Saturday, December 29, 2012

Science Board Book for J

We have a 1.5 yr old niece and nephew that we made a science board book for by laminating these pictures onto a blank board book. However, when putting it together, J was super excited and wanted one of his own (though we're way past the board book stage). I gave it to him for Christmas.

I thought I'd share. Stuck is my favorite:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Candy Cane Division, Addition, and Multiplication

A box of candy canes comes with a dozen candy canes. That's 12 candy canes.

If everyone in our family (mommy, daddy, and J) want the same number of candy canes with no leftovers, how many would we each get?

Who gets it? - each gets 1 per time their name appears (the number in parentheses is the # of candy cane from the box)

Mommy (1)
Daddy (2)
J (3)

Mommy (4)
Daddy (5)
J (6)

Mommy (7)
Daddy (8)
J (9)

Mommy (10)
Daddy (11)
J (12)

Now count how many are in each person's pile. Everyone should have 4 candy canes. You just divided 12 by 3.

If we combine Mommy's and J's piles we have 2 piles of 4 candy canes, or 8 candy canes altogether. Count to be sure your calculations are correct. This is addition (4+4) or multiplication (2x4).

If we combine all three of our piles, we have 3 piles of 4 candy canes, or 12 candy canes altogether. Count to be sure. This is addition (4+4+4) or multiplication (3x4).

Now, you can decorate the tree or eat the candy canes depending on your family's preference.

I hope your holiday season is full of joy and happiness and that you have a great New Year.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Games and Science

As I sit here this Sunday morning, Big and Little J are playing some of our favorite old games. It warms my heart to see family time, and Little J is also learning.

The biggest thing I see today is hypothesizing, or trying to guess what the opponent is going to do next. In the gaming world, this is called strategy, knowing different ways to move next depending on what you think your opponent might do. Ultimately, the person who can see the many different ways to play the game and respond positively to those moves wins. The best thing to do is start with easy games and point out the many ways you can play when it's your turn. It helps to get your kid thinking ahead.

This has been J's favorite lately. In it, J learns about counting, 1-6. Well, he's been good at counting for a while, but actually moving his pieces without skipping spaces can be tricky for a little guy. He also learns a little bit about strategy, like moving a guy out when he rolls a 6 or moving someone to safety when Daddy's right on your tail.

Connect Four
This one is a little tough for J. It's tough for Mommy and Daddy too since we don't want to frustrate J. We bought Connect Four while we were dating to challenge each other. We both claimed to be really good at the game. Well, I claimed to be the Connect Four champ of my after school day care center, and Big J is just really good at any strategy game. Most of our Connect Four games in the household end up in a draw/tie, so we stopped playing each other. Anyways, this is a good game for pointing out the different ways your opponent can move and how to block them or prevent them from winning.

Here's an earlier post about Cooties.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cereal box marble tracks

I saw this cereal box marble run post on Pinterest and thought it would be a great science learning toy with some slight modifications. It was a hit with my 3 year old on this rainy Saturday afternoon.

The original idea is super easy, but really you can't control the tracks within the box limits. I think being modifiable gives kids the opportunity to apply more scientific principles, mainly the transfer of energy.

Transfer of energy recap:
-Items that start above the ground have potential energy since they can potentially fall to the ground.
-Once the items start falling, they lose potential energy and gain kinetic energy (kinetic is a fancy term for motion).
-Once there's no more potential (ie. no place more to fall), ideally all of the energy is kinetic and will continue in motion until other forces act on it. Other forces can include things like friction or other obstacles.

Here's what I came up with while J was supposed to be napping:

Cereal box and toilet paper marble tracks

I took a cereal box, opened it to flatten it carefully. I stuck one of the longer/larger sides of the box out behind as a base of support. I then taped the other sides so the other longer/larger side sticks mostly up. I did slightly angle it back to make sure marbles don't fly off the front.

I then cut toilet paper tubes in half as the tracks and taped them to the box with painters' tape for the marble ramps. The good thing about painters' tape is that you can reposition it a few times without ruining the tape or the box, yet it's still strong enough to hold up the tubes and marbles, allowing you to modify your designs. Feel free to test your tracks as you build.

Then tape a small paper cup at the end of the track to catch the marbles. I put a cup on top too to hold the marbles before their release.

Here's J demonstrating how it works, one marble at a time.

Work with your younger kid to make the design. If you have an older kid, let them try their designs alone. Did your design work? If not, how can you modify it so the marble tracks so the marbles don't fly out?
---Think angles of the tracks it jumps to or having backboards.

How many marbles can you release at once? How many marbles make it in the cup from your initial release?

Do bouncy balls work in your track? How do they differ in your track from the marbles?

Does the shooter marble work on your track? If not, why do you think it acts differently than the littler marbles.

After my model track became boring, Big J and I worked with Little J to make his own track. He made his turn around the box (a challenge, for sure!)

If you think your box design is ugly brown, feel free to decorate it with paint and markers.

Happy marble tracking :-)