Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Microscopic Marvels

Endless Questions

It must be a marvelous thing to learn as a preschooler. It certainly is a marvelous thing to watch a preschooler learn. Lately we've been talking a lot about germs...'tis the season. And the idea of creatures that are so small that you cannot see them provides for endless questions.

What do they look like? What do they do? Should I be scared?


Sometimes I'm able to recall my high school biology lessons...enough to satisfy my children and their inquiring minds. But sometimes we like to learn more, dive deeper. And thanks to the advent of the genre of creative nonfiction, we are able to find lots and lots of satisfying answers.

First We Research

We find those answers in books, videos, and music.


We have two favorite books that teach us about microscopic marvels:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies illustrated by Emily Sutton

All around the world—in the sea, in the soil, in the air, and in your body—there are living things so tiny that millions could fit on an ant’s antenna. They’re busy doing all sorts of things, from giving you a cold and making yogurt to eroding mountains and helping to make the air we breathe.

See Inside Your Body

Follow your food as it travels through your body. Take a deep breath and explore your lungs. Let your mind boggle at what your brain can do. This exciting book, packed with lively illustrations and fascinating flaps, is bursting to reveal your body's amazing secrets.


Thanks to Netflix, we can stream Magic School Bus.

Scholastic's "The Magic School Bus" follows Ms. Frizzle and her class as they set off on field trips. Based on the best-selling book series of the same name, "The Magic School Bus" takes kids on a virtual bus ride. Magically transforming into a plane, submarine, spaceship or surfboard, this bus carries Ms. Frizzle and her students on super adventures and teaches them about science.
There are at least half a dozen shows about microscopic things. I'll list the ones that coordinate with the books and other resources we use:

Season 1 Episode Six - "Meet the Rot Squad"
Season 2 Episode Seven - "In a Pickle"
Season 4 Episodes One, Six - "Meet Molly Cule" and "Goes Cellular"


The Opera of Giardi takes an upclose look at one microbe, Giardia, where it lives, what will happen if you ingest it, and how to stay safe when you're playing and learning outdoors.

Then We Elaborate through Play

My children love to impersonate TV/book personalities and animals. Sometimes they pretend to be Ms. Frizzle and members of her gang to go on an adventure. Other times the impersonate Jeff and Paige impersonating scientists. Sometimes microbes, and their study, are imaginary. Other times a simple toy enhances their play and their learning.

In learning about microscopic marvels, two toys have proven invaluable for making it real - a microscope and a stuffed microbe.

My son is very discriminating and wants his tools to perform like "real" tools. So this microscope didn't appeal to him. HOWEVER< my daughter is more flexible when it comes to this sort of thing and is satisfied with its child-appropriate function.

Stuffed Giardia
Yes. There are stuffed microbes. In fact, Giant Microbes is a whole business dedicated to creating such silly and wonderful toys. Our stuffed giardia are beloved creatures. (My daughter is making hers a wardrobe.) And, if I would let them, my children would own every single toy from anthrax to varicella-zoster virus.

Through the Eyes of a Child

This is what we do to learn alongside our kids. We begin to see things through their eyes. With my own children, I have learned to think in pictures, to look up close, to see circles in rectangles, to see calculus, approximation and logic in new places and ways, to see letters from a new perspective, and imagine that a square is a frog.

The microscopic world that thrives in and around us is no different. It is my pleasure to invite you to learn as I have about Microscopic Marvels.

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