Bear Patterning

An important part of our S.T.E.M. curriculum at CEFA Early Learning schools is working with patterns. Understanding patterns is a foundational math skill.

Best Ages for This Activity

Three to five

How to Make It

You Will Need

Optional

Let’s Get Started

  • Print one copy of the here on cardstock paper
  • Cut the last row of animals (the ones with the dotted line around them) from your printed game, like this:

  • Invite your child to complete the patterns on the sheet, using the four little animals you cut. If your child has difficulty, you can help by asking them to tell you what they see, then what comes next, and what comes next, etc. until they understand the pattern.

Learning Opportunities

Children will learn S.T.E.M., especially in the area of mathematics. In this game, the greatest learning opportunities are in reasoning, comparison and prediction. As always, the use of mathematical vocabulary greatly enriches these activities.

This activity also encourages your child to focus and stay on one task (increases attention span) which contributes to your child’s social and emotional development.

CEFA Tip: Although patterning can be a great activity for your child to do alone (once the concept is clear), remember that at this age, children must always be supervised.

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How to Make Glow in the Dark Sensory Bags

Sensory bags are a favourite in our CEFA Early Learning school classrooms, and if you try making them at home, you will understand why. They provide hours of mess-free entertainment for babies and are great fun for older children as well. If you and your child made our glow in the dark sidewalk chalk, you will be able to use the same paint for this activity. These glow in the dark sensory bags are so mesmerizing to watch, they look like tiny flat lava lamps. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Best Ages for This Activity

Zero to three

How to Make It

Ingredients
This is per sensory bag. If you want to make more than one bag so you have different colours, just adjust the quantities.

  • 1 sandwich size ziploc bag (I like the freezer bags as they are a little thicker and can withstand more loving touches) – check to make sure it does not leak first
  • ¾ cup baby oil (you can use any oil, even cooking oil. I like this one because it is transparent)
  • Clear packaging tape
  • 2 tbsp fluorescent paint or glow in the dark paint (this one does not need a black light to activate, just light)
  • 2 tbsp very hot water

Optional Ingredients

Let’s Get Started!

  • If you wish, you can prepare the bags beforehand and give them to baby once they are done, to play with. If you have an older child, they can help you prepare the bags with you for their little sibling, or for them to play with.
  • Check that you Ziploc bag has no leaks by first filling it with water, closing it, and making sure no water leaks out. Then empty the bag and dry it on the inside.
  • Fill 1/3 of the bag with baby oil.
  • In a cup, mix 2 tbsp of paint with 2 tbsp very hot water. When it is well mixed, add to the Ziploc bag. You can adjust the amount of paint or oil to your liking.
  • Take all the air out of the Ziploc bag and seal the bag hermetically.
  • once sealed, tape the opening with clear plastic tape for extra protection.
  • Voilà!
  • If you use glow in the dark paint, you would have to expose the bag to light before it can glow in the dark (daylight is perfect). The more light it absorbs, the more it will glow. If you use fluorescent paint, you will need a black light. You can also use the black light on glow in the dark bags, to make them pop even more.
  • If you have a black light, you won’t need to expose the bag to light, you can just shine the black light on it and watch how beautifully it glows.

Learning Opportunities

Learning to make play materials is a great life skill. Your child will feel great pride, and it boosts their self-esteem. Children will learn S.T.E.M. while measuring, combining, mixing, counting, dissolving, etc. This recipe also has a great amount of hand-eye coordination skills, and of fine motor skills, a precursor to writing. following directions also teaches reading and S.T.EM.. If your bag is for your young baby, the learning benefits are in the sensory experience, which is importance for science and for writing.

Extended Learning Opportunities
Tape your sensory bag to a window or to a wall for your child to play with it in a different way!

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How to Make Glow In the Dark Sidewalk Chalk

Drawing with sidewalk chalk in the summer was always something my sons really enjoyed. I once bought glow in the dark and soon we had the all the children in the neighborhood working on a glowing masterpiece on our driveway! Little did I know back then that you could actually make it at home! Making it is a great activity in itself as it will teach your child to make their own toys, as well as science, math and reading. I encourage you to try it at home! It is easy to make and it is something we don’t get to do with our students at CEFA Early Learning schools, since they don’t get to use it afterwards (they go home before it is dark enough outside to watch it glow).

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to five

How to Make It

Ingredients
This is per color of chalk you want to make

Optional Ingredients

Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to make sidewalk chalk that can glow in the dark
  • Make sure that your child does as much as the process below as they can
  • In a container (1 container for each paint color), mix the water and paint until the paint is fully dissolved into the water.
  • Add 1 cup of plaster of paris to each container and mix thoroughly
  • Pour the paint into ice cube trays or silicone molds and wait for it to dry (about 10 hours).
  • Once dry, pop the cubes of chalk paint from the ice cube trays
  • Voilà! It is ready for your child to start working on their masterpiece outside and wait until nighttime to see it glow beautifully!
  • You would have to expose the chalk to light before it can glow in the dark (daylight is perfect!). The more light it absorbs, the more it will glow. You can also use the chalk on paper or cardboard and go inside a dark room or closet to see it glow!
  • If you have a black light, you won’t need to expose your child’s masterpiece to light, you can just shine the black light on it and watch how beautifully it glows!

Learning Opportunities

Learning to make play materials is a great life skill. Your child will feel great pride, and it boosts their self-esteem. Children will learn S.T.E.M. while measuring, combining, mixing, counting, dissolving, etc. This recipe also has a great amount of hand-eye coordination skills, and of fine motor skills, a precursor to writing. following directions also teaches reading and S.T.E.M..

Extended Learning Opportunities
Use your sidewalk chalk to paint your driveway, the sidewalk, a fence in the backyard, the trampoline, or make 3D art by using boxes of all sizes to draw on! Try making the workspace wet before your child draws and watch the chalk smoothly cover the surface and produce an even more vibrant art piece!

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Exploding Bag Science Experiment

This is a fun science experiment to try outside now that the weather is nice. Warning: it is loud and messy! Don’t feel like going outside? You can always try it in the bathtub or in the shower. It is part of our science summer camp at CEFA Early Learning schools and one of the children’s favourite. They learn about chemical reactions, as well as pressure and gas.

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to five

How to Make It

Ingredients

  • A sealable sandwich bag
  • A square of paper towel
  • 1½ tablespoons of baking soda
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ¼ cup of warm water
  • A measuring cup
  • A measuring spoon

Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to try a science experiment
  • Explain that for the science experiment, you will need a Ziploc bag that does not leak once it is sealed. For that, you may have to test a few sealable sandwich bags to make sure they are completely leak-proof (this is important for the experiment). Your child can test the bags by pouring water into the bag until it is about half full, sealing it, turning it upside down and shaking it to make sure it does not leak. One you have your bag, empty the water from it and set it aside while you find the other ingredients.
  • Find a square of paper towel of about 12cm. Once you have it, lay it flat and place the baking soda in the centre of it. Encourage your child to use a measuring spoon to ensure it is the right amount of baking soda. This will also teach your child math, especially fractions, so don’t skip this step.
  • Once the baking soda is on the paper towel, invite your child to fold the paper towel so it makes a tiny “package” and contains the baking soda in it. This will be your time-released explosive, so cover it well with the paper towel:

  • Invite your child to use a measuring cup to measure the vinegar, then pour it inside the Ziploc bag (you can hold the bag so it is easier).
  • With the same measuring cup, your child can measure the warm water, then pour it inside the same Ziploc bag while you keep holding it. If you wish, you can add a few drops of food colouring (then make sure you do the experiment outside so you don’t stain clothes or furniture).
  • Take your paper towel and Ziploc bag outside on a grassy area, or where you decided to try the experiment (keep in mind it will explode, so it can get messy), Once you found the perfect spot, move on to the last step:
  • This step will need to be executed swiftly by your child, and may require your help, depending on your child’s age: your child will need to drop the paper towel packet containing the baking soda inside the bag, and seal it hermetically. This is where you may need to help to ensure that the bag is completely sealed (otherwise, the experiment will not work). Once the bag is sealed, your child can shale it a little, put it on the ground and take a few steps bag.
  • All you need to do now is observe. You will see the paper towel start to dissolve inside the bag, and the bag start to inflate until it explodes with a loud bang!

  • You can try the experiment again using a new bag and the same steps and ingredients. This time, try using the scientific method:

  • Questions you can ask:
    • How long does it take for the bag to blow up from the time you put it down on the ground? (measure the time using a timer)
    • Would the bag explode faster or slower if we do not shake it before we put it down? How much faster/slower?
    • Would it explode faster or slower if we add more vinegar?
    • Would it explode faster or slower if we add more warm water?
    • Would it explode faster or slower if we add more baking soda?
    • Would it explode faster or slower if we use a bigger bag?
    • Would it explode faster or slower if we use toilet paper instead of paper towel?
    • What happens if we do not seal the bag?
    • How far did the explosion go? (this is easy to measure if you add food colouring to your bag and then use a measuring tape to measure how far the liquid went on the pavement)
    • Why did the bag explode?
    • Why did it not explode right away?
  • Once you have posed, answered and tested all of your questions, you can explain what actually happened inside that bag to your child.

Here is what happens in this experiment: Once the paper towel gets soaked with the liquid mixture, the baking soda (a base) starts to react with the vinegar (an acid). This sets a chemical reaction called an acid-base reaction. The acid-base reaction makes carbon dioxide gas, which needs more space than the sandwich bag can accommodate. The gas keeps filling the bag until there is no more room, at which point… POP! It explodes – loudly and visibly.

Learning Opportunities

This is a thrilling S.T.E.M. activity where your child can see a chemical reaction as it happens. For better science learning, follow the steps of your scientific method with your child. Make sure you use as much math vocabulary as you can (for example, measure time, measure distance, use words like faster/slower, etc.) and use as many opportunities as you can to measure, count and compare.

CEFA tip: Remember to let your child do as much of the process as they are capable of.

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Sorting with Straws

At our CEFA Early Learning schools, we teach children attributes as part of our S.T.E.M. program, and one of the ways we do it is using all types of sorting games. Each type will teach our students to sort using different attributes.

Sorting is a foundational math skill and is very important to learn, as it helps children describe things and then compare, using attributes (like color, size, shape, etc.). We use sorting games all year long, and in every grade. They get more and more complex as children gain sorting skills, and are more descriptive in their attributes.

These games help our students sort, classify and order objects by size, shape, color and other attributes. Sorting games are great as activities that your child can play on their own, and can be made with practically anything around the house.

This activity was made as a follow-up to practicing scissor skills with straws since you would be left with a lot of straws that can be sorted according to many attributes – read on!

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to five (just adjust the level of complexity).

How to Make It

Ingredients

  • Colorful straws, cut into pieces. Or use the leftover straws from this activity.
  • Transparent containers (can be cups) to sort the straws into

Let’s Get Started!

  • Put all objects to be sorted in a container or tray.
  • Provide a muffin tin, glasses or plastic cups, etc. for your child to begin sorting.
  • Invite your child to sort the straws. If your child is very little and just beginning to sort, you can ask “what goes together?”
  • Begin with two or three colors if your child is very young and add complexity as your child gains skills. Below are some examples of how you can sort the straws:

  • Try sorting by color:
  • Try sorting by length

You can do this either:

  • By estimating the length of the straw, if your child is just starting (for example, affix (with tape) a few straws of various lengths, starting from shortest to longest, to the table, then encourage your child to find out where the loose straws belong. They can do this by comparing the loose straw to each straw on the table until they find one of the same length.

  • By measuring the straw with a ruler and sorting it onto cups that show those measurements. For example, a cup for 1 centimetre straws, one for 2 centimetre straws, another for 3 centimetre straws, etc. This is more complex but will teach your child to measure.

If you child is finding it difficult, try the next activity:

  • By comparing the straws they need to sort to lines on a long piece of paper reading the measurements. For this, you will need to (with your child) take a ruler and measure 1 cm. you then draw a line on the paper that is 1cm long (so, using the ruler, draw a line from 0 to 1cm). Leave some distance (so your child can place the straws where the line is) and draw a second line measuring 2cm, then a third measuring 3cm and so on and so forth until you have a line as long as your longest straw. Your child can compare the loose straws to each line and find the right line. To make it more complex, you can indicate at the bottom of each line how long it is (for example, the 1cm line will say 1cm below it. The 2cm line will say 2cm, etc.)

  • Try sorting by texture (for example, paper straws and plastic straws):
  • Try sorting by functionality (for example, straws that bend and straws that don’t bend; straws that are recyclable versus straws that aren’t; straws that are washable versus straws that aren’t)

  • Try sorting according to the pattern on the straw:

  • Try sorting by width of the straw (if you use straws of different widths):

Learning Opportunities

Children will learn S.T.E.M., especially in the area of mathematics. While you play with your child, encourage your child to describe why they are sorting the objects in that specific manner (example, by color, by type, etc.). You can also invite your child to sort using different attributes during play.

In this game, the greatest learning opportunities are in reasoning (which objects go where and why) and use of mathematical vocabulary.

This activity also encourages your child to focus and stay on one task (increases attention span) which contributes to your child’s social and emotional development.

CEFA tip: Although sorting is a great activity for your child to do alone, make sure you always supervise.

Books Your Child Might Like

 In order to truly understand these concepts, it is always best for your children to have as many hands-on activities and manipulatives as possible. For sorting, an activity that they can touch, feel and play with is so much better than a worksheet or book. If your child really has a passion for sorting, however, or if you need an activity that is educational but does not require as much supervision, then books and workbooks can be fun! Plus, it really depends on your child. Some children love working on workbooks (I was one of them) and can find them entertaining for hours on end, while others prefer real objects. Whatever your child’s preference may be, make sure you always provide manipulatives (rather than only workbooks or activities on paper). Trust me on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

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Straws and Play Dough Sculptures and Play

This activity can provide hours of fun and independent play. If you’ve tried practicing scissor skills with straw, this is the perfect follow-up activity! It is a great way for your child to create sculptures, art pieces and use them during dramatic play too!

Best Ages for This Activity

Eight months to five years

How to Make It

Ingredients

  • Colourful straws, cut into pieces
  • Colourful play dough – you can make your own using my fail-proof, simple recipe.

Let’s Get Started!

  • Set up the materials neatly
  • Invite your child to make sculptures using straws and play dough
  • Try making people, animals, robots or imaginary creatures – there is no limit to what your child can imagine making:

  • Try making shapes:

  • Try making letters (lowercase only please)

  • Try a colourful 3D sculpture similar to these ones:

  • Try building structures:

  • Try stamping:

  • Try making balls with the play dough then making lollipops:

  • Try adding other materials:

Learning Opportunities

Children will practice their fine motor skills and creativity with this play opportunity, and create art with elements other than paper and color. If they make shapes or structures, they are learning S.T.E.M. and if they make letters they are learning literacy. This open-ended activity is good for creative play, reasoning and independent play. If they create creatures to later play with, it is a wonderful opportunity for dramatic play.
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Practicing Scissor Skills with Straws

This activity is a favourite at our CEFA Early Learning schools! I will soon post a follow-up activity to this one, which involves play dough. So don’t throw out the little pieces of straw from this activity so you can use them again. This is an inexpensive and fun way for your child to practice scissor skills, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It seems so simple (and it is) but it is perfect for practicing these essential and sensory skills for your little one.

Best Ages for This Activity

One to five (as soon as your child can hold scissors).

How to Make It

Ingredients

  • Colourful straws
  • A pair of child-safe scissors
  • Any bowl or container (where the cut straws can fall in) – we use a sensory bin (see below)

Optional Ingredients

  • A sensory bin (to put the straws and scissors in). Use anything you might already have at home. I like the ones with lids because they are easy to store and put away when you need (under the bed is the perfect place!). We use these bins for so many different sensory activities in the classrooms, and when my children were little, I always had one in their room that I changed every week or two. Now that they are 18 and 20 years old, that poor bin retired and found its way to one of our CEFA Early Learning schools. If you don’t have something to use around the house, you can purchase one here.

Let’s Get Started!

  • Set up the materials neatly (straws, scissors and container)
  • Invite your child to cut straws
  • If your child is very young, demonstrate how to use scissors safely.

Learning Opportunities

Children will learn math while cutting the straws. Enrich the learning experience by using math vocabulary during play, such as:

  • Colours
  • Width
  • Length
  • Thicker / thinner (if you have different straws)
  • Divide
  • How many
  • How much
  • Counting
  • Sorting (during play, if applicable)

They will also learn scissor skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, all important to learn writing. They will also be an opportunity for sensory learning (you can fill the sensory bin with cut straws for a great sensory bin which we can enrich over several days (more activities to come).

Extended Learning Opportunities

In the next few weeks, I will add activities you can work on with your new mini straws. Stay tuned!

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Animal Patterning

An important part of our S.T.E.M. curriculum at CEFA Early Learning schools is working with patterns. Understanding patterns is a foundational math skill.

Best Ages for This Activity

Three to five

How to Make It

You Will Need

  • A colour printer
  • Cardstock paper
  • Scissors
  • The free printable game I made for you: print me

Optional

Let’s Get Started

  • Print one copy of the game on cardstock paper
  • Cut the last row of animals (the ones with the dotted line around them) from your printed game, like this:
  • Invite your child to complete the patterns on the sheet, using the four little animals you cut. If your child has difficulty, you can help by asking them to tell you what they see, then what comes next, and what comes next, etc. until they understand the pattern.

Learning Opportunities

Children will learn S.T.E.M., especially in the area of mathematics. In this game, the greatest learning opportunities are in reasoning, comparison and prediction. As always, the use of mathematical vocabulary greatly enriches these activities.

This activity also encourages your child to focus and stay on one task (increases attention span) which contributes to your child’s social and emotional development.

CEFA tip: Although patterning can be a great activity for your child to do alone (once the concept is clear), remember that at this age, children must always be supervised.

Books Your Child Might Like


 

 

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Bottle Cap Magnetic Alphabet

This is one of our favourite alphabet activities at our CEFA Early Learning schools and I am sure it will provide hours of fun for your child at home too!

This printable game has two pages for you to cut out and glue on the inside of bottle caps. You don’t necessarily need the bottle caps either, you can just laminate the tiny circles and add a magnet to each one, but the bottle caps make it easier to manipulate I find. This game is very versatile and offers many learning opportunities:

  • You can prepare just the first page (the one shown) and put it on your fridge for your child to practice the phonetic sounds of the letters; learn to place the letters in alphabetical order; learn the names of the animals and the sound that each letter makes.
  • You can prepare both pages and also put them on the fridge for your child to match the letters to their phonetic letter bottle caps
  • You can prepare just the second page (with letters only) and add it to your fridge (since it is magnetic) so your child can build words (you might need to print more than one of each letter). This will tremendously help your child learn to read (building words).

Once your child has all 52 bottle caps (phonetic ones and plain letter ones) they can play all the games mentioned above right on your fridge while you prepare dinner. This will provide them with an activity they can do on their own.

This activity is used at our CEFA Early Learning schools for our 2, 3 and 4 year old children (Junior Kindergarten One, Two and Three), so they have plenty of practice with alphabet letters at first, then start using the letters to build words.

If your child is not attending our schools (or if they are but like playing with this game) and you would like to try this game at home, make sure you supervise closely as the bottle caps can be a choking hazard. If you prefer, simply print the game on cardstock and use the letters without the bottle caps. I much prefer the bottle cap version (and so will your child) but you must supervise.

You can download the game here. I use water bottle caps, but you can use any caps you like.

If you are playing with your child, you can sing the alphabet song as you place the letters, or you can use the phonetic sound of the letters to refer to them: ah, b, k, d) rather than their names. This will teach your child to read sooner. Once your child can read, you can use the letters’ names (ay, bee, see, dee). Have fun!

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to Five

How to Make It

What You Will Need

  • Paper
  • A colour printer
  • 52 bottle caps (start saving them from your water bottles!)
  • 52 small (but strong) magnets
  • Super glue (to stick the magnets to the outside of the bottle caps)
  • Regular glue (to stick the images to the inside of the bottle caps)

Or:

  • Cardstock (if you don’t want to use bottle caps)
  • A colour printer
  • A laminator to laminate the game and the letters (to make them more sturdy – you don’t have to. We do at our schools so the game can be used over and over again)
  • 52 small (but strong) magnets
  • Super glue (to stick the magnets to the laminated letters)

Let’s Get Started!

  • Print the activity in colour if possible (here is my free printable):
  • Cut all the circles on both pages
  • Glue the image to the inside of a bottle cap, and the magnet on the outside of the bottle cap. Here is an example:

  • This example shows metal bottle caps, which you can use if you prefer. We use plastic ones from water bottles.
  • Once they are dry, put all the bottle caps on your fridge door, and invite your child to play. If your fridge is not magnetic, use a large baking tray We use these all the time at our schools. You can even attach them to your child’s wall in the bedroom and rotate the magnetic games you display from time to time. My sons had one and they loved playing with it!
  • Invite your child to play with the letters:
    • Which sound does each letter make?
    • Can you match the letter to its letter sound? (this should be easy as both have the letter on them)
    • What words can you make with these letters? Dad? Mom? Baby? (make sure you have enough letters)
    • Let’s write something together!
  • Once they are engaged in the activity, leave them to work on their own but supervise to make sure they don’t put a bottle cap in their mouth. If you used your fridge as a board, then you can use the time to cook. Just make sure you supervise as the bottle caps are great to play with but may be a choking hazard.

Learning Opportunities

This activity will give your child literacy skills: they will learn fine motor skills as they manipulate the bottle caps and place them carefully side by side. This is harder than it looks for a young child. It also teaches them reading skills as they identify the letter and/or the sound it makes. Once they start forming words, it is an excellent reading and writing activity.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Invite the child to place the letters in order from a to z on the fridge.
  • Find out which letters are in your child’s name
  • See which letters are in your name, in their siblings’ names, etc.
  • Use the bottle caps to spell your child’s name
  • Use the bottle caps to write simple words like mom or dad or bib (you will need to make more bottle caps, so you have more than one of each letter)

 

 

 

 

 

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S.T.E.M. Challenge: Building A Solar Oven

This is a great summer S.T.E.M. project that we do at CEFA Early Learning schools every year as part of our engineering program. It is quite easy for you to do at home with your child, it requires very few materials and it really works! Once you have built your solar oven, you can cook s’mores or even pizza inside it, and your child will feel the satisfaction of having built something useful all by themselves.

Here you will find a simplified version of the S.T.E.M. challenge we present at our CEFA Early Learning schools, which involves more steps, more collaboration between children and working as a group, more reasoning, trial and error and planning.

Best Ages for This Activity

Three to five

How to Make It

You Will Need

  • A pizza box or other similar box
  • Aluminium foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • One sheet of black paper (construction paper is fine)
  • A wooden skewer or any stick (to prop the box open)
  • Tape
  • An x-acto knife (a paring knife works too)
  • S’mores ingredients (graham crackers, one Hershey’s Bar or other chocolate and marshmallows)

Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to build an oven that can cook food using the energy of the sun
  • As we will be using solar power, it is a great opportunity to talk about the Earth, and about conservation and wise use of energy resources. Your child can learn more about the energy of the sun in the video below:

  • The concepts may be a little complex, but you can pause and explain as needed and depending on the interest level of your child. This can be done before or after the activity (even a few days after).
  • Apply the engineering design process:

  • Ask: How can we design a container that will use the energy of the sun to heat food?
  • Research: How do ovens work? How would a solar oven work? (A solar oven works by absorbing more energy than it dissipates) How could we capture the energy of the sun?
  • Imagine: Figure out a prototype – a way to build an oven that you think will work (here you can look at all the materials to use: the box will be the “oven”, the black paper is placed beneath to absorb heat, the aluminium foil is placed on top to reflect the sunlight into into the box, and the plastic wrap is to enclose the oven (once the food is in) so it keeps the heat in but lets the sunlight pass through.
  • Plan: How could you build that oven? You can draw your prototype if you wish, or work with the materials to create a plan

  • Create: Build your solar oven.
  • Test: Try your oven by cooking s’mores or a mini pizza in it, to see if it works!

Here are some instructions for building your solar oven:

  • Cut the lid of your pizza box as shown in this picture:

  • Cover the bottom of the box with black paper (this will retain the heat):

  • Cover the lid of the box with plastic wrap and the top with aluminium foil as shown in this picture:

  • Now you can try your solar oven. Prepare your s’mores and put them inside your new solar oven (this may take 1 hour so get your timers ready for you children to measure time. Also add a thermometer inside the oven so they can see the temperature rise and measure that too – all great for math skills). Leave the aluminium-covered lid propped up (use the stick for this) so it works by reflecting the solar energy into your oven (see pictures below):

 

Learning Opportunities

This is a fun S.T.E.M. activity where your child can learn engineering (building and testing a functioning oven), math (measuring temperature, measuring time, geometry while cutting the box to specific measurements, angling the lid, etc.), technology (working with chronometers, working with tools, etc.) and science (especially melting marshmallows and chocolate, and cooking whatever else you decide to cook with your new oven). Following instructions will also teach them math and reading. Using solar energy will teach them about the environment and the Earth, as well as spend time outdoors.

Use as much math language as possible, introducing words like fast; slow; faster/slower than; hot/hotter, warm/warmer, cold/cool, etc.; high, low; higher/lower than; numbers; height; temperature; centimeters; millimeters; angle; measurement; etc.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Invite your child to modify their oven and test it to see what works faster and what works slower. For example, try covering the entire box in aluminium foil to see if it works better than black paper at the bottom, or try not covering the top with plastic wrap and seeing what difference it makes. You have two ways to compare results: through measuring temperature and through measuring time to cook. You can even make several ovens at once so you can compare them beside each-other.
  • Try cooking different foods like pizza, or cookie dough.

CEFA tip: Remember to wait long enough for your child to “figure out” what is happening, or how building it this way and that might yield better results. They will learn much more and understand it much better than if you rush in to explain the concepts to them.  Give sufficient time for them to explore the materials without your involvement after each experiment. Don’t intervene if they use the materials in a different way, or if in the middle of the experiment they feel like doing something else entirely with the oven (they might decide melting a crayon is more fun). It is all part of the learning experience. Just come back to the experiment when they are ready.

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