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I took physics in both high school and college, and hated it both times. In grad school, however, I realized how intuitively kids can pick up the laws of physics just from play. For example, they learn about gravity by seeing that every time they jump, they always come back down. This activity that I did with my kids teaches basic physics for kids through play.
My kids have recently spent a lot of time building towers and other creations with our SmartMax magnetic discovery set. QBoy loves to build the towers and then knock them down.
On a recent day, I decided to take advantage of his interest in building towers and knocking them down by adding a new component to the activity. I gathered several different objects from the house. Some were big, some were small, some were heavy, and some were light.
Then I found a pair of old thermals. I placed a rubber band at the bottom of one leg to seal it off. (Note: Tights or stockings would have been ideal for this, but I didn’t have any available.)
I invited the kids to place the large styrofoam ball into the bottom of our homemade wrecking ball. In this way, we created a homemade wrecking ball!
QBoy got up on a stool and began to swing our wrecking ball toward the tower we built. With the styrofoam ball inside, our wrecking ball was not very powerful and our tower did not fall over.
Then we swapped the styrofoam ball for a rubber bouncy ball.
This, too, was not strong enough to topple our tower.
Finally, QBoy made a wrecking ball from a large marble. This time our tower was easily knocked over!
Not only was this a lesson in physics for the kids, it was also a lesson in experimenting with different materials until you find the right one for the job.
Of course, the kids had so much fun with this that we immediately built another tower to knock over again. 🙂
Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
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More science activities for kids
More science activities from Gift of Curiosity:
- Dancing raisins
- Candy experiments
- Jumping colors science activity
- Make your own glycerin soap
- Crystallized snowflakes
- Dissecting an apple
- What do ants like to eat?
- Make your own telescope
- The great baking soda and vinegar experiment
- Magic inflating balloons
Don’t have time to gather materials? Want to make science super easy? Check out these monthly subscription services that will send science and creativity kits to your door!
Find more great science activities on my Science Activities for Kids page and my Science Activities Pinterest board.
Follow Gift of Curiosity’s board Science on Pinterest.
That looks great, I love that the pieces are big enough so you couldn’t choke on them.
We love the SmartMaxx – perfect for kids of any age!
Growing Up Madison
This would be perfect for my autistic 8yr old. He’s a whiz at math and would thoroughly enjoy this. 🙂
I think lots of kids would get a kick out of knocking something down. 🙂
Very cool. I don’t think you can start too early with physics. I cried my way through it in college 🙂
Ha ha! It was struggling through physics my first quarter of college that made me realize I was never going to be an engineer!
Love the physics lesson! Science = SO not my strong point – so I really appreciate the ideas!
Thanks Anna! I actually love science (maybe because my mom was a science teacher), although physics is most definitely not my favorite branch of science. 🙂 That being said, I love that kids pick up basic physics lessons from everyday life. Seems so much simpler than what I was learning in school!
What a fun activity and a great physics lesson! I love it when concepts are taught during the course of the day, esp during play time.
TaMara @ Tales of a Pee Dee Mama
Thanks TaMara! Isn’t it great to work lessons into everyday play? 🙂
Jana @ HowToRunAHomeDaycare
Great idea! We’re going to try this one. I pinned it as well 🙂
Thanks for pinning – I always appreciate it when people pin my posts to share with others. And if you do try this, I hope your daycare kiddos enjoy!
there is education in everything we do – including playtime! We are always learning. Love how you foster discovery and curiosity in your children. Great ideas, thanks for sharing!
(stopping by from TGIF)
Thanks Linda – you are so right that there is learning is everything. Thanks for stopping by!
This is a great introduction to forces, and I love your homemade wrecking ball! Visiting from Saturday Share.
Thanks! Our homemade wrecking ball wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done!
how fun! what a great lesson to introduce physics to kids! 🙂 (found you through the jenny evolution monday link up!)
Great post, you’re right kids do intuitively understand so much of physics without our making it boring and hard.
Oh, how fun!! What a great lesson too. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!