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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Digestion After Dinner

The time between dinner and bedtime can go one of two ways. On a “good” day it means cooperative playtime between two loving and generous brothers. On a “challenging” day it means an hour of incessant whining, discord, and accusatory play between two frenemies. As I think about what triggers one kind evening or the other, I have come to the conclusion that the answer lies with Mommy. Yes, ME. While I am busy trying to clean the kitchen, sort the mail, catch up on phone calls, or play scrabble online with my friends the boys get a little unhinged. They don’t need me to play with them per se, but they want to know I am there and available. To be honest, by that time of the day I am counting down the seconds to when Dad gets home.
Tonight, I decided to try something different. I organized an after dinner activity. First, I told them that we were going to conduct an investigation after I washed the dinner dishes. They played nicely with toys and even put on their pjs independently. Then the evening’s entertainment began.
I thought that digestion would be a great topic to tackle since we had just eaten supper. I asked the boys to tell me where their food goes. Henry and Leo were surprisingly well-informed. (Is that you again Sid?) They told me that the food goes down their throat, into their bellies, and out in the bathroom. I will spare you their more graphic rendition. It was interesting to me that they didn’t know anything about how the body takes the good things in the food to keep us healthy and energized.
So, I pulled out the materials: crackers, lemon juice, and sandwich bags. I had the lemon shaped bottle of “lemon juice”. I decided to use that since I had no idea how it got into my fridge.
I explained that the bag was a pretend stomach, the juice was the acid in our stomach, and the crackers were the food. Both boys wanted to get right into it. I asked Leo what we could do with the crackers to make it seem like we were eating. Brilliantly, the boy said “put the cracker in your mouth.” Ah, the elusive wall between real and make believe!
I modeled for them how to break the crackers into smaller pieces before dropping them into the baggie “stomach.” We talked about the role of teeth and how small food needs to be in order to make it down our throats. Then we sealed the bags and they started mashing, just like our real stomach muscles. As you can see, they had fun.
It didn’t take long for the lemon juice to break down the cracker. The mish mash in the bag looked quite gooey and mushy. It had a high gross factor, which we all know is the best thing for little kids. Henry remarked, “Is that really what’s happening in my stomach? Cool.”
The action provided so much for us to talk about. They wanted to know all about what kind of juice was in our real stomach and where the food went and how does the body know what it needs. Amazingly, the bathroom talk was minimal. Honestly, I didn’t have all the answers, but that didn’t matter. All at once we were talking about healthy food, healthy bodies, and healthy activities. It went way beyond digestion.
In the end, Henry’s bag broke and we had to stop smushing the “stomachs.” This activity was a great way to transition from dinner to bedtime. I know I’ve said this many times before, but these Sid investigations really engage the kids in concrete, informative, and purposeful ways. And when the activity helps me as mom, that’s even better! Happy digesting everyone!
I would love to hear from you about your experiences with the Sid the Science Kid investigations. Have you tried one at home? How did it work for you? Please share your children’s adventures!
You can find the digestion investigation here.

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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