In the week leading up to the fourth of July I planned a lesson for the kids that was entirely taught through the making and use of play dough.
I wanted to combine a history lesson about the fourth of July, chemistry, math, art, and motor skill learning, because hey I thought of a plan that would do all these things so why not! :-) I crafted an activity that both teaches and is hands on fun for the kids.
So I set out to look for some good fourth of July activities to do with kids and kept coming upon goo and gak ideas. This sparked my thinking a bit and I thought, what a great way to add chemistry to our day.
I started thinking about it some more and decided I really wanted the kids to be able to make some flags and so play dough would probably be a great way to combine chemistry and sculpting for the kids.
Once I had this plan I decided to add taking about what chemistry is, and the different forms of matter. We talked about example of these things (solid, liquid, gas, and there is also plasma and another, but we stuck to the three basic ones). After discussing matter, we set out to do our own chemistry by making quick and easy play dough.
With our play dough finished we first made little beakers out of the play dough and put an initial over the top of each standing for either liquid, solid, or gas. Then I asked my oldest to fill the breaker up with play dough molecules as they would be if they were in their various states.
For the gas the molecules will be far apart, for the liquid they will be closer together, and for the solids they will be even closer.
After this we made three dimensional (8 year old) or two dimensional (5 year old) shapes with the play dough to practice our geometry skills.
Next we worked on making an American flag out of our play dough as well as fire works. I talked with the kids about when the fourth of July started and why we celebrate it. I am not convinced they picked much up for this, but that is why we repeat things over and over in new lessons and another year, right?
We still have a few days left until the fourth and so I checked out a few books with more about it and May plan some more activities about this United States holiday.