By Awnali Mills
Today was Science and Stories: Balance. The books I chose were My Elephant Can Do Almost Anything by Anka de Vries, and Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
I opened with my puppet friend, Sally Squirrel. We talked about how good squirrels are at balancing as they jump among the trees, and Sally brought us the letter B. Then, I talked about how she had a special trick: she can balance an apple on her nose. I have a bean bag shaped like an apple, and Sally balanced it on her nose, to our applause. Then, I tried (unsuccessfully) to balance the apple on my nose. Oh, well!
We did a stretch, and I read our first book, My Elephant Can Do Almost Anything. This book is a little long for storytime, so I clipped a few of the pages together to shorten it. Books on balancing are few and far between!
After the book was over, we all stood up and found places on the masking tape line that went around the room. I played The Balance Song by James Latham from the soundtrack Jojo’s Circus, and we all walked the line around the room, practicing our balance. Then everyone sat down again and we did the flannel Five Grey Elephants.
One grey elephant balancing.
Step-by-step on a piece of string.
Thought it such a wonderful stunt.
That he called for another elephant.
Hey, Ele-phant! (call this, followed by clapping your hands on your legs several times)
Five grey elephants balancing.
Step-by-step on a piece of string.
All of a sudden the piece of string broke.
And down came all the ‘ele-folk’. (Knock all the pieces off the board)
Then we read the book Balancing Act. I did a lot of dialogic reading on this one, asking the kids what would happen next, and why. After the book, we did the flannel Sammy the Seal, counting and naming the colors of the balls he was balancing, and applauding for him.
Our last activity was a bean bag one. I handed out the bean bags, and then we sang The Froggy Hop to the tune of All Around the Mulberry Bush. I substituted “balancing” for “hopping”. The bean bags were our frogs.
Froggy’s hopping on my toes, on my toes, on my toes (balance bean bag on toes)
Froggy’s hopping on my toes –
RIBBIT! (move bean bag to knee)
Froggy’s hopping on my knee…
Froggy’s hopping on my tummy…
Froggy’s hopping on my shoulder…
Froggy’s hopping on my head, on my head, on my head (balance bean bag on head)
Froggy’s hopping on my head –
RIBBIT! (make bean bag jump to floor)
He hopped away!
Then I explained our stations and let the kids loose.
- Balance Beam: This was a 2×4 duct taped to the floor.
- Balance Challenge: Put a PVC pipe on the floor and put a 2 foot plank on top of it. Stand on the plank and try to balance. Use a chair or a grown up to help you, if you need to.
- Balance Ball: Try balancing different size balls on your finger (or hand). Which is harder? Which is easier? Why? Now try balancing a bean bag on your hand. Is it harder or easier? Why?
- Bean Bag Balance: Try balancing a bean bag on your head while walking the duct taped line on the floor. Can you do it? Can you do it with two bean bags? How many bean bags can you balance?
- Balancing Scales: Build a scale with a balance point and a piece of wood. Using blocks, try to balance them on the scale. Does it make a difference if the blocks are closer or farther from the balance point?
- Spinning Balance: Spin around several times. Did you get dizzy? Take a (plastic peanut butter) jar filled with glitter and water and swirl it around. When you stop swirling it, the glitter keeps swirling. This is what happens when you spin around. You stop being dizzy when the fluid in your ear stops spinning. (This was accompanied by a picture of the inner ear, and arrows showing which parts affect your balance.)
All the stations seemed to be equally engaging. This program was really easy to put together, but I already had the planks and 2×4 at home, and the balance points and pieces of wood were from my program on weights and scales. The pipes came from my program on tubes.