Toys: Science at Play

Our local (free! did you read that? free!) museum has just had a pretty cool exhibition on all about toys. We decided to go check it out with some other homeschooling friends (and one unschooling friend). I was hoping to see some “old fashioned” toys from when I was a kid (back in the “olden days” and all that lol!). We did see a fair bit of that, and some not so old toys, too. I guess it wasn’t just about “old” toys, but rather the science of toys, but that’s cool, it was fun! And we got to play, of course.

Want a peek?

Frogs really do fly!?
Frogs really do fly!?
This particular display about "vibrations" captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
This particular display about “vibrations” captivated lots of the children. I would often see someone sitting there engrossed for quite a while.
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to play myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I was so busy taking photos and following the kids around, I forgot to make time to do much playing myself! Now that I read this description, I want to have a turn! But the exhibition is closed. Oh well, it was enough joy for me to see them having fun!
I can't see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or teaching the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for "dumbing down" or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
I can’t see any adults in this photo instructing or showing or “teaching” the children anything, but look at the engaged, interested faces on each child. They are all totally engrossed in what they are doing. No need for “dumbing down” or over stating the lessons. The learning is in the doing.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn't know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America's big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
A replica of an early pinball machine. This got the kids totally engrossed as well, and I even managed to sneak in a few games myself (a friendly bit of mother-daughter competition!) I bet you didn’t know that Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities, being labelled a form of gambling, because it was a game of chance, not skill.
One of my friends who joined us as the museum is not yet unschooling, and observed that the children were "having fun" but "when would they learn something"? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits but noticed their eyes would glaze over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover. A few minutes later, I observed this. It is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly "in the moment".
One of my friends who joined us at the museum is not yet (lol) unschooling, and observed that the children were “having fun” but “when would they learn something”? She had been trying to explain some of the exhibits to her kids, but noticed their eyes glazing over. I explained a bit about natural learning and encouraged her to relax and let them discover things, being available and interested, but not stepping into a “teacher” role. A few minutes later, I observed this: it is her daughter, deeply engrossed and thoroughly “in the moment”. I observed her similarly engrossed in a few other exhibits during our time at the museum.
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I'm kind of glad I'm not a steel worker though!
We watched a sound and light show about the history of steel making in our city. We learned a thing or two that were quite interesting! I’m kind of glad I’m not a steel worker though!

Some of the displays of toys in cabinets were quite interesting, although I noticed they were too static to particularly grab the attention of the kids other than a cursory glance as they walked past. I, on the other hand, enjoyed looking back through memory lane and noticing toys I’d played with as a child. Way to make me feel old!! Especially when highlighting o the kids, “Hey, I used to play with that when I was a kid!” and they would be like, “Wow, really???” 😉

oldtoys

The kids definitely tended to prefer the more hands on activities, which was hardly surprising. I was really thankful that they weren’t there on a school excursion, complete with worksheets trying to get them to focus on answering questions, rather than walking around following their bliss, and *asking* questions (even silent ones inside their own heads) about what they were discovering. I was also glad we hadn’t booked in as a “school” group, because they would have had to go around the exhibition in small groups, spending ten minutes at each station. It was so much more enjoyable and natural for them to stay and linger at certain points, and walk right past other exhibits, and to absorb just what was right for them at that moment.

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This particular display totally reminds me of something out of a Dr Seuss book!

All in all we had a fun time, and the food from the museum cafe was absolutely delicious. An equally important criteria for a successful outing. 🙂

Lego Rocks

We were so excited to find out that our local (FREE!) museum was hosting a Lego exhibition. We love LEGO! So today we went along and had a bit of a play with some friends and just for the fun of it, I figured I’d share it with you. 🙂

It was a hair raising experience! :)
It was a hair raising experience! 🙂
Boys and Lego!
The boys particularly liked looking at the special sets on display.
We were surprised that there were no large displays of giant Lego sculptures. Other than a few models in the display cabinet, the rest was really more like Lego Art: large pictures made out of tiny lego blocks to create really interesting artworks (you can see some in the background). Whilst it was initially disappointing, I think it may inspire a whole new way to play with Lego. And the three giant construction tables filled with Lego blocks were certainly an attraction!
On the tables there were a few pre-constructed Lego designs. I’m not sure if these were intentionally placed there or created by other visitors. But they certainly served as an inspiration!
Copying the design required lots of focussed concentration
… and soon drew the others in for some Lego fun too. I love watching the way home ed kids tend to play without age divisions; playing and interacting together out of a common interest or shared experience, not dependent on which “class” they’re in.
Lego Lego Lego!
When’s the last time you played with Lego? 🙂