Playgrounds are great places to have fun!
(Secret!! Playgrounds are a great Science Lab, too!)
Kids are all about having fun. Given a choice between fun, work, and learning which will your child pick? Fun, right? Here’s a great way to combine all three on a sunny afternoon….
Let’s get started on our very hard and serious Science lesson for the day!
Step 1: Tell your child that they HAVE to go to the park with you!
-Explain to your child that this is very serious business and that they are going to the playground to learn about WORK and Machinery!
(DO not explain simple machines to your child yet, they need to discover this information on their own to make it meaningful. BUT, there is a parent cheat sheet on simple machines available on our website under parent resources if you need a refresher course.)
Step 2: Do some Math work on the way to the playground to help get them ready for an afternoon of serious learning!
– Count how many steps each person needs to get from one point to another. Do you all take the same number of steps? Why not? (Older children can be led to a discussion about standard measurement and why it is important.)
– Jump for 10 steps! Skip for 3! Hop for 5 steps! Count each hop or step to practice counting. Yell the numbers as you count, then whisper them, then sing them. Wiggle and shake and squirm like worms as you count your way to the playground.
Step 3: Arrive at the work site!
– SURVEY (important vocabulary word) the playground by looking around and sharing what each person sees.
– RECORD your children’s findings (on paper or with your cell phone camera or even in the dirt with a stick). They are looking for evidence of machinery.
-Have them look everywhere, look under, look over, look behind, look beside (and practice math position vocabulary while you look) everything for evidence of machinery.
-Talk about what they find.
Step 4: Play Time!
-Send your children off to play with one important rule:
-They MUST try out every piece of playground equipment at least once.
Step 5: Work Time!
Now we take each simple machine one at a time.
(If your child is tired or you are short on time, do one and save the other simple machines for another day.)
The Wedge – example: shovel in a sandbox
The Lever – example: teeter-totter or seesaw, swing
The Pulley – example: glider or zip line activity
The Wheel and Axle – example: steering wheel on large playground toy, merry go round, tic-tac-toe games on large playground toys
The Screw – example: corkscrew slide or spiral stairs
The Inclined Plane – example: slide or skateboard ramp (if your playground has handicapped access, there will be many more examples of inclined planes)
Step 6: Think Time!
-All Scientists need time to think and sometimes eat a snack or have a drink of water. Take time to talk about what you did and what your child learned.
-Some Scientists think best when they are moving and may need some additional time to practice the theory of simple machines by playing a while longer on the playground equipment.
-Look for examples of simple machines in your home