Unboxing a Mystery

P1240712An unusual box arrived today.  Curiosity and excitement are bubbling out the door and down the hall.  What could be inside?

  • A hamster in a cage, because I saw one once.
  • A turtle because ___ put his finger in and he said something bit him.  It must be a turtle.
  • I think it’s a stuffed cat.  Stuffed cats come to your house in a box like that.
  • Glass because you said that it is fragile and can’t get hot or cold.
  • A turtle because that’s what some other people said.
  • A real cat.  When kittens came to my house, they came in a box.

We tried listening to the box for clues.  Unfortunately, we didn’t hear anything that might give us clues.


Everyone wrote down their ideas using one of our Feely Box Friday forms.  The top says, “I think it is a________.”  We use the bottom to write about what we actually find.


Finally, we opened the box.  Its contents were not what we expected.  Inside we found bugs! In fact, there were four containers of them.  The bugs are very small and a few of the children were a bit nervous that they might be poisonous.  I quickly assured them that I would never invite a dangerous bug into our school.  The package also contained some white fuzzy things, two little Petri dishes with what appear to be seeds, and some sort of crispy, hard thing that reminded the children of a butterfly “cocoon.”  I’ve set up all of these items in an observable space so we can keep an eye on them.  Our little scientists are looking forward to watching this drama unfold.


Bugged Out!

090914_4697 And now…onto bugs.  I think this may be a record.  This is certainly the earliest we have ever had a group collectively inspire a topic of study.  Within the first few days of school, the children were noticing our creepy, crawly friends.  Some were exclaiming their excitement while others became paralyzed by fear.  We realized that there is a lot we can learn about bugs that might help us with our fears and make us even more adamant junior entomologists.

We asked the Pre-K class to share any questions they had about bugs:

  • How do bugs sting? ZW
  • How can fire ants bite? LW
  • Do fire ants live in New York? LL
  • How does a firefly flash its light on and off? AH
  • How do ants hold on tight? RM
  • How do fire ants spray their fire out? PM
  • Do pink butterflies bite? VH
  • How do ants breathe underwater? NM
  • Do spiders eat you? JK

We’ve talked about how bugs are very small, living creatures that are much more afraid of us than we are of them.  We continue to spot new bugs on the playground every day.


Ants, Ants, Ants

Now that we have completed our movie, we can move onto our next topic of study.  You might remember that we set up an ant observation sanctuary last month.  Since establishing the protected zone, we’ve had many question regarding the life and cuisine of ants.  Thus our next exploration takes us into the realm of the entomologist.

This morning’s message posed the question, “What questions do you have about ants?”  It was interesting to see how many of the children persisted in offering ideas (read: facts) about ants rather than positing questions.  With a bit of redirection, we gathered great starting points for our research.

  • How do ants find food? – AJ
  • Why do some ants bite? – OA
  • Where do ants live? – TO
  • How do ants get into buildings? – SC
  • What is inside their holes? – OM
  • Do ants have a head? – SM
  • Do ants have eyes? – AR
  • Where do they live? – SB
  • What colors can they be? – AH
  • Where are their eyes? – JW
  • Are their legs sticky? – ES
  • What do they do in their ant holes? – Daniela
  • How do they grow? – Harrison
  • How do ants turn into ant queens? – JJ

Ant Observation Sanctuary

041414_3723Yesterday on the side of the sledding hill, the children discovered some very small holes along a muddy patch.  After some careful observation, a few small black ants were spotted.  A discussion regarding the creation of the tiny mounds surrounding the holes raised many questions.  A few of the children thought that the dirt piles were sand that had been carried from the sandbox and placed by the holes as play areas for the ants.  Some suggested the grains of dirt were a food source.  One girl suggested that the ants had brought the small specs of dirt up from their tunnels using their legs and created the pile as they made bigger tunnels.

As our time outdoors drew to a close, we realized that the area might soon be overrun by larger children.  The Pre-K children were worried that the older students might not see the ant “homes” and accidentally step on them.  We called for suggestions to “save the ants.”  After some thought, a fence was designed and built using sticks and yarn.

Although the weather has dipped back to freezing today, we are hoping to revisit our Ant Observation Sanctuary soon.  Many of the children mentioned the ants in their planning journals this morning.  With luck and good weather, we’ll keep an eye on this little colony for the rest of the school year.