Swings, slides and climbing structures are loads of fun. And they offer first hand experiences with pendulums, ramps, and levers, not to mention forces such as gravity and friction. Just paying some attention to how things move provides children with important early experiences in physics. Turn your local play area into a science playground with these simple activities.
Balancing: Many children enjoy the challenge of walking along a balance beam, seeing how long they can continue to stay on. They also appreciate being able to show you their success in doing so. Encourage your child to talk about what she is feeling as she tries to keep her balance – what is she doing with her arms in order to keep her balance? What about her feet? The rest of her body? Asking her to think about what she is doing will help her begin to focus on how certain kinds of movements seem to help balance while others do not.
Floating in the air: The playground offers high perches where you and your child can investigate how different things fall to the ground. Find a safe space that is high off the ground. Bring various materials to drop such as balls, feathers, pieces of paper, etc. Do they all fall to the ground the same way? Does a 4” x 8” piece of paper fall the same when it is dropped as an open sheet as it does when crumpled into a ball? How about when folded as a paper airplane?