If homeschool parents, classroom teachers, and even interested grandparents find ways to make the written word more fun and appealing, we can educate our children in more than one method. Yes, people tend to learn by doing, but we also learn by reading and teaching others, which comes in the form of a written explanation of observations.
But here’s the catch – how can we make the reading and writing just as interesting as the experimentation and calculation?
- Encourage children to discover the why of their experimentation. They might be able to tell you that they created a rainbow by shining a light through water. But they may not be able to tell you why that happened. Turn this into a mystery quest! The investigators on crime shows need a motive before they can solve the crime. Young children will find it fun to find the motive, or reason, for what they observed. As an example, you’ll find a mystery in Where’s Green? that encourages children to investigate the order of colors in a rainbow.
- Find books that present the material in an interesting manner. Some nonfiction books and Internet sites can be dry discourses on the reason why ice melts at a particular temperature. However, some books, such as What’s the Matter?, introduce children to fun characters that explain the states of matter in an easy-to-understand manner. Yes, this is fiction, but there is strong fact supporting the text. Also, find books that have bright colors and lots of white space on the page so young readers don’t become overwhelmed.
- Help children to see the careers associated with their experiments and calculations. This gives children their own why question – Why do I need to know this? Let them write a short story about what they would be doing if they entered a career using these skills. Or interview a professional involved in the STEM topic they explored. Most employers will agree that writing skills are paramount to success in the workplace.
- Develop new ways to write about the experiment. Instead of writing a common essay or book report, try one of the strategies below to represent the knowledge gained from the lab experience. All of them involve doing research by reading interesting books and Internet sites to complete:
- Write a travel brochure to _______________. Fill in the blank with the location such as a distant galaxy, a microscopic bacteria colony, or the crystals in a gem.
- Create a game that involves answering questions and answers in order to move around the board.
- Write a play that shows inanimate objects talking and interacting to solve a problem or mystery. (For a fun example of this, read Oxygen Finds Friends, in which the chemicals take on a personality of their own!)
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