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Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Themes- Forest Fires

We have several wild fires near us at the present, so the kids have been very interested in talking about them and learning about them.  Because there isn't much available specifically on wild fires, I made this theme broader and focused on fire safety, fire trucks, the science of fire, etc.

Theme: Wild Fire

Activities:
           firefighter 3-part cards
           stop, drop, and roll
           shaving cream flames and squirt bottles
           flame painting
           birthday candle blowing-out practice
           pouring beads
           blowing pompoms
           fire science (heat, fuel, oxygen)

Other Ideas: fire truck roll and cover
                    blindfolded crawling maze
                    911 and our address
                  dancing flames on the fan
                  firefighting pretend play

Books: "Flashing Fire Engines" (doesn't show a burning house)
            "Rescue Vehicles"
            "Whose Gear is This?" (doesn't show a burning house)
            "H is for Honk" (" ")
            "I Drive a Fire Engine"
            "Firefighters"
            "Wildfires" (doesn't show a burning house)

Instead of an inside sensory bin, we took our play outside.  It's not very clear in the picture, but I sprayed the foam with red paint to make it a bit more "fire-like."  The spray bottles and hats came from the dollar store.  The bottles were in the assigned colors of the kids (pink, blue, and green), to cut down on the fighting.  The spray bottles ended up being frustrating for the kids because it didn't put out enough volume to wash the foam away.  If I ever did this activity again (especially if we weren't in a drought), I would give the kids the garden hose to use and perhaps spread the "fire"out to a few different areas as a challenge.

I tried to put the foam high on the tree so that the kids wouldn't be able to wipe it off with their hands, but that backfired.  They weren't happy about my decision and asked me to get it off the tree so they could play with it.  They were much happier with the new activity.

They used the foam to bathe themselves, to wash the car, and to squish between their fingers.  It was a great activity.  I need to remember to get our homeschooling outside more.  We have a great deck and a big (very dry) yard- I should use it!  And, the kids so enjoyed having me enter "their" world to play.

I thought a lot about the safety and practicality of this science experiment, after seeing the idea on Pinterest.  I strapped the kids into their booster seats to ensure that no one tried to dive at the flames.  I also lit the fire in another room and brought an already lit candle into the room.  During the first part of the experiment, I lit the three individual candles, and we talked about the three things that fire needs to burn.  One candle, we put out with water to show how fire needs heat to burn.  Then, we put a jar over the top of flame number two to stave it of oxygen.  This was the kids' favorite way of extinguishing fire, so we repeated it several times.  With the third flame, we let the candle burn itself out to show how fire needs fuel to burn.

The cluster of candles represents a forest fire.  I lit one candle, then leaned the "trees" into each other until they all caught on fire.  The kids loved how all the little flames combined to make a huge one.  I let them feel the heat coming off of the fire and talked with them about what to do if they see a fire, etc.  To put out our wildfire, I mixed up some fire retardant out of baking soda and vinegar.  When we poured the bubbly CO2 onto the fire, it went out.  The kids were amazed.  They asked to do the forest fire again.  It took a while for the fire to light the second time, because the candles were damp.  The "wet forest" gave us a chance to talk about wet fuel and dry fuel.  The picture above shows the second forest fire.  We put out this fire with a "fire and rescue airplane" and doused it with water.  I actually flooded the plate, which the kids thought was neat.

Then, we did the entire set of experiments a second time, with lots of predictions and predictability.

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