Because we just recently finished our measurement unit, understanding temperature a little better was a natural extension to our home learning adventures. Also, since my daughter is now a little more active and pushing boundaries every day, learning about hot and cold has become an important safety conversation. While we started working on using both those words a few months ago, she consistently confused the two. In the case of a hot oven or piping hot cup of coffee, knowing the difference has become vitally important.
This week in tot school, we did nothing but focus on those two words (and sometimes the third word “warm”). Since everything we touch has a basic temperature, it made the week very straightforward. This week also happened to be the perfect timing for this theme because the weather shifted about 30 degrees cooler for us!
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Books & Supplies to learn the difference between hot and cold
There are so many ways to explore hot and cold without spending any extra money. Some things you might consider rounding up from around the house or using this week are as follows:
- A hair dryer
- Ice cube trays (they have some fun silicone molds if you want to get fancy)
- The great outdoors!
- Heating packs
- Ice packs and cooling pads
- Salt (to melt ice)
Temperature Vocabulary Words
Some words to consider implementing this week are as follows: temperature, hot, hotter, hottest, warm, warmer, warmest, cold, colder, coldest, cool, cooler, lukewarm, spicy, mild, melt, freeze, etc..
Activities for Teaching Hot and Cold
- Track the Daily Temperature – this can lead to the discussion about Hot, Warm, Cold and even introduce superlatives to understand if it was hotter or cooler than yesterday.
- Make Household Temperature Labels – we played a game all week where we had hot, warm/neutral, and cold labels that we placed on anything that we noticed a temperature for. This meant it was a hunt all week to identify what items in the house generated heat and where things were typically cold or cool.
We placed labels on hot coffee cups, hot ovens, inside of cold refrigerators, on the door of the cold freezer, on the cold vent for the A/C, on the warm door, on the warm laptop charger, etc..Each label not only had the word on it, but was the symbolic color for the temperature. Since so much language in society is symbolic, like signs with red flames, I thought it was important to reinforce those symbolic colors in her learning experience.
- Explore Temperature and Color – even if you have babies, you can easily explore temperature and color symbolism with water play.
- Coconut Oil “thaw” – explore how even things other than ice can melt. This might also turn into some fun idea to melt things like crayons and other great activities to explore the concept of melting.
- Ice Block Art with Colored Salt – This is a great activity from Nurturestore that involves playing with ice and salt to make a piece of art. This is a fun activity for toddlers, even if they do not understand the idea of salt creating “heat”.
- Ice Ball Sensory Bin – make these fun rainbow ice balls from Craftulate to enjoy a fun and colorful sensory bin. This is a great way to explore shapes and colors in addition to temperature!
- Explore warm and cold with Frozen Water Beads from Learn Play Imagine.
- Melting & Floating Play – Little Bins for little Hands has a great simple idea of exploring ice in water. This can be to see it float, start to melt, and more. You can even talk about how the water gets colder with ice in it.
- For the Frozen lovers, make an ice castle and do Elsa’s Ice Experiment from Preschool Powol Packets!
- Explore Heat with Elephant Toothpaste Science experiment from Fun at Home with Kids
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!