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Delicious Classification: Vertebrates and Invertebrates

Fourth grade students learn about classifying animals into groups, and they begin by classifying the vertebrates (animals with backbones) and the invertebrates (animals with no backbones). As they study animals, fourth grade students discuss common characteristics and learn to compare animals within and across groups. An animals skeleton, or lack thereof, is one such characteristic that may be used as a classifying characteristic for a group of animals. For example, some animals, such as worms, have no bones at all. Others, such as mammals and fish, have bones on the inside of their body. And some animals wear their skeleton on the outside of their body! This is called an exoskeleton and it's one characteristic that all insects have in common. Reviewing animal characteristics with your child can go a long way in helping her to remember important science concepts and reinforce at home what she's already learning in school. Heres a fun and tasty way to help her review classifying characteristics of animals.

What You Need:


An assortment of candies and snacks: Junior Mints, gummy Lifesavers, Twizzlers, large marshmallows, frosting, shredded coconut, pretzel sticks, etc. Toothpicks Index cards, each labeled with one of the following words: vertebrates, invertebrates, worms, insects, spiders, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians 1. Begin by showing your child all the cards, and asking her which two cards she believes represent the categories (vertebrates and invertebrates). Ask her to explain to you what these two different words mean. Ask her to sort the remaining index cards as either vertebrates or invertebrates. As she sorts, ask her to explain why she placed each card in a particular category. (Vertebrates: mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians; Invertebrates: worms, spider, insects) Now the fun begins! Once she has correctly divided the cards into the two categories, have her pick just one card from the set of labeled cards. Ask her to consider the characteristics of that animal, and use any combination of the sweet ingredients to create a candy model of that animal with similar characteristics. Have her explain her creations aloud as she makes them. For example, a Junior Mint is like an insect, because it is hard on the outside (like an exoskeleton) and soft on the inside. A Twizzler is like a worm because it is bendable, with no bones or hard parts. A set of Lifesavers threaded on a Twizzler is like the backbone of a bird. A marshmallow on a toothpick, covered in frosting and rolled in coconut is like a mammal because it has bones on the inside, surrounded by flesh, and covered in fur. Continue in this manner for all of the index cards. Then let your child enjoy the fruits of her labor! The possibilities of this activity are endless!

What to Do:

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Temperature Activity
Thanks to science curriculum in previous grades, your fourth grade scientist probably feels pretty confident recording temperatures, classifying common clouds, and identifying different kinds of weather. So here's a new challenge: Record your backyard highs and lows, check them against the ones in your local paper, and then see how today's highs and lows compare with those 50 years ago. Is your town cooler, warmer, or the same over a two week period? Here's how to start exploring that question.

What You Need:


Outdoor thermometer Paper Pencil Ruler Weather section of your local newspaper Internet access Temperature Template Challenge 1 Template Challenge 2 Template 1. Every scientist needs to record data in a clear, organized manner, so help your fourth grader use a ruler and pen or pencil to create a horizontal chart. You'll need 14 rows, one each for fourteen days, and 8 columns, labeled as follows from left to right: Today's low; Today's high; Today's low in local news; Today's high in local news; High 25 years ago; Low 25 years ago; High 50 years ago; Low 50 years ago. Each day, for two weeks, help your child check the temperature outside using a Fahrenheit thermometer when she first wakes up and then in mid-afternoon, perhaps right when she gets home from school. Each morning, check yesterday's temperature recordings against those in the local paper, and write the news tallies on your chart as well. How close are you? Now you can go "back" in time, using a very modern device, of course! Using the Internet, you can see historical records of highs and lows for communities all over the United States. We especially recommend the Old Farmer's Almanac, which offers a complete, easy to use temperature-finding chart going back to 1946. Now it's time for the fun stuff: thinking about this data. Give your fourth grader a couple of colors of highlighter pens, and invite her to mark the temperatures that were lower than today, and the ones that were higher. Do this for both the temperatures you've recorded from your backyard and for those in the paper. What's the trend? This is, of course, just a first step. For some kids, it may be enough; but don't hesitate to invite your child to keep exploring. The almanac site, for example, allows multiple years of comparisons. No matter what you choose, make sure you leave some time for the most important question of all: how can we all work together to keep average temperatures from rising more?

What You Do:

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Body Collage: What's Inside?


Grade Levels:1 - 2 Excerpted fromScience Surprises!

Objectives
Students will trace their bodies and use collage material to form their organs. Students will develop communication and creative skills while learning about the human body.

Materials
Butcher paper Crayons and markers Scissors, glue Yarn, straws, fabric scraps, construction paper, buttons, cotton, magazines, and other collage materials

Directions
1. Have the children lie down on the butcher paper as you trace around their bodies. 2. Ask them to think about what they look like inside, then decorate their bodies with the crayons, markers, and collage materials. (For example, they might use the yarn as their intestines, straw for bones, cotton for brains, a picture of food for stomachs, and so forth.)

Challenges
Borrow a human model from a high-school biology class for the children to examine. Let the children go to the library and look up information of body parts. Have the children explain their body collages and how they represented the different organs in their bodies.

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