After our usual "stretching" of the mind routine the children were anxious about the activity I had laid out; how would it deepen our exploration of cold? They couldn't contain their excitement and started shouting out.
"What is the ice for?" blurted out W. "What is the yellow stuff in the bag?" asked M. "Why is there ice?" asked A. "What is that yellow stuff for?", they all seemed to ask.
Instead of answering all of their questions at once I said, "we are going to do an experiment and all of your questions will get answered as soon as we get started. First off all this has to do with cold!" The conversation then started as we went around the circle with raised hands. Each child expressed their own interest and thoughts on cold. As I connected all these thoughts back to our bodies I asked, "what would it be like if we lived outside and not in houses?".
"Cold" said C. "Frozen"said W. "Like an Ice cube" said M.
It sounds like everyone is saying we would be really cold I replied. I asked if anyone else had any questions about cold. "Can we live in the cold?" asked M. That is exactly what we are going to talk about. How do animals live in the winter? Do they survive outside and what is hibernation? We are going to find all this out in the experiment.
We discussed that the ice water in the bowl represented a really cold place and the yellow bag what keeps us warm. Then the group hushed as we invited children to come up and test how long they could put their hands in the ice water. Each child exictedly came up and we counted together how long they could stand the cold. The most we got was 17 seconds. We talked about how it felt and if anyone liked it.
I then asked if we cold put our hands in the ice for longer. We came up one-by-one and put our hands first in plasic bags and then put our hands in the yellow bag (chicken fat). When we submerged our hands this time the surprise grew. Everyone was able to keep their hands in the water for much longer. Up to 30 seconds! As we discovered what the yellow liquid did we connected it back to animals. We pointed out as a group that fat keep you warm and animals have more fat in the winter.
"Animals stay warm because they have fat" said M.
This group was unusual but highly rewarding as all the children felt they were really a part of the experiment.