Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Science for babies....rock exploration.

If you know anything about my educational philosophies you know I am not in favor of pushing children academically.  I believe my kids have plenty of time to grasp "school skills" and will do so when they are developmentally ready.  Thus I tend to stay away from a lot of traditional educational methods....and even some of the things I DID when I taught in public school. 
That being said, I do believe in exposing my children to learning through simple, well-planned, child-centered environments. 

So today my boy had a science lesson.  It involved a wooden bowl (because have you ever heard the sound a wooden bowl makes when it clatters against a hard surface--divine....) and an assortment of rocks, chosen because of the differences in their textures, sizes, colors, and weights. 

All I did was set it out in front of him.  He held them, tasted them, threw them, rolled them, felt them, licked them, and crawled over them.  All the while learning valuable science skills such as properties of rocks, properties of solids, beginning concepts regarding weight, texture, volume (physical properties).  His eyes took in the color differences and hopefully his ears began depicting the differences in sound the various rocks made when dropped. 

And, I must note, this kept his interest for all of 5 minutes.  I spent more time than that collecting the rocks, finding the wooden bowl I wanted and getting it set out in front of him.  However I will frequently offer the rock bowl for him to explore and will know that he will come back to it and learn more about the rocks as he is ready. 

This activity could of course be adapted for any age.  Older kids could describe the rocks and play a game where they describe a rock and you try to guess which one they are talking about.  You could do crayon rubbings of the different surfaces.  You could line them up from biggest to smallest (heaviest-lightest, darkest-lightest in color, etc.).  Or you could just include a small bowl of rocks in your play area and allow creative little minds to do what they wish with them!!  Bet you will be amazed at the outcome.  And if your kids don't use them right away, step in and involve yourself in their play--gently suggest "What if we pretend these rocks....."  Voila!! 
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