by: Priscilla Robinson
With the Halloween cobwebs retired and my Jack-O-Lantern wilting in the compost heap, my thoughts and energy turn toward Thanksgiving. This year undoubtedly will be filled with family, friends, feasts, and laughter. In past years, after the meal and second slice of pie, I have enjoyed keeping the kids focused with decorating gingerbread houses as adult family members enjoy time together cheering on their footballs teams or gaining bragging rights during epic board game battles.
This year, I want to add to my repertoire and explore science with Henry and Katie. In lieu of eating all the extra candy from the gingerbread houses (which didn’t go over too well with my daughter last year), Henry will get a Melting Snowman to assemble.
This adorable item from Educational Innovations is easy for little fingers. I know that he will enjoy rolling up the “snowballs” and placing two coal eyes, a carrot nose, cheerful buttons, and a magic top hat on his Frosty.
But just like in the story, this Frosty melts leaving a puddle of putty. Preschoolers love to do things over and over again. Playing with this unique putty that exhibits properties of both solid and liquid, Henry will begin to gain experiences to understand states of matter.
His younger sister, Katie, is a wonderful observer and loves to experience new textures. The putty is nontoxic and I know she will want to push and prod it to “help” her big brother.
Sticking with the snowman theme, the other Thanksgiving activity I’d like to inaugurate is the Crystal Growing Snowman. I had a hard time choosing between the snowman, the colorful little Crystal Tree and the Green Crystal Growing Tree. But I’m confident Henry will be happy with my choice.
The Crystal Growing Snowman is great for making observations, taking measurements, and exploring the formation of crystals!
We will simply pour the salt solution into the bottom tray. As the water from the solution evaporates, crystals of ammonium phosphate will form. Through capillary action, more crystals form, in a process called efflorescence. The process starts quickly. It’s almost magical. Everything is safe for kids and pets, as long as they don’t eat it.
In addition, I always have a few Plastic Magnifiers in my kitchen drawer that I will send home with Henry so he can make up-close observations.
As a final family collaboration before everyone heads for home, I will pull out one of my favorite Educational Innovation’s nighttime activities: Aero Copters. Everyone will delight in the opportunity to catapult them high into the sky with the rubber band launcher, and watch them fly! The lessons learned from the launch are all about potential and kinetic energy.
When the Aero Copter reaches maximum height, its blades open, and it spins back down to the ground with the LED light illuminating its descent. The fall with the blades spinning allows for a controlled recovery and certainly demonstrates gravitational force as well as aerodynamics. The entire experience is deeply embedded with demonstrations of Newton’s three laws of motion.
The Aero Copters come in a pack of 12 so everyone will have a blast as we launch and recovery these fireflies, in the cool autumn evening. Henry and Katie will take the snowmen, Aero Copters and their Gingerbread Houses back to Seattle, as they anticipate the arrival of Santa.
Time spent with family is a treasure at any time of the year. I am blessed to have the opportunity to build these cumulative holiday memories with my family and friends. Giving my adult children time to reconnect as I play with Henry and Katie is a win-win occasion for all of us. I challenge you to carve out quality time this holiday season. Maybe you’ll want to place a few inquiry activities from Educational Innovations in your bag to enrich, educate, innovate, and motivate your family! Check out the website for suggestions that will make for an entertaining and memorable Thanksgiving.