Rather than a specific activity this shows what can be done by planning some of your play.
Even little kids can learn quite complicated concepts by building it up slowly and teaching each piece before putting them together. Remember that my daughter was about 3 and a half when she did this but it is an important part of primary school science. Now of course I think she’s very clever, but she didn’t learn this because she’s a genius – she learnt it because it was
Something she’s interested in,
Broken into simple concepts she can understand and relate to,
Presented in a variety of fun ways she’s familiar with, and
Reinforced over time.
If you want a general rule on helping little kids learn, that’s a good place to start.
A while ago we ran with an insect theme for a few days. Not that we did everything on insects, but instead of random craft or walks we specifically looked for insects and especially butterflies because that’s what she chose.
I drew a half butterfly for her, but she cut it out and ‘dekwated’ it, then glued the body on. We watched butterflies when we were out walking and talked about them eating flowers, so later when I was taking the photos she found some flowers for it to eat.
She flattened out and glued patty pans onto the page to make a caterpillar. I’m not sure why she drew the face in the middle, it’s probably an example of how little kids operate by rules – there’s a big circle, it must be a face. When I asked her about it she drew a face on one of the patty pans at the end. She understands that caterpillars are baby butterflies and they eat leaves.
We read in a book about a caterpillar going to sleep and looked at how it covered itself with leaves, so made one ourselves. I thought of the alfoil, but while I was finding that she made the caterpillar all by herself by rolling up paper.
The Life Cycle:
We did this first of all by role playing. She adores “Butterfly Game” and we play it regularly, there’s nothing quite as hilarious as seeing a little girl squatting over a bowl yelling “My eggs are coming, my eggs are coming!” She starts as a caterpillar and crawls on the ground and eats lots of leaves, then curls up to sleep. When she wakes up as a butterfly she flits around to lots of flowers, then lays her eggs. She then collects lots of leaves for her caterpillars when they hatch.
So there are some things in there that are obviously wrong. Butterflies don’t have smiley faces and they don’t look after their babies. But for a 3 year old she has some very important concepts:
The idea of lifecycles and metamorphosis.
That different animals have different diets and habitats.
That some animals reproduce with eggs.
Facts are relatively easy to learn, understandings are priceless.
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