Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Magnets and Electricity and Play

What to do with a short school week following a long weekend that had both a grandparents' visit and a fashion show performance in it, and immediately prior to a ballet recital weekend?

We called this "project week," and we just went with it!

I strongly felt that both girls needed a relaxing week between two such full and stressful weekends (at least fashions shows and ballet recitals are stressful for ME!), so instead of regular school, with five subjects a day  and a list of assignments to complete and check off, every morning we took a tour through our house, and I reminded them of the [possibly absurd] number of activity books, kits, manipulatives, and games that we have everywhere, and that typically get ignored in favor of toy ponies, dolls, colored pencils, and the ipad. I asked them to fill some of their time with some of these choices, and I engaged with them while they played, helped with ready reference, pulled up related songs and videos and activities, and sometimes just hung out for the company.

Seriously, though, our ignored kids' stuff stash is ridiculous. In the living room we've got games like Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, Scrabble, Monopoly, and Quirkle. In the girls' bedroom they've got kits to make mosaics, model airplanes, a wooden catapult, plaster models of skeletons and volcanoes, and kid-painted toy animals. In the study there are paint-by-number sets, geography puzzles, logic puzzles, supplies for painting and sewing, how-to-draw books, and the microscope. In the basement are tennis rackets, roller blades, a rock tumbler, and woodworking tools. Outside are bicycles, jump ropes, a pogo stick, sand, gardening tools, softball equipment, and basketballs. And that's just what I pointed out on maybe one day.

Once I made it clear that we were going to settle down for a few hours with things that we didn't usually choose, it was fun to see what the girls did choose, and how much they liked it. For instance, Syd found a magnetism and electricity kit that had been a Christmas gift from her grandmother one year, and that I had actually forgotten about in favor of this other truly epic electricity kit that we also own.

But this particular little kit, although simpler, is SIMPLER, you know? Kid-friendly, and easy to put together and experiment with, and she had a fabulous time exploring with it:
We own a lot of magnets from a magnet unit that we did a while back, but it never occurred to me to mine this set for its all new-to-us magnets!
Remembering how poles work: Willow was able to explain this impromptu, but Syd needed the refresher of this play.

After Syd did this with the magnet set and her compass--

--I tried to find a Youtube video of a compass going crazy at the North Pole, but to no avail. Why are North Pole explorers and Arctic scientists not taking time out of their busy days to help me educate my child?!?

The electricity parts of the set were also simple, easy to put together, and with their lights and sirens and fans that you could hook up, they were tempting enough to lure Willow away from the internet-linked encyclopedia that she was exploring and into the play:

It was a happy morning well spent.


Tina said...

Fun stuff! We have a few items stashed up on a high shelf that we need to pull down. I think one is a magnetic kit, but who knows what else is in there!

And I agree, all those busy, genius's should be taking time out of their days to help educate our children!

julie said...

I seriously get kind of panicky when I think of all the kits and activities and sets that my kids have that they don't play with. It's sort of a combination of my desire to have tons of options for them and my desire to not keep stuff that we don't use.

Tina said...

I know, right! I would love to live a minimalist type of life style, but somehow I don't feel like that would fit with our homeschool/crafty lifestyles.

Maybe I can have one room dedicated to the messy, and the rest minimalist.