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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Month: December, 2010

As the kids count down the days until Christmas with a growing sense of uncontrollable glee, I am conducting my own personal countdown. A countdown to the holiday school break. And I am not entirely gleeful. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the impending festivities…I just wish sometimes that I had more hours kid-free in the day to get ready. I am not a parent who can do a zillion projects while my children are underfoot. (If you are one of those parents…I want to be your best friend and apprentice.) I need to make a plan that will keep us all busy and happy.
Sid the Science Kid Activities
There are lots of fun and quick activities on the website that are meaningful with or without having viewed the corresponding Sid episode.

  • Texture Hunt (Senses Cycle): This is a cute activity that has kids search around the house for different textures on furniture, clothes, floors, etc and report back with findings. I am going to add a “holiday” element and have the boys describe the textures of some decorations like the pine tree, garland, tree skirt, stockings, Christmas cards, etc.
  • Frozen Fruit (Transformation and Change Cycle): Who isn’t trying to build in some healthy eating choices into the menus this time of year? This activity teaches children about reversible change as children freeze fruit in water, think about ways to melt the water to get at the fruit, and then eat it up! I think that it would be fun to freeze the fruit outside overnight if you live in a cold part of the country. I also like that the results will also take care of snack time!
  • The Big Box Investigation (Simple Machines Cycle): Most of you know by now that I moved cross-country earlier this year. I still have lot of boxes stacked up in my garage. We also know the holidays brings boxes in the mail for many of us. Well, here’s a way to use them creatively! In this activity, one child sits in a box while another child (or group…play date anyone?) finds a way to move the box across the floor. I see this one as a great way to expend a lot of pent up energy while learning about something very useful!

Sid the Science Kid Website
Check out the games and activities at http://pbskids.org/sid/index.html. I may be able to sneak in some wrapping or Christmas card addressing while Henry and Leo play a game or color. Go explore and see what excites you and your kids.

  • Shadow Show: This game combines shape recognition with matching while reminding children about shadows. Henry and Leo will love the part when they click the light to check the shapes.
  • Kitchen Magician: Sid asks kids to match a food (such as scrambled eggs) to food source (eggs) and reinforces the concept of irreversible change. It is really cute. My boys are going to LOVE the jokes that Sid tells between rounds. We will be hearing them at the dinner table for months and months to come.
  • Sid Says: This version of Simon Says gets kids thinking about and identifying muscles. The best part is that the game asks the player to get up and move their muscles. Great for working off some energy!
  • Printables: Henry and Leo love to color. The Print tab will take you to some cute pages that you can reproduce and have at the ready. I know that sometimes I just need a few moments of quiet to get through a hectic moment. I pick up a crayon and color my own page. It is so relaxing.
  • Video: Don’t forget to check out the video clips. We love the songs and the kids ask to hear them over and over again. If you ever wanted to see a specific investigation that I mention on the blog you can find most of them here. Sometimes, less is more and I can reward good behavior with a snippet or two of Sid the Science Kid.

More Festive Fun
I have a few holiday go-to activities to share. Many ideas have come from other mom friends, preschool teachers, and cyberspace browsing. It’s great to have something up my sleeve for a slow afternoon with antsy boys.

  • Paper Snowflakes: I tried this with the boys for the first time this year. They love playing with the safety scissors but the mess made me feel like an elf working overtime. That is okay because the boys had a blast. I did most of the cutting while the boys did the decorating. My boys like glitter. Who doesn’t?
  • Wrapping Blocks: Kids are fascinated and attracted to tape and wrapping paper. So I let them wrap wooden blocks. This year I am saving all of the wrapping paper scraps in a box for the boys and letting them do their own “wrapping.” I bought a bunch of tape at the dollar store just for them. I first saw this at Henry’s preschool. Genius. And perhaps now I have something I can use for a centerpiece!

I hope that some of these ideas will help create merriment in your house and bring order to the mayhem!
Do you have any great activities you’d like to share? Post them below so we can all try them out!
PS: I won’t be posting next week. Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2011!

Last month I told you about a fun fort activity we experimented with to explore the absence of light. Sid the Science Kid is a gift that keeps giving, as far as we’re concerned. As the Light and Shadow cycle rolls around again this week, I have a few more stories about the role of light in our lives.
On a recent Friday night, we found ourselves without power. During dinner. Henry and Leo were very excited and a little scared as Gerry and I ran around trying to find candles and flashlights. I overheard Henry reminding an apprehensive Leo that things were the same in the dark as they are in the light…nothing to be afraid of. (Thanks Sid!) Gerry searched our box-filled garage for flashlights while I hunted around the house for dusty candles. I say “dusty” because I don’t think we’ve lit a candle since before Henry was born. To tell you the truth, I was thrilled about the blackout. I didn’t care about the whys or how long or even that dinner was forgotten. I immediately saw the potential for family time. We all gathered in the living room for a family dance party to music from my fully charged iPad. We danced by candlelight and it was so special. I definitely felt a twinge of disappointment when the lights came back on at bedtime. I am sure Gerry and I watched Leo and Henry make a life-long memory that night.
The blackout led to a great dad purchase: headlamps for the boys. Now they spend full afternoons finding dark places in the house, like my closet, to hide away in and switch on their lamps. Great scientific tools! I pretend not to notice where they are and eavesdrop as they whisper secret instructions and crawl around among my shoes. I think there is something universal in this childhood spirit of adventure, as they explore light and dark, what scares them and what makes them feel safe. I listen to my sweet boys and I am transported to my own mother’s closet where my brother Jeff used to hide. I remember the smell of leather and Chanel No. 5. I wonder what Henry and Leo will remember.
While the boys spent the month of November learning about the dark, December came roaring in with all the light and cheer of the holidays. And I mean that literally. As a transplanted New Englander, I am grateful for the bright sun illuminating my days. I am also grateful for the gift of diversity in our lives as the boys learned about Chanukah for the first time this year. The boys were captivated by the Chanukah story and very interested in lighting Menorah candles. Leo was particularly enchanted as we watched a dear friend light the candles and sing the blessings at a Chanukah party last weekend. As I watched Leo in the candlelight, I choked up, knowing that he was growing a little bit in front of my eyes. It was beautiful.
In our own home, Christmas came barreling in over the weekend. The lights are up on the house, on the tree in the living room, in the little tree in the boys’ room, and wherever else I decided to string lights. At night when I turn off the regular lights, the house glows with Christmas illumination. I love it and the boys do too. For me, the Christmas lights make this new house in California feel like home for the first time. Maybe I am finally settling in.
MerryLights.jpg
And what does all this have to do with Sid the Science Kid? Well, on the surface, not too much. However, as this tends to be the time of year for reflection, I can think of quite a few ways in which Sid and this blog have illuminated my life this year. I am so much more aware of the questions Leo and Henry ask. I am more present and less likely to brush the questions off in the bustle of the day. I am willing to admit when I don’t have the answers and explore with them. Henry and Leo are becoming critical thinkers right before my eyes and that is amazing to me.
I would love to hear about the way you illuminate the holidays!

Sometimes science can be really silly. At least, Leo and I certainly think so. We did more laughing than serious investigating this week, but I make no apologies. We had fun! Sid the Science Kid is all about the human body this cycle and Leo’s belly laughs definitely count as a whole body experience. He may be getting early admission to clown school.
We really like the episode “How Did My Dog Do That?” mostly because of the guest star: Grandma’s dog Filbert. In it, Sid observes Filbert scratch an ear with a hind leg and attempts to do it himself. Sid can’t get his leg to bend and hilarity ensues — mostly in my own home. When we watched, Leo got up to see if he could have more success scratching an ear with his foot and started laughing almost immediately. It was funny. He jumped on one leg, grabbed the other with his hands, and tried to wrench his foot up to his ear. Kersplat! Leo was on the carpet giggling. Then, in a moment of Zen that would make any yogi master proud, Leo DID manage to get his foot up to his ear. “See Mom!” he exclaimed. “I can do it!”
foottoear.jpg
In the episode, Sid’s experience with Filbert leads to an investigation about joints and bones. Leo, my pretzel boy, got his learning off on the wrong foot, so to speak, with his yoga moves. Thankfully, the cool graphics of the dog skeleton got his attention and he started to understand the role of joints. In the Super Fab Lab, Sid and his friends use splints to see how difficult it would be to complete simple tasks without joints. Leo was hooked, and very willing to try it out himself.
Once I looked at the Bones Investigation online, I realized that I did not have the exact materials. So I improvised with crayons, wooden train tracks, and blue painter’s tape. My best friend Susan first introduced me to the wonders of painter’s tape before a cross country flight with the boys. But that’s a blog post for another time. You should all just run out and get some painters tape. Trust me. (Although it occurs to me that I should probably also have white medical tape on hand, as the activity calls for.)
The challenge of this activity was getting my preschooler to stay still long enough to apply a splint to a finger, arm, or leg. Leo was very wiggly and giggly. An extra set of adult hands would have made it easier. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I had to apply a splint in some sort of first aid, woodsy, hiking scenario…I may need to get some wilderness training.
We tried a finger splint first. I had to break a couple of crayons to size for Leo’s little fingers. I asked him to try and pick up blocks and spoons. I was impressed how he managed to adapt and use his other fingers and the palm of the hand. On the other hand, I felt challenged to immobilize him to reinforce the importance of joints. More tape! We tried his arm next, with better success. It was hysterical to watch him try and put on and take off a ball cap, especially since he was laughing so hard. There is no sweeter sound in the world, as far as I am concerned.
splint.jpg
Our final splint was on the leg. When I set him loose he tried to run but fell down, belly laughing again. He got and tried to maneuver up a step into the hallway. The sensation made him exclaim, “I can’t bend!” Finally, the aha moment! I explained joints again and this time he seemed to understand.
Ultimately, the learning in this investigation was less important than the process. We had a blast and laughed so much. We used ordinary objects in interesting ways. What kid doesn’t like to break a crayon or two? Leo extended his learning out to the neighborhood that afternoon when he ran outside to talk with a friend who recently had a leg cast removed. He wanted to explain joints and splints to our neighbor. I guess he learned a lot after all!
How do you like to put the fun into learning? Have you had an experience with your child where the process was more as rewarding as the result?

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