting acquainted with nature.
UPDATE:  As of April 13, 2011, our Cherry Tree is in FULL BLOOM! 
Picture taken on 4-15-2011-Most of the Cherry Tree is in full bloom
The blooms happened slowly at first, and then, seemingly overnight, the entire tree was covered with flowers.  It was really a magnificent change.
Picture Taken on 4-15-2011
 Here you can see our twig that we were racing with.  (Remember, we tied it with red yarn to mark it.)
The tree obviously won the race!  Picture taken on 4-15-2011
Meanwhile, the cut twig hasn't shown much change.  It has very little, meager-looking blossoms.  So although the cut trees blossoms may have opened first, they lack the splendor that the actual tree produced.
As to be expected, the tree takes better care of its twigs than we can.  Picture taken on 4-15-2011
Here come the honey bees:
On the very first day our tree blossomed, the tree was COVERED with bees.  Probably about 30-40--- which seemed like a lot to me!  I was inside the house and I could actually hear their humming.  However, after about a day they moved on and I haven't seen a single one back. 

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Michelle said...

What a neat idea!!

Following you from the linky!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Great idea and wonderful images. Thanks so much for sharing your link with the OHC.

Ticia said...

Oh that's a good idea to use a whole twig!

I saw one time to try using a single leaf, and then compare it to how we like that leaf can't survive without being in God's care (the tree). But, I like it better with the twig.

Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

Kristin said...

What a beautiful tree! I followed Mr. Linky here from The Handbook of Nature Study's site. Great idea for nature study with preschoolers!

Zonnah said...

What a great idea!

Bona Fide Mama said...

I really like this idea. I have a toddler who loves to play outside. I'm following now! I hope you'll stop by my blog too!

Julie said...

That is a good idea. We have a magnolia tree in our front yard, but it doesn't change too much. It keeps its leaves in the winter and sheds the leaves in the spring, but the new leaves are always out before the old ones fall off completely.


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