As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, many schools around the country are closing out of an abundance of caution. While your little ones might be out of the classroom for a little while, there are easy ways to ensure that they keep learning in the meantime. We asked learning expert Amy Torf of Noggin Builders to come up with some fun and easy at-home learning lessons and activities you can do with your Learning Resources toys. Here are some of her favorite suggestions:
Imaginative STEM with Gears! Gears! Gears!
Learning Resources Gears are a fascinating simple machine. Just connecting them to see how they spin is fun to watch! In addition to putting on a good show, Gears! Gears! Gears sets also help your kids learn critical thinking skills every time they build. As you and your kids design your own Gears! creations, ask them questions that get them thinking beyond the build. What direction and speed do the gears spin? When you connect different sized gears together, how does that affect their rotations? As you add more gears to your creation, how does it change? The skills in Gears! sets aren’t limited to STEM, either. Ask your kids to tell a story about their imaginative machines – how do they work? What do they do? How might they make the world a better place?
Money Matters with Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register
When you use your imagination, you can go just about anywhere (even when you have to stay home!) In addition to stretching their creativity, social skills, and emotional development, engaging your kids in fun pretend play is also a great opportunity to practice and build math skills. Here’s an example to try with the Calculator Cash Register:
Have your kids set up a store with their favorite toys, complete with prices. They’ll be the shopkeepers, and you’ll be the customer. As you shop, have your child calculate the sum (total) for the items you want to buy. Pay for your pretend purchases with more money than the total, and have your child subtract to make change. If you buy more than one of the same item, help your child multiply to find the total.
Physics Fun with Tumble Trax Magnetic Marble Run
Physics fun is happening all around us, so it’s easy to find at-home examples of force, motion, and more. One of my favorite physics tools is the classic marble run. They’re hands-on and engaging, and a great way to visualize and explore concepts like gravity and energy. Have your kids design their own courses using the Tumble Trax Magnetic Marble Run, and have them make the following observations: Does the marble always move down? What speed does the marble have at different parts of the run? How tall or long can you make your marble run without the marble falling off?
Much like the Gears! example above, you can also turn these physics lessons into crafty imaginative play; as they build, encourage kids to make more marble tracks out of items you find around the house, like cardboard tubes, blocks, and more. How big can your marble run get?