Posted in babies, Education, Fun Mamma SA Products we love, Fun Mamma SA Toy of the Week, Parenting, preschool, preschoolers, STEM, Toddlers

Fun maths games with Building Genius by Moluk

We are huge fans of the Moluk design brand and I can not recommend these open ended toys more.

Read my reviews on the awesome bilibo and oibo

So you can imagine our excitement when Straight_zigzag sent Hamish the latest product – Building Genius.

This soft, safe, silicone construction toy comprises of 3 of each of the brands popular products – Mox, Hix and Oibo.

Truly toys that grow with your child and can be used from baby stage.

With so many uses.

  • Your baby 0 -1 year can grasp and sense.
  • Toddlers 1-3 can stack and build.
  • Children 3 – 12 can imagine and invent.

We spent some time exploring the products and using them in lessons to:

  • count objects
  • sort colours and shapes
  • identify shapes
  • do maths sums
  • build

We also used them in play….

  • Hamish used them in free play with water to experiment with volume
  • we turned the hix into boats and see who could blow them across the bilibo fastest
  • he rolled the mox balls to the bilibo
  • practised throwing and catching with them
  • and he played with them using his imagination creating robots

The hix fold into 3 sizes and are great for fine motor development as your child manipulates the silicone into it’s different sizes.

The mox balls have groves that could look like eyes and slits which Hamish calls a mouth. You can post items inside for your child to get out or let them squeeze the sides to open the mouth.

The oibo are also flexible and the mox fit inside. Hamish loves to pop the balls in and manipulate the sides of the oibo to get them out.

How to use the Building genius in lessons

Nothing excites me more than a toy we can use in lessons, mostly because I know that I will immediately have Hamish’s full attention and that he will grasp the concept a lot faster because he is enthusiastic to play.

I jumped straight in by introducing the building genius to our next maths lessons.

We’ve been working on sizes and Hamish categorized the hix into:

– small, medium and large

-big, bigger, biggest

-small, smaller, smallest

Next we reinforced categorizing and sorting by placing the items on a piece of paper to match the colours.

Lastly we reinforced shape names and properties by looking at the hix, mox and obio and discussing what shape they were and how many sides each had. Then Hamish grouped each onto a piece of paper with its corresponding shape.

Using familiar objects and favourite toys in learning activities makes learning a concept much more enjoyable.

So, although Hamish loves to build and create his own items with this lovely set, he also loves to add them to his learning time.

I love the possibilities of play and learning that this set of toys offer and can’t wait to share the new and innovative ways we find to introduce them into our every day learning and play

Posted in STEM

Marshmallow toothpick structures

Hamish will be 4 in September and we have recently started to introduce more STEM activities into our curriculum.

So, the other night when he asked for something fun to do, I brought out some marshmallows and toothpicks and we spent the time learning to construct 3D shapes.

To do this activity you will need:

  • Toothpicks
  • Marshmallows

( marshmallows can be substituted for grapes, berries, soft sweets or even playdough)

Method

First we grabbed our supplies and discussed the shapes we could make.

Next I spoke Hamish through constructing basic 3D shapes – a square and a triangle.

Then I left him, with his knew found knowledge and skills to construct his own sculpture.

I was impressed to find that he had built a little house. This is an activity that encourages creativity and problem solving.

Notes

We used ordinary sharp toothpicks bit it may be advisable to use flat toothpicks for younger kids.

Coloured toothpicks could also be fun.

You can add depth and size to this project by supplying a variety of marshmallow sizes and both toothpicks and kebab sticks.

You can challenge your child by giving them various items to construct, ie: a bridge, a house, a boat, ect

This activity is adaptable for all ages and you may find a younger child would rather construct a flat 2D shape, rather than a 3D shape.

This is a fantastic affordable way to introduce geometry and shapes to your children.

Posted in easy science experiments, preschool, preschool curriculum, STEM

Fun science – changing a flowers colour

One of my favourite activities as a child was to pick my mothers flowers and try change their colour by leaving them in food colouring water.Tonight as I glanced over at the flowers I bought before lockdown I decided it was the perfect time to show Hamish this ” magic” trick.And so we grabbed some glasses, water, food colouring and 2 flowers and set our experiment up.Eager little hands were ready to help me and are still learning to do things slowly.As he poured the blue food colouring he managed to splosh it all over the counter. ( thank goodness for jick)So, when pouring the red, he was so much more gentle and deliberate.After we had coloured the water, he placed one flower in each glass and we have left them overnight.I cant wait to see his reaction in the morning.It takes 24 hours for the flowers to completely change colour and you normally use a plain white flower, so I’m not too certain how vibrant the shades will appear on our slightly greenish flowers.This morning our flowers had absorbed enough food colouring to change colour already.The longer we leave them the more vibrant the colour will appear.

How this works

Plants absorb water from the roots. This water travels up the stems into the flower petals.Although the cut flowers we use no longer have roots, they still absorb water up their stems through a process called capillary action.As the water is coloured with the food colouring, the dye enters the flowers petals and stains them to change colour.What is most interesting is that you need to leave each flower in dyed water to keep the colour as plain water would make the vibrant shades of the petals fade.

Posted in Education, STEM

A list of easy STEM activities for families

STEM, stands for the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

These 4 subjects teach critical thinking, logic and a large variety of other skills needed for when your child one day enters a future workplace.

But, how exactly do we as parents who grew up in a totally different world, equip our children for their future through everyday play ?

A boy stacking cups
How do we prepare our children for their future ?

I’ve compiled a list of easy STEM activities that the entire family can enjoy together.

Activities

I have tried to separate the activities into a category each but many of the activities cross over into one or more of the other categories as well.

Science

  • Take a nature walk in your backyard or neighbourhood.
  • Visit a museum.
  • Get an old microscope and look at things.
  • Plant seeds and record their growth.
  • Take photos of nature.
  • Make slime or ooblek.
  • Learn to recognize trees from their bark.
  • Study a scientist and read their biography.
  • Use a magnifying glass and search for bugs.
  • Make art using leaves.
  • Complete a science simulation online.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.
  • Weed the garden and identify weeds.
  • Go rock hunting.
  • Visit a farm.
  • Make a time lapse video in nature.

Technology

  • Give your children old appliances or toys to dismantle and discover how they work.
  • Fix broken toys and let your child try help with a solution as to how it can be fixed, what materials or tools to use to do so.
  • Investigate your family car’s engine.
  • Learn to code a game.
  • Create a stop motion video using LEGO or PLAYDOH.
  • Learn to use a compass for direction.
  • Fix a bike.
  • Tour a factory.
  • Make a “How to” video.
  • Build a solar oven and cook something.
  • Build something using a pulley
  • Build something using using gears.
  • Use a lever to lift something heavy

Engineering

  • Use a large cardboard box to create a rocketship.
  • Create your own boardgame.
  • Make a LEGO car, building or ship.
  • Make a LEGO bridge.
  • Work out how much paint is needed to paint a room.
  • Design a blueprint of your home.
  • Invent a useful item.
  • Make paper aeroplanes and host an aeroplane flying competition.
  • Design and build mini boats and float them down a river or stream.
  • Build something using only craft sticks, paper straws or pipe cleaners.
  • Make a raft from an empty milk jug.

Maths

  • Take a calculator with to the store and let your child add up your bill, find the best price or work out the cost per item.
  • Play a card game involving numbers.
  • Play connect 4.
  • Play chess.
  • Play checkers.
  • Bake a cake or cookies.
  • Learn to use a maths compass.
  • Build a puzzle
  • Make your own puzzle.
  • Watch a sporting event and keep statistics.
  • Play monopoly.
  • Try origami.
  • Build a picture only using one type of shape.
  • Take photos of shapes around your home.
  • Point out numbers whilst driving in the car.

Do you have any other ideas of fun STEM activities we could enjoy as a family? I would love you to share them in the comments below.