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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Month: September, 2012

Sid the Science Kid starts his day off with a question he wants to explore. He talks to his family, brings his ideas to school, and investigates with his teacher and friends. At bedtime Sid puts his pajamas on, gathers all that he has learned, and comes up with an “Ooper Schmooper BIG IDEA.” At the end of the day, Sid lets his imagination free to engineer solutions and feed his curiosity.

Every child should have a day like that.

As a parent, this is my dream for Henry and Leo. I want them to ask questions every day and take the answers to unexpected and delightful places. That is what the folks and Henson and Sid the Science Kid have given to my family. Sid reminded me that the essence of learning is asking a question about anything and looking for the answer with your family, with your friends, at school, and in the community.

Sid the Science Kid changed my learning expectations for my children and for myself. Before watching the show and starting this blog I would never have attempted to teach my boys physics, engineering, estimation, biology, or anything STEM related. Those things were outside my comfort zone and I was going to rely on school to take care of it. Now, because of this experience, I feel empowered to build the foundations Henry and Leo need to be engaged learners as they head into elementary school and beyond. I always knew I wanted the boys to be good students, but now I know for sure that I can make a tangible impact on the results.

We learn together as a family. Learning doesn’t have to be confined to what their school or state curriculum dictates. It seems obvious, I know, but taking on that responsibility can be overwhelming. Sid has made it easier for me by providing a framework for learning. I take advantage of learning opportunities in our everyday lives. Investigations happen in the kitchen, at the beach, at an amusement park, in the backyard, and on the baseball field. We look up, around, down, and all around as we step out in the world. Best of all, Henry, Leo, and I make each other laugh.

Yesterday, Leo came up to me while I was working on the computer. He asked: “Mom, why do owls have turn their head all the way around instead of just moving their eyes?”

Leo caught me off guard. I was totally involved in my work and his sweet question distracted me. For a split second, I thought about sending him away and getting back to work. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. So we quickly looked up some information about owls on the Internet. We didn’t find the answer exactly, but we opened up a conversation. Now my head is brimming with ideas about how we can learn more about owls, research owls at the library, see owls in person, and make something owl related. It only took a moment, a simple question from Leo and we are off on an investigation.

Almost every week for the past two years I have conducted Sid the Science Kid investigations with Henry and Leo on this blog. It is a gift of priceless value to me. How many parents have the chance to chronicle their children’s live in this way? I did, and I am so very grateful to the creators at Sid the Science Kid. Even though this blog has run its course, I still plan on following Sid on all of his new adventures. Henry, Leo and I will continue to watch what Sid and his friends are up to. Leo will always love playing Sid games on the website. As a parent, I will always turn to the Parents page on the Sid website as a resource and for inspiration.

If you want to check in on what Henry, Leo, and I are up to, find us at my blog, Growing Curious Kids at www.growingcuriouskids.com.

Remember to be purposeful in your investigations, stuff your days with rich language full of academic content, laugh, and let your children lead you. We all have a lot to learn. Thanks Sid!

Trina

It has been funny to watch Leo navigate through his first few weeks of Kindergarten. I wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to feel or respond to the new environment, friends, and routine. To be honest, Leo has surprised me. The best way I can describe his reaction is call it “cool and curious.” Leo likes school, but doesn’t have a lot of excitement. He has some gripes about playground rules and access to toys, but he is sailing along with a measure quiet curiosity. “When can I buy lunch?” “When can I play with the blocks?” “When can my new friend come over?” The academics seem to be taking a back seat.

At home, however, Leo is very excited about learning. Henry has started bringing homework to complete, and Leo wants to participate. We have been playing a math game where I show the boys a group of pennies (5). I take pennies (2) and hide them in one hand. I show the boys what is left (3) and they have to tell me how many pennies they need to make 5 (2). It is a fun way to work on addition facts. Henry is a whiz and we are already working with 12 pennies. Leo, not to be outdone, wants to work up to 6. It’s interesting to watch him work it out in his mind. Henry understands that there is a level of memorization happening while Leo patiently counts with his fingers. I am enjoying bringing math into the house in a fun way.

It seemed like a perfect time to introduce Leo to the concept of Estimation. Henry and I did the Sid Investigation called Estimation Exploration last year, but I hadn’t introduced the concept to Leo yet. When I told Leo we were going to do Sid Homework, he jumped with excitement. Sid has such a special place in his little heart! I put a handful of colored rocks in a bowl and we began.

First, I asked him to look at the bowl. How full was it? He answered that is was almost half full. Next, I asked him to count out 10 stones. I wanted him to see what that amount looked like.

Estimation-leo.jpg

Then I had him put the stones back. This was where the fun started. I asked him to make a guess, or estimation, about how many stones were in the bowl. He took a very long time deciding and came up with 24. Before I could even ask him “How do we check your estimate?” Leo was counting the rocks in the bowl. We lined the stones up in two groups of 10 and counted to 20. Leo was very pleased that his estimate was so close.

We played more rounds; I would add stones or take stones away. A couple of times Leo tried to count stones with his eyes instead of estimating. He didn’t want to be “wrong”. I also took the opportunity to start basic grouping and understanding of sets and skip counting. We made groups of 10s, 5s, and 2s with the stones. We counted by 2s and tried counting by 5s. Leo could have plugged along all night.

More and more, I am finding myself in a position where my boys’ abilities and mental capacity far exceeds my expectations. At this age, they are so smart and so willing to take on new concepts. Leo isn’t wary of math or science, much in the same way he isn’t afraid of Kindergarten. New things mean new possibilities and another chance to “get it right” and excel. It’s amazing how much I learn from them, even with the simple act of doing homework or math games.

What new concepts are your kids bringing home? Are you surprised about how much their little brains can soak up?

I love this time of year when we get to connect with old friends and acquaintances at school. Leo and Henry share exuberant reunions with school buddies from last year and I catch up with my “mommy friends” at drop off. But there are some familiar entities I would rather not reacquaint myself with. Germs: those insidious, yucky, messy friends who stay too long at any party.
For me, the germs got to work right away. By the second day of school I had a slight stomach bug that reminded me of my first trimester. (And the answer is NO to anyone who thinks I may be on that boat again.) I visited my doctor who shook her head, saying, “It’s that time of year again” and told me about the woman who had puked in the very spot I sat not a day earlier. Ewww. For several days I was on the rice, water, clear foods diet. Welcome back to school!
For Leo, it took a couple more days. On Friday he came home from school with the sniffles and by Monday he was in full “cold with a head ache” mode. Leo didn’t have a fever and his energy level was fine. So, I sent the poor little guy off to school with a handful of tissues and strict instructions to use a lot of sanitizer. As a new Kindergartener Leo was concerned about getting permission to leave the sharing rug to blow his nose and wash his hands. I assured him that his new teacher would support him in his efforts.
Germs1.jpg
So far, Henry and Gerry have not been visited by the Germs. I am crossing my fingers. But we can all do much more than that to keep germs and illness far far away from our homes this back to school season.
I sat down with the kids to re-watch the Sid the Science Kid episode “The Big Sneeze” about germs and hand washing. (You can get the episode on iTunes as a part of the Sid the Science Kid Season 2 collection.) The message never gets old. Germs stick on your hands, so wash them! Wash your hands! Even though we can’t see the germs, we still need to wash our hands.
With the fall approaching and flu season creeping up on us, even the simple act of washing our hands can make all the difference. When I visited my doctor about my stomach bug her main recommendation for helping my family was to wash my hands frequently. She also told me to use the dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes. I had never thought of that before. I need to make the boys appointments for the flu shot (or spray) and Gerry and I need to follow suit.
So, in this time of new beginnings, new friends, new schools, new outfits, and new lunchboxes I need to be vigilant and protect against new and unwanted GERMS. I know the kids will be learning more about it in school, but I love turning to Sid for a reminder.
How are your kids doing at school or preschool? Have any unwanted germs invaded your home? Share any tips you have for reminding your kids about hand washing!

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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