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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Family Fort

I am really enjoying the new cycle on Sid the Science Kid about light and darkness. In the episode “Discovering Darkness,” Sid learns about darkness in order to overcome his fears. While Henry and Leo are not afraid of the dark, I really like the idea of using science and experiments as a way to allay a child’s fears. The episode also featured an activity that involves building a fort.
The mom in me is not a huge fan of “forting.” My living room is turned upside down (quite literally), cushions stacked in precarious positions, blankets unfolded, toys under the furniture, and little boys fight as it all comes tumbling down on their heads. Clean up is usually a battle. Not fun for me.
On the other hand, the little kid in me remembers the joy of building a fort in the living room: an indoor clubhouse and adventures in the living room created out of cushions and blankets. I loved pretending with my own brothers in our couch forts. It was fun and adventure. I just don’t remember there being such a mess!
When I suggested that we conduct a family experiment the boys had a lukewarm reaction. However, when I said our experiment would include making a fort it was like they hit the jackpot. Whoops, hollers, yells, and hurrahs rang through the house.
Dad joined in for the fun as we gathered chairs from the kitchen, blankets, a flashlight, and a cardboard box for a roof. I asked the boys to sit under the chairs as Dad and I covered the fort with blankets. Their job was to tell us when it was dark in the fort. No light coming in. They were confused at first because they wanted a door to the fort, but soon got the hang of it. I think Henry and Leo liked telling us what to do. They boys yelled out directions like: Over where the leaves are! NO OVER HERE! WAIT! There’s light at the bottom! Cover it!
We had to use many blankets and even though it was nighttime, we never achieved full darkness. But that didn’t matter. Once it was mostly dark, I crawled in with Henry while Dad and Leo shone the flashlight around. I took a moment to bring some science concepts into the play:
“Darkness is the absence of light. Do you understand what that means?”
“Mom, I thought that absence was when someone was missing at school.”
“You are so close, Henry! Absent is like the word absence. The light is missing from our fort!”
Talk about a light going off in a kid’s head! I was so impressed by Henry’s word association. I am a word person and I love making vocabulary connections with the kids. It was a great moment.
We played in the fort for a long time. The kids really enjoyed switching roles around: light spotter, blanket adjuster, flashlight holder, and fort architect. I am always looking for new things we can do as a family at home. This activity was great because everyone was involved, we learned something, and it did not involve removing all the cushions from my couch. You can’t go wrong with that.
What are some of your favorite family activities for at home? How do you build learning opportunities into family time?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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