A friend wrote and asked last week: “My grandchild will turn 6 in September. Do you know of any game or book for her age to get the math and science query started? She starts Kindergarten late August.”
Here are my ideas… Do you have others?
1) Books! So important. As an author, I appreciate when people buy them, but I believe children should be surrounded by five to ten new books every week. Make friends with her local library! Email or visit the children’s librarian for ways to get involved. If you are not geographically present, spend time with your grandchild on skype, google hangouts or on the phone and help her pick 3-5 books to order each week. My son and I go online every week (he now does it on his own) and orders books to be waiting on the reserve shelf of the library when we stop by every Tuesday (keeping the same day each week avoids overdue charges).
Where do we find the book lists? I start at Amazon.com.
That gives me a chance to glance through pages and read reviews. I usually go the next higher age group than the child I’m surfing for. Favs from that age … hmmm…. Mary Pope Osbourne (for example Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8), Peggy or Herman Parish (for example Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School), and Kids Science magazines (for example TIME for Kids BIG Book of Why: 1,001 Facts Kids Want to Know (Time for Kids Magazine). The neat thing about using Amazon and the library is you are starting a life long habit of getting to know individual authors. Once you find one you like, travel down Amazon’s pages and Amazon recommends other authors like them. You can also surf the web for news of the author, subscribe to their blog, write them a note of encouragement. Many write back!
I like books that get kids thinking and interested in asking more questions. They don’t need to be books about science and math. They can be books about any type of problem or question. Science and math are tools to help answer questions and explore the world.
2) There are games you can play with her on facebook… Farmville can be used to teach economics and biology, angry birds is great for math and physics, alchemy is wonderful for beginning discussions about chemistry.
3) Toys: Lego, Knex, and Magnetix are great for building. My daughter loved that someone thought to get her an Erector set. Alice is a free download to teach programming (and yes – she is old enough to use Alice). I still prefer an empty box and asking what she wants to make of it. Send her something old that she can take apart and find out how it works.
4) Become her sponsor and turn a spark into a flame. What is her passion and can you invest so that she can attend that class or camp or program?
6) Most important is to follow her lead. When she asks a question, respond “Let’s wonder about that!” and let her keep exploring. Encourage questions that have more than one answer. Ex: When standing in the checkout line of Toys R Us, how could we figure out which checkout line would move the fastest?
7) Have a wonderful time!! She is so lucky to have you.