“Grow Your Own” Graphing Activity: Our Spooky Skeleton Graph

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A $1 grow your own skeleton, our October Body Unit, some chart paper, and a couple of makers made for a weeks worth of morning math and science learning. Oh, and a magical end of week skeleton surprise.

Graphing of one kind or another is a common fixture of the circle time routine in many preschool classrooms. Our three person classroom had been graphing the weather, but a wild little brother put an end to that by ripping down as many posters as he could before I could stop him. Instead of mourning our lost weather chart I took the opportunity to explore the other ways I could integrate math and scienc.

Materials:
A “grow your own” toy– You know, the things you put in water and they grow. We used a skeleton, but you could just as easily use an animal, person, or whatever. Wish We’d Bought One of These Bigger Ones
A large bowl of water in a place the kids can’t easily get to and mess with in between measurements
Chart paper
Markers

Objective:
Child will be able identify and name basic body parts (head, neck, ribs, arms, legs, skull, hips, legs, feet)
Child will be able to recognize and record change over time
Child will compare objects by size
Child will be able to make logical predictions

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

Lesson:
Intro: Make a really big deal about the baby skeleton  (or whatever you use) and explain that you’re going to help it grow the same way that we grow up from babies, to big kids, and eventually to grown ups. I started talking it up the night before we  revealed the baby.

Graphing: Ask if they have any ideas about how to keep track of how big the baby is growing. Suggest that a graph might help and explain a graph as you draw it and label it on your chart paper. Graph the baby before putting it into water and then each subsequent day for a week (it could be any length of time, but this made sense for us).

Discussion: Each day encourage your little one to observe the changes in the object. I made a point to let him hold the skeleton up on the chart, but really encouraged precision when measuring.

A Surprise: After the 7th day I had Maxwell put the grown up skeleton into a “magic cauldron”-a bucket-and he said some magic words and over night the skeleton grew and grew and grew into a magic Halloween skeleton. Icing. On. The. Cake.

Variations and Extensions:
-Change the object you grow.
-Measure using a ruler,  or other unit of measure
-Growing actual seeds is a great next step from this project and has countless take aways
-We noted changes to the skeleton’s environment as well. Like when we added hot water to simulate growth.
-Simplify to only two days of growth
-Include songs before each measurement.
We sang:
Them bones, them bones,
Them dry bones!
Them bones, them bones,
Them dry bones!
Doing the skeleton  GRAPH!

The head bones connected to the neck bone…
And so on.

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