We began our study of simple machines by hammering a nail into a piece of wood and letting everyone try to pull it out. Try as they might, no one managed to even loosen it. People tried pulling in different angles and using their arms for leverage. Then we used the end of the hammer, which someone told us was called the claw, to pull out the nail. We defined a machine as something that makes work easier.
As another example, the children tried to pick up a teacher. They could not using their hands and arms, however, using another type of lever, they succeeded. (Ask your child how.) Many children wanted more turns to experiment with the lever and got to in the big room.
Lillian’s grandmother, Julia, came back for a second visit to share her “now” clock with us and we sat for a one-minute meditation. The children were curious about why there were no hands on the clock.
We introduced the inclined plane as our second simple machine. One of the children said it is also called a ramp. In the big room, we predicted which inclined plane would send a wooden car rolling farthest. The children predicted correctly. Everyone had turns to roll a big heavy car and a little light car down each of our three ramps.
Jim came and played guitar and sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, A,B,C, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. Then we sang them without the words and noticed they all sound alike. He sang Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude. Jim told us that they sing Hey Jude at bedtime and some children
began to look sleepy during the song. Coincidence? We asked if he could come back at quiet time.
It was warm and sunny in our yard. The children noticed the first spring flowers. And bees!
We looked at a picture of a wedge, read the definition, examined scissors, and then reread a book looking for pictures of wedges. The children were able to identify quite a few and tell why they were wedges and why some things were not. We then used scissors, wedges, to cut up our gloop into small pieces.
To the excitement of many, we added our rice table to the classroom.
We talked about wheels and axles, and examined many of our big room toys to identify their wheels and axles. We reread two books looking for wheels and axles. Yep, they’re there. We rode and pushed our wheels and axles around the big room, adding new street signs to remind people of speed limits. Some children pretended to be crossing guards and tried to enforce the new and improved street rules.
We overheard children saying, “This is a girls only” or “boys only” game. We asked what made it for girls only? Some people said only girls wear makeup, or dresses. We asked who likes to get face paint? and noticed all the children do. After much discussion, we agreed girls and boys like lots of the same kind of games.
We introduced our last two simple machines. We used a screw to fix our rice table top which had a missing screw. We used a pulley in the big room to clip scarves and move them from one side of the room to the other. The clothespins were a great fine motor work out.
Connor’s grandmother came in and read a book about rocks. The class was thrilled when she invited them to collect rocks from a box- and even more so when they found out they could bring the rocks home. Rock and roll!
Lillian’s grandfather came in and played his concertina for us. He showed us how the instrument breathes and we breathed with it. He explained the words and played an Irish love song. Some children couldn’t contain their dancing to the music. Thankfully.
Next week, we talk about other types of machines.
Have a windy weekend,