Keeping students’ attention is essential and one of the biggest challenges in teaching. In our modern time, kids are used to the “ADD-style” media that hits them constantly in short, quick bites of info punctuated with loud noise, fast action, and bright colors. How to compete? Most times, I just think back to what had caught my attention in the lessons I learned. The time our science teacher made a giant black carbon snake grow across the lab counter while demonstrating chemical reaction, the model rockets we used to study propulsion and aerodynamics, the string/salt/ice cube trick, blowing up a balloon with a bottle full of warm water, and on and on. THESE are what teach a great lesson, things that are experiential, memorable, and sometimes (almost ALWAYS) a little messy, and the implied element of danger can also make it fun!
Last week, Lady O was playing with her tablet and reading an eBook about insects. She was very interested in the Bombardier beetle.
We did a little research and found out that this amazing creature has chambers in its rear that when the contents combine produce a small explosion! Being that Lady O is only 3 and her fellow student V is 5, I had to creatively and safely demonstrate the concept of chemical reaction. I took a 5 gallon bucket and placed it on the floor in front of us. I took a large zip-lock bag and held it in the center in the bottom, forming two small chambers, one on either side of my hand. I put some baking soda in one side, vinegar in the other. Once the kids were “READY!?!?,” I zipped the bag and shook it and tossed it into the bucket. The bagged inflated and then POPPED as the soda and vinegar bubbled inside. It was loud and seemed dangerous, so it was super-fun. Needless to say, the kids now know what a chemical reaction is!!
I was inspired to post this quickly after reading “10 Ways to Spice Up Boring Homeschool Curriculum” this morning. I see one of the items is to open the day with a read-aloud. Being mine are little, we sometimes need to shake the ants out of our pants so we start the day with “The Music Shaker.” Our “Shaker” is a big cylinder (you could use anything, even oats container or shoe box) filled with index cards with the names of energizing songs we like on them. We start each day with our “Music Shaker” with one shaking it, and the other picking, and them ALL of us getting our wiggles out before class begins. Welcome to Noble Academy of FUNschooling!!