When the lady at the Kid Inventors Day invited us to make music using a keyboard of bananas, Mr 6 and I were more than intrigued. Sure enough as we touched each of the six bananas, to our joyful surprise musical notes played through the nearby laptop. The magic making this fun possible was the brilliantly simple little electronics kit MaKey MaKey. We had to find out more! Continue reading “MaKey MaKey: an invention kit for everyone”
I was inspired to put together the following list by the popularity of the Thinkrolls app with both Mr 5 and Mr 2. There are some awesome Physics Apps out there to help our kids learn about STEM concepts through fun, physics-based puzzles. Most of these apps can be played by kids aged between 3 and 10 years.
Thinkrolls There’s everything to love about this logic puzzle app which introduces basic physics concepts as the player rolls their super cute Thinkrolls character through a maze. Each chapter introduces a new feature such as crates, jelly and balloons. Each feature has it’s own property to explore, such as cold, heat, gravity, floating or sinking. These concepts need to be understood in order to successfully move items around to enable the Thinkroll progress Continue reading “Best Physics Puzzler Apps for ages 10 and under”
Rain. Non stop. For WEEKS. If you were a fly on the wall in any number of rain drenched Sydney households over the past few weeks you would swiftly have become familiar with the noise of rampant tearing out of hair as exasperated parents were constrained to entertaining small children AT HOME. Facebook mums groups erupted with calls of ‘HELP!! ANYONE know where we can go…?’ Libraries overflowed with prams and tempestuous toddlers. Living rooms all over the city were demolished and redesigned by an army of tiny expert hands. The certain taste of parental desperation permeated the soggy Sydney air. In less sun burnt countries this much rain would warrant barely the raising of an eyebrow I’m sure, but here in Aus we’re pretty much set up for doing everything outdoors and the sound of gentle pitter patter on the roof strikes dread into the heart of many a fraught home bound parent. With all the indoor based creating, cooking, dancing and meltdown management (of both kids and self) I have been doing these past waterlogged weeks surely I Continue reading “Easy Catapults: Physics Fun For Preschoolers”
So I’m guessing you’ve heard of Angry Birds, but did you know they have a far more interesting cousin called Amazing Alex? The makers of AB have come up with this wonderfully inventive physics based app that challenges players to come up with creative solutions to various puzzles. Always a fan of apps that promote experimentation and lateral thinking, this app is on high rotation on our iPad.
Amazing Alex encourages your little inventor to put on their thinking cap to try and work out solutions to a variety of puzzles, collecting up to three gold stars along the way. The stars motivate, but aren’t integral to the game, thus giving experimenting top priority over score. There’s no particular ‘right’ answer so kids can just enjoy creating various contraptions to solve the puzzle.
I had an idea to translate some of our favourite apps into real world activities and after being inspired by a water wall I saw created from old bottles, the Amazing Alex inspired Bean Run was born! As you can see from these pictures it’s basically some peg board with bits from the recycling bin screwed to it.
L Star and I experimented with different materials, cardboard, plastic cups, old milk bottles to see which would work best. I bought some washing machine hose at the hardware store and that has been by far the most popular aspect of the contraption. We used the ever popular dried pulses (beans, chick peas etc) to pour through it and they make a very satisfying tinkling sound as they go through the pipes. It’s had a couple of reinventions now and little Cool A has gotten in on the action, liberally chucking stuff down the tubes and demanding more beans! We learnt lots of things along the way, like not to fasten the items to the board too tightly because they will invariably need moving five minutes later. Having containers at the bottom of each chute to catch the beans worked for us too rather than having one big container for the whole thing to sit in. It meant the boys could easily scoop up the beans to re use and managed the mess slightly!
As a side activity the other half of the peg board has become a fun threading activity that has occupied both boys, at the same time! Occasionally. For short periods…
This was a terribly exhausting activity to set up in that it required me to plonk down one piece of peg board and one cup of pipe cleaners. Phew! L Star got right into threading the pipe cleaners back and forth creating a control unit which would move the peg board around on his command, apparently. Cool A thought he deserved a round of applause every time he threaded something on, to which I happily obliged! If you don’t have peg board (which I bought at the hardware store) you could start with pipe cleaners and a sieve or a cereal box with holes poked through it for similar effect. Happy inventing!
Recently I’ve been trying to jazz up the old bedtime routine. You know how it is when you try to leave the room – the kids just wave you happily night night as they snuggle cozily under the blankets. No? Us neither. Sometimes it seems like designing a spaceship to take you to the fourth dimension would be easier than negotiating your way out of a kids room at bedtime. So I decided to change it up a bit and introduced a fun story activity so we can have a few laughs before bedtime and alleviate the rush to get everything ticked off the list before bed.
These cards from Eeboo are just brilliant for prompting creative story telling. Our 4.5 year old particularly loves the Robot set of cards, but they come in heaps of varieties.
We’ve recently started Skyping with Nana in England once a week at bedtime so she can read the boys a bedtime story and we’ve introduced these cards into the routine after the story. Everyone has fun with them and hearing the way out extrapolations L Star comes up with can be quite hilarious. It’s interesting not only for creative thinking but also memory retention as L Star will often bring back something at the end of the story which was briefly mentioned right at the beginning.
Even little Cool A has fun with the cards and loves to be involved, mainly in handing out the cards and collecting them back into the box. Mmm, yeah, really tidily of course…
We also have this Magnetic Playboard from the same company which L Star got from a friend for his birthday. It has the same characters and is another fun way to explore story telling. Plus it features magnets which are always a hit.
If you want to test the waters to see how your kids go with using cards like these, you could try printing a few fun free versions from these sites to get going: for Diego fans from Nick Jr, and another set from the fab folks at Kiwi Crate
And if that’s not enough Creative Story telling wonderment for you, you can always check out these ideas from the ever fabulous Kids Activities Blog: 10 Creative Story Telling Ideas. Happy story telling!