Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Neighborhood Navigations: WaterWays

(This is the first in a series of postings directly related to each one of the DuPage Children’s Museum neighborhoods.)

The learning opportunities that water provides are just as numerous as its uses in our everyday lives. As a natural resource, we use water to drink, to cook with, and to bathe with. However, water is a perfect multisensory tool to explore and discover many important concepts including: physics (gravity, resistance, force, buoyancy) and math (volume, space). Water also provides children of all ages with the opportunity to explore using their senses, enhance social skills and encourage cooperation. (NAEYC, 2008). More importantly, water is a wonderful tool to use to facilitate learning because kids are instantly attracted to it—it is FUN!

DCM’s WaterWays neighborhood includes three main interactive exhibits: Bubbles, Water Falls, and Water Flows. Each exhibit provides multiple opportunities for children to explore water at their individual ability level and parents to partner with their child and extend his/her learning.

Children enjoy bubbles and are entranced by their iridescent appearance and messy feel. In this exhibit, you might find children: dipping and waving a bubble wand, putting an air hose in the bubble solution, creating giant bubbles, noticing reflections and colors in the bubbles, or chasing and popping bubbles.

As children play in this exhibit, they are also learning concepts related to:
-surface tension,
-and color.

Water Falls
The sound and splash of water falling attracts children to explore this WaterWays exhibit. It is here you might find children: looking through the waterfall, pumping water into the tank, turning valves to fill the tank, opening the tank to release water, or building a dam with sandbags.

As children play in this exhibit, they are also learning concepts related to:
-controlling and changing the directional flow of water.

Water Flows
The feel and visual appeal of cool water flowing lures children to dive in and discover this exhibit. In this exhibit, you might find children: looking above and below the water from the center of the exhibit, scooping up water with a cup, submerging an object and watching it pop back up, pouring water from one container to another, or pouring or squirting water over a water wheel.

As children play in this exhibit, they are also learning concepts related to:
-and space.

WaterWays provides you the Play Partner with multiple opportunities to extend a child’s learning. Here are some things you might decide to try:

-imitate the child’s actions (i.e. popping bubbles, pouring water through a funnel)
-model actions for the child to try (i.e. lifting bubble wands out of solution so not to break surface tension, pumping water into the tank)
-offer feedback (i.e. “You are looking right through the waterfall” or “Every time you add another toy to the bowl, the water gets higher”)
-provide problem-solving alternatives (i.e. “Try this…” or show a child who is trying to catch a bubble with his hand how they can be caught on a wand)
-suggest challenges (i.e. “How else can we fill up the tank?” or “I wonder if all that water will fit in that tall cup” )

Stay Tuned!
In our next entry, we will spotlight the Bubbles exhibits in WaterWays. We will look more closely at how children use this exhibit at DCM and discuss some additional activities related to similar learning concepts that can extend learning at home.

Don’t Forget:
The Family Resource Center Focus Topic is: Making Connections to Math.Look in the FRC or click here to visit the DCM website for different resources and information regarding this topic.

Just for Grown-Ups: Emotional Intelligence
Thanks to all that joined us for this workshop presented by Anne Felt, Speech Pathologist, Parent Educator and Life Coach. For additional information on Emotional Intelligence or Redirecting Children’s Behavior (RCB), please click here to visit Anne’s webpage.

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