May 16, 2012

Watermelon Math

All kinds of watermelon math is coming your way today!

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Our study of plants this week begins with the humble seed.  Try an orange or a slice of watermelon for a snack.  Be sure everyone has a plate on which to discard his or her seeds.  When everyone is finished, encourage each child to count his or her seeds.

Who had the most?

Who had the least?

Did anyone have the same amount as someone else?

Count each other's plates of seeds.

Still hungry?  Try again!

The story Plant Secrets (from the Today section of this week's literacy lesson) pointed out how the sizes of seeds vary tremendously.  The same thing goes for the sizes of plants and fruits.

Let's do an experiment?  Do small seeds make small plants?  Or do large seeds make small plants?  (And vice versa.)

{Writing about this experiment and reading Plant Secrets inevitably led me to questions about the differences between fruits and vegetables, trying to remember what classified something as an angiosperm, and so on.  A good, quick -and seemingly reliable- reference is found here.}

Obtain a variety of seeds and their respective plants or fruits, as well as a plate to put each one on.  For example, put an orange seed and an orange on one plate, a sunflower seed and a sunflower on another plate, a strawberry seed and a strawberry, and so on.

Do you notice any patterns?

Try putting the plates in order from smallest seed to largest seed.  What do you notice about the plants or fruits?

Try putting the plates in order from largest seed to smallest seed.  What do you notice now?

You can adjust this experiment and manage its variables in a number of ways:
-Use only typical "vegetables" squash, zucchini, pea, carrot, onion, and their respective seeds.
-Use only typical "fruits" such as lemon, orange, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, and their respective seeds.
-Use only seeds and the grown plant without including the fruit at all.
-What to do about plants that can't fit on a plate, such as trees?  Good question!

Next Time
In honor of Peter Spit a Seed at Sue, let's play who can spit the seed the farthest.

Well, almost.

A seed spitting contest would be so much fun, but alas it is probably not the best idea I've ever had to line up 15 four or five year olds and ask them to spit a seed as far as they can across the playground!

They will plead with you, I'm sure, that they can safely spit the seeds.  Remind them that the seeds are so slippery, and what would they do if someone made them laugh and they choked on the seed by accident? It was so much fun in the story, and it may be something families choose to do at home.

After having a kindergarten student choke on a peppermint a few years ago, I think we can have just as much fun flicking seeds across the playground!  Yes, flicking.  I think we can keep it fairly harmless.

~Make a starting line with a tape measure, sidewalk chalk, and a piece of string as a straight edge.  Then measure and draw a few more lines every foot past the starting line for about ten feet.  These lines will help determine whose seed was spit the farthest.

~Each person kneels behind the starting line with a watermelon slice.  Take a bite, set the seed on the starting line, flick it as far and straight as you can out ahead.  Keep an eye out for yours!

~Judges, what do you think?  Determine the winner and play again!

~Record the distances (you can round to the closest chalk line) the seeds were flicked and by whom.  Once back inside, you can make a bar graph together displaying the results of the contest.


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