Senses Garden

Besides being cheap when it comes to doing science,I also like to think of ideas that help connect the curriculum and kids to the real world!

In Pre-K and K here in Virginia, teachers have to teach children about the senses. Senses are really important to scientists. They help us collect information which can be used to help us answer our questions. Typically I have created center activities in which children learn about each sense and the body parts that are associated with either sight, smell, taste, hearing, or feeling. But when I was at my mother-in-laws last week, my kids gave me a great idea!

As we were watering her flowers, my daughter Beth noticed grandma has a rosemary plant. Both of us were excited as we love the smell! This is where the idea came from!Why not create a sense garden in that spot of the school yard that needs a little bit of freshening up! So what could you plant?

For sense of Sight: plant various plants that will showcase color throughout the spring or even in the fall-roses, tulips, maybe even plant a flowering bush!

For Smell-this is my favorite-plant basil, thyme, rosemary!

For Texture-Lamb’s Ear for the softness of its leaves, Coreopsis for its feathery leaves, or a Sedum such as Hen and Chicks for their spiky leaves.

For Sound-if you can, add a small pond with running water or a small outdoor fountain! Or use some wind chimes. You can also put up a bird feeder to draw birds to your garden.

For Taste-be sure to get approval-but you could plant some berry bushes!

So how do you connect a garden to the curriculum-easy-have children go out and explore the plants and work with you to generate words that describe the plants.This is a great way to build vocabulary.

Writing-you can work with children to write what they hear when they go out into the garden or to write sentences that describe what the garden looks like to someone who is not there.

Measurement-a sense garden is great opportunity to measure how plants change over time-students use non-standard or standard units of measurements to measure plants.

How to build a raised garden-found this at home depot-

or here is another idea-simply plant the plants in containers! My mother-in-law took an area by her pool and dug up the grass, put down weed blocker paper, covered the paper with rocks,and then planted her herbs and other items in containers! This way you could move the garden if you needed to! Much cheaper as well-with containers you don’t have to buy all the other materials to make a raised garden bed!

Go Science!

New Spin on an Old Idea


I love being cheap! Especially when it comes to teaching and teaching science! As I sit through various trainings, I love to take an idea and figure out how to do the same thing for less. Here is an example of one of my favorite activities to do with preschoolers.

The gist of the activity deals with how do you form various colors from the three main primary colors. You can find everything for this activity at Wal-Mart!

In the cooking section, go and get 3 condiment bottles-you can find them for about 99cents! Then go to the beauty section and find clear hair gel. Next, go to the paper/plastic section and find zip-lock sandwich baggies. Lastly, go to the baking section and find the food coloring.

In the clear condiment bottles, put some hair gel in all three bottles. Then add the food coloring and shake really hard! This will mix up the color throughout the gel. Once you are done-you will have three bottles with your three primary colors.

The next step involves squeezing some out into your plastic bag. Let’s say we want to make green-put a dab of blue hair gel and the yellow hair gel, seal the bag, and then using your finger, move the gels together. Eureka! You have just made green. I know it is hard to tell from my photos-but trust me-the kids love this! Great activity for motor skills!

I Teach K Conference

Last week I had the honor of presenting at the I Teach K conference in Las Vegas-what an experience! I love getting K teachers excited about science.

So I know you must be looking at the picture and thinking to yourself-what were they doing? Well…we were doing science. See sometimes things are not always what they seem. The teachers began this activity by first making observations of their object (they were told not to look throught their object). They listed the color of their object, the shape of their object,and even listed words that described the texture of the object. The teachers were then asked to indicate what they thought the object would do-duh!!! they are glasses! Well, not ordinary glasses. These glasses have light refracting lenses in them so when you look at a light source, you will see the colors in the spectrum. While the teachers got excited about this activity, remember the goal of science is to get students working and thinking like a scientist. So how do we turn this simple activity into an experiment-easy-just change the type of light you look at-natural versus man-made! Or you can change the shape of the light source. Just don’t look at the sun! Not good for your eyes!

Where you can find these glasses:

Mystery Bracelt

Tonight I got the chance to work with the 4H club here in Virginia Beach. We did some really cool science experiments. Tomorrow I will post some other ideas we played with.

With springtime just around the corner, here is a great experiment to do with your kids while showing them the importance of sunscreen!

Does SPF really matter?


  • UV sensitive beads (ordering information listed below)
  • Sunscreen (15 and 30)


  1. Begin by having your child make observations of the bead: so what does it look like? (color: white; texture: smooth; shape: round)Feel like? (hard) record these ideas.
  2. Ask your child, what can you do with this bead? (make a necklace, bracelet, put it in your hair)
  3. Tell your child the bead has special properties. Have them make a bracelet with one or more of the beads. Then go outside (needs to be sunny). Don’t say anything until your child notices the bead(s) have done something really cool!! (they change color in the sunlight)
  4. Ask your child to give you all of their questions they have about the bead. If you have the time, allow your child to find the answers to his/her question. For example,do the beads change in regular light? (they don’t, but let your child find the answer and record it)
  5. Next, tell your child you have been wondering about the effectiveness of sunscreen-specifically if higher numbers matter. What could we do to find the answer to this question? (hopefully they will tell you to put sunscreen on the bead and then observe to see if it changes color)
  6. Conduct the experiment and see how the bead changes when you put SPF 15 or 30 on them. Have your child do three tests and then take an average.

Other questions your child can test: Does the time of day make a difference with regard to the rate of color change? Does the brand of sunglasses make a difference in terms of how much they change color? Do the beads change color while put under water? What does the bead do under a regular light bulb?

Content Help for Parents: The beads contain a pigment that is sensitive when exposed to UV light from the sun or other UV sources (UV flashlights will work, but the beads will not be as clear). Beads are not affected by visible light, so they do not change color inside and are not affected by light bulbs.

To order the beads: (you can get one bracelet kit for $5.95; assorted bag of colors about 250-$6.95) (for 250 beads-$6.95) (to order a UV flashlight-they run about $32)

Just Simple Science begins…

And so it begins! My own blog. I don’t even know why I am doing this. Time is not something I have a lot of these days. From being a mother of two fantastic children, a wife, and having a full time job, sometimes I don’t know if I am coming or going! But with the start of any new year, we all make resolutions-so here is mine-to make more memories with my children while sharing my love of science with other parents who might struggle for ideas of things they can do with their own kids. Hopefully someone out there will find this blog useful or helpful!