Saturday, August 25, 2012

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are a fun way to practice physical skills for kids.  Almost anything will work for obstacles too.  Cups filled with gravel can create a slalom portion, sticks across buckets can  be used for crawling under or jumping over, an old wooden plank (free of nails and screws) can be a balance beam and items hanging from trees just out of reach (so they have to jump to hit them) can be a great addition too. 

Use Hoola hoops tossed near each-other for agility obstacles, or for kids to jump from one hoop to the next.  Get creative and use parts of lawn games as standards in your obstacles series.

Make places where they have to stop suddenly and get both feet in a small space have fun making the course go all over the place so they find themselves really working to pay attention so they can remember where the course is supposed to go.

For preschoolers:
When kids are learning their colors, set up a whole bunch of obstacles and then put flags of different colors by each - kids only do obstacles marked with a certain color.  Likewise you can use shapes and have them only do the obstacles with the correct shape.

Mark obstacles with numbers for counting practice.  When they start to learn to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's you can mark the course with numbers.  They have to follow in the correct "skips" numbers. 

Mark obstacles with shapes for shape recognition. . .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Creating a Halocline

When discussing Estuaries with your children, the concept of a "halocline" may arise, but truly be hard for many children to picture or understand with just a definition.  Even if it does not arise in the study work presented to your child, this particular noun can feel to a young elementary child like a "big kid word" they can understand and impressively define for others.  Since it is easy to understand with a pretty simple demonstration, I recommend diving right in and giving your kid the chance.

A halocline occurs where salt water and freshwater are coming together but not really being mixed well.  The halocline is a rapid change in salt content as one moves vertically through the water column.  Haloclines have many causes and all kinds of things can play a part in whether one exists in a certain area or how deeply this "line" occurs.  The important thing is just to help your child understand what a halocline is.

This simple activity is pretty cool and will help clarify the term on a very basic level for your little naturalist or scientist.  Simply mix plenty of sea salt and food coloring in a container that is clear.  An old Jar such as one for peanut butter would work well, as does the glass brownie pan you see above. 

This colored salt water represents the ocean water.

Fill a measuring cup or something with a lip for pouring with fresh water and an opposing color to your ocean water color.  As you slowly pour your freshwater into your ocean (as a river often runs into the ocean in shallows such as estuaries) you will see a line form when the container is viewed from the side.  This line is where you have created a mini halocline in your container.  If one does not form, you may need to pour more slowly, carefully or from a lesser height above the surface of the "ocean" water.  Simply adjust and try again.

Haloclines happen because the density of salt water is generally greater than freshwater so in areas where there isn't a lot of mixing (wave action and moving currents are at a minimum) a halocline can form.  Temperature has a big impact on haloclines and their stability because temperature directly effects density of all substances including both saltwater and fresh.  Because of this, sharp haloclines are commonly found in fjords, still estuaries, caves, and places where the water is either still and/or very cold (Arctic ocean and the Antarctic).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Exploring Tidepools

Information for Mom and Dad

When you go exploring tide pools with your kids it becomes a really fun opportunity for learning through experience and the excitement that goes with that experience.  Who doesn't love finding special treasures - and in particular, cool living things - at the beach?

Limpet and barnacle

If your nearest marine or aquatic environment is tide pool free and tide pooling is simply out of the question, you might try building an aquascope (instructions on and allowing your kids to see what they can find while wading at the water's edge instead of in tide pools.  It depends on the beach how likely it is your kids will find lots of critters this way, but some locations are still conducive to some exciting finds this way too.

For Safety's sake, please know enough about the life you will find in the marine ecosystem you will be visiting, so you can identify anything dangerous.  Many sea jellies and anemones are perfectly safe (including to touch), but there are also many that can sting.  Some fish, octopods and other critters can also pose hazards to some one who is unaware.  Also, not all shorelines are conducive to what is usually thought of as beach foot ware.

Many things you might find are touchable, but to keep the critter safe, touch gently and once only if at all.

There are some rules any conscientious observer should follow when exploring rocky beaches and tide pools (well, anywhere really) to help preserve the space and leave the animals living and in the condition in which you found the animals.  If you pick anything up or roll anything over where there are living things such as barnacles, crabs and seaweeds put it back where you found it and in the same position it was already in (This includes rocks, seashells and other beachy things).  It probably provides shelter to something and at the beach location is especially important because it impacts what exactly can live on or under the rock, rusting old pail or seashell, because beach zone matters to a lot of these critters too.

Rock Crab

Beach zones have to do with how often that part of the beach is no longer underwater.  Animals like many species of barnacles can survive this on a twice-daily cycle and have ways to deal with extended time out of the water.  Sea pens and cucumbers however, are only adapted to be out of the water for very short periods of time during rare extreme low/high tidal cycles and even then they are not well adapted to the situation.

The Final Rule is NOT to "help".  As cruel as it may seem, "helping" wild things without a lot of prior training can actually be harmful.  In fact, in his book, "There's a Hair in my Dirt", Gary Larson illustrates this perfectly when the princess throws a tortoise (dry land animal) into a lake and causes it to drown thinking it is a turtle struggling to get back to the water to swim.  Depending on the animal, you can also wind up getting hurt yourself as well.  If you happen upon a beached sea mammal that needs help, call the wildlife management department for your area and let them help.

Harbor Seal

Learning Activities

Photographic Scavenger Hunt

If you will be visiting the beach soon try this list for your Photographic Scavenger Hunt:
  1. An animal with two shells (a bivalve such as a clam or scallop).
  2. An animal with one shell that coils (a gastropod - crabs and other crustaceans DON'T count)
  3. An arthropod such as a crab, shrimp, lobster, barnacle, insect or isopod.
  4. Three different kinds of algae (most seaweeds are not plants, nor are they animals, but colonies of protists we call algae.  Just like with plants and animals there are many species).
  5. Something living on top of something else that is also living (like a barnacle stuck on a crab's back).
  6. Something man-made that is used at the beach or by boats (pilings, buoys, floats and markers, shovel and pail).
  7. Three different rocks.
  8. Land Plant that lives at the beach edge.
  9. Three different types of shore birds.
  10. 10 pieces of plastic to take to the trash can.
  11. Someone's Bare Feet (yours can be included) and/or footprints from humans or other animals that have used the beach.
  12. One or Two Beach Treasures (something you wish you could take home but will make-do with a picture instead: a piece of beach glass, a special rock or a seashell free of attached living things).

Nature Journal Entry

You might incorporate this activity into a larger travel journal if your trip to the beach is a part of a longer/larger journey further away from home than an average day trip.  You might even use this entry as a beginning to an ongoing nature journal if you haven't started one already.

Present this one to the kids when you first arrive at the beach, but allow them to revisit the journal entry a couple of times during the day. 

When you first arrive before even getting out of the car, have your kids write a heading that includes the date, location, and a brief description of weather conditions.

Give your kids an hour or so to play and then have them sketch of the location in general.  The journal should then include a brief description with information like whether or not you are at a sandy beach intermingled with rocky tidal areas, or if you at a pebbly beach or just a rocky shoreline and about how many people seem to be present.

At some point during the day, have your kids draw a single tide pool of choice and the residents found living in that one tide pool.  You might also ask them to sketch (or photograph and describe in words) their favorite tide pool critter from different angles. 

Finally, have your child/children describe a highlight of the day when they get to the end of their day.

Take a Look at Beach Zones

Show your kids the image showing beach zones in California.  Especially if you were at the beach during an extremely low tide, ask your kids to make a similar diagram for the beach you visited.  They'll need to get photographs of everything they find and then do a little research to identify everything or have a key you can all use together to identify things while you are at the beach.  Then, upload a scan of their work and send me a link on the comments below.

But I can't Even Get to a Beach!

Of course the best way to give kids a sense of life in the tidal zone is for them to see it themselves.  However, if you can't get to a shore that is great for tidal life, OR an aquarium the next best thing are books, videos and a student-made model of a tide pool.

Related Book Favorites

A House for Hermit Crab - Eric Karle
Sign of the Seahorse - Graeme Base
Life in a Tide Pool - Janet Halfman
Life in a Tide Pool - Alan Fowler

Student Made Model

Use a painter's tray (because they are slanted) and using clay, form a model of a rocky beach with a few tide pools in it (they must actually be able to hold water).  Place your tide pool structure in the pan so it is in the area that slants but not deep.  Fill the pan with water and then slowly scoop water out of the pan from the deeper end.  Kids will see how as the water recedes, pools of water can be left behind.  Now look up pictures of life from the intertidal zone and sculpt small versions of those animals to put in your tide pool.

Images and Video to Access

Short Kid's Music Video about Tide pools

Great Series of Fabulous Photos with title headings giving name of thing in photo you are about to see set to cheerful music.  "Some Things I Saw in the Tide pools"

Additionally, there is great footage from Alaska's Tourist Bureau, Monterrey Bay Aquarium and a few others if you simply do a search on Youtube for your Area and Tide pool video for kids.  Make sure to preview your finds because once in awhile a tide pool will include a nude hominid based on the search I did.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Build a Roman Arch

Accompany a lesson about Roman Architecture with a building project of your own.  This miniature arch can accent your child's "fairy" garden or turn a small spot in the garden into a magical place after it is finished, or you can make it with craft mortar (equal parts sand and cornstarch mixed in hot water - bake at 375 degrees F after the project is completed) if you want it to only be temporary (it will crumble after the first rain).

In terms of relating the activity to Ancient Rome, I suggest starting with a great book such as "Roman City" by David Macauly or a movie like the one about Rome from "Engineering an Empire" by the History Channel.  However, you'll need to pick out what is right for your child at his/her age.  ALWAYS preview such material before using with your child.

You might take a look at the images and information below and look at how many of the featured structures use arches.  Make sure to explain what an arch is and introduce the vocabulary "keystone" as well.  If you have particularly young children introduce them to the Keystone first with THIS ACTIVITY to help make the building of your arch more successful.  See if you can point to the keystone (top stone that was the final stone placed and was the "key" in keeping it all up) in any of the images.

Images of Roman Arches

Amazing Roman Structures

Stress to your child how important the use of the arch was in the success of Ancient Roman builders.
To really help kids understand why incorporating the arch into their structures was so important in attaining their building achievements check out Engineering the Impossible: Arches vs. Beams.  If they find this interesting, you might also check out other videos from the science channel about Roman Building Achievements later.  You might also want to try the breaking bridges activity.

Gather some pebbles. Oblong and fairly flat stones work best.  You'll need an assortment so you have a few left over and can make decisions according to what fits best while you work.

If you are using a mortar that will need baking, line a cookie sheet with foil first and preheat your oven. Set a soda can on the foil. Start the arch by placing your largest pebbles on either side of the soda can on foil on a flat surface. Plop a bit of mortar on each pebble. Build your arch up and around the soda can finishing by placing the keystone at the top with mortar on each side.

After the mortar has dried, slide the soda can out and place your arch in a special location to remind your kids of the feats the Roman's achieved because of the discovery of cement and the use of arches in their structures.  Then follow this lesson with "breaking bridges" as a great way to really drive their learning home.  For more Lesson Ideas and Resources about Ancient Rome

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Composting: Setting Up, Maintaining and Using Your Compost

Many people believe composting to be extremely difficult, smelly and generally not worth the time.  However, aside from providing the avid gardener with his/her brown gold (compost), improving the productivity of your soil, improving water retention in your soil, reducing need for fertilizers, reducing needs for pesticides and herbicides, reducing your trash production, and being generally good for the environment, compost can be a great learning tool too.  With all the tools and modern composting helpers, it can also be relatively easy.  This article is about starting your compost and maintaining your compost once it has gotten started.

All you really need to get started is a bin (unless you have a huge amount of space and organic waste so that piles will work).  and some waste materials.  There are plenty of ways to build your own bin but you can also purchase pre-made bins.  These pre-made bins aren't a lot more expensive than it would cost to buy all your own materials and are simple to set up.  First fill the lower portion of your bin with shredded paper or dried and fallen leaves, sprinkle with water and then start adding scraps and yard waste.

One of the most important keys to composting, is keeping the ratio of "browns" to "greens" just right.  Only about twenty to forty percent of what goes into your composter should be from the "greens" category.  The compost also needs to be kept moist (about as wet as an already wrung-out sponge) and aerated to allow molds to grow.  To help your compost get enough air, you'll want to "stir" your compost or turn it over occasionally.   Don't fill your compost bin quite as full as shown in this picture - it'll be hard to stir.  Having a "stirrer" can be really helpful with this.  Here is the one I own.

The prongs on the bottom pivot into the staff so it can be driven down into the compost and then when you pull up the prongs pop out and lift the materials in your compost.  I suggest getting the tools to make it easy.  The easier composting is, the more your kids can do to take the job over and learn from having this tool in your lives.

Things to Drop into your Composter:


  1. Used Tissues and Napkins (paper only)
  2. Nail Clippings
  3. Hair from your hairbrush (or clippings after a shave or haircut)
  4. Hair from your pet's grooming brush
  5. Bread (stale) - including old pizza crusts, rolls, etc.
  6. Paper towel rolls (toilet paper rolls count too)
  7. Crackers, pretzels and other similar snack items (stale)
  8. Used paper plates, cups, and any other paper serving item.
  9. Nut shells (except walnuts)
  10. Old herbs and spices
  11. Egg shells
  12. Corks
  13. Moldy cheese (just make sure to only do a little at a time.
  14. Old jelly, jam, or preserves.
  15. Stale Beer, Champagne, Soda etc.
  16. Old loofahs and natural sponges
  17. Paper egg cartons
  18. Toothpicks
  19. Bamboo skewers
  20. Paper cupcake or muffin cups
  21. q-tips (with paper shafts)
  22. cotton balls (must be 100% cotton)
  23. Anything cotton works, so old cotton clothing (t-shirts, underwear, etc - just cut it up first).
  24. Wool also works so the above goes for wool clothing as well.
  25. Any shredded documents or papers (avoid staples and the plastic windows from bill envelopes).
  26. Pencil shavings
  27. Sticky notes
  28. Business cards
  29. Receipts
  30. Coffee grounds and filters
  31. Tea bags
  32. Paper towels
  33. Boxes made from cardboard or tagboard torn into smaller pieces (pizza boxes, cereal boxes, etc.)
  34. Paper bags, ripped or balled up.
  35. Cooked pasta
  36. Cooked rice
  37. Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag of canister
  38. Contents of your dryer lint trap
  39. Newspapers (torn into smaller bits)
  40. Subscription cards from magazines.
  41. Leaves, Leaves, Leaves
  42. Expired houseplants (unless they have a disease that might be spread to other plants).
  43. Cut flowers
  44. Natural potpourri
  45. Ashes from the fireplace, outdoor fire pit, or grill and used matches.
  46. Used soil.
  47. Wrapping paper rolls,
  48. Paper table cloths
  49. Raffia
  50. Streamers (paper only - no tinsel)
  51. Jack O' Lanterns (chop up first for best results)
  52. Any holiday decor made from organic sources such has hay or evergreen boughs, trees etc.
  53. Droppings and bedding from your small pet (bird, gerbils, mice etc.) Do NOT put cat or dog waste in your compost.
  54. Feathers
  55. Old pet food (dry cat and dog food, fish, bird seed, rawhide dog chews, alfalfa pellets - no wet foods or bones)
  56. Dried weeds
  57. Twigs, branches and other clippings (shredded or chipped first).
  58. Sawdust
  59. Old Mulch
  60. Lunch bags.


  1. Veggie clippings
  2. Grass clippings
  3. Fresh garden trimmings and cut flowers
  4. Livestock manure
  5. Peels and rinds and other fruit scraps

Things NOT to drop into your Composter:

  1. Anything synthesized (any plastics, polyester, nylon, rayon, styrofoam, etc.)
  2. Metal
  3. Batteries, sealers, paints and other chemicals, poisons and toxins.
  4. Diseased or infected plants
  5. Meat
  6. Glossy Papers
  7. Heavily waxed papers (milk cartons)
  8. Cat litter and Doggie Doo
  9. Invasive weeds
  10. Charcoal ash.

Trouble Shooting:

If your compost smells bad: turn or stir your compost and add more browns (papers and fallen leaves are especially good).

Your compost pile must get nice and hot for decomposition to occur.  If it isn't getting hot, your pile is too small (at least one cubic yard) or it likely needs more water.  

Bugs or mold in the compost:  This is a natural part of the process and is a GOOD sign.  Keep mixing and watering the compost regularly.  Especially with your kids, keep an eye out for spiders and insects that might bite when working with the compost.  

You know Your Compost is Ready When:

It is dark brown and crumbly, smells like freshly turned earth, and you can't identify the stuff you originally put in the bin to start with.  At this point pull your finished compost from the bottom of your bin and pass it through a sieve or compost screen.  Stuff that stays in the screen goes back into the composter, stuff that falls through gets used.

Mix the compost into your garden soil, use it like mulch, or sprinkle it lightly over your lawn outside.  To use it inside pots, you'll want to use 30% yard waste, 50% worm compost (or time-release soil) and 20% vermiculite.

You'll have some great soil so you can grow some yummy veggies, beautiful flowers, or wonderful greenery.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Things Your Children Can Learn From Their Own Teeth

My Loose Tooth

I had a loose tooth, a wiggly, jiggly loose tooth.
For More Info about the Images Visit This Link
I had a loose tooth, hanging by a thread.
So I pulled my loose tooth, this wiggly jiggly loose tooth,
Put it 'neath the pillow and then I went to bed.
Someone took my loose tooth, my wiggly, jiggly loose tooth.
Now I have a nickel and a hole in my head.

FYI: Children grow 20 baby teeth. Adults have 32 (assuming none have been pulled and wisdom teeth came in). Teeth usually start falling out at about age 5 or 6. If you'd like your child to learn more from the experience, here are a few ideas to try.

Draw a picture of the two diagrams of teeth provided on this site the two diagrams are side by side. Have your child cross out teeth from the baby side as they fall out and color in the adult ones as they grow in. You might even record dates on the chart. It is good practice using visual representations to record and display data.

Your child might be interested to know that a baby's teeth start growing six months before the baby is born, but aren't cut and visible until 4 - 5 months at the earliest but usually around 6 or 7 months. When looking at the tooth diagram together, you can discuss shape and size and how different shapes and sizes are made for different things. "biting teeth" (incisors and canines) are quite different from "chewing" teeth (bicuspids and molars). Your child might be interested to know that many mammals have "baby teeth" or "milk teeth". If you know of anyone with a puppy that might loose a milk tooth soon that would be willing to keep it for you, it can be fun to compare.

The shape of a tooth is very telling in regard to what the tooth is for. pointier, more narrowly shaped teeth tend to be for tearing meat while rounder, flatter teeth are for grinding grains and other "vegetation". We can learn a lot about an animal's diet from its skull and the teeth there. Here is a link to a variety of sites with activities and lessons for the elementary school student about animal skulls and teeth. Most of the sites are for slightly older kids so you may want to preview programs as well as participate with your child.

Give your child a small dentists mirror and let him/her look at her own "biting" and "chewing" teeth and compare them. Go ahead and giver her/him something to eat and have him/her think about which teeth she is using to "bite" and "chew".

Show him/her photos of herself/himself as an infant and let your child enjoy stories about her/his own younger childhood. Compare how their teeth grew in with how their teeth are now falling out or how their adult teeth are growing in. More often than not, adult teeth will follow the same pattern as the baby teeth did while growing in, but the pattern can vary and it can be fun for your child to have you tell him/her stories about his/her own (earlier) childhood.

You can also ask your dentist next time you visit to allow you to take home your x-rays. This way you can look at the "roots" too and include the x-ray in a record book with the picture he/she is filling in about his/her teeth

Pediatric dentists and hygienists are often more than happy to offer up information and ideas to kids that are curious. Don't be afraid to encourage your child to ask questions of this important set of health care professionals in his/her life.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Personalized Composition Book

Although the design choices kids have in composition books have improved somewhat since I was a kid, there still aren't that many choices.  Besides, kids generally think things are more fun if they can really make it their own.   Kids also tend to take better care of things they've had to put a little effort into creating.  So, especially if the book is to be used for something your child is a little more reluctant about, help your child make the book a little more personal. 

We've used a composition notebook with wide-ruled lines (beginning writer) but you can get college ruled as well as versions with a blank space on top and lines underneath.  This last style can be difficult to find so if you have a choice in the matter (this isn't for school), don't worry about drawing space, because you can also use blank paper or a sketchbook and attach drawings or photos into the book after the illustration is complete.

To make Alice's books special for her, she cut out pictures from some old magazines and glued them all over the outside cover of the composition book.  Decoupage would work for this and the process is similar, but since you will be using this book with kids, (and possibly outside depending on the intended purpose) I've determined that the following steps hold up better and for longer.
  1. Cut out magazine pictures and collage over the front of the composition book (or similar tablet of your choosing).
  2. Let dry long enough that the cover starts to warp and is only tacky to the touch but not "wet". 
  3. Smooth plastic wrap over the cover. 
  4. Gently set a book on top of the composition book and plastic wrap.  To protect the other book you will be placing on top of this next, also lay a piece of wax paper on your creation cut slightly larger than the composition book itself.
  5. Place something heavy on top of the two books and set overnight to allow it to fully dry WITHOUT finishing up warped.
  6. Repeat steps one through five for the backside of the book.
  7. If the plastic wrap peels off, great, if not, leave it.
  8. Trim edges of collage if they stick out over the edges of the actual book cover.
As an alternative for very young kids, you could buy stickers to "collage" with and then skip steps two through seven. It is a less messy and quicker way to have them "make the book their own". 

Use clear contact paper to truly "kid proof" the cover of the book and prevent it from peeling up.  You will want to do this part to ensure a tight and smooth adhesion that will make the cover more lasting. 
  1. Spread a piece of contact paper out that is larger than the book you will be covering so that it is facing sticky side up.
  2. in the center of the contact sheet, carefully align the binding of the book so there is contact paper above and below the book as well as out to each side.
  3. Carefully press from the binding's center outward to eliminate any air bubbles.  Then, working from the binding outward, carefully smooth contact paper over the back cover of the book.  Work slowly, pressing and smoothing out air bubbles as you go.  Leave the contact paper so the excess is loose around the edges of the cover of the book.
  4. Beginning at the binding, carefully smooth the contact paper over the front cover of the book in the same way you stuck the contact paper to the back cover of the book. 
  5. Lay the book open on a table or counter and cut triangles off of the contact paper at each of the four corners so the excess hangs off in a trapezoid to the side of each cover flap of the book. 
  6. Cut out a rectangle from the contact paper above and below where the binding is.  Fold the top and bottom flaps around to the inside of the front cover and starting from where the contact paper meets the book, smooth the contact paper onto the interior of the cover trying to eliminate air bubbles as you go.  Do this for all three flaps of "excess on the front cover.  Repeat for the back cover.
Enjoy the ease with which you will be able to pick out each individual book from amongst others and the special style your child gives to his/her special composition book.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Animal Action Replacement - Music and Movement for Preschool

Animal Action is actually a great set of songs (there are multiple versions with different lyrics including different animals) by the wiggles (if memory serves me correctly). I do recommend them as preschool children enjoy these songs, and it gets them up and moving in ways that cause them to practice body awareness and improve gross motor skills and development.

However, if you've had enough of the wiggles, want to introduce a little classical music, and encourage similar types of movement, try the original "Animal Action" - Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens. The piece does the same thing as animal action by using different instruments and themes to represent different animals and their movement style. You can even find illustrated children's books that come with a CD with the music on it. If you have an experienced listener, see if he/she can guess what animal is being represented or at least describe or show you the type of movement the music suggests before telling him or her what animal to imitate.  Then move to the music as if you are the animal depicted.  You can then extend the "lesson" by identifying the instruments that are used (this is identified on many copies intended for kids anyway) in each section of the piece.

Have fun!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Practice with Perspective

First Trace Their Hands and Feet.  
Remind them about Perspective and Hand over a Mirror.

Let Them Give it a Try.

Enjoy what they do.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Shadow

My Shadow
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
and I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
and he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
and can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me.

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

During a sunny saturday prepare to take your child outside a couple of times with a tape measure and sidewalk chalk.  Sometime in the morning when the sun is still low have your child stand still as a statue and trace his/her feet tightly and then the perimeter of his/her shadow.  Your child can do the same for you.  Go back out at noon and in a spot near to the first set of chalk-marks, do the same thing again.  Repeat this again at about 3:00 and then again in the evening not long before bed (or sunset whichever is most appropriate)

Things to do with the information - same night or next day:

Measure the lengths of the shadows together and record them in a notebook.  

Create a graph showing the lengths of the shadows on the y axis and the time of day on the x axis.

Discuss the angle of the sun as a possible cause for the changes in your shadows and then test the hypothesis in a dark room using a flashlight and something tall (a shampoo bottle, opaque glass . . .) see if the effect can be recreated.

Bonus Activity:  After it is evident your child understands that a shadow changes depending on the angle of the light hitting it, you might try learning about, and then making your own sundial.

For information regarding how they work and the history of sundials try:

Long Stick/Stake
Mallet, hammer or other item (large rock) to pound it into the ground.
Sunny Day

Use a long stake and drive it into the ground so that it points at the sun. (in other words, unless it is noon it should not be straight up and down).   The stick should not make much of a shadow right away.  Wait about an hour until a distinct shadow has appeared that is about 6 inches long.  Mark this point according to what time it is and then continue to mark the shadow every hour.  This sundial will now work approximately for a few days.  However, the angle of the sun varies over the course of the year so it will not remain accurate perpetually.  To make a more permanent sundial is much more complex.  If you have an interested kid and would like to try it though, here is a website that lays out the details for building a portable sundial.  This is a teacher to students about sundial making as an assignment.

Definitely for your highschooler.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ocean Studies: Tides

In First Grade (at least in our curriculum) kids are expected to be introduced to the phenomenon of tides.  Only the idea that the tides mean the water goes higher and lower at different points of the day is required at this age, but if, you have a curious child it is unlikely the conversation will end at this fact. 

You may want to make sure that your child first knows that most of Earth's surface is covered by water.  For an activity to demonstrate this fact (and also help your older child practice calculating percentages, or your younger child practice counting to 100) click here.

The trouble with teaching about tides is, tides are actually pretty difficult to explain - especially for a more visual kid.  I would personally begin by showing them a "tide". 

If you live near the ocean or have an opportunity to vacation near the ocean, this is an easy thing to do.  Go out at high tide and mark the tide in some way.  If you live on a sandy beach, simply poke a stick into the sand.  If you are on a rocky shore this is a little more difficult, but depending on the substrate, a chalk line might work, a Large unique stone set in place might work, or any number of other "creative" markers can be helpful.  Then, as the day continues keep checking on your marker and notice how the water level changes during the day.  Make sure to point out to your young one that there are two high tides and two low tides every day.

If you do not live near the ocean, actually showing a tide can be difficult.  Instead, you can represent one.  Get a painter's tray (you know, the slanty ones for using rollers for painting) and fill it half-full with water.  Now, press a ball or balloon into the tray part to show how the water can move up and down the beach (this idea was inspired by this activity.  It is incorrect that the moon pulls the tides high only on the side closest to the moon so please don't just leave it at that). 

Either way, I also recommend viewing either, "Curious George: The Time of Sands" or "The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans" series, season one, episode seven, "Seas of Life; Tidal Seas" for your older kids.  Right at the start it has gorgeous time laps video of high and low tides along a couple of distinctive coastlines followed by a description of the cause of the tides.  Curious George is perfect for Preschool - 2nd or 3rd grade, but then the vocabulary in "The Blue Planet" for many older elementary kids.  For this age group, it might be best to watch the clip of the time lapse video, and then do the activities that follow.  For older children, I might show this video if you also plan to study marine biology.

Now to explain why the water rises and lowers twice each day is a little more difficult.  Many adults that are very intelligent have trouble understanding this one without visuals so it is important to include visual aids.  It is NOT impossible to understand and your child can get this.  You may want to quickly explain the basic existance of gravity if your child has not already learned about gravity.  If your child already has a basic handle on gravity go ahead and skip to the video link below.

The way I introduced gravity to Alice, was to tell her that all THINGS (matter) that can be touched or contained in some way have gravity.  This means that all things pull on one another a little like magnets pull on one another.  I actually said, "so that means you and I are both pulling each other closer together all the time.  If we weren't on Earth and were near one another, we would actually slowly move together until we were touching.  We couldn't help it, its just what would happen."  I continue, "but bigger things have more gravity so while we pull on each-other and we pull on the Earth, the Earth pulls on us a LOT MORE".  I further explain that even if we push on the Earth (Jump here), the Earth pulls us back and it takes rocket-sized power to push hard enough to leave Earth.  I then transition back into tides by saying the Moon and the Earth are always pulling on each other. 

I then transitioned her into watching the video in this link.  I suggest opening a duplicate window before you click.  Actual Explanation done with a cookie, pickle, orange and string (best I viewed)  This explanation is pretty complete yet clear and concise.

To explain about the Tidal Bulge on the side of the Earth opposite the moon and why the cookie moves in the video I suggest this short activity because it really worked with Alice:

I made sure we were in a large space and showed Alice the Moon/Earth "orbit" by spinning together. I held her hands with my wrists crossed and we turned a few circles quickly (but so she could keep her feet on the ground) together this way.   I had to move a little bit as the anchor, but Alice moved more as she spun around me. I told her that the Moon and Earth are a bit like us spinning around each other.  I was the Earth and Alice was the moon.  If I was able to have a bunch of water surrounding me she would pull back on me and her pull would move the water around me more than it would move the land and she would be able to see a bulge going toward her.  The point is that she sees me move slightly in a small circle around myself. 

As I was writing this blarticle I found this activity which furthers the experience and just extends the understanding a child gains from the "spinning" activity.  It will require a few materials and use of a drill by the adult during prep.

For More Related Videos: click here

For more Images, Extensions and more Links about Oceans and Ocean Tides for kids of all ages, try Enchanted Learning, Teacher Planet, and/or How Stuff Works

Good Luck, have fun and please let me know about any other great additional activities you've discovered!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teaching Colors Scavenger Hunts and Collages

To review a color with your toddler, you might try a color scavenger hunt collage.  Spread some things around the house for the child or children to find that are the color you are working on.  Your scavenging hunter/s will turn their finds into a collage with which to remember their hunt.

Ideas for items that can generally work for any color include, craft pom poms, feathers, colored Popsicle sticks, colored pasta, buttons, stickers, large sequins or bits of confetti, paper strips and scraps of paper, yarn, tissue or fabric.  If you have time, you might try printing some small pictures of things you've found ahead online and cut the pictures apart so that each picture is no bigger than 3x3 inches.  Pictures of common foods or items that are often associated with the color in question are particularly nice.  For example, a stop sign, cherries and apples for red or a banana and egg (showing its yolk) for yellow.

If you have a tiny one in the house that might still put items in his or her mouth, you could do an old magazine scavenger hunt and allow your older child to look for the color in the pages of an old magazine to create their scavenger hunt collage instead.  The advantage to this one is he will also get practice with cutting skills while she is at it.

Give your child/ren a glue bottle if they know how to use one, or allow them to dip into a small container of glue and glue the found objects onto a page.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Host a Roman Feast for Cena Tonight.

In order to kick off our History Unit on Ancient Rome, we did our best to have a relatively accurate Roman Feast for our "cena".  I did the research before hand and cooked most of the meal with some assistance from Alice.  The objective for us, was for Alice to get excited about learning more about Ancient Romans rather than for her to actually host the feast.  The objective was definitely met.

With slightly older kids, you might make your Roman Feast the culminating end-point and put them in charge of doing the research in regard to what to serve and how to serve it.  They might have a lot of fun making togas and wreaths to wear, eating while in a lounging position and showing off their cooking skills to a few honored guests that will listen to your kids talk about all the things they learned over the course of the unit.

Dishes for our feast included:

Roasted spiced apples.
Roasted "Wild Boar" in Quince marmalade. (Really just a roast)
Fried Asparagus with Feta Cheese Crumbles.
Honeyed Dates.
Roman Cheesecake.
Mint and Cumin spiced "Door mice" (really just sliced up bits of chicken).
Olives and Grapes.

Alice's Honeyed Grapes Required use of a Mortar and Pestle

For your feast you could also have:

pears, hardboiled eggs, raw apples, lentils, celery sticks and rolls or ofella (see below) and a number of fish dishes (see links).  The especially wealthy might also have had ostrich.

Along the Way Alice (and I) Learned:

Romans did not have: sugar, potato, corn, coffee, tomato, chocolate or many of Alice's other favorites.  When you don't have sugar, it limits your dessert options significantly.  "Roast 'wild boar' is actually pretty yummy" as are asparagus.  Honeyed dates are pretty good too even though they look "yucky" but there IS also the existence of things being a bit "too sweet".  Romans fried almost everything that wasn't roasted.  Romans often ate lying down for feasts, but not as often if there were to be women around.  Romans drank wine boiled with honey at feasts and banquets.  Romans ate everything from Door mice to Ostrich - if it was available, they made use of it.  For breakfast and lunch most Romans mostly ate a grain based mush similar to oatmeal.  Wealthier Romans would often compliment this mush with a fruit or veggie.

The average Roman diet included a lot of grains, onions, peas, celery and lentils and meats were used for special occasions (and feasts).  Stew made of water and grains was a common staple amongst the poorest citizens.  Like most of those of us in the US today, breakfast and lunch were the smaller meals with the main substance of the day's calories coming at dinner time.  Knives and spoons were used for serving, but once you had your individual serving of food you would have used your fingers or (in the cases of stews with a lot of broth) simply slurped from your bowl.  Garum was a favorite flavoring but since it was made with fermented fish guts, we decided not to include garum in our feast. 

Online Information about Ancient Roman Feasts:

Most of the recipes (and information about the Roman Cena) we used can be found on these sites.
Squidoo: In terms of referencing for recipes this may have been the resource we used most.
Around the Roman Table: This was a fabulous resource for recipes as well - it almost made me want to go out and purchase the book.  I do wish the library had had it for sure.
History Learning: The History Learning Site is a good all-around resource.

We also used the Book:

Step Into. . . The Roman Empire by Philip Steele.  Alice made the Honeyed Dates on page 24 with minimal help (slices with knife and actual frying done by me with her watching on).

Ancient Roman Pizza (Ofellae) and Roman Bread:

 Romans did not have tomatoes or cheese, so their pizza was topped with onions, fish and olives.  Mix one cup of flour with 1 pkg dry yeast adn 3/4 tsp salt.  Stir in 1 cup of warm water adn mix well.  let sit for 10 minutes or so and then add 2 more cups of flour fold in well. 
Knead your dough until it is stiff but springy (elastic).  Just like with any other bread, clean the bowl, greese the bowl and ball the dough and place inside the bowl.  Let it rise for about an hour.
Punch down the dough and then greese the sheet you will bake the dough on.  Let the dough rest for about ten minutes and then shape it as you would like (for Ofella, shape it like a pizza dough) for simple bread, roll it into a loaf like shape.  In either case, let the dough rise again for another hour or so.  For ofella, press down slightly in the middle.  For Bread, slice top of "loaf" 3 or 4 times about a quarter inch deep.  Bake for about 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. 
To eat as "pizza" place your toppings on the bread (more like we would do with crackers) and eat.  For eating as bread, they wouldn't have had butter the way we know it, so you would tear pieces off of the loaf and then dip them in either honey or olive oil.

Roasted, Spiced Apples:

Oil (with olive oil for authenticity) a shallow baking dish such as a pie pan and Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Take two to three large apples (hardy for baking variety such as Rome apples) and slice thinly.
           As an aside, Rome apples are a variety from the city of Rome in the modern city of Rome, New York.

Place Sliced apples in a thin layer across bottom of pan.  Continue to build layers higher but offset so apples overlap the gaps of the lower layer.  Occasionally sprinkle with cinnamon (no sugar) as you build layers higher. 

Drizzle a thin bead of honey over top of entire dish (does not need to cover, but honey should touch each of the top slices). 

Drizzle a thin line of olive oil over top of entire dish similarly to the honey. 

Sprinkle with final dusting of cinnamon - be sparing a little Cinnamon goes a long way.

Bake until apples are soft enough to cut with butter knife.

Serve and Enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Creating Greek Warriors for your Felt Board

In a previous blarticle, I delineated briefly how I had come to create a number of creatures and characters for Alice's felt board.  I have also mentioned how she likes to act out history and language arts lessons using her felt board.

In order to allow her to retell the stories of the various wars of the Greeks in history, I created "Greek" warrior's clothing for her felt board people.

Start with the same cookie cutter you used to create your fabric "dolls".  This sets the size for your helmets and tunics.  I chose to make helmets out of yellow felt.  Whatever color you choose, start by creating a shape that is slightly larger than the head of your felt "dolls" and has a "T" sticking out of the top.  

Then cut out a wedge to be the right under the T and a curve for the shoulder on the opposite and lower portion of the circle.  Cut a second circle which will become the shield.  

Cut a white rectangle that covers the area from the shoulders to the knees of your "doll".  then cut a "V" at the neck and shape the shoulders somewhat to fit your "doll".  Color the tunic with a few lines to show the flaps and pleats of a warrior's skirt and breast plate.  Use Puff Paints or another fabric paint to do this coloring.

Use the same fabric paint pens or "puff paints" to color one side of your helmets for Athens and the other side for Sparta.  Use the same colors on the shields so that one side of the shield has "Medusa" for Athens and the other side is painted for Sparta.  Make another set of helmets and shields that can act as the "neutral" so the plain helmets can stand for the warriors of Troy, Persia, ect. . .

You can make bows, arrows, pikes, and swords if you want, but we have found them unnecessary.  Make sure that there are Spartan Helmets and Athenian Helmets that "face" the same way for when the Greeks fight together as in a Thermopylae and in the battle of Marathon, but that there are also helmets in opposition so you can also "act out" the Peloponnesian War. 

Of course, to really do the Greeks Justice, you'll also want a wooden horse and representatives of the Gods as well.  For anyone who would have worn war garb, like Athena, you already have instruction on how to make the clothing, now just give her some beautiful hair and an owl and you are set.  Togas and Gowns would be made in much the same way as the tunics, just make the initial rectangle go from neck to ankles.  Each God and Godess has something they carry that distinguishes them from one another.  Zeus has his thunderbolts, Athena her Owl and war spear , Poseidon his trident, Apollo his Lyre, and Dionysus his goblet.  For a resource that introduces all the Gods of the Greek Pantheon to children, Check out The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki, or get the Mythology Fandex.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Books for Kids about Social Graces and Habits

These days, it would sometimes seem as though very few people care much about manners anymore, but when you really start looking that simply isn't true.  Manners are just a more formal way of thinking about consideration for those around you and most of us really do want to be considered in our daily interactions.  Here are a few books with the intention of introducing kids to the idea of "manners", you might like to check out.

Emily Post's The Guide to Good Manners for Kids:

Written by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D. this is a modern update guide to exactly what you would expect from anything with the name Post on it (well except post-it note pads and the United States Postal Service).  Great ideas for manners in even the most unique of circumstances.  Each chapter begins with a little introduction - something to consider or an imaginary situation.

What I Like About this Book:  The language in this book is very positive - (even the lists of rules are written as "do" lists rather than "don't" lists).  The book is thorough in presenting situations kids will encounter.  There are even suggestions about how to handle choosing bunks and other summer-camp related challenges kids might face.  The book also mentions safety considerations for kids - such as not saying your parents aren't home when taking a message on the phone.

What I don't Like About this Book:  It is a guide book and thorough, therefore it is long for the truly young and not quite "hip" enough for the age group for whom it might be regularly used.  A parent really will need to require going through this book with their kids for it to get used.

Time to Say "Please":

What can I say?  If I'm doing a list of books about a particular topic and Mo Willems has done a book that fits into the category.  It WILL be included.  This particular book has a bunch of mice reminding kids about a particular set of words that are likely to keep the people around you in a much better mood about helping you out.  It starts out with "Please", but moves on to "Excuse Me" and "Sorry" among others.

What I Like About this Book:

As always, Willems says most of what needs to be said through the seemingly simple illustrations he creates that say far more than any one would expect at first glance.  Of course the book is filled with visual humor as usual.  And the straight forward text is clear and positive without just seeming like a list of "to do's".

What I don't Like About this Book:

What's not to like?  Its Mo Willems!

Whoopi's Big Book of Manners:

Whoopi Goldberg's sense of humor is evident in this short book about manners as she takes you through everything that is "not as bad as" - well, I'll let her tell you.

What I Like About this Book: Really, it is funny - especially to a child's sense of humor and may be one of those picture books your preschooler or early elementary-aged child wants you to read again and again.  It covers the most basic things like "special words" (please, may I, thank you, excuse me), not interupting, and picking up after yourself.

What I don't Like About this Book: There is very little not to like about this one for the very young.  It's funny with engaging pictures and even has that repetitive and predictable thing that young children love so much going for it, but it does give a heirarchy to what is worse and some of the manners covered are just plain important all the time so as kids get to that age where they start figuring out how to "justify" things it stops being a useful book.  

Manners Mashup:

This book is a highly visual take on introducing some basic manners as it is mostly about the illustrations.  Each two page layout is a particular environment such as a bus, the cafeteria, classroom or a friend's birthday party.

What I Like About This Book:

I love the goofy illustrations and the sense of humor those illustrations offer. I also love that it is written and illustrated by a variety of people so each set of rules has a different voice and a different look to it. It really helps to keep learning about manners interesting.

What I Don't Like About This Book:

For the most part, the text is really just an elaborate list of do's and don'ts, but with some of the memorable illustrations, some kids might over look this fact and remember some of those dos and don'ts anyway.

Do Unto Otters:

This book by Laurie Keller isn't about manners! (wink wink).  This book is about a rabbit that has some otters move in and he is trying to figure out how to treat his otter neighbors by thinking through how he hopes they will treat him.

What I Like About This Book: This is such a clever take on the Golden Rule!  It is sweet and light hearted and doesn't feel preachy at all.  The illustrations are whimsically unique with a color palette that feels very similar to "Caps for Sale" but broader in spectrum.

What I Don't Like About This Book: The thing with the bee.  They don't just go around stinging for fun and some kids don't need more reminders to be afraid of bees.  I mean, buzz on! I know, I know, how nit picky can I be right?  Really though, there isn't much not to like about this one.  I'm really scraping bottom to find something here. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How Much Water?

Teaching Kids that the Earth's surface is covered with mostly water is one of those things that is a basic piece of knowledge they are expected to obtain at some point in the science or geographical education.  This was an activity I regularly used in my sixth grade classroom (doubled as a lesson for practice with calculating percents as well) and have used in my home school classroom with my daughter (first grade) with great success.  This is a great lesson to do prior to "A Drop in the Bucket" (The directions for which are soon to follow).

Minimum Prior Knowledge:

To complete this activity at its most basic level kids must be able to:
  • Differentiate between ocean and land surfaces on Earth.
  • Understand that a globe is a model (like a "toy version") of the world.
  • Count to 100.
  • Keep a Tally
  • Need to have been introduced to the Scientific Method.
  • If you will expect the child(ren) to calculate percents, they will have needed an introduction.


  • First, you'll need an inflatable globe (beach ball painted as a map of the world) for every three to four children in the group with whom you will do this activity.
  • paper or composition book for each student
  • pencils
  • Two or more People including yourself.


How long this will take will depend somewhat on the age of the children with which you are working, but the whole lesson will take about 40 minutes minimum.

To Do:

Start by asking kid(s) if they know the four oceans.  Write a list on the board.  Then, make a second column and list the continents.  Now ask the kids whether they think more of the Earth's surface is covered by water or by land.  Because of the list you just made, many of the kids are likely to answer land.  This is GREAT.  Just write it down on the board  (or paper) as a hypothesis option as well as the opposing answer that most of the surface is water.

Bring out one of the globe beach balls and ask the kids to look at it to decide on which answer will be their final choice while you turn it around for them slowly.  Point out each of the four oceans and the continents as you turn the globe.

Have your child or students copy down the hypothesis they think is true in their lab books or on their paper.

Now, with a volunteer student, play catch.  After each "catch" figure out whether your index finger (of a pre-determined hand) is on land or on water (ocean, sea, lake - doesn't matter.  If a finger is on both, just re-toss).  Tell the learner(s) you expect about 75 of the tosses to land on one and 25 to land on the other (clarify this is a giver or take kind of a number).  When you get to one hundred tosses that count it will most likely be something around 75-water, 25-land.  If you are doing percentages, have your child/class calculate the percentage. 

Have your child(ren) tell you whether your experiment shows that there is more water or whether it shows that there is more land.  It is likely your child(ren) will wonder if you just got lucky or not.  Take them all outside and set a few ground rules to help with management (do what you need to in order to pre-emtively prevent balls from going over fences, dodge ball games from beginning etc.  For example, you may remind them what a "gentle toss" looks like and specify you expect only these kinds of throws). 

If you have a whole class, have the kids break into smaller groups of 3-4 kids and try the experiment again.  Each group will need a record keeper to keep a running tally for the group of "land" vs. "ocean".  If your kids will be doing percentage practice, just give them a certain amount of time and when time is up give them 5 minutes to make sure every one in the group has the data.  Go back to the classroom and give your kids a little time to calculate their percentages.  A member from each group should then report its number findings and percentage to the whole class.  For homework, have the kids calculate the whole class percentage (showing their work) and then analyze the results and write a conclusion that states whether or not the test showed there to be more surface covered with water or with land.

If you have younger kids, have them report their numbers to you and calculate an entire class percentage for them.  Discuss with them what the numbers mean in terms of more water or more land.  Go ahead and talk to them briefly and simply about "percentage" just describing that it is a way of saying "this many times out of one-hundred" or as a way of saying, "if the world's surface was in 100 pieces, this many would be covered by water and this many would be covered by land".  Have the kids copy the class conclusion about water or land into their science logs or onto their papers.

A Great Resource for Follow Up Ecological and Science activities about water and water use.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Young Children and Deception

Discovering how to be deceptive is common in the preschool child but boy it sure is a tough one to deal with. It is really difficult for a preschooler to understand long - term consequences and benefits of anything let alone when it is something that seems beneficial in the short term.   

Preschoolers and other young children (Toddler - Early Elementary) don't typically have a lot of experience with the contrast between trust or lack-of-trust.  Hopefully, most of the people they encounter are pretty trustworthy most of the time.  The idea of trustworthiness as compared to a lack of trust is usually novel to them.  This was something we really struggled with Alice on for awhile between the ages of three and four - and although she is honest most of the time, there are still times she is certainly tempted. 
For a child that is an auditory learner and relates well to stories, two classics to take a look at are: "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and "Pinnochio".  My own little one was still unable to explain why other characters in a variety of modern takes on a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" as well as the original did not go to the boy's aid at the end of the story right up until recently.  
In order to teach the concept of "trustworthiness" and how easy it is to lose the status of being trustworthy, I found a suggestion where family members take one another for "trust walks" online and laughed at myself for not having thought of it on my own because it was something I did almost every year with my middle-schoolers.  You know, you pair up and one member is blindfolded and then you trade. Go through the exercise and be trustworthy, but then ask of the child (children), "how would you have felt if I had . . . " and then fill in with an untrustworthy action.  When we finally did this activity a few years ago, the difference between before the trust walk and after was dramatic.  It really sent the message home in regard to what her daddy and I had tried to express to her so many times before.
Once the concepts of trustworthiness and honesty are understood, many families, including ours, use the "second consequence" tact.  The idea is that there is a second consequence added onto any original consequence that would have existed without the lie.  When children know this is coming it can be a good deterrent to lying.  We also continue to discuss how important trust is and remind about the natural consequence of "loss of trust" whenever this "second consequence" must be used.  As often as is possible, there is a third "consequence" that drives this point home soon after a situation where a lie has been used.  For example, "no, you can't go to your friend's house because I can't trust you to clean up your messes without me watching over you" (when a child has claimed to have cleaned something up that didn't really get cleaned)  "I guess you'll have to work on earning back more trust by being more honest".
I feel the more ways the discussion can be had and the topic can be addressed, the sooner and more fully the importance of trustworthiness and how to maintain it will be understood.  I do know this will be an "on going" discussion in any household as the temptations simply become greater as they continue to get older. I'd love to hear what did you do or what you plan to do with your own when the time comes.
Since we were having all the trouble with lying, we have also worked with a book titled, "E Is for Ethics" by Ian James Corlett. It is a wonderful book with many more subjects than honesty and trust (but these two subjects are addressed as individual subjects as well)  Each chapter begins with a story that is basically a kid- sized conundrum about what the right thing to do is.  The book sets up the story and then gives guides for how to go about discussing the best outcome with your kids.

Just remember,  lying is a natural thing for kids to try out a few times.  The fact that they've lied a few times, doesn't make them a bad kid - its just an opportunity to learn and practice better choices and habits.  What will help your kid most is if you stay calm, don't worry about it too much but apply appropriate consequences and apply them consistently.