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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Simple Summer Science for Young Learners

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Summer is a wonderful time to introduce your young student to “simple science.” One great way to start is to encourage your child to become a “weather watcher.” After watching or listening to a local weather report together, invite your child to:

  • Make some temperature predictions, and then observe different temperatures during the week on various thermometers that might be found in your home, on municipal or bank buildings, in-car thermometers, etc.
  • Look for signs of rain such as, dark , thick clouds and cooling temperatures.
  • Talk about thunder and lightning: Small bits of frozen rain move around and bump each other. All those bumps cause electricity. When it builds up enough, it connects with charges on the ground and zap…it’s lightning! It is like rubbing your feet across a carpet, then touching a metal door knob. When lightning travels it causes a sound wave—thunder. It comes after seeing the lightning because light travels faster than sound.
  • Have a “rainbow alert” if there is some intermittent sun while it rains.
  • Look for signs of wind and wind direction. To do this, Make an easy “wind sock.” You’ll need five items: an empty plastic liter bottle with cap (soda, juice, etc.), some string, a plastic grocery bag, scissors, and a stapler.  To make a wind sock:  
  1. Screw the cap tightly on the neck of the bottle. Cut the bottom of the bottle about 3 inches from the bottom, so that the bottle is completely open. Discard the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Help your child cut six 1 1/2 inch thick x 12-inch-long strips from the plastic bag.
  3. Staple the strips, on the inside of the open bottom perimeter, about an inch up, leaving most of the strip hanging below.
  4. Cut a 20-inch piece of string and tie one end tightly below the bottle cap.
  5. Tie the wind sock to a low-hanging branch where she can see it. Watch which direction the strips blow, and how strong the wind is blowing! Help her understand that he wind is coming from the opposite direction that the strips are pointing.

All of these activities are fun to do with your child and might spark a lifelong interest in the science of weather.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?