Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Science Lesson: Eyes Made for Day and Night

For part of our "Vision" theme, we talked about how eyes look, and how the way they look tells us something about what they do.

-- We looked at pictures of different animal eyes (I had printed them off the computer and cut some from our monthly zoo mailing). Some animals have big, round eyes with very round and large pupils.

-- Other animals have almond-shaped eyes with smaller, or even horizontal, pupils. Why is that?

Here's a very basic answer for young children: The huge, round pupils of nocturnal animals help them to gather more light. The long, flat pupils of animals like deer and horses give them better depth perception on rocky, uneven ground. Such pupils also help them to see more around them, such as a lion crouching in the grass.

-- Some animals who live underground or in caves have no eyes at all! Can your child think of an example? (Worms are animals without true eyes!)

Simple Activity:

After talking for a day or so about animal eyes and how we can tell the special things they can do by looking at them, I printed several pictures off the Internet and had Nora sort them by whether they belonged to Day-seeing or Night-seeing animals (diurnal or nocturnal animals!). She didn't find this activity difficult. It was a concrete way for her to evaluate the things we had been talking about. Plus, it's just cool to look at all those different animal eyes!

There are so many other aspects of vision that could be taught...but due to my young audience, I kept it simple.

Here's a "master list" of vision / eye activities you might want to do with young children:

EYE ACTIVITIES for preschoolers:

-- Take a few minutes to pay attention to your eyes.  How far can you move them?  Do you "see" anything when your eyes are closed?

-- Let kids explore their world with magnifying glasses, binoculars, and a simple microscope if you have access to one.

-- Let kids look at their eyes in the mirror.  Point out a few basic parts of anatomy.

-- Use this unit as an opportunity to talk about eye care: not scratching or rubbing the eye; using cool water to help an itchy/inflamed eye; being careful never to spray anything in the eye.

-- Look at photos of your pets and other animals in the dark.  Why are their eyes shiny and glowing? 

-- Look at pictures online of various animals and their weird, wonderful eyes!  (See my links list at the end of this unit for a few good places to start.)

-- Give your child a small, safe handheld mirror and let her draw her eye on paper, using her reflection as a guide.

-- Play the ol' Halloween game.....feeling various objects in bowls...blindfolded!  (Spaghetti, peeled grapes, baby carrots, Oobleck, etc.) 

-- In the car or out the window, play "I Spy." 

-- let your preschooler observe eye dilation

-- Play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

-- Play hide-and-go-seek.

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