Last weekend Noah and Hayley had a science camp at their local preschool in Penang. The theme was recycling and nature. They made water filters, their own recycled paper, enzyme balls that clean water, windmills, terraniums and heaps of other things. The kids can’t stop talking about it, they want science camp every weekend. The highlight – constructing 3D shapes from soft candies and toothpicks to see what shapes are the strongest.
It didn’t really fit in with theme but the kids didn’t care. They got to build things out of lollies!
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through homeschooling the kids, it’s that nothing captures their attention more than sugar!!! Candy, chocolate, lollies are great learning aids. The kids learnt about graphing from sorting M&Ms into colours and building a graph out of them, before turning it into a drawn map. We’ve also done patterns using coloured sweets, learnt about the money and the comparitive costs of different treat, weights and estimation.
I really like this latest activity – I think it’s a great one for when you are travelling with kids. No need to carry heavy toys or have your bags filled with extra things. Just buy lollies and toothpicks as you need them, and eat the lollies afterwards of course!
In case you are looking for some other easy science activities to do with the kids, here are three other activities that the kids did at camp that are easy to do at home or on the road.
The beanbag activity was simple and quick. Take an old sock, preferabbly a clean one, not Daddy’s smelly old travel socks he’s been wearing for the last six months! Fill it with lentils or a similar dried bean. Tie a knot in the top of the sock and tie on some strips of cotton or knitting wool for crazy hair. Older children could even sew the wool on to make more hair. Then draw on a face and it’s done.
The kids have been balancing it on their heads and improving their aim by throwing it at a cardboard box with a whole cut in it as a target.
This activity demonstrates how nature cleans water. Take a water bottle and cut it in half, inserting the top of the bottle upside down in the bottom of the bottle without the lid on. Place some cotton wool or gauze (whatever is in your medical kit!) in the bottom and then get the kids to fill it with layers of coarse sand, fine sand and dirt. You may need to plan this part in advance in order to collect the materials on your travels.
Then it’s as simple as getting some dirty water (the kids can make this themselves by mixing some leftover dirt and fine sand into water) and tipping it into the homemade water filter.
If you’re using local water that’s not safe to drink it’s still not going to be safe to drink using this filter but thats OK, the kids will still enjoy seeing the dirt removed from the water.
Return to me waterbottle
This was Noah’s second favourite activity. It does take a lot of adult help though. Make a whole in the bottom of an empty waterbottle and in the lid. You’ll also need a rubber band, a couple of toothpicks or a wooden skwer and a metal weight with a hole in the middle, like a nut. Tie the nut to the rubber band approximately halfway along the band. Push one end of the rubber band through the hole in the bottom of the bottle, so the rest is inside the bottle, and loop a toothpick or small section of a wooden skewer through the outside to keep the rubber band in place. Stretch the rubber band and thread it through the other whole, using another toothpick or piece of skewer to secure that end in place.
Lay the bottle down on the ground and roll it. As you roll the suspended nut stays stationary (well relatively speaking), causing the rubber band to twist up, like twisting a swing around and aroud. As the motion of the bottle starts to slow the rubber band starts untwisiting causing the bottle to reverse direction and roll back to you.