February 17, 2011

Mitosis Cookies

I assumed that everyone made mitosis cookies in school.  I went to 2 schools in the course of my K-12 life and I'm pretty sure I made one of these cookies at both schools.  But when I mentioned them my husband had never heard of them, my dear friend asked if her kids could get in on the action, and my web friends asked for a tutorial.  I must confess that I was thrown by the request to tute a science cookie, but here goes!

 I introduced mitosis only after Hannah Jane had built models of DNA, sketched a giant (and I do mean giant) cell that she could explain with no help, and had a general understanding of the basic functions of each of the organelle.  I think mitosis cookie before all of that is just a meaningless cookie.

The best site I've found for basics of biology is  biology4kids and we've been on it constantly the past few weeks.  Everything is simple, easy to read, and displayed in kid friendly visuals.  Check it out!

Once we had cell function under our belt, we watched some mitosis animations, and I made index cards with a sketch of each phase.  We discussed each one and then played a game where we'd take turns mixing them up and trying to put them back in order.

Finally it was cookie time!We ended up doing this twice because our first round was in an environment where I didn't feel good about seeing what Hannah Jane really knew.  We were with friends who had not studied cells and I didn't want it to seem like a show off session for the other kid so we just used the pictures as a model and decorated.

What I wanted to do, and did later, was have Hannah Jane teach me about mitosis.  That's right!  Kids love playing the teacher and it challenges them to put their own understanding into words.  Then I chose a phse that I didn't quite understand (as part of the game, of course) and had her decorate a cookie, no picture to copy, that would show me what's going on in that phase and help me understand.

Not bad, eh?

I have found that kids will enjoy just about anything science related, and really whole heartedly attempt to comprehend, it when they know that there is a food related project waiting for them at the end.

Want a sneak peek at the science fair board that started us in this direction?

There are cell models, beaded models of the double helix, other beaded models of the nucleotide molecules, models of the atoms that make up those molecules, chromatin versus chromosomes, a mitosis diagram, and finally a DNA replication drawing.  No real scientific method, but when a kid actually wants to learn about something in depth, you don't step in and demand that they instead do some project out of a book that's been done a thousand times before and promise to come back to real interest driven learning later.  At least I don't.  So she's just displaying what she's learned about DNA.  I'm cool with it.

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