It is amazing how much children will learn just by giving them a few materials and the freedom to explore. One day last week we had a day full of learning that wasn't even planned by me...it was completely child-led. It all started with a Melissa & Doug latches puzzle. While playing with the puzzle and also a Thomas the Train magnet (from Cranky the Crane...that Crazy Horse cut off years ago), the boys quickly realized that the puzzle was magnetic. They had such fun moving the latches using the magnet.
So I ran upstairs to our school closet and brought back a magnet kit. I didn't direct...I just handed it over to see what they discovered. They played and played! In the midst of all this playing, they discovered that the magnets would only work certain ways. At this point they began asking questions, so we pulled out the ipad and researched magnets. We found Magnet Facts for Kids.
They learned about the magnetic north pole and south pole. Opposites attract!
They began using words like "magnetic field."
They practiced on glass, windows, plastic and found that those do not have a magnetic field.
They walked around the house looking for metals that were magnetic...not all metals are magnetic.
They learned that the magnetic field is strong enough to work through plastic and paper.
And their favorite part!! Watching two magnets repel each other! We knew the red end of the magnet was the north pole and by watching what it did to the Thomas the Train magnet...literally pushing it away...they guessed that the north pole must be hitting another north pole.
Smart boys! All from just playing.
Next came the play dough. They created their own animal and then took it a step further to create a "habitat" for their animal. Old Crow created a lizard.
And then the tree service shows up to cut down a large, dead pine tree. They were fascinated by the heavy machinery and the process of cutting down a tree.
We got a close up view through the window! :)
This led to a discussion about why the tree was dead. They learned that beetles had eaten through the tree and destroyed the system by which the tree takes water from the roots, to the top, and to the branches.
A day full of play, learning, excitement, growth, exploration, and creativity.
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
From For the Children's Sake