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!

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!!!!

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”.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190107140552872_cover

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.  

Signature

Animals, Great Lakes Science Center, Movies, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

Backyard Wilderness at the Great Lakes Science Center Helps Us See What We Are All Missing

To celebrate the end of the school year, we took my four year old daughter and some friends to see the movie ‘Backyard Wilderness‘ which is currently playing at the Great Lakes Science Center‘s Cleveland Clinic DOME theater in Cleveland, Ohio.

We loved the imagery and education provided in this film. Nature is very unexpected and often ‘spur of the moment’ so we were all completely blown away by the images that the creators caught on film. It left us wondering, how they were able to be at the right place at the right time for filming.

From the spotted salamanders emerging from their burrows in the spring and making their long dangerous journey to the streams, to the (literally) free-falling wood ducklings, this movie will leave you and your children well educated, excited and entertained. My four year old and her friend could not hide their excitement or laughter during many parts of this movie.

This movie is for ALL AGES. We all walked away with a new found appreciation for the wildlife that surrounds us. Your whole family will be more curious and observant of your own backyards, neighborhoods and surrounding park systems over the next four seasons.

While you are there, don’t forget to check out their special exhibit Vroom! A Car Adventure while you are there! In case you missed it, check out my review of their exhibit here!

Let me know if you have seen the movie and what you liked most at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or on my social media accounts.

Book Review, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Reading STEM’s Learning: “Her STEM Career” and “How She Discovered Engineering” Book Reviews

DISCLAIMER: I am also an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.  I was asked by the author, Diane Propsner, to review her books and so I received a FREE copy of Her STEM Career: Adventures of 51 Remarkable Women ( which I donated to a local school in my area) as well as a FREE proof copy of How She Discovered Engineering.

The author of the books Her STEM Career and How She Discovered Engineering, Diane Propsner, reached out and asked me to review her STEM books.  Both of her books were written for middle school girls to further their interest in the STEM careers.  She personally became interested in STEM careers in middle school.

Although they were written with that age group in mind, even older girls and women would be delighted with these books.  As someone in the 30+ club, I enjoyed them both so much!

Both books are interesting, engaging, educational, exciting and empowering.  Her STEM Career, in particular, incorporates a wonderful variety of STEM careers – such as careers in engineering, healthcare, research, business and software.  Each woman’s story is personable, impressive and the stories behind their successful career paths are commendable.   How She Discovered Engineering introduces eight additional female engineers and how they became interested in engineering as well as their career paths and where they are today. This book serves as a wonderful first mentor to the girl that may want to discover an engineering career path.

These books would be a wonderful addition to a school STEM library as a resource for students interested in STEM fields and teachers that are teaching STEM subjects.

Let me know what you think of these books after you check them out at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or on my social media accounts!