The desire to collect things is a strong one in a young child. This can be just the springboard you need for a memorable classroom activity. It is easy to forget how amazing a pebble or pinecone can be to a young child. You can tap into your curriculum goals by leveraging this natural desire for collecting with the help of a little technology. Here's how:

1. Make a collection. Give children shopping bags and take them on a mini field trip to a nearby playground or sidewalk. Ask them to collect anything interesting to add to their bag (keeping safety in mind of course). You'll be amazed at what your young collectors find, including flattened bottle caps, blades of grass, and even an occasional penny.

2. Start sorting and representing. Ask children to unload their collections into a plastic tray or pan. Start sorting, comparing, classifying, and ordering. Have a sheet of paper and markets on hand so that they can trace and label their collections. If you have a computer, use a program such as Kidspiration to take this representation to another level using the program's rich library of stickers to represent each item. This program makes it easy to break the collection into groups, sorting by attributes such as floats/sinks, paper/no paper, and so on.

3. Take a closer look. A magnifying glass is great for helping children examine their discoveries. But what if they want a closer look? A simple microscope such as the Geosafari Talking Microscope can come in handy. If you have a computer, the new MIC-D computer microscope from Olympus will let the entire group see the details of an object as fine as a hair.

4. Make your own I SPY bulletin board. Want a unique, interesting bulletin board? Snap a photo of each child's collection with your digital camera and print out a large, one-page photo. Below the picture, write a short I Spy poem that describes a few items in the collection.


Science Websites for Busy Teachers

Environmental Protection Agency for Students

Is it garbage or recycling? This site offers activities and lesson plans on a variety of environmental issues.

Great Science Sites for Kids

This site offers windows to science experiences compiled by the Children and Technology Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

National Wildlife Federation for Kids

This site provides a nice collection of activities that can help you bring the outdoors inside your classroom.

U.S. Geological Survey Kids

Print out pages of animals, learn about endangered species, and link to other cool environmental sites