Learning about science in a whole new way

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By The Staff

It’s Friday morning in Room 2 at Little Forest Playschool as Maureen Connolly (Ms. Mo as she is known to her students) dons her lab coat.

This week’s lesson, which is part of the Quirkles series, is on Density Dan. The class of 3- through 5-year-olds sits in a circle on the floor as Ms. Mo reads the story about Density Dan.

Storytime is followed by lab time, as students experiment using fresh water, salt water and raw eggs.

“The Quirkles series is not  only a great way to teach preschoolers the alphabet, but also encourages their love of science and learning in general,” Connolly said.

“The hands-on experiments keep the kids engaged in the lesson and adds another level to the learning process.”

Connolly has been a teacher at Little Forest Playschool since fall 2007. This year, she brought her love of science into the classroom.

“Kids are naturally curious,” she explained, “so I found a way to capitalize on this curiosity and broaden our curriculum at the same time.”

Other experiments have included creating a volcano, how tornados are formed, and the effects of electricity. In addition, students are learning about gardening and composting.

 “We’re not only learning the alphabet and scientific facts, but also the importance of working together to achieve a goal,” Connolly said.

“My son loves the Quirkles,” Connie Goettee said. “He is always excited to go to school on Fridays and then wants to do the experiments again when he gets home.”

Connolly discovered the Quirkles series when browsing one of her favorite websites, www.stevespangler.com. “Steve has great videos of simple science experiments and fun stuff in his online store. I happened to come across the Quirkle series and thought it would be a great addition to my curriculum.”

The Quirkles Integrated Science and Literacy Book series published by Frog Street Press, is a series of 26 books, which enable students to learn phonics through science.

Each book emphasizes a letter of the alphabet in a story followed by a complementary science project. Some of the titles include Andy Acid, Botanist Bert and Colorful Caroline.

The school has already expanded the Quirkles program to other classes. “We started off using the program in two of the classes,” Connolly said.

Connolly and fellow teacher, Maureen Mahoney-Barraclough, plan their lesson together each week. After seeing how successful the program was, another teacher, Lyndzi Williams asked if she could come on board and use the materials in her class, as well.

Little Forest Playschool, a private, non-profit, parent cooperative preschool, offers full- and part-time classes for children who are 2- to 5- years-old. Morning and afternoon classes are available. Registration for the summer and/or 2009-2010 school year are now being accepted.

For more information about Little Forest Playschool, go to www.little           forestplayschool.com or call 662-5895.