By Lisa Niver Rajna
Parents love to play with their children but often ask me how to bring more science into everyday fun activities. Most adults think of science as an experiment or equation that has nothing to do with everyday life. But science is the process for figuring out how things work. When you think of it that way, even a construction site can turn into a physics lesson. Take a walk with your child and ask your child to put on his imaginary detective hat and tell you everything he sees to improve powers of observation. You can work in a lesson about photosynthesis when you and your child have a conversation about leaves: Why are they green in the spring, and why do they change color in the fall and drop off the trees? See how many different insects you see or different bird songs you hear. City kids can also soak up a little physics by noticing the timing of the traffic lights—do they depend on the flow of traffic to change or are they pre-set? These are all methods to sneak more science into your day! Your phone is always with you, so turn its camera into a teaching tool and your child can pick up some very cool scientific principles of light.
Looking for a bigger adventure, check out the book, Twenty Miles per Cookie, by the Vogel Family. They left home on two bikes for a yearlong journey around the United States with their twin eight-year old boys! They learned science, geography as well as reading, writing and arithmetic, adding up all those miles they biked, while solving problems such as where to sleep when it rained and finding enough water while biking in the desert during 107 degree temperatures. They named the kindness of strangers their “American Road Angels” and had some incredible adventures as a family. You might not be ready for a year on the road, but it may inspire you to solve your own impossible challenges!
For those of you not ready to live on a bicycle, I have two great stay-at-home ideas. Check out the new website, http://www.discoverwater.org/blue-traveler/ from Project Wet. There are many games including Blue Traveler, a trip through the water cycle and the water detective activity that teaches how to use water wisely. Kids of all ages will enjoy their graphics and information. Try the incredible interactive learning resources from ABC Curriculum. http://www.abcurriculum.com/
I highly recommend the Live and Learn 21st Century Family Learning Modules. You will have hours of creative fun with these packets! Whatever way you bring more science to your child, I hope you enjoy the time together!
Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and an additional 11 years working in camps and on cruise ships.