Theme: Outdoor Classroom
Objective: Children will experiment with proportions of water and dirt in changing the solids (dirt) into liquids (muddy water).
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What You Will Need
- Disposable pie tins – 3 per station
- Dirt – 4 scoops per pie tin
- Water – 1 pitcher per station
- Measuring cup – 1 per station
- Magnifying glasses – 1 per child
- Scoops or sand shovels – 1 per station
- Large plastic spoons (for mixing mud) – 1 per station
- Chart paper
- Marker – 1
What To Do
Note: Limit the number of children experimenting per station to three. This is a great activity to do outdoors.
- Begin by asking the children what happens to dirt when rain falls on it.
- Tell the children that they will be experimenting with mixing different amounts of dirt and water to make mud.
- Distribute the pie tins of dirt.
- Have the children use magnifying glasses to examine the dirt and tell about their observations (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Have the children examine water and tell about their observations.
- Display the measuring cup, and have the children predict how much water they will need to add to the soil to make mud. Write their predictions on the chart paper.
- Assist the children with measuring the water. Pour different amounts of water into each of the three tins. Do the same amounts for each station.
- Using the large spoons, have the children mix and stir the soil and water. Discuss how the soil and water are changing (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Compare the three tins of mud. Ask questions such as which one is thicker, which one is thinner, which one is harder to mix, which one would be good for making mud pies?
Guiding Student Inquiry
- Describe the dirt.
- Describe the water.
- Make predictions about the amount of water needed to make mud.
- Explain what happened to the soil when you poured the water on top of it.
- Explain what happened to the water when you mixed it with the soil.
Explore, Extend & Integrate
- Allow the children to experiment with mixing other items found in nature into their mud pie mixtures. They could collect leaves, stones, twigs, seeds, or anything else they think might make the mixture interesting. Continue asking questions regarding the texture of the mixture, which materials make the mud thicker, or which materials change the color of the mud.
- Let the children sculpt with the mud. They could make towers, houses, mud pies, or bricks. When they are finished, allow their sculptures to dry. Discuss how the mud changed.
Check for Children’s Understanding
- Could children describe the dirt and water before mixing them together?
- Could children predict the amount of water needed to make mud?
- Could children explain that the dirt got wet when the water was poured on it?
- Could children explain that the water soaked into the soil?
Did You Know?
Most children have past experiences with dirt, water, and mud. When provided with opportunities and time to explore, children can make predictions, experiment, and form theories about dirt, water, and mixing the two together. Mixtures can change depending on the amount of each ingredient added to the mix. Typically, more liquid added to a mixture makes it thinner; less liquid yields a thicker mixture. Mud can be either a liquid or a solid, depending on whether it has more soil or more water. Because mud takes the shape of the container it is poured into, it fits the definition of a liquid.
Dirt and water are found everywhere on Earth. Mud is a mixture of water with soil, dirt, clay, or any combination of the three. Mud forms near water sources or after a rain. Mud has been used for centuries to make bricks, called adobe, for constructing buildings. Sometimes grasses, such as straw, are added to the mud to make the bricks stronger. Mud also provides homes for many animals, including worms, frogs, snails, and clams.
- dirt – loose earth or soil.
- water – the clear liquid that is in rain.
- predict – to say ahead of time that something will happen.
- change – to make something different.
- mud – wet earth that has turned soft.
- mix – to put different things together so they become something else.
- Place an adult at each station to monitor amounts of water.
- The children should wear smocks; this is a fun, but messy, experiment.
- Notify parents in advance that the children will be experimenting with mud, so the parents can be sure to dress their children appropriately for the activity.
- Mud by Mary Lyn Ray
- Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch
- A Mud Pie for Mother by Scott Beck
- One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
- Stuck in the Mud by Jane Clarke
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Common Core State
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
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There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.