Friday, July 9, 2010

Learning With Magnifiers

According to Ellen Booth Church, a former professor of early childhood, you should have your children take a closer look at life with a magnifying glass! Tiny things are a wild source of fascination of children. Small stuff adults take for granted, like a line of marching ants on a sidewalk or a minute peck of mica shining in a rock, they see as invitation to stop and examine. A magnifier is available at most toy stores, is the perfect tool for helping young explorers further their intimate investigations in an up-close and personal way. The activities below will guide your children in their search through the world of the small.

1. Examine fingerprints: Together check the fingertips of each member of the family. Invite everyone to press their fingers into a stamp pad and then on paper. How do the fingerprints compare? Discuss the patterns found in nature that are one-of-a-kind, such as snowflakes and zebra stripes.

2. Inspect the ingredients: Next time you bake with your child, look at the different white powders (sugar, salt, flour, baking powder). Your child will be surprised to see how different the grains and crystals look from each other using a magnifying glass. What does each remind them of?

3. Make your own magnifier: Your child can make a magnifier by filling a plastic sandwich bag with a small amount of water. How much you put in the bag affects the degree of magnification, so experiment with a few different amounts. Then seal the bag, hold it sideways over an item, and take a look.

4. Play a guessing game: Without letting your child see them first, place a variety of everyday objects behind the magnifier's lens one at a time and encourage him/her to try to figure out the identity of each.

5. Use other tools for a closer look: Handheld magnifiers are not the only things we use to make something appear larger. Have your child look at the neighborhood with binoculars or the zoom on your camera. Check out the leaves and a fleck of dust with a microscope. Ask your child to take note of how these tools are similar to and different from the magnifier. Your child may notice that the magnifier and microscope work best close-up objects while the others are better for things in the distance.

6. Sketch your view: Scientist often record observations with illustrations in a field journal. As your children explores, provide paper, pencils, or crayons so they can keep track of what they see.


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