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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Silly Splints

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!”
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.
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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