Friday, July 26, 2013

Facilitating Physics Play at DCM

You don't have to be a physicist to explore the concepts of physics at DuPage Children's Museum (DCM). You just need the right materials for exploration and discovery!  Some concepts of basic physics involve exploring motion, gravity, friction, and speed while using simple machines such as wheels, gears, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, screws, and levers. The exhibits in Make it Move (MIM) at DCM were developed so that children could explore some concepts of basic physics while playing with simple machines. As children play with the exhibits in MIM, they can begin to intuitively understand some of these concepts and, with the support of their grown-up play partners, learn the vocabulary to describe them.   Take note of the words in bold below—there are many words that can be used to describe simple machines and some basic concepts in physics.

Gear Table
Children can discover that a gear is a wheel with teeth that can interlock and turn another gear. They may also notice the ratio between a bigger and smaller gear.

Cam Ball Lifter
While playing at our Cam Ball Lifter, children may observe camswheels or gears with an offset axle used to make something happen in a specific order. The cam lifts the ball towards the funnel for increasingly great energy in motion for the awaiting ramps.

Ramps & Rollers
There are lots of opportunities to discover that ramps are inclined planes. If a ball is let go at the top of the slope, the grade of the ramp can help initiate the speed of the ball.  A ramp is a simple machine that does work for us. When constructing with ramps and rollers, children can get a visual representation of using force and velocity!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Memory & Learning

The development of young children is a dynamic process influenced by children's interactions with their environment and with peers, family members, teachers and other people in their lives. From birth, infants are constantly inspecting their surroundings (Lynch & Warner, 2013).  Purposeful interactions between adults and children can begin skill development in short and long-term memory.  Enhancing memory skills and recall is addressed in this blog, our last segment on the broad abilities of the Cattel-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory. 

Short-Term Memory
The ability to recall information recently seen or heard is known as short-term memory.  Short-term memories can be engaging and fun! Engage short-term memory by:
  • Singing rhyming songs and jingles 
  • Presenting objects to a child, then hiding them and asking what is missing
  • Asking children to imitate patterns of clapping, tapping, gestures, or motions
Long-Term Memory
The ability to store and retrieve information from one’s memory bank is called long-term memory.  Long-term memory can serve as a building block to future learning experiences—children can gain insight about a concept, then build on it by learning more or going deeper into the content.  Develop long-term memory by:
  • Asking a child to tell you about a trip to the library, grocery store or museum
  • Asking a child to retell their favorite stories
  •  Talking to children and reviewing the activities of the day
Familiarity with the broad abilities of CHC addressed in this series of blogs can help facilitate cognitive development. Rest assured, you can have fun and grow these abilities at the same time! Visit DCM, make some memories, and talk about those memories over and over again!

Information contained in this blog is adapted from: Lynch, Sharon A. and Warner, L. 2013. “How Adults Foster Young Children’s Intellectual Development.” In Young Children, Vol. 68, No. 2, 86-91. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Decisions, Decisions!

We all make decisions each day. Some have become automatic and some take careful thought and planning—What will I wear today? What will I eat for breakfast?  Will we vacation this summer?  We have to consider the weather as we get dressed, our health and appetite as we choose foods, finances and logistics as we plan trips.

The ability to make quick and accurate decisions is known as decision speed. Young children are developing these abilities, so they cannot be expected to make quick and accurate decisions.  To develop this ability preschoolers need opportunities to make simple decisions and to understand the consequences of their decision-making processes (Lynch & Warner, 2013). 

Decision-making may seem like a skill children can learn without being given purposeful attention, yet there are benefits to making room to enhance such skills. It might be surprising to learn how easy it is to encourage decision-making.
  • Allow children to choose the pajamas they will wear.
  • Give children opportunities to vote about what they might eat for lunch or the game they will play with Mom. 
  • Hide an item in one hand and ask the child to determine which hand the object is in. To build competence, ask them to choose quickly. 
  • Play 1, 2, 4, Decide.  For example, give children a choice about the color of shirt they might wear. Then say, “One, two, three, decide.”  Slow down if the game seems to frustrate or stress the child.
Next time you are at the Museum, let the children lead the way. Allow them to decide which neighborhood to visit first, next, and last!  Give them choices that will be building blocks to future learning success! 
Resource:  Lynch, Sharon A. and Warner, L. 2013. “How Adults Foster Young Children’s Intellectual Development.” In Young Children, Vol. 68, No. 2, 86-91. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Fun activities to help develop decision-making skills:

For information on pre-tween and tween children and decision-making: