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Science Lessons in Changing Seasons

You like to teach your kids, ages 3 through 8, about the natural world in which they live.  Science lessons abound, and you and your family enjoy every opportunity to learn.  Here are some simple science lessons for this autumn.

*Learn about leaves.

Go on a nature hike.  Collect leaves of a variety of shapes and colors.  Paste the leaves onto separate pages.  Research the tree from which each leaf came (i.e., maple, oak, birch, etc.) and why leaves change colors.   Discuss photosynthesis.  Discuss how fallen leaves are used by our natural world during the winter and in spring.

*Learn about earth’s changing seasons.

Look at a model of our solar system.  Discuss earth’s revolution around the sun and the tilting of the earth on its axis.   Discuss how these factors create the changing of the seasons.  Discuss the balance of seasons (i.e., winter in the northern hemisphere while the southern hemisphere experiences summer) and how that affects the earth.  Ask your kids what they think would happen if this balance ceased to exist.  For example, what would happen if, all of a sudden, the entire planet experienced a winter?  Discuss that with your kids.

*Learn about animal hibernation.

Observe and record the time the sun rises and sets each day.  Discuss the diminishing plant life each autumn.  Discuss the food chain of animals.  Discuss bears and other hibernating animals and how hibernation affects their digestion, respiration, heart rate, and other biological processes.  Ask your kids how it would affect our world if humans hibernated each winter.  Discuss that with your kids.

*Learn about hot and cold air.

Discuss why warm air and cold air rise and fall.   Observe the temperature difference between the basement and the main floor of your home.  Discuss oceanic and atmospheric conditions as they relate to the rise and fall of hot and cold air.   Discuss the impact this has on weather.   Observe and record your locale’s high and low temperatures each day.  Discuss how these vary over time.  Discuss how the varying temperatures affect the plant and the life forms on it.

Other activities you may consider:

Compost leaves and other lawn waste.  Use compost appropriately when its ready.

Visit a planetarium.

Connect your kids with a digital penpal who lives in a hemisphere that is different than your own.  Have your kids and their penpal discuss the seasons, weather, and temperatures as they experience them.

Visit a national park and observe wildlife in its native habitat.  Ask a park ranger to speak about hibernation.

Take a hot air balloon ride and discuss how hot air balloons work.

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