The best activities are never in the kit; adages about kids enjoying boxes more than the toys within are entirely rooted in reality, I suspect because the open-ended play afforded by the box has effectively infinite “replay value”, limited only by kinderimagination.
Cedar and I were working through the activities in the mass-market, lowest-common-denominator Magnetic ScienceI’m always looking for springboards for creative work (in the Montessori sense) with the kids. I find it challenging to come up with Fun Things To Do in the moment, and having an arsenal of … Continue reading book I picked up while laying in groceries in the lead-up to the much-dreaded Winter Break, and while we were working on the “bouncy magnets” exercise (thread a pair of oppositely-oriented magnets onto a pencil and watch them bounce) we got completely off the rails (whoever put that book together wanted me to roll up a sheet of to pencil diameter. Nincompoops! We just used an actual pencil.) and found ourselves involved in some low-stakes citizen science.
Having the house of physics that I do, littered with toys and wondrous objects of all kinds, I scrounged up a few rare earth magnets, and I arranged for Cedar to notice that as we stacked the magnets up below the pencil, the annular magnet at the top floated higher and higher and higher above the others!
I took the opportunity to send him off for any kind of journal, and we recorded the number of magnets at the bottom, the gap between magnets, and then we did a purely heuristic regression. Trivial accomplishment though it may be, I’m pleased that I carefully calibrated this exercise against his attention span. It’s easy as a parent to go overboard with activities; they have too many steps or take too long, or fail to capture attention adequately. One has to carefully watch body language, listen to tone of voice, sniff out the pheromonic signs of waning attention. Practice makes perfect as they say, and at seven, the kid has developed a healthily fit attention span, and I look forward to helping him learn to stretch it and slog through the hard times.
|↑1||I’m always looking for springboards for creative work (in the Montessori sense) with the kids. I find it challenging to come up with Fun Things To Do in the moment, and having an arsenal of starter ideas in the magazine is always great. I can boot up a project, get working with them, and depart from the script whenever we feel like. I would like to improve my improv skills (at work, at adult play, at kinderplay), and having a prompt helps me structure the world in which I’m improvsing. All y’all stay-at-home parents who have an entire personal library of activities you can bust out at the drop of a hat can go pound sand.|