This month at our momstown Milton Little Scientists program, our tots had fun discovering the ecosystem of the desert with Dr Seuss. We learned about animals and plants and how they have adapted to the harsh elements in order to survive.
We began our lesson by creating our very own desert craft. Sand paper was used for the desert, green construction paper to cut out the shape of a cactus and linguine noodles served as the spikes. The materials were a great tactile experience for kids and made the picture come to life with the variable textures.
Next we put our thinking caps on and performed an experiment. The question presented was "Will the sponge become heavier or lighter once it is dipped into the water?" Each child formed a hypothesis of what they believed the result would be. They were excited to put their theory to the test to confirn that it did get heavier as the sponge was submerged.
The experiment was a great lead in to our discussion about absorption and osmosis.
Some of the key points we learned were:
– Water is very important to plants.
– Plants need water to produce food and grow.
– Water helps transport nutrients throughout all parts of the plant.
– Plants absorb water through their roots through a process called osmosis
– Water helps support the plant by filling up the cells that make up the plant so it can stand up straight
I find that visual is always better for little people and role playing is a great way to get them engaged in the learning process. We choose a participant from the audience to transform into a cactus. We used green streamers as the roots that the kids extended from the feet "base" of our cactus all along the floor. Did you know that cactus roots can extend to upwards of 40 feet in length in order to accumulate water to survive?
We wrapped our volunteers arm in wax paper in order to mimic the waxy surface of the aloe plant that keeps precious water inside the plant. Our curious observers wanted to know what the surface would feel like making this the perfect hands on experiment.
We then sang and acted out the lyrics to a fun song about cacti. It's a catchy little tune you'll be singing all day:)
IN THE DESERT Tune: “Oh, My Darling Clementine”
In the desert, in the hot sun,
Grows a cactus big and tall.
It is green and it is spiny,
It’s the best one of them all.
Oh saguaro, oh saguaro,
Oh, saguaro cactus,
You are green and you are spiny,
And the strongest of them all!
We ended our program with a wonderful book by Dr. Seuss. "Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry? " It explains, why deserts are dry, and how plants and animals have adapted to survive the unforgiving climate and was a great recap of what we had covered during our Little Scientist Program.