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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Save Water: A Message Worth Repeating!

Sometimes an activity comes along on the show that reminds me that my work as a mom is never done. Not that I am ever expecting it to be! However, sometimes I surprise myself by not following some of the basic rules for teaching and living with young children. Mainly: repetition is your friend. Be it the ABC song, a tattered picture book, or singing You Are My Sunshine, children love to experience things over and over again. My boys never get sick of mac n cheese or playing at the same park every Tuesday. I may be bored to tears by some of these treasured experiences (I DO treasure them) but Henry and Leo happily persist with the familiar.
Some of the Sid the Science Kid activities have become familiar to us because they come up repeatedly in our everyday lives: nonstandard units of measurement, irreversible change, force and friction, etc. What made me pause this week was an activity they DID NOT remember. We were getting ready for bed and I was thinking about the Brush Em Up activity airing again this week. The activity is a clear and visual reminder for kids about conserving water while brushing teeth. After reading a story with the boys, I asked them if they remembered how to conserve water in the bathroom at bedtime. They both gave me glassy stares.
“C’mon,” I persisted. “Remember we brushed our teeth with the water on and then we shut it off and compared how much water we used?”
Nothing. They did not remember.
“It’s a Sid activity. Remember? Okay, let’s do it again right now.”
This got their attention! It was bedtime and mommy wanted to do an investigation. They are always interested in prolonging the bedtime routine!
So we marched into the bathroom and began. I modified the activity for speed and because I didn’t want to go get bowl, but the results are just as meaningful.
Henry went first. I pushed down the plug and told him to brush his teeth with the water ON. He looked at me like I was crazy. I remember the when we did this activity for the first time last year. Henry was not happy about wasting water. Clearly, he still feels that way. Regardless of his beliefs, Henry went along with me. As he brushed his teeth the basin filled up with water about ¾ of the way. We mentally noted the spot and pushed the plunger in so the stopper came out. The water drained away.
(On an aside: I can’t tell you how often I have to tell them not to fiddle with the plug in the bathroom sink. Henry and Leo love to play with the plunger and the handle to the point where we have had to replace it a couple of times. As Henry brushed and spit, he really enjoyed watching the water spill and then drain out. All he wanted to do was stick his hands in the toothpaste water. Ick. I told him to make a good choice.)
Leo’s turn was next. He would brush his teeth with the water off. We set the plunger again and turned on the water to wet his brush. Then we immediately turned the water off. Leo brushed and then spit in the little puddle. We rinsed his brush and he was done. Then we compared. Leo’s water level was a lot lower than Henry’s. He had used significantly less water, of course. The boys saw very quickly how they could save water in the bathroom.
I extended the activity over the toilet. I took the cover off the tank, flushed the toilet, and let them watch as the water rushed out and the tank gradually filled again. We talked about how much water the tank holds (a lot) and how much water we use ever time we flush (a lot.) The boys agreed to stop playing with toilet and over-flushing (do your kids do this?) and even skip the flush if the water wasn’t very yellow. That is way to save even more water!
The lesson for us was in the reminder. We always turn the water off while brushing teeth. They boys do it automatically and it is a familiar part of their routine. But what they didn’t remember was WHY they were turning off the water. By repeating a very simple activity, we were able to talk about water conversation and reinforce an important life lesson.
Do you find yourself repeating activities with your kids? What kinds of lessons need the most reinforcement?

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