teaching to learn, means learning to teach

It’s Electrifying!

I feel like so much has happened in the last week! I haven’t written any posts because I had a surprise visit form a friend I haven’t seen in over a decade 🙂 And as everyone working with kids should know, it’s important to look after yourself and not try to do everything at once. However, I was still taking pictures and still thinking of what I was doing and what I wanted to write about.

I was enthused last month to rediscover the joys of maths with my Kindy Kids, and seeing their interest and enthusiasm fuelled a new learning area – Science and Discovery 🙂  As it often happens in my life, when I think I’d really like to find something, the universe lays it out there for me. I was taking a detour through Kmart and happened to pass a small display of Plasma Balls. I know these are fantastic and ended up buying one for school and one for home. For those of you not familiar with them, they are usually glass balls filled with a specific mix of invisible gases that show up the electric charge being sent out by the centre unit. (google it for a more in-depth analysis!) They react beautiful when your hands, fingers and noses touch the outer ball, with the free running electrical currents coming in to focus on your touch.

Here you can see a child’s hand illuminated by the electrical connection.

The stream of ‘lightning’ will follow your fingers and share its energy between different points, if more than one hand is touching the globe.

Which is just as well really, because this previously ‘dead space’ in my classroom, is now a centre for sharing space, hypothesising and exploration!

Because of the lightning like effects, it has opened up discussions on weather and thunder, as  well as the opportunity to ‘play’ with electricity whilst learning to be respectful of it. Which comes in handy when we want to explore the effects heat has on popcorn. We used a large electric frying pan (something I’d not done before) because it had a larger surface area for the kids to see how the popcorn reacted. It was a lot harder to shake the popcorn around in, so we did end up with more uncooked popcorn and burnt pieces than I am used to! The kids were more than forgiving as they eagerly lined up to be taste testers!

Figuring that most children would be able to connect to popcorn as a savoury we opened up our taste testing with plain popcorn, then salted, then icing sugared and finally a batch with a cinnamon-sugar topping. Smelling the ‘raw’ ingredients and connecting those to flavours and previous knowledge lead to a great discussion!

Applying the toppings is always fun and filled with complex physical skills as well as intrinsic learning – but we don’t have to tell them that 🙂

Sifting and shaking take different skills, but ones that many of the children already practice in the sandpit.

I’d love to end this with a group shot of happy children trying our the flavours and picking their favourites – but it was a busy time and the camera was less important than sharing discoveries and seeing what flavours we preferred. Salt came in a solid first place, with icing sugar a close second. The Cinnamon mix was dead equal with the plain – both having only two people who counted it as their favourite…despite this, each bowl was empty at the end of the experiment! Which means it was a rather successful event, yes? 🙂

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