Thursday, January 29, 2015

Learn through play: Lego zipline

29 Januari  2015

Hallo semuanya... apa kabar? A LOT of things going on for our family for the past few weeks. Let’s just say, we’re gearing up for more play-based learning, dengan bayang-bayang homeschooling untuk jenjang SD yang insyaaAllah semakin mendekat. But with a few big decisions and crossroads that we’re currently facing, that’s not a reason to stop playing (or should I say, learning?)

The latest toy that Little Bug is playing with is a zipline (or flying fox, you might call it) that he made from Lego. I got this idea from here but I only gave him a short glimpse of what the model looked like and then he had to make his own “vehicle” for the zipline. Btw, he has been on the flying fox things a few times before, so he can recall on his experiences on how the whole zipline thingy works.

This activity is packed with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning points and also not short on creativity, language arts, and just plain fun, even for Baby Bird (who is just under 3yo right now)!

First, Little Bug had to think about how the “vehicles” would be designed so that they would run smoothly on the zipline. An important part of the vehicle design was about how the thread for the zipline would be attached to the vehicle. Because I didn’t set any limits or give any instructions on this activity, Little Bug expanded the activity into making more than 1 vehicle for the zipline à which he then had another problem to solve: how to switch between vehicles easily? He also made up a story about the zipline being in an amusement park, so he made a ticket booth and a fun ship ride to go with it. 

Having a ticket booth, I asked him about pricing the rides. So he made a sign with the prices (practicing his own handwriting but without any corrections yet from me) , along with a made up math-story problem about a minifig that wanted to go on the ride with only x amount of money and y amount of change that he would get from the ticket booth. Just like what he sees in real-life money transactions.

After all the set up on the Lego parts, I taught him how to make a simple knot. Being in a modern-day world with velcro and slip-on shoes, he hasn’t had a lot of practice in tying knots & bows. It took perseverance but alhamdulillah, he finally learned how to make his own knots.

Then we tried a few combinations of places to tie the knots, experimenting with angles, slopes, and string tension. I also added info about gravity and friction, and FYI, I barely passed my physics in grade school, so we’re just talking about simple basic concepts here.

All that aside, we just had fun playing! Little Bug (and Baby Bird) played with this for 2 days in a row, just creating and adjusting. It was fun to watch the Lego minifigs slide down the line (or not, in some cases), and even some fell apart upon impact!

As a facilitator, all I did was just provoke with “I wonder why?” type questions and I was his cheerleader for not giving up and wanting to find out more about how things work. He needs work in that area...  I’ll be worried if everytime he encounters a problem/something surprising happens, he won’t want to ask “why? What caused it? How can I find out about this?” and just shrug it off, shift his attention to something else. This sort of attitude takes a lot of time and hands-on activities to nurture, and this is what will fuel him to keep on pursuing his passion/interests/goals/dreams in the future. I believe that all kids have a huge amount of curiousity within them, but it’s our job to make sure that curiousity will keep living and driving them in the right direction. We have to give them plenty of time to just play and learn to their heart’s delight along with a fresh view on life around them... not weigh them down with spoon-fed fact learning/memorization, a schedule that’s too packed, and a boring view of life. Again, this is what I call part of the “fine art” of educating your kids... you can only fine-tune your “dance” with your kids—your goals and theirs—so that it’s a win-win and happy solution for everyone.  Happy playing!