Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wind Power

I didn't get a chance to blog last night because it was a busy one, but we got lots more done yesterday in our ongoing study of weather and the desert.  Specifically, we focused on wind.
In our study, we read Wind by Honor Head ...
 ... Gusts and Gales: A Book About Wind by Josepha Sherman ...
 ... Who Likes the Wind? by Etta Kaner (probably my favorite book of our wind reads today) ...
 ... and I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb.  (This one has lots of simple experiments integrated into the text.)
 After our books, we read this poem from Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic:
"Strange Wind"
What a strange wind it was today,
Whistlin' and whirlin' and scurlin' away
Like a worried old woman with so much to say.
What a strange wind it was today.
What a strange wind it was today,
Cool and clear from a sky so grey
And my hat stayed on but my head blew away --
What a strange wind it was today.
Maggie, like any kid, loves videos, so I try to implement them in every lesson.  Here is one we watched for this study, "The Wind Did It" from Sid the Science Kid: Weather Kid Sid.  (I also use educational video time to set up stuff for projects and get a little housework done.)
For some fun with wind, I decided we would prepare lots of items to be assaulted by my hair dryer later, and I found a great option out of our The Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do ...
... sail cars!  For the same, you will need thin cardboard or thick cardstock, two pipe cleaners, three bendy drinking straws, scissors, and tape.  (The book also calls for big beads, small beads, and toothpicks, but this did not work well for us, so we omitted them.)
First, "cut a 5 x 11cm (2 x 4in) rectangle of thin cardboard.  Twist together the ends of two pipe cleaners, then tape them onto the rectangle."
"Cut two 6cm (2 1/2in) pieces from a drinking straw.  Then, tape the straws across the rectangle, over the pipe cleaners, like this."
"Cut a square paper sail the length of the bottom part of a bendy straw.  Use a sharp pencil to make a hole at the top and bottom of the sail.  Cut the top off the bendy straw to make a tall mast.  Slide the sail on it and tape in place."
"Slide the mast onto one of the pipe cleaners.  Push a big bead onto the pipe cleaner and twist the end.  Then, cut an 11cm (4in) piece from another straw and slide it onto the other pipe cleaner."
"Bend the mast and short straw over the top of the base.  Twist the end of the pipe cleaner around the middle of the mast to hold it in place."
"For wheels, draw around the lid of a small jar four times on cardboard.  Cut out the circles and make a hole in the middle of each one."
"Push a wheel a little way onto the end of a toothpick.  Then, slide the toothpick through one of the straws on the bottom of the car.  Push a wheel onto the other side.  Then, attach the other wheels in the same way.  Push a small bead onto the end of each toothpick."
This last instruction about the wheels was a bust for us.  First off, the book never specified what kind of beads (specific size) would be needed.  Secondly, the straws at the bottom of the base were longer than our toothpicks!  It just wasn't going to work.  So, we got handy with our tape and crafted them into place!
Our sail car, ready for some wind action!
(I also grabbed a couple of toys for our grand experiment.)

Then, we got to work making a pinwheel.  Here, Mags is adding little wind and weather icons to the tips that will show in the front.
Then, we added a few fun facts about wind that Maggie came up with.
Here is our completed pinwheel.
Giving it the ol' test try!
Then, we made a wind gauge using two small cups, tape, an unsharpened pencil, a straw, and a tack or pin.
First, tape the bottom of each cup to the ends of the straw so that they face in different directions, like below.
Next, poke your tack or pin through the middle of your straw and into your pencil's eraser as shown.  (Be sure your straw can turn.)
You now have a wind gauge!  Give it a try!
Then, it was time for the fun stuff!  Time for Mom's hairdryer!  We tested out all of our wind creations on both the low and high speeds.  (Nothing could withstand high.)
After we finished up our lesson on wind, we got back into our Geography study of the desert. 
When we weren't schooling, I noticed Maggie cutting out these little green critters and asked her what they were.  "The saguaro cactus, Mommy!" she exclaimed.  Wow.  Glad to know she's listening.  I saw them again at Wednesday Night Supper at our church, as she held them out to the other kids, chasing them as they ran away, screaming.  [sigh]  Kids!
First, we watched two episodes from our The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Miles and Miles of Reptiles! DVD, "Itty Bitty Water," and "Be Cool."
Next, we watched the second half of this great Reading Rainbow: Desert Life DVD, "Alejandro's Gift."  (We borrowed our copy from the library, but you can watch a grainier version online at
We then opened up our Usborne: The Great Wildlife Search book (I LOVE this book!) ...
... and together, searched for all the hidden desert animals!
After that, we made the desert mini-book out of this great resource, Scholastic: Easy Make & Learn Projects: Animal Habitats by Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne.  (Thank you to my dear friend, Anna, for suggesting it!)
Here is our completed mini-book!
It's so cute with little windows and lift-the-flaps!
For our first desert craft, we made the "Desert Sunset" craft found at  For the same you will need two bowls, red and yellow food coloring, water, coffee filters (one per picture), a medicine dropper, black paper, white paper, scissors, and glue.  (You can also use some towels and/or newspaper to absorb some of your water.)
First, make some yellow and red-colored water in your bowls using your food coloring. 
Next, carefully drop some of your colored water onto your coffee filters using your medicine dropper, to make beautiful patterns for your sunset sky.  Let dry completely. 
While your coffee filters are drying, cut out a desert silhouette (with ground and cacti) from one of your black pieces of paper, like below.
Glue your coffee filter onto a white piece of paper so the colors appear brighter.  Cut the white paper right at the edge of the filter so no white is showing. 
Glue your filter on its white backing directly onto a black piece of paper.  Glue your desert silhouette to the very top of the filter.  Crop your black background to fit. 
(It looks good, but try to use white filters for a brighter sunset.  We didn't have any but the brown.)
See you again soon!

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