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Hi - I am Pat Roller, Children's Science Teacher and I enjoy working with teachers in the Bakura area in Kenya, Africa. Their goal is to improve math and science instruction in their schools. My books, "Pink Hat's Adventures with Seagulls, Hats, and Dancing Feet" and "Pink Hat's Adventure with Kites" work well with the website pages.

“FIRST LESSONS IN MATH AND SCIENCE,” are dedicated to my teacher friends in Kenya, Africa who are working very hard to bring life and meaning to young children’s math and science curriculum.  Pilot programs are growing thanks to Philip, Benard, Zedekiah, and other   innovative good teachers who dearly love children. More teachers will want to join in as the word spreads.


GRADE LEVEL or AGES Preschool, Primary, Elementary School – ages 4-12

CONCEPT – In Children’s Ecology, "SPICE" is an antonym.  the (S) stands for Variety and Similarity (likenesses and differences).

PURPOSE – To help children develop skills in observation, classification, computation, and communication. Children manipulate common natural objects by sorting, grouping, ordering, arranging and identifying first science vocabulary words. In math children manipulate objects to count and to solve simple math problems. They use these skills for observing and communicating likenesses and differences in objects and organisms.

Lesson 1 -  “Sort, Order, and Count the Students

1.      Sort the students into a Boy Group and a Girl Group.  How many students are in each group? Which group has more students? How many more? How many students in all?
2.      Help students order themselves from shortest to tallest.
3.      Help students order themselves from youngest to oldest.
4.      Learn this song together: “About Us” - "We are all students. Some are boys. Some are girls. Some are shorter. Some are taller. Some are younger. Some are older. We are all smart students!"


1.      Object – a thing

2.      Properties – words which describe things

3.      Classification – To arrange objects according to a certain property or properties.

4.      Organisms – things which have lived or are living now

The five senses are used to describe properties of organisms. (seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, tasting.)


Objects are grouped using one property at a time. Common properties are: color, size, shape, texture, hardness or softness, odor, taste (sour, sweet, etc.

Objects Needed – different kinds of seeds, rocks, shells, leaves, flowers, soils, sticks, feet, hands, feathers, cloth, etc.  There should be some objects in each group that are alike, some different, so that each group generally has more than one object in it. After practicing all the properties on one group of objects, change to another group and continue.

Lesson 2 – "Objects, Properties, Ordering"  (seeds)


1.      Use “Classroom Management “website page to learn how to set up “Cooperative Learning Teams” and how to organize the materials needed for each lesson. Get help and teach responsibility while ensuring each child has a job important to their group. Usually there are 5 students in each group.

2.      Gather needed materials for Lesson 1.  Different kinds of seeds, paper on which to sort the seeds, pencils to write the name of the property they are using to sort the seeds.

3.      Help the children learn how to group themselves and the job each group member is to perform for his/her group.

 Sorting beans by the property COLOR.

The objects are organisms called seeds. . The property we sort them with is COLOR.

4.      Today we will sort these seeds by the property COLOR. If all of the seeds are about the same color, sort them by SHADES of COLOR (lightest to darkest.)

5.      Check each group to see how they are doing. Help as needed.

6.      Write the word COLOR on a large piece of cardboard or paper.

7.      Post that word on the wall so kids can see it every day and learn it. Practice saying the word and spelling the word.

8.      Help the children write the word COLOR on their paper.

9.      Help them as needed to write the names of the colors (brown, green, red, orange, black, etc.

10.   Ask the children to count how many seeds are in each group.

We sort the beans by the property SIZE.They are ordered from smallest to largest.

The objects are seeds. We order them by the property SIZE.

11.   Ask the children to make a long line of their seeds ordering them  from smallest to largest. Or order them from shortest to longest.

12.   Ask the children to count how many seeds in all for each group of students.

13.   If old enough, ask the children to use the seeds to do some simple math problems such as 3 seeds + 2 seeds = 5 seeds.   Or 5 seeds – 3 seeds = 2 seeds.

14.   You have been combining math, science, reading, writing, communicating verbally, cooperating, sharing, etc. That is what kid’s science does. It combines everything while kids use objects to help them remember.
The objects are SEEDS. We sort them by the property TEXTURE.
The objects are SEEDS. We sort them by the property TEXTURE. (smooth to rough)

You can use the same objects (seeds) in Lesson 2. You just  repeat this process in Lesson 3.  This time choose a different property.  It may be size.  It may be shape. Just keep using this procedure, reinforcing the vocabulary with “hands-on” fun until the children have learned to sort by each of the properties using the lessons above and your own.

Once they can sort by as many of these properties as possible, then give each group seeds and tell them to sort them by whatever property they want to.
When the sorting is finished, ask a reporter for each group to tell the class to name the property their group used to sort the seeds and to explain how they did it.
Activity – “Germinating Seeds”
Bean seeds work well for this activity. Soak several in water overnight to soften the seed coat.  Then lay them out on a damp cloth.  They should not touch each other. Cover them with another damp cloth and keep the cloths damp.  Put them in a warm place.
In a few days many of the bean seeds will begin to change. A tiny pair of folded green leaves will appear. A few more days and the stem will appear, then tiny roots.
The roots hold the plant in place and gather nutriends and water from the soil.
The stem delivers the water and nutrients to the leaves.

In the leaves, the plant uses the water, the soil nutrients, gases from the air and sunlight to grow and to make food.
Plants make food for themselves and for us to eat. What else eats plants?
Plant a few of the germinating seeds in soil letting the tiny leaves show above the soil.  Observe their growth. Keep them moist.
Lesson 4 – Change to a Different  Set of Objects
Leaves are really good objects to use in “Objects and Properties.” Show the children how to help you  collect different kinds of leaves. Be sure you have more than one of each kind but not too many in all. Follow the example of the seeds lessons using the leaves.
Continue with other groups of objects found in nature until the students have built good observation and communication skills. Help them learn vocabulary words such as objects, properties, organisms, ctc.
Repeat the procedure with each group of objects until the children have become very good at this. You will see growth in every skill especially observation. This knowledge and these skills will help them all their lives. The kids like to do it and they like to talk about what they do.
PLUGGING IN VARIETY AND SIMILARITY  (likenesses and differences)
As skilled observers and classifiers, the students are ready for the following questions.
1.      How are all the leaves alike? Answer: All are leaves. All can make food. All are living organisms, etc.

2.      How are the leaves different? Answer: Different shades of green, different sizes, shapes, thickness of leaves, leaf edges, etc.
Continue in this way with each group of objects until kids do it easily.  At this point they will be able to compare likenesses and differences  (Variety and Similarity)  with all living and non-living things.
This is a great time to have kids identify those little lines  which are really tiny tubes that deliver water and other needed nutrients to every part of the leaf. Use a complete garden plant to show how water and nutrients flow upward from the roots, up the stems and out to the leaves so leaves can make food. The plant also collecs needed gases from the air.  In some plants,extra food goes back down the tubes to be stored in the roots (potatoes, carrots, radishes, etc.).
This allows the leaf to interact with light from the sun and make food for the plant.  The plant makes food for us and for the animals also.
We give the plants carbon dioxide when we breathe out and the plants give us oxygen which we breathe in.  This oxygen is carried in our blood to all parts of our bodies helping change our food into energy for work and for play.

On the web page “PRACTICE SPICE ACTIVITIES” there is a neat Variety and Similarity lesson called “Feet Are Neat.”   Just click on that title on the menu of my website: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com.

 At your school, how are  feet alike?  How are feet  different?  Draw an outline around one of your feet. Your feet are the best looking feet.  How do your feet help you?  How do you take care of your feet?  Have everyone draw an outline of their feet on a long paper. Decorate them as you wish. See if you can identify which drawing matches which foot by the decorations.

My webpage  menu,“Children’s Ecology” has all of the "SPICE" concepts described. Every one of them may be taught in "The Children's Garden.".

It is now easy to take children on” SPICE Adventure Walks” in the garden and in surrounding outdoor areas.  They can remember and apply each concept taught in “SPICE” as they walk the outdoor areas and observe. I like to have them practice one concept at a time. So the first SPICE Adventure Walk would focus on finding examples of "Variety" and "Similarity."  

Everything you need to lead children in these “SPICE Adventure Walks” is on the "Children's Ecology" webpage.  Read it to the students a bit at a time then go out and do it together one concept at a time until they can do them all at once.

For example your next walk together would focus on the (P) in SPICE which stands for "PATTERNS."

The web page "Practice SPICE Activities" offers the teacher more fun activities to do with kids to help teach the SPICE concepts. 

As children use the observation and math skills you have taught them, they are then ready to conduct experiments in the garden.

Students are ready to learn how to enrich the soil by comparing plant growth of soil treated with compost, manure, blood and bone meal,  chemical fertilizer, or just the soil with no added nutrients.

Which fertilizer worksd best?

Which plant had no added nutrients?  Which plant had only compost humus added?  Which plant had bone and blood meal added?  Which plant had chemical fertilizer added?
Students can experiment to learn how "nitrogen -fixing plants" enrich the soil. They grow plants in soil which had a crop of nitrogen-fixing plants on it recently.  After harvesting these nitrogen-fixing plants, they can plant other seeds there to see if the soil was made richer by the former nitrogen- fixing crop. Ground nuts and cowpeas are both good for putting nitrogen from the air into the soil. Plants must have nitrogen to grow. African soil is poor in nitrogen.

Soil building is so important I ask all the teachers who create "The Children's Garden" to keep at least 1/4 of the garden planted in "nitrogen-fixing plants."  Remember the garden is a laboratory for learning how to enrich and how to care for the soil.
They can experiment with using less chemical fertilizer and more compost and manure to see if they can get really good results with less commercial chemical fertilizer.
On my website on the web page “The Children’s Garden” they can learn how to create a garden and how to start and maintain a “Compost Heap” to enrich the soil.
Students and teacher can take food they helped grow to market, sell it, and count the moneyThey sell food they helped grow. They make a budget of what to buy to keep the garden growing food..They save money. They choose when and what they need to buy. Be sure they get to choose seeds for a few plants that are their favorites to eat.They buy what they need. This is practical use of math skills.  They will never forget this experience. It is useful all their lives and if you include them in planning, earning, and spending their own resources, they will feel powerful.
They can learn which insects are helpful and which are harmful by observing what they do. They may get rid of the harmful ones as follows: (hand pick and put insects in the compost heap,  let chickens pick off the insects, wash plants on top and underneath the leaves with soapy water spray, hot pepper water spray, or sprinkle some ashes areound the base of the plants and A VERY LITTLE bit on some of the leaves. Ashes clog the insects breathing passages when they crawl over it.  Once insects are controlled, let the rain wash off the ashes.

Ask the children how to solve the insect problem of insects eating their plants. See what they come up with. When they are done, offer some suggestions such as those above.  This is how problem solving skills grow in the children.
You, the teacher are helping kids built "critical thinking and problem solving skills."  You are teaching them how to grow food and care for the soil.
The pages on the menu on my website are full of ideas of how to teach children’s math-science inexpensively, easily, and in high interest ways they will never forget!
My website: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com
The menu on the left side of the home page lists where you find the lessons by clicking on each one to preview it.  We invite you to copy them and file them in your teaching notebook so they are there to use as you need them.
The lessons on my website under “Part 1 – Chemistry, Part 2 -Chemistry, Part 3 – Chemistry,"  are very good to help children begin to see how change happens as common substances interact to form new and different substances. Consider water (H2O).  Water is made of the gas hydrogen and the gas oxygen.  Two gases make the liquid "water"we drink! "Amazing, isn’t it." 
Young students can do these experiments and so can you.  Making soap is one of my favorite chemistry experiments.Soap is great for kids to clean their hands with before eating and after going to the toilet to keep diseases away.

Ask the children "Why do our metal tools like our shovels rust? In this chemistry lesson children learn that rust forms when oxygen from the air interacts with soil and moisture on the tools.  We call it 'oxidation" or "rust".  The rust is actually eating up the metal! This is called a "chemical reaction."  Help the children learn to clean their metal tools after each use, to dry them. And then rub a little bit of oil or fat on them to keep the oxygen out. Keep an oily rag around for that purpose. Store them where it is dry inside the school.

Does this give you an idea of how important chemistry is for everyone?
May you have more fun and adventure than ever before as you help kids learn "how our amazing planet works!"




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