Simple Machines, Hands-On Engineering & Science for Kids (series)

The simple machines lessons in these books are each supported by two to three relevant and captivating activities designed to engage children with engineering experiences and teach them to actively think and question the world around them. Participants learn to identify simple machines, use higher level thinking to make comparisons, ask and answer questions, make…

Be a Junior Ranger at a National Park

The U.S. National Park Service offers a self-directed educational program for children visiting the parks.   Children ages 3-13 are invited by the park service to observe the park’s natural environment, learn ways to preserve it, and pass this knowledge to others.   Junior Ranger requirements are that children attend a guided park program (or…

Habitat Boxes: Beach

  Habitat Boxes allow us to categorize collections, have a mini-nature experience at home, and share our experiences with others. We have boxes to collect natural material from beach, desert, forest, & river environments. We love these hands-on experiences because they require children to use many senses. They feel, smell, and see natural objects. This…

Simple Machines Class

We have successfully wrapped up our curriculum-rich five week Simple Machines class for elementary students.  Children and their parents met us once a week for an hour after school in an outdoor space at the Museum of Ventura County in downtown Ventura. Each class included an introduction to specific simple machines and multiple hands-on activities…

Dreamcatchers

Overview When hung above the bed, dreamcatchers are said to catch the bad dreams and allow the good dreams to come through.   Read the Legend of the Dream Catcher. Materials Paper plates scissors single hole puncher ribbon, twine, tool, or pipe cleaners feathers, rocks, shells, sticks, leaves, acorns or other natural items hot glue…

Phase 2 of the Rube Goldberg Event: Planning & Organization

Does the planning process seem too daunting? While the idea of planning for a Rube Goldberg Engineering Event might seem daunting, I hope this post will encourage you to take on this challenge. Additionally, in this post, I will break down the planning process and outline some manageable phases so that you will feel comfortable…

Personal Shield ~ A Journal Entry

Overview The Personal Shield is an illustrative symbol that helps participants recognize components of their inner selves.  Creating a personal shield can be theraputic, a concious way to organize feelings and experiences. As the Thomas fires continue to burn around us here in Ventura, this kind of activity may be helpful as we process the…

Gordian Knot

Overview The Gordian Knot is a group challenge requiring participants to work together to solve a puzzle and to be physically close.  Both demands of this exercise are tricky for any group.  A group leader will naturally emerge, and participants will learn that, for the group to be successful, they will need to be patient,…

Camouflage

Oveview This activity is a new take on Hide & Go Seek, and a favorite with all ages.  The game of Camouflage teaches participants about the predator/prey relationship and highlights how animals make themselves invisible to predators and how bright colors, or movement, can give them away.  This activity was my go-to when I worked…

Worms + Compost Box

Overview Teachings kids about worms & composting complements lessons on soil science, animal habitat, and environmental studies.  Composting with worms is called vermicomposting. Worms will break down plant materials as they eat it, pass it through their body, and turn it into rich soil for a garden.  This process provides nutrients for other plants, and…