Friday, January 8, 2010

Learning to Reason through Play

The ability to reason and predict cause and effect are important components needed for science learning. In her Young Children article, Play: Ten Power Boosts for Children's Learning, Dr. Honig labels this,"if-then reasoning," an important skill needed for experimentation and scientific thinking.

There are a plethora of opportunities for children to practice "if-then reasoning" through play experiences in the Museum. The Large Beam Balance in Math Connections is designed for children to safely experiment with weight and balance. "If you take away some of the blocks, will my end move up?"

Make it Move was designed to be the "cause and effect" center of the Museum. Here, children can create and conduct their own simple experiments with velocity, speed and gravity as they move balls on stationary ramps or incline planes created with blocks.

With the play materials chosen for the water tables in WaterWays, children can experiment and wonder, "Will it sink or will if float?"or "If I fill one container, can I pour it into another container without it spilling over?"

Block building offers opportunities to learn causal and space concepts, suggests Dr. Honig. In the Museum we have over 800 blocks for children to use as they explore equality, comparison and estimation. "If I put the bigger block on top of the smaller block, will it stay in place? I wonder how high I can build before my structure falls down?"

Cooking with your child at home is a great way to enhance "if-then reasoning." Changing something from a liquid (cake mix, for instance) to a solid (a cake) is not just delicious; your child also can discover how some materials change in his or her world. What will happen if you put juice in the freezer? Through these simple activities your child is observing cause and effect and learning to make predictions.

Are you interested in other opportunities to encourage your child's reasoning abilities? Check out some of our winter creativity classes,where you and your child can experiment and problem solve with a variety of materials.

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