Back in January LittleMan and I read a library book about gravity. It started out by asking some basic questions: Which way do things fall? Have you ever seen something fall up? Then it leads children in a few easy experiments: Drop a key chain and penny at the same time, which hit the ground first? I unfortunately do not remember the name nor author of the book, I wish I did because it was brilliant and I’d love to recommend it to you.
Reading through the book just once was enough to get LittleMan curious about gravity and we’ve experimented with it several times since then.
The wonderful thing about teaching the concept of gravity is that it requires very little as far as materials go, and generally most children have some idea of what gravity (falling) feels like.
Now I won’t lie and say that all our talks on gravity have been part of our lesson plan. In fact, I usually only get to talking about it because LittleMan brings it up. Like the time he threw confetti all over the living room and as it was falling said, “look mom, gravity, its falling because of gravity!”
Usually though, when we discuss gravity, it starts because we are throwing sticks off the top of the playground equipment.
Sometimes these little experiments aren’t even led by LittleMan or myself though. I am lucky enough to have an extended family who support our choice to homeschool our children. Such was the case when my brother-in-law took us to the playground last month. We spotted a toppled over snow man, melting a bit but still mostly frozen solid. LittleMan and SunnyGirl immediately tried breaking the balls of the snowman apart but could not because the snow had compacted and turned to ice. Their uncle picked up the snow ball and dropped it from waist height a few times trying to help them break it open but was unsuccessful. Then he suggested it might break if dropped from up high. I explained that the higher an object was dropped from, the faster they are falling when they hit the ground, which is why you can fall off a small rock and not really get hurt but if you fall off the roof of a building then its going to do some damage.
Their uncle carried the snow ball to the top of the nearest playground structure and threw it off. Before doing so though, he asked the children to predict how many pieces it would break into and if they would be big pieces or small pieces. He then repeated back to them their hypothesis and explained we’d have to test it to be sure. This conversation might have sounded silly to the passer-by, however using words like hypothesis rather than prediction or guess in our day to day life helps the children develop their vocabulary and helps them understand the scientific method on a very base level.
All-in-all I think LittleMan grasps the concept of gravity about as well as a kindergartner can and we’ve certainly laid the ground work for a deeper understanding in later years.
Be sure to check out what my Saturday Science co-hosts are up to this week!
Seeds: Fun Science Experiments & Activities from The Usual Mayhem
Apple Experiment from P is for Preschooler
Simple Salt Water Density Experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands
2 Simple Wind Science Activities from Stir the Wonder
Dancing Fruit Experiment from The Joys of Boys
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