Friday, January 25, 2013

Math & Science in the Kitchen

Math and science learning is all around us! The kitchen provides wonderful opportunities to measure, mix, pour, count and more! Learning about quantities, proportions, numbers and fractions can mean using measuring cups as part of following a recipe or exploring with water. Try this: Grab a large bowl to catch spills, a pitcher full of water (smaller pitchers are better for pouring success with younger children), measuring cups and spoons, as well as a towel and have fun! 
Add math language. Start with words like more and less, full and empty, then add units of measure such as ½ cup, ¼ cup or teaspoon. You might even ask, “How many teaspoons of water will fit into 1 cup?”  Then count as you fill the cup!

Add color to the water. Encourage children to:
Observe: Notice the colors of the water.
Predict: Ask, “What will happen if we mix two  
colors of  water?”
Experiment: Mix two different colors of water.
Conclude: Discuss what happened when you mixed 
the colored water.

This is the scientific method in use. Right in your kitchen!

Water play is a great way to facilitate learning in the kitchen, but math and science thinking can be facilitated with little effort. Ask about the patterns on plates. Compare and contrast with questions like, “How do the smaller plates look different from the larger plates?” Spark a conversation about Simple Machines by asking, “How does the can opener work? How does it move?” 
Parents don’t always think of themselves as math and science teachers, yet the kitchen can offer many opportunities to begin great adventures in science and math! 

Look for more next week,  
Let's Cook! More Math & Science in the Kitchen.

This blog is also published in Positively Napervillea printed guide of community events, volunteer opportunities and local lore. The publication is distributed to 35,000 homeowners by the first of every month. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lunch & Learning

Believe it or not, there is a lot of learning going on during mealtime! No matter whether you are enjoying a meal at your own table, out for dinner or with a group of children in an early learning setting, children can learn valuable skills while they are snacking or eating dinner. 

Presenter Carla Rubalcava
This week DuPage Children's Museum (DCM), in collaboration with the YWCA Child Care Resource and Referral, hosted a workshop for early learning professionals on the benefits of family-style meal service. Carla Rubalcava, Principle Auditor with the Association for Child Development, shared a wealth of information on the skills that can be learned by sharing meals with young ones. Rubalcava spoke of motor skill development, language and social skills, self-esteem, independence, table manners and providing structure;  she even addressed the difficult subject of picky eaters!

In addition, participants opened a discussion on how math and science skills can be learned in the kitchen. While helping set the table, children can learn math concepts such as counting and one-to-one correspondence. Mixing and baking food items illustrates the science of cooking by showing how liquid batter can transform into a solid. 
With Science, Math, Art, Reading and Technology in mind, DCM officially opened the S.M.A.R.T. Café on January 10, 2013. The S.M.A.R.T. Café is located on the lower level of the Museum and offers a variety of healthy food options for children and adults alike. Stop by during your next visit!  Look for more on math and science in the kitchen next week! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Exploring the Science of Air

Air is all around us! You can't see air, but you can observe what air can do. You don't need to understand air in order to experiment with its properties. Wind and air can be powerful enough to evoke positive or negative feelings. How does it feel to have air blowing your hair? Wind in our faces evokes one type of feeling on a warm summer day compared to a cold wintry day.

Children can learn a lot about air through play and experimentation! As a natural part of our environment, air can be explored and become part of a science inquiry process for young children.  At DuPage Children's Museum (DCM), nurturing this process of inquiry is about encouraging a child’s curiosity through interactions with objects and the environment.

DCM has an entire exhibit devoted to exploring air. The research to develop AirWorks, one of our most popular exhibits, was funded by the National Science Foundation.  In the same way all of DCM’s exhibits are utilized, staff and developers observe how children experiment with AirWork’s basic concepts so that the exhibit can be fine-tuned to invite curiosity as visitors construct knowledge about what air can do! 

Come by DCM and visit AirWorks today!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year! DCM's Countdown to 2013

For hundreds of children dancing Monday inside North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville, it didn't matter that the stroke of midnight was 12 hours away.

Nearly 600 children and their parents donned tiaras reading "Happy New Year" and blew noisemakers — as well as lots of bubbles — to celebrate the new year at the DuPage Children's Museum's annual Bubble Bash.
The event has been a tradition for almost a decade and features music, giveaways, entertainment and a countdown to noon for children whose bedtimes land well before midnight on New Year's Eve.
"It's a way to bring what is traditionally an adult holiday to families," museum spokesman T.J. Hicks said.
Children were allowed to storm the stage and dance to tunes like "Jingle Bell Rock" performed live by Jeanie B. and the Jellybeans, as well as toss beach balls and wiggle in Hula-Hoops. And to ensure the Bubble Bash lived up to its name, Geoff Akins dazzled both children and grown-ups with his "bubble master" skills.
Akins, of Barrington, used his hands, machines, wands and even a Hula-Hoop to create bubbles of all sizes, and even different shapes, including a square one.
His interactive show got lucky volunteers into the act, including two children who were encircled with giant bubbles.
The bubbles and the music brought 7-year-old Julia Ham of Plainfield to her feet in applause. The bash is an annual tradition for Julia, her 3-year-old sister and their mother Lori, who said it's a great way for the kids to have their own New Year's party.
Article courtesy of Elisabeth Mistretta of the Daily Herald, December 31, 2012.