The Early Years: Observing With Magnifiers by: Peggy Ashbrook

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Inspire your students to become detailed observers by encouraging the use of magnifiers. Magnification can make us see an object with new understanding. Rachel Carson said, “Some of nature’s most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake” (Carson 1965). The lesson described here uses interesting objects to give children a reason to learn to use a magnifier.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (7)
  • on Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:10 PM

For an activity to use a magnifier I will use the opportunity to take my class outside. Prior to taking the class out I will go out and mark 1 square foot sections and have one for each student. I will than give each student their own section and a magnifier and have them go through and observe that they see in that section of grass. I will have each of the students make a science journal similar to the ones we used in class and they will have to draw and identify 10 different living organisms in their section of grass. Some of the challenges with having students in K-2 use magnifiers would be keeping the students on task, and their lack of hand-eye coordination. I would keep the kids on task by constantly monitoring the entire class and use reminders to get them back on task if they start to lose focus. I will also address this by possibly having them rotate between the sections of grass every 3-5 minutes so they see something new and they will also be able to move around rather than sitting in one place. To address the hand-eye coordination I will have 2 types of magnifiers available, one that’s a normal magnify glass and one that that is attached to a bottle or cylinder so they can place it on the ground without having to hold it over the bug or whatever they are looking at. By addressing these issues and being proactive throughout the activity the activity should be successful!

Rebecca J
Rebecca J

  • on Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:01 PM

This article demonstrates the use of simple materials turned into fabulous, exciting and engaging hands-on learning tools. Additionally, the classroom management ideas were fun and simple too! Wonderful article and ideas for classroom teachers.

Wendy Goley  (Goshen, IN)
Wendy Goley (Goshen, IN)

  • on Tue May 14, 2013 10:21 AM

This article has two outstanding pieces of information in it. First of all, teachers need to remember that..." Young children’s observations may not follow the lesson plan, but they are important to recognize even if they are off-topic." Teachable moments are some of the best there is. Another point in the article is how to use a large clear container of water to start off activities about magnifiers. When the teacher sticks their hand into a jar to pick up an object, student can see that water magnifies the hand. This is an excellent way to show magnification.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:03 PM

Learning to use a simple hand lens is a way to interest young children about the world around them and to help them learn how to make observations like a real scientist while using a basic tool. The activity is simple to follow and requires several hand magnifiers and some everyday items like coins, marbles and more. By playing with these tools young children learn how they can help them see very small things and introduces them to the concept of magnification.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:51 AM

I like the idea that putting the magnifiers in the classroom, and should be placed in the science area. When students want to observe something tiny, it's very convenient to approach magnifier and may intrigue them to explore further. While you mentioned silent signal, it is indeed a sound method to acknowledge students' achievement and what they have done without disrupting others, but it would be perfect after your intentional nod or some gestures if you went right to them and watch their work with smiling, and then giving them effective feedback immediately is also necessary.

Jingjing Heng
Jingjing Heng

  • on Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:01 PM

This article made a connection between early use of magnifiers and the development of observation skills. The author suggests having magnifiers all around the classroom, and the use of various sizes and strengths. Some children may not find them easy to use at first, but will with practice in various settings. Included are some basic tips on getting young children to recognize change in size with water and in encouraging discussion and higher level thinking.

Sheri  (Wichita Falls, TX)
Sheri (Wichita Falls, TX)

  • on Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:58 PM

This article has some great information. It gives some great background information on what this activity does for the students. It shows that there is a purpose and it is not just a random activity for your students to do. The activity is good because there are a lot of opportunities for the students to think about the questions the teacher asks and answer them. It also lets them explore and look at some things on their own. However, one thing that this activity does not have is structure, or a way of ensuring that the students are doing what they are supposed to because there is no writing, drawing, or telling about it after. They do answer some questions orally, but not every single student will be answering the questions.

Brooke Branum
Brooke Branum

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