Our Naked Egg and Egg Drop Science Experiments

At Square Roots Preschool, we feel that science is an important part of our curriculum. Preschool-aged children have a natural curiosity about the world around them, and what better way to support that curiosity than by doing hands-on experiments that ask the children to make predictions, observations, and draw conclusions.

When we studied the letter “Ee,” we conducted our naked egg science experiment. The first part of our experiment required us to place an egg carefully in a glass and pour vinegar over the top. Some students predicted that the egg would float, and others predicted that the egg would sink. The students each got a chance to pour (with a little bit of help). They observed that the egg floated! The next part of our experiment required patience. We had to wait a few days to see what effect the vinegar would have on the egg.

After a few days, the shell of the egg became soft, and the yolk of the egg became rubbery, like a ball. Since young students learn best by doing, the students got to feel the egg and yolk and describe it. It was ooey-gooey scientific fun!

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Later in the week, we conducted an Egg Drop experiment, which taught us about cause and effect and prediction. Each student chose a material to protect his or her egg, and then everyone predicted what would happen to each egg. With no protection, the students predicted that

The yolk will go all over the ground!

Break.

I don’t know.

Drop it down!

I think it will break.

We then protected the egg with a paper napkin, bubble wrap, absorbent pad, plastic baggie, and a towel, in turn. Each student had the opportunity to drop their own egg and make observations about the results. We concluded that bubble wrap was the most protective material because the egg didn’t break at all!

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Too often, science is considered something “extra” for young students. Science lessons help develop so many skills, so we feel it is important to make the subject an integral part of our school day. For more information about the importance of science (and math) for young learners, check out Math and Science in Preschool: Policies and Practice.

Healthy Eating Habits for Preschoolers: What Can I Do?

As parents, we are concerned our preschoolers are eating to ensure proper growth and health, both physical and emotional. Yet, sometimes, maybe more often, we feel powerless over their eating habits. What can we do to help our kids eat for success now, as well as for later development?

The good news is that we do have influence over how our preschoolers eat. The first step is to keep our message about nutrition positive, because positive messages tend to be remembered better in preschool-aged children. A positive message focuses on the benefit of a food, or why the food is important. For example, quinoa has a lot of protein that helps keep our muscles strong for play; or, broccoli keeps our bodies healthy and protects us from getting sick. Messages that focus on why we don’t eat a food, or don’t eat it very often, can also be useful in that they help our preschoolers understand we have good reason for not allowing unhealthful food more often. For example, soda is junk food because it doesn’t help our brains get smart or our bodies grow strong. Clear, clean water does, and we can try sparkling water, which has fizzy bubbles just like soda.

Something else we can do to help our children choose healthy food is to pay attention to, and possibly alter, the atmosphere at meal times. Do we eat as an entire family at least once per day? Research indicates this is beneficial for kids. If we are eating with our children, what is the emotional tone of the meal? Kids form associations with food, and the associations may be positive or negative depending on the atmosphere of the meal. For example, we sit and eat dinner with our families every night, and we do our best to make a balanced meal; unfortunately, there is a lot of stress at the table. Due to the negative atmosphere, our preschoolers may remember the foods served to be associated with undesirable feelings, and hence refuse them. On the other hand, when love, laughter, and respect are at the table, then these feelings may transfer onto the food our children are eating. Also, we should never force our kids to eat a food. We simply offer nutritious selections, and model eating and enjoying it.

Perhaps birthday parties are a reason kids love junk food. After all, they are playing with friends, having fun, and eating pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, chips, and cake. These foods become parts of fond memories for our children who may want them more because of the positive feelings they impart. Our preschoolers do not realize this is happening, of course, but we do and it is up to us to create a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere during mealtime at home.

Something else we can do to help our kids choose nutritious food is to not give up. 2- to-4-year-olds are notorious for refusing new foods, even if they were once adventurous eaters. However, wait for 2-4 weeks, and try again. Then wait and try again. Research shows it can take anywhere from 8 to 15 (!) exposures to a new or different food before it becomes accepted by a child. Fifteen sure sounds like a lot, but there is no time like the present, and we’ve got their entire childhoods ahead of us. As stated above, we need to make sure our kids actually see us eat and enjoy the food we want them to eat. This simple act helps increase our child’s acceptance of the food.

Research also indicates that children do not innately know how to choose healthy food. It is something they must learn, and us parents must grab this opportunity to allow our preschoolers to develop a taste for what will help them grow and keep them well. Thus, although nutrition lessons at school are an important component of our children choosing healthy foods and beverages, we must also incorporate into our daily meals the strategies outlined in this post. It is this parental involvement that really sets the stage for lifelong healthy dietary habits.

One final thought: most nutrition professionals discourage parents from using food as a “reward.” A reward includes only allowing dessert after our children eat their spinach, or offering a cookie if they cooperate with us. Such a reward system sets the stage in later life for turning to food during stressful situations in order to feel better. This can lead to a negative relationship with food, which includes overeating, obesity, and all the consequent diseases. In addition, some types of food reward systems can actually backfire. For example, telling our children that they can have dessert only after they finish their vegetable makes them dislike the vegetable even more, research shows.

I realize no parent, including me, is perfect, and that life happens; this doesn’t mean we throw in the towel. Yes, it takes effort, and yes, it’s worth it. We do have influence! Just remember these four steps:

  1. keep messages about nutritious food positive

  2. maintain a relaxed atmosphere at mealtimes

  3. keep offering healthy options

  4. eat and enjoy the food, too!

 

References:

  1. USDA Preschool Nutrition Research, Chapter 3: Nutrition Education for Preschool Children: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/food/pdfs/roundtable_references_preschool.pdf

2.     Why is my child a picky eater? By Mary Mullen, MS, RD and Jo Ellen Shield MED, RD, LD:                                                                                                                   http://www.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442467922  

About our contributor, Christine Reese, MS, RD: Christine has a Masters in Nutrition and has been a Registered Dietitian for 8 years. Although she is vegan and cooks accordingly, her 3-year-old son eats an omnivorous diet. Her background includes counseling on weight loss, diabetes, and kidney disease in adults. She loves talking about all things nutrition.

Keeping Things Moving Helps Us Sit Still

Square Roots Preschool employs a play-based curriculum, where we are always playing, but always learning. Although we move around quite a lot, we do ask that our students spend some time sitting. Being able to sit still is a big challenge for children between the ages of three and five, but it’s a necessary one. And children should be challenged in order to grow.

ImageSo when it’s time to sit down and listen during circle time, our students plant their pockets on their own fun, colored mats. The mats help them focus their physical presence, saying “this is where I belong right now.” Although they are asked to sit still and listen for a few minutes at a time, these periods are punctuated with a lot of movement in different forms. Most things we teach during circle time are accompanied by song. Music is both a tool to help with learning (like that commercial jingle you can’t get out of your head) and a good excuse to get up and move. As we’re learning the months of the year or the color of the week, the children have the opportunity to participate by singing and acting out specific movements that go with each song.

And then they plop back down for a few minutes to sit still and listen.

And then we’re back up singing the “jump up and down” song.

So even though we’re asking the students to sit at brief intervals throughout their day, we make sure they get their wiggles out. We keep things moving. When young students are given opportunities to move throughout the day, their “sitting still” time is much more successful, which not only helps them build this skill so necessary for life, but helps them build self confidence.