I am a big nerd when it comes to science and I try to expose my kids to it any chance I get. Most interesting science courses and curriculum are geared towards older kids though, which is why I was really excited to learn about Be Naturally Curious. Be Naturally Curious has designed a dozen different science and nature mini-units aimed at grades K – 5.
Each mini-course starts with a story that introduces the concept being taught, which immediately caught my eye since we use reading as our main source of learning around here as much as possible. Afterwards, there are multiple activities to do with your kids to demonstrate the concept in a concrete way for them. I love that my kids can learn topics ranging from animal migration to DNA through hands on activities. They are so much more likely to remember what they’ve learned and it sparks their curiosity in a way reading a textbook never will. As an added bonus, the courses are affordable and can be used as many times as you’d like.
*Be Naturally Curious provided me with a copy of their curriculum in exchange for my review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, through which I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!*
Recently, I invited a few other moms with kids around M’s age over to work on the first unit – See With Your Ears, which explored the concept of echolocation used by dolphins and bats (among others). I was really impressed with how the mini-course made a big topic easy to understand for the kids. This particular unit would be a great topic for your little ones as we lead up to Halloween since it’s about bats!
Here’s a peak at what we did…
The mini-course begins with a cute story of bats and dolphins at school, learning what echolocation is and how it helps them survive. I printed the story off to read like a regular book but you could just read it on the computer using the PDF file to save paper if you’d prefer. It explains the process of echolocation as well as the different body parts each animal uses to “see” what is around them.
ACTIVITY 1: How Do You Hear?
The kids got to pick which animal they would prefer and got to make their own bat ears or dolphin snout. They enjoyed coloring the pieces in and got some fine motor skills practice when they cut out each piece. Once they were done, they pretending to be the animals swimming or flying around making clicking noises. There was a lot of laughing going on during this activity.
ACTIVITY 2: Echolocation Elements Game
The second activity in the mini-course was a board game for the kids to play. Since all the kids were preschool or kindergarten, they needed some help with the game. I think kids a few years old would be able to play easily on their own. The purpose of the game is to collect all the “pieces” needed for bats and/or dolphins to successfully use echolocation. Instead of playing against one another, each kid simply took turns picking game pieces to fill their board.
ACTIVITY 3: Name that sound
This was hands down the kids favorite part of the course. They each got to experience echolocation for themselves and I liked it since I prefer any activity that gets them moving around rather than sitting at a desk or table. Before starting, I asked the kids why they thought bats and dolphins had to make do without relying on their eyesight. I assumed they would correct realize that bats flew in the dark but was impressed when they also guessed that dolphins swam deep enough in the ocean that it was dark for them also.
To play, one child sat in the middle of the room with a blindfold on. The other kids then dispersed throughout the room and took turns making different noises. The child with a blindfold on had to use his/her hearing only to guess what the noise was and where it was coming from. I’m not sure which side of the activity the kids liked more, making the sounds from different parts of the room or guessing what noises were being made.
When the mini-course was over, I don’t think any of them would necessary use the terminology correctly (slightly older kids might). However, I do think they had a general understanding of how dolphins and bats used hearing for directions, safety and hunting food. I’m excited to tackle another mini-course next month!
One of the nice things about these mini-courses is they can be stand-alone resources. Each course requires very few additional materials, most of which are easily found at home. I think there are easy ways to enhance the learning as well, below are some ideas for you.
Some great books to go along with the unit are:
Bats Love the Night by Nicola Davies
Bats by Gail Gibbons
Stellaluna by Janel Cannon
Dolphins: Amazing Pictures & Fun Facts on Animals in Nature by Kay de Silva
For those who have visual learners, there are a few videos I used to help explain the concept of echolocation.