Science and Stories – Pendulums

Today was Science and Stories.  Our storytime was about Things that Move, and our exploration stations were about pendulums.  The books I chose were And the Cars Go by William Bee and That’s How by Christoph Niemann.

And the Cars GoThat's How!

I started with a stretch and a peek in my magic bag which had things in it which move in different ways—a pinwheel, toy car, ball, slinky, and a paper airplane.  We talked about the different ways that things move, and I read And the Cars Go to them.

We got up and sang all three verses of Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.  Then, we read That’s How.  One little boy kept saying, “That’s not right!” when the little boy in the book “explained” that all the different vehicles run by animal.  It was great!

Next, I handed out different colors and types of vehicle pictures to my gang, and then called for them to bring them up, “If you have a red truck, red truck, red truck, If you have a red truck, please bring it up to me!”  Our last song was The Wheels on the Bus, and then I handed out strings with paperclips attached.  The kids were supposed to hold the plain end of the string, drop the paperclip end, and count how many swings until it stopped, then add another paperclip and try it again.  This didn’t work as well for me as it did for The Show Me Librarian.  I’m assuming because she had older children than I did.  The kids who turned up for this program this time were really young—including an infant who attended last week.  They tried, but didn’t really get it.  So, I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but moved on to the exploration stations.  We had five stations this time:


Pick ‘em Up: Magnets were the pendulums.  As the children swung them, they picked up paperclips which had been scattered underneath.


Swing ‘em High: Sturdy paper plates were the pendulums, with three points of attachment to a length of yarn. These were taped to swing underneath a table.  The kids were given a pile of Beanie Babies and instructed to give them a swing.  Did the Babies slide?  Stay still?  How was this different than or the same as the swings the children use at home or the playground?

Newton’s Cradle: I love Newton’s Cradle. It can keep me occupied for quite a long time.  I could not find one on short notice for love or money (this was a fill in for another pendulum station that I couldn’t get to work (a harmonograph, in case you were wondering).  So, I made two from materials I had on hand, using the instructions from Rainy Day Mum. (Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of them, but you can see them sitting on the ledge in some of the photos.)

Knock ‘em Down: Plastic cups with three point of attachment were strung from yarn, and taped to swing under a table. Dominoes were used as weight.  The children were instructed to build a tower out of wooden blocks, then fill the cup with dominoes.  Then, swing the cup at the tower to knock it down.  Does it always work?  Why or why not?

Pour ‘em Out: I suspended and taped down a 2×4 between two tables. On the floor underneath were two plastic tablecloths. I suspended three funnels (purchased as a set from the dollar store) using clothesline from the 2×4.  I narrowed the bottom of the two largest funnels using doubled painter’s tape (so there were no sticky sides) so that the salt we would add wouldn’t run out as fast.  Underneath each funnel was a large aluminum roasting pan.  I had tape and a small cup of salt sitting by each pan.  The children were instructed to put a piece of tape on the bottom of the funnel, fill the funnel with salt, take the tape off, and give the funnel a little push.  What happens?  Does the salt make a pattern?  Does the pattern change?  This station actually worked better than I expected.  Almost all the salt stayed in the pans, and what didn’t was captured handily by the tablecloths which were gathered up and shaken out outside after the program.  The parents who were working with the children didn’t have any trouble with taping up the bottoms of the funnels and then removing the tape.  I didn’t see anyone sticking salt into their mouths, and I was able to use the funnels to return almost all the salt back to the container after the program—handy for the next time we need salt!

Altogether I was a bit disappointed by the turnout, but it was a half day for the schools and pouring rain, besides.  The children who attended were so young that we’re going to be evaluating this program to see if it still meets the needs of our demographic, or if we need to change to something more age appropriate for toddlers rather than preschoolers.

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