The world is full of things to take apart and put together. A collection of common household items for children to explore freely, inside and out, allows them the satisfaction of figuring out howreal things work. It also gives them a sense of control and makes the world a little less mysterious. Such a collection can offer a wealth of learning that is almost all child-directed. You can beginwith something as simple as a flashlight. How refreshing!
What to do
- What to do will vary somewhat depending on what objects are being used. As an example, we will consider flashlights, using one small and one average sized flashlight.
- Show the children the flashlights. Turn the lights out and test them. You may want to talk about uses, other kinds of flashlights, etc. Compare the sizes and talk about similarities anddifferences.
- Take the flashlights apart one at a time. As you take them apart, show how the springs make them jump apart so the children won't be surprised when it happens to them. This is an importantpart of the demonstration as we don't want the children to feel as if they've broken something. Name the components as you work. If you don't know the real name of a part, say so. Lay theparts out so the children can compare the two flashlights.
- Put the flashlights back together, showing them what happens when the batteries are put in incorrectly. For very young children you may want to use the small flashlights with only onebattery.
- Let the children know that it may take them a few tries to figure out how to put it back together, just as sometimes it takes awhile to figure out a picture puzzle. If they get really stuck,perhaps a friend can help them.
- The flashlights can now be made available for use at the science table or puzzle area. You will have to decide whether you want to have only one type of "puzzle" out at a time, orseveral. Things such as an assortment of locks and keys need no formal introduction and can be used at any time. Other things will require a discussion similar to the one for flashlights. Gradually,a collection can be accumulated which allows the children to explore a variety of mechanisms and will also develop visual memory and discrimination, fine motor skills, and problem solving.
Things you will need
- action-oriented objects such as flashlights, padlocks and keys, latches and other fasteners
- tongs and tweezers
- paper punchers
- screw lid jars
- hand egg beater
- ballpoint pen (for older children only because of smaller parts)
- tool sets - hammer and nails, screwdriver and screws, nuts and bolts and wrench and pliers
- wood to use as needed
- anything else which might be interesting to children
Want to do more?
Have the children bring in their own contributions to the REAL PUZZLE area. Visit a repair shop where people are working on "real puzzles."