Animals, Art Crafting, Holiday, Lake MetroParks, Nature, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Lake Metroparks STEM Programs for Children and Families

For those that live in Northeast Ohio, Lake County Ohio’s park system known as the Lake Metroparks has extensive STEM programs for children and families. They also have specific programs geared towards home school parents and children.

Our family has greatly enjoyed the convenient, educational and fun programs that the Lake Metroparks system provides – specifically, the young child story times / explorations through the parks as well as numerous programs that are provided by the FarmPark and Penitentiary Glen Reservation. We have learned a great deal about farming and agriculture as well as the natural habitats and animals / insects that live in Northeast Ohio.

During the story times, children listen to stories associated with a nature theme, make a craft, play games and (weather permitting) take a hike outside along the paths in the park with a guide. The last one we participated in was all about frogs and it was held at Penitentiary Glen Reservation. The educator that ran the program was absolutely wonderful with the children. She taught them about the lifecycle of a frog, they made crafts, sang ‘5 little speckled frogs’, went on a nature hike outside, went on a scavenger hunt to find their own (fake) frogs, and many other activities.

Some of our favorite family friendly activities at the Farmpark have been Working Dog Weekend, Sheep Sheering Weekend, Horse Fest, Halloween Hayrides and Christmas Country Lights. At Country Lights, children are able to build a wooden toy with an elf from Santa’s Workshop. It’s a truly magical experience but also gives young children the opportunity to use real tools, listen to instructions and take pride in creating a wonderful toy for themselves.

For more information on their available educational programs for teachers and schools, click here. For more information on their upcoming family friendly events, click here. For more information on upcoming programming and registration, view the latest Parks Plus! magazine here.

Have you participated in any of these programs? Which is your favorite? If not, what park systems or parks have you enjoyed the most that provide STEM educations?

Great Things about Space, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources, STEM toys

Sums in Space – Math Game

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

A fun game we recently purchased is called Sums in Space. I found it in my recommended list on Amazon one day and thought we’d give it a try! This game lets children blast off to space while practicing subtraction and addition as well as becoming familiar with even and odd numbers in a fun way.

It is recommended for kids older than 5 years old but I am able to play it with my 4 year old. I help her by doing subtraction and addition with our fingers. Even and odd numbers could be easily taught by making a chart for young children to reference. At each turn, the players roll three dice, which creates a subtraction or addition problem to determine how many spaces to move your astronaut. Along the board, there are various odd ‘duck’ and even ‘Steven’s’ spaces as well as ‘black holes that slow you down.

As your child grows and learns, the rules of the game change slightly for increased difficulty.

If your child is learning simple math or about to start learning simple math, loves playing games and has a good attention span, this might be a great game to play with your child!

Great Lakes Science Center

Exciting News and Thank you!

I am excited to announce that I am a new contributing writer to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio. I am excited for where the journey will lead and all the exciting possibilities ahead for both of us!

Check out the two articles I wrote that are highlighted on their website in SPARK!

5 Ways to Nurture Curiosity in a Young Scientist

Engineer Mom puts VROOM to the Test

Thank you to all my readers and followers for your wonderful and always encouraging support!

This coming September I’ll be celebrating my 1 year anniversary on my blog – be sure to stay turned for a fun ‘surprise’ for all my Facebook and Instagram social media followers! If you aren’t following me yet on those feeds, just click the links above and the ‘Follow’ button on those pages so you don’t miss out!

Experiments, Inexpensive and Versatile, Nature, STEM Resources

Make your own Explorer Packs for Nature Exploration with the Kids

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you. Many of the items we selected for sample collection had fallen to the ground. I do not recommend teaching your children to collect live plants from the parks that you visit, especially if they cross state lines, as this many not be allowed or could cause disease outbreaks or infestations.

We packed an backpack for the kids full of ‘explorer gear’ and made our way to the woods nearby. We told the kids that we were going to go and explore nature. They were beyond excited!

Inside the ‘explorer pack’ was a couple blank notebooks (found in the Target bins), crayons, an empty peanut butter jar for sample collection, shovel, ruler, magnifying glass, two guidebooks to Ohio wildflowers and a camera (we have this pink one and here’s a similar one in blue).

(If you purchase the camera, don’t forget get the case – in pink or blue – and memory card too.)

We allowed the kids to explore whatever they wished. We looked for bugs, plants, seeds, flowers, leaves, sticks, etc. My youngest loved looking at several items with the magnifying glasses and making ‘notes’ in her notebook. My oldest drew items to find for a scavenger hunt in her notebook which included an orange flower, 5 trees, a stick, a lily pad and a piece of grass. She loved taking photos of the items that she found.

My husband and I pointed out interesting items along the way and facts that we knew from nature. We found interesting plants, pine cones, beautiful flowers and plankton, just to name a few. We also saw many bees, dragon flies, butterflies and birds. We also heard bull frogs.

When we returned home, we looked at each of the items that we had in our sample jar under our portable microscope. Take a look at the images below! We actually saw a bug climbing out of one of them!

This was such a fun family day and we all learned so much about nature. This is an activity that could be easily done in your own backyard.

What outdoor places do you love to explore with your kids? What other items can you think of that you would pack for your little explorer?

Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys, TV Shows

Strong Museum of Play in Rochester New York

“…can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

After 30 plus years, I can FINALLY answer that question. The address is 1 Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester, NY 14607 which is the home of the Strong Museum of Play.

What a fun place! I am SO glad that we chose to make the stop on the way home to Cleveland from the Finger Lakes in New York! This place was fun for the kids and us as adults! The message from this place was clear… PLAYING is LEARNING. This is a beautiful message for all parents and children. If it’s fun, we learn more.

The highlight of this trip for the kids was taking a stroll down Sesame Street. Sesame Street is one of my all time favorite young child educational programs. Both of my children have learned so much from watching it – numbers, letters, emotional / social growth and also how fun it is to explore and learn. All important early attributes for confidence and success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects.

Another area that was really fun was Wegman’s grocery store. Each child gets to push a cart or carry a basket through a replica of Wegman’s grocery store and select a limited number of items for check out. They actually check out at the register (look at the receipt below!), then return the items to their respective locations.

The History Place was a fun place to explore. Kids can have pretend tea parties with teddy bears (make food in the old style kitchens), play in a historical looking school house and check out the type of transportation that students used to get to school ‘back in the day’.

Reading Adventureland is a giant play ground where you can step inside common childhood stories like Bernstein Bears, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, many princess fairy tales, wizard stories, Dr. Suess stories, pirate stories, etc. The kids could explore the Bernstein Bears home town, create their own wizards wand and crown, become a giant and play in a pirates sandpit to name just a few. Books are scattered through out for reading if your child opts to read some of the stories. This area was also easily a favorite!

This museum is HUGE! If you plan to go, be sure to block off at least one whole day to be able to check out everything. We did not get the opportunity to see everything during our trip but we saw plenty to make us want to get in a return trip someday! Ohio (CLE especially – since we live so close…), check this place out!!!!

Animals

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York

We took a short family trip to the Finger Lakes in New York. During our visit, we had some cold, windy weather so one of the days we decided to take an adventure away from the lake. We took advantage of our Cleveland MetroParks Zoo reciprocal membership and went to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. We were so glad we made the trip!

This was a GREAT zoo. It was the perfect place to visit with small children because it isn’t too big or too small. It was also felt very clean and updated! My children enjoyed riding in the wagon that resembled a Safari jeep. It was only $7 for the whole day and it was well worth it (see image above).

There is an indoor aquarium, nocturnal exhibits, reptile exhibits, bird house and several other exhibits inside that we took advantage of. The aquarium is home to several marine life like octopus, starfish and other fish. The aquarium tanks were kept very clean which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful collection of marine life.

In the reptile area, it was fun seeing the snakes and iguana as well as other animals held in the exhibit. The bird house is a very large space, home to several large and small birds. My youngest daughter specifically loved the ducks. My kids enjoyed searching for the animals in the nocturnal exhibit – the porcupine came right up to the glass and stood up to look out as us. Other exhibits indoors held lemurs, various monkeys, otters and an absolutely beautiful leopard which was literally inches away from us.

Outdoors, the exhibits were also very clean for the animals and absolutely beautiful. It was relatively easy for my children to spot the animals without much help. The majority of the exhibits allow guests to get up close and personal with the animals so it is easy to spot them.

I personally learned quite a bit about Tigers’s at their exhibit during our visit. There are very few left in the wild and the sad reasons that they are disappearing and almost extinct. We need to do more a society to save these beautiful animals. See some the information about the tigers below.

They are currently reconstructing their elephant exhibit. Once complete, it will serve as a gigantic resort for the elephants. The zoo added several beautiful viewing balconies to allow guests to get as close as possible within a save distance from the elephants.

We ate lunch at the zoo Jungle Cafe and we felt the selections were great and prices were reasonable. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo but all prepared food is nut allergen free.

Towards the end, we were able to feed the ducks for 50 cents. My girls LOVED watching the ducks swim towards them and quack for food. When we turned in our wagon at the end of the day, I saw the staff immediately begin cleaning the wagon – what a wonderful sense that the staff take great care and pride in not only the cleanliness of the zoo but also in the items that enrich their guests experiences.

We would definitely recommend this zoo to anyone that visits this area. It was only a 40 minute drive for us from the lake house we were staying at in the Finger Lakes. Zoo’s are great places for children to learn about animals, view them up-close and appreciate them.

Have you visited this zoo? What zoo’s are your favorites? Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Art Crafting, Inexpensive and Versatile, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources, Tips and Tricks

Finger Counting Math Sheets

My preschooler LOVES math.  She is learning and understanding simple addition and subtraction.  I found this simple math project years ago and I loved it because it also incorporates a little bit of art and crafting, which my child also LOVES.  I do not know the official name for this project because I no longer have the source (it was stored to my memory for years), but I am calling them “Finger Counting Math Sheets”.

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These Finger Counting Math Sheets can be used for practicing addition and subtraction with simple numbers.  As you can see above, both my preschooler and I made one.  Mine was used as a model when making the hands and gluing them and also for how to write the numbers / equations correctly since she is just learning how to write them herself.  I did not write the solution to the problems until after my child solved them.

For simplicity, we focused on numbers that add up to 10 using numbers 1 through 9.  I wanted my child to recognize patterns in the equations I selected, which she did end up finding.

In our project, there were two patterns, (a) the same numbers added together, regardless of their order have the same result (for example, 9+1 = 10 and 1+9 = 10) and (b) many different numbers when added together can give the same result (all of the equations equaled 10).

Here’s the step by step on how we made one, if you are interested in making one yourself below are the supplies required and the steps we followed:

Supplies:

Two different colors of paper (1 large enough to trace hands on & 1 large enough to glue hands and write math equations on), a glue stick and a writing instrument (we used a marker).

Instructions:

  1. Trace your hands and cut them out.  (For a preschooler, this is a great task for improving hand-eye coordination and motor skills.  My child chose to color the fingers.)
  2. Glue the palm of the hands near the top of the second piece of paper.  It’s okay if the fingers and thumbs hang off the paper.
  3. Fold the fingers and thumbs down at the lowest joint.  (Technically speaking, this would be the joint between the metacarpals and phalanges on your hand.)
  4. Write down the addition or subtraction problems on paper. (Or you can let your child do this, like I did.  You will notice that the 9 was written backwards on my child’s sheet.  This is normal for a young child.  I still recommend encouraging your child to try on their own even if they don’t get it exactly right.) 
  5. Work with your child using the paper fingers on each hand to solve the problems.  For example, if the problem is 9+1, first have your child lift 9 fingers, then have your child add 1 more finger and count all the fingers that are opened  After your child gets the right answer, have your child write down the answer on the sheet.
  6. Continue with each math problem until completed or if your child loses interest.

Most importantly, remember that this is meant to be a fun activity.  If your child seems uninterested or frustrated, praise them for what they accomplished, take a break and try again another time. Some children are not ready for certain concepts or may need more breaks in between.

If you try this out with your young child, send me a note on how it went on my social media pages, at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or comment below.

Disclaimer: This project was not my original idea.  Unfortunately, I can not re-locate the source of this idea.  If I do come across it in the future, I will add it to this post.  

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