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Second Grade Exploration Tubs


Books: Remarkable Rocks (Ranger Rick), What Happens to Rock? (Wright Group), Investigating Rocks (Newbridge), Rocks (Newbridge), Using Rocks (National Geographic)

Materials: a collection of rocks with a variety of sizes, colors, and textures, including fossils, fools’ gold, polished rocks, geodes, etc.; provide field guides on rocks, minerals, and fossils

Encourage children to feel the rocks on their cheeks, to scratch for hardness with nails, to look at them with a magnifier, and to sort and classify them. Children also enjoy having a tub of water to put the rocks in because of the change in color and shine. Add a balance scale and cubes to see how many cubes each rock sample weighs.


Book: Field Guide to Seashells (Golden Book)

Materials: a collection of seashells with a variety of sizes, shapes, color, and texture, and a field guide on seashells

Shells can be laid on a plastic tablecloth for easy sorting, or hidden in the sand trough. Encourage students to sort, classify, listen to the ocean, and find the kind of animal that used to live inside by consulting the field guide.


Book: What Is This Skeleton? (Wright Group)

Materials: Collect bones from a hike in the canyon. Boil them or place them in a bleach solution to kill germs. Ask your local zoo or animal park if they will donate bones, feathers, or even owl pellets. Children love to put bones together to create a new animal, and talk about what part of the body that bone might have come from. Old X-rays can be obtained from your local hospital. Children enjoy comparing animal bones with people bones. Show students pictures of the skeletons of several animals and invite children to guess what animal they came from. Add some black paper and chalk. Students draw what they think the skeleton of a particular animal might look like. Students also enjoy using styrofoam peanuts and toothpicks to create skeletons.


Books: Hot and Cold Weather; Clouds, Rain and Fog; Getting Cold! Getting Hot!; Warming Up Cooling Off (Wright Group); Weather Today (National Geographic), The Weather Report (Rosen); Golden Book Clouds Field Guide

Materials: Paper, colored pencils, rain gauge, ruler, thermometer, wind vane (or stationary wind ribbon mounted outside with directions labeled on post); clouds field guide, weather station chart paper

The student will go outside and make an observation about the day’s weather. He or she should draw a picture of the weather each day and add notes about weather observations. The page will be added to the class weather observation book. A brief note of the weather is also transferred to the class weather calendar or graph.


Books: Look What I Did with a Leaf, Apples and Pumpkins, Pumpkin Pumpkin

Materials: Explore apples, pumpkins, squash, and corn on the cob, etc. Compare actual objects with models or replicas of objects.

  1. Which apple (pumpkin, etc.) is the heaviest?
  2. Which is the lightest?
  3. Which is the biggest around?
  4. How many unifex cubes tall is it?
  5. What is unique about this one? Any blemishes? Any distinguishing traits?
  6. How many rows, lines, seeds, etc. does each have? Is it consistent? Or does it vary?
  7. Compare a real apple with a wooden apple.

Using your hand “waft” the apple to catch its fragrance. How do the fragrances compare? Textures? Appearance? How can you tell the
difference between a real apple and a wooden apple without tasting it?


Materials: Observe snowflakes, and icicles using black paper, magnifiers, microscopes. “Frost” crystals can be made by placing moth ball crystals in a glass jar with a canning lid in place and placing the glass in boiling water for just a few minutes until the moth ball crystals melt.
Remove the jar immediately and let cool. As it cools, beautiful frosty patterns will form on the inside of the jar.

  1. How many points does your snowflake have? Catch snowflakes on small pieces of black paper and examine them with a magnifier.
  2. How can you keep it long enough to look closely at it?
  3. Cut snowflakes out of tissue paper. For younger children, teacher should prefold tissue paper and demonstrate the process of cutting tissue paper with scissors.
  4. Observe frost with magnifier. Paint over a picture that was colored with crayons with a solution of equal parts of Epsom Salts and very hot water. Stir until the salts have dissolved. Paint over the crayon-colored winter scene. When it dries, it will have a frosty appearance and texture.
  5. Where do we find icicles? What do you think causes them?
  6. Who enjoyed staying out to observe? How were they dressed differently from those who wanted to come back inside right away?
  7. Collect snow in paper cups. Melt the snow, and measure the water level. Melt icicles. Invent something to keep your icicle from melting.


Materials: bulbs, branches cut off bushes in bud, baggies, seeds, clipboards

  1. Observe the growth of an amaryllis bulb. Place a stiff piece of cardstock beside the plant, and graph its daily growth.
  2. Cut the branches from a pussy willow, forsythia, flowering almond, or some other early blooming bush and place them in a pitcher of water in the classroom. Watch the buds swell, and the branches bloom weeks before the plants outside. Ask the students why they are blooming but the ones outside are not.
  3. Create classroom gardens—Prepare a wading pool with rocks in the bottom for drainage; Add topsoil and a few worms. Plant seeds; baggie sprouting; planter boxes inside classroom or in sunny spot outside; yams, celery, carrot top, pineapple sprouting
  4. Create a seed collection—gather seeds from the canyon in the fall for students to sort and explore umbrella seeds, seed pods, flowers with seeds, burrs, etc.
  5. Students pick a seed out of the box, glue it on their paper, and draw what they think it will grow into.
  6. Clipboards for journals are perfect for student outdoor observations of signs of spring.
© 2003, Elementary CORE Academy, Utah State Board of Education, Utah State University. Artwork created by Nancy Bittner