Imagine

by Deb on March 14, 2011

Imagine

Teach/Learn is back in a slightly different form. You can easily join in by writing a post on the theme any time, this month it is ‘Imagination.’ Put in a little blurb saying it is for Teach/Learn and inviting people to join (like this) then fill in the submission form here by the fourth Sunday of the month.  On the Monday we all publish the list so all our readers can browse the diverse, imaginative posts.  Please join us.

Science has a terrible reputation of being dull and boring lists of facts and formulae.  I don’t get this, but I accept it can be hard to see the flaws in someone we love. I think it probably comes from being taught by people who don’t love it, again something I don’t get.  I mean come on, how many jobs pay you to play with chemicals and bunsen burners?

Regular readers of Science@home will know that Science is chock full of creativity and imagination as we pretend to be archaeologists, butterflies, or raindrops, dance in fairy rings, invent our own animals and build houses for them. We make maps to look for buried treasure, play with sticks or act as giants and build entire landscapes.  We even write poetry or silly, fun explanations about flying reindeer.  Science is an enormous game of ‘What if?‘ that they let us keep playing as adults. So yeah, science has got imagination covered.

What about the other side – are there imaginative resources that can help kids develop their critical and scientific thinking? What books do we have that encourage kids to question and put forward their own answers?  I decided to go through the girls’ bookcase and look for science in their fiction.

There are two different types of science I looked for.  The first is relatively simple to find, those quirky and interesting but never dull and boring facts. Sometimes the facts themselves aren’t there, but when you have a gorgeously illustrated picture book about growing up as a green tree python you certainly have the stimulus to talk and search for them. And when there are beautiful pictures like this:

Verdi

What is he thinking?

It’s easy to ask ‘What do you think he’s thinking about?’ and off goes the imagination.

Are we there yet?

The same thing happens with places, when you see a lovely introduction to Australia that includes Wave Rock, the Pinnacles, rainforests, whales and everything in between. And I think Alison Lester must be one of our favourite authors because I pulled out another one, shown above, called appropriately ‘Imagine.’

Then there is the cute and cuddly Sebastian living in his hat, a book that is impossible to read without talking about how marsupials develop and human impact.

Sebastian lives in a hat

Yes, there are lots of incidental scientific facts and relationships in fiction. What is the other type of science? It’s a bit harder to find, the questioning that leads to scientific investigation.

HarryHarry and his dinosaurs came to the rescue with an explicitly scientific adventure, hypothesizing what the moon is made of then going there to check.  Unfortunately they didn’t explain how the moon came to be made of chocolate chip cookies, but the big girl had a pretty good stab at telling me it’s really made of rocks and how they got there.

And one of my all-time favourite authors, Graeme Base, has one of his wonderful, surprising, fantastical romps that begs you to ask ‘What do you think would happen?’

other animals

What would happen if animals lost their stripes, spots, horns, trunks and beautiful feathers?

warthogs

What would happen if warthogs had feathers or trunks?

wrong animals

What would happen if the stripes, spots, horns, trunks and feathers were on the wrong animals?

There is scientific questioning in books as well, you just have to look for it a bit. And what a wonderful way it was to spend a wet afternoon, cuddled up with a little girl on each side, reading some of our favourite books and asking ourselves ‘What if?’

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Marita March 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I love reading books with my girls, especially books that ask questions and make the girls think. Edwina the Emu is one of our favourites, she has to go find a job and Edward the Emu stays home sitting on the eggs. We talked about why the Emu’s sit on their eggs, would Edwina really work for her money or would she be off foraging for food etc.
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Carly March 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I love books that pose the “What If” questions. Lately I have been loving to read “Clinton Gregory has a Secret”. I always am on the look out for Australian authors too!

Books are great too, that allow you to extend on them further. So, posing the question of “What happened next?” or telling another story!

If I was participating, I would have loved to discuss the possibilities that Lego presents. By creating an inviting environment, the children can come up with the wildest stories for the characters.

The best thing about imagination in children, is that it is endless.

Great post! Will be sure to link up next month!
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Catherine March 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm

A great reminder about how you can use a question to spark you child’s thoughts and imagination. I have to say my son is spending a lot of time lately with ‘What if … was extinct?’. What if I was extinct, what if people were extinct and so on – I’m loving watching him figure out the meaning of extinct.
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Deb @ Living Montessori Now March 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

Great post about science and imagination, Deb! I love the way you covered so many different areas. I’m curious – is the Magic School Bus series popular in Australia? It’s very popular in the U.S. and was a much-loved part of our homeschool science studies.
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Ro March 28, 2011 at 11:48 am

Love sparking and inspiring my Aspie teen’s imagination, too often he can be so literal and concrete in his thinking (Autsim Spectrum does that) so getting him imagining is a huge release for both his mind and the anxiety he lives with every day 🙂
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