Tag Archives: science experiment

Balancing Craft

butterfly 1This was my last week doing crafts with the kindergarten/first grade class at our co-op. It was bittersweet — while it was a bit of work planning and preparing the crafts, it was fun to watch the children work on them, and it was so good to see my son Luke enjoy making them and showing them off to his siblings.

For this last formal class, we read the picture book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. The story takes place in France in the late nineteenth century. Mirette’s mother, a widow, rents out the rooms in her home to traveling performers. One of the performers who comes to stay is the Great Bellini, a tightrope walker. Mirette wants to learn to walk on a rope, too, and Bellini finally agrees to teach her.

Our craft for this story was the Balancing Butterfly craft found on EnchantedLearning.com. Here’s how we did it:

Supplies:

  • Cardboard butterflies
  • Sculpey clay
  • Pencils
  • Pennies
  • Tape
  • Markers

To prepare, I made a butterfly pattern with a piece of cardstock. I found that a butterfly with a wingspan of about 3 inches worked well.

Next, I traced the pattern and pre-cut the butterflies for the students using thin cardboard I had on hand. EnchantedLearning recommends using old cereal boxes.

The students then…

1. Decorated their butterflies with markers. We talked about patterns again, and how they could make patterns on their butterflies.

2. I also provided each student with some sculpey clay. They worked the clay with their hands to soften it before rolling it into a ball. Then they flattened one side on the surface of the table to make it stand evenly.

3. I then let them choose a pencil, and they stuck the unsharpened end down into the clay so the pencil was standing upright.

4. Next, they tried to balanbutterfly2ce their butterflies on the eraser end of the pencils. They could balance them if they placed the center of the butterfly on the eraser.

5. Then we added pennies to the wings. We taped one penny near the top of each wing. This changed the center of gravity to a point closer to the head of the butterfly. The butterfly would tip, but it still balanced on the pencil.

This simple craft was a hit!  They played with them that morning, and then my son played with his some more when we got home. My daughter Lillie then made one for herself, and she plans on making more with her cousins this weekend. Give this project a try, and watch the butterflies soar!

Worm Castings

A friend of mine has a home business I had never heard of before I met her. She and her family sell worm castings. They raise the worms, gather the castings, and package them up for customers.

“Castings” is another name for worm poo. No, worm castings aren’t smelly or icky – they’re actually like rich, dark, soft soil. They act as an organic fertilizer, releasing nutrients and water to the plant only as it needs it. My friend gave me some to try, and the results were amazing.

We have a large field which includes an area we marked off to plant a garden. Each year, my husband plans to plow it up with his dad’s antique John Deer tractor, but every spring he gets too busy. Two summers ago, I decided to just plant a small area instead, one that I could prepare and tend on my own. I already had the castings, so I bought a few cherry tomato plants. Being homeschoolers, we decided to turn our garden project into a science experiement.

We divided the plants into two groups. One group we planted with the castings, adding a large handful into the hole before planting, and then adding a little more around the base of the plant when we were finished. The other group we just set into the soil with no castings at all.

That summer, our area suffered from a terrible drought. Unfortuantely for the plants, I had placed my garden quite far from the house, and I often forgot to water them. In fact, I think I only carried a watering can out twice to the little garden. It’s no wonder the plants without the castings died away.

But to our surprise, the plants we had treated with the worm castings thrived. Not only did they grow, but they grew beyond the supports we had set up. They produced…and produced…and produced! We had tomatoes through September and into October. I even had to pick a few tomatoes before they were ripe because we were beginning to get the first frosts of winter.

I’m convinced. We’re going to try it again this year, and I can’t wait for the results! Maybe we’ll even get that big garden planted.