Friday, March 4, 2011

Math, Science and My Girl

We went to a demonstration of the "My First Science Kits" products at Michael's craft store last Saturday. We did not buy any of the kits, but the four-year-old was fascinated with the demonstration. It focused on the color mixing kit, which also comes with a bag of small crystals you can grow in the test tubes from the moisture you've used in your color mixing (and the crystals also then absorb whatever color you've put in that tube). We got there late enough in the demo that the lady gave the four-year-old a tube of crystals (since she had the opened product and had to do something with it) -- I'm not sure what on earth we'll be doing with them, but the four-year-old occasionally picks up the tube and says, "Wow, look how much they grew!"

She also had a lot of hands-on participation in the color mixing itself, using a dropper to put water colored with tablets similar to those used in Easter egg coloring kits into plastic cups to create -- purple from red and blue! orange from red and yellow! green from yellow and blue! brown from everything mixed together! --- and so on.

This also resulted in experiments at the breakfast table the next morning: did you know  that if you pour cranberry/blueberry juice into water, and vice versa, they both turn purple? Shocking, I know.

Her father is a scientist, and she is very eager to do "es-spear-a-mints." I hope to maintain this eagerness, but we don't always get around to doing as much as we could -- although we have been doing some "what sinks and what floats" experiments at bathtime lately.

Still, it's an encouraging to me that in one day -- one day -- lately, the four-year-old, self-directed, has been exploring science and math skills. I did have to try to explain "one half" to her (I forget exactly why it came up), by demonstrating with the measuring cups we use for the cooking she helps with: I poured the half-cup full of water, twice, and then poured those into the one-cup measure to filll it.

Otherwise, pretty much all we parents have done is make the resources available to her. Resources like a simple wooden ruler for measuring "how long is...." a stuffed animal, a book, a game box, her leg, my leg, her arm, my arm, etc., etc.

Plus, the Usborne 1,1001 Things to Spot books (she's currently interested in 1,001 Things to Spot in the Town, a Christmas present). Numbers of how many of certain items you're supposed to find in each scene are called out along the borders of the two-page spread, so it's good for both number recognition and counting. Plus, the scenes show a variety of different towns, including a Middle Eastern market, a downtown theater district, and more, so it's got some social studies/geography in there, too. She loves the "finding things" books.

And, she's just started getting interested in another Christmas present, Curious George Learns to Count from 1 to 100. So far, we're just reading the story, in which Curious George counts up to 100 things (something like "11 socks, 12 shoes....17 birds," etc.) on the day of his town's Centennial celebration and not doing much of the other learning activities suggested within it. (As you can imagine, it's a rather long book.) But the story does incorporate the numerals for 1 to 100, and we have the hardcover edition which also has the numerals from 1 to 100 imprinted along the front and back covers. She has been interested in pointing to those and counting up to 100 -- we just have to watch the timing between her finger and her mouth, since they seem to race against each other. And, she's started independently counting up to at least 50 -- because she told me her Ariel mermaid toy was 50 years old so got to be the queen of the waves in her bath, as opposed to the smaller mermaid toy, who is apparently only 5 years old.

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