Friday, January 23, 2015

Is It Alive?

I'm not really sure where the obsession came from, but lately Erik has been asking a lot of questions about what it means to be alive or dead. I decided that it was time to talk about what "alive" is and thought that it worked great as part of our letter A theme. I got the idea for today's activity here.
We started by watching this awesome movie about the scientific way to tell if something is alive: 

And if for some reason you don't want to watch Robin Williams, then you can listen to Cookie Monster tell you the same information (in a slightly less funny way) with this video:
After discussing how to know if something is alive or dead, we practiced asking these questions ourselves. 
I took two pieces of paper and wrote "Alive" on one and "Not Alive" on the other. I chose to write "Not Alive" instead of "Dead" because those aren't quite the same thing. Something dead was once alive but is not anymore, while some things never have and never will be alive. I gathered a pile of toys to represent things that belong in both categories so that we could ask the questions mentioned in the videos to figure out how to sort them. 
It was a bit tricky for Erik, because our "alive" things really were just toys representing something living. It's a bit hard to observe things like "Does it eat? Does it breathe? Does it grow?" when all you have to observe are toys.
I ended up looking up pictures of baby animals and mature animals so he could compare and see how they grow. We talked about the noises the animals make to show that they would have to be able to breathe to make any noise. We talked about what kinds of food the animal in question would like to eat. I think he eventually understood what I was getting at, but it took some work. 
 This was a fun science discussion, and also counts as a pre-operational math activity because of the classifying element. Yay for two-in-one activities!

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