Mummy, What Shape is Juggling?

jugglingballsWhen my six year old child – out of the blue – asked me what shape juggling is, I was excited and perplexed.  I eventually worked it through with paper and pencil, and discussed it with him at great length.  We talked about trajectories, start and end points, and the path of the hands (elliptical) compared to the path of the balls in flight (parabolic).  I was really proud of myself as a parent that day.  Here are some important things I’ve learned about talking to kids, which I think are worth repeating.

 

 

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Squishy Electric Circuits

Squishy Circuits Electric PlaydoughSquishy Circuits is a home-made play-dough technology for introducing children to electronics. This simple parallel circuit contains four AA batteries in a case, connecter wires, six coloured LEDs and some conductive playdough. Everything you need to know about getting started, safety and recipes are on the Squishy Circuits website. Pictures of my kit and process are for enjoyment rather than instruction. What I do intend to add to the concept are some experimental questions to explore while you play with your squishy circuits.

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Respecting Emotions

The stern face and the cross voice are coercive emotional tools, which tell the target person that they are not ok. Coercive emotion can be devastating for some people, but there is currently little-to-no social prohibition against using it on children. I recently put into words how it’s important to remain warm, calm and respectful with my children at all times. A manner that you would simply call “professional” in the work context. Every time I come up with a revelation about how my kids need to be treated with respect, a helpful friend reminds me that all kids benefit from such treatment. This post explains how reliance on coercive use of emotions can routinely downward spiral.

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Twelve Tone Play

12tonesTwelve tone music breaks many of our expectations about music. It removes our sense of what is musically “right” and “wrong” and broadens our repertoire of musical shapes. This makes it a great platform from which to discover and explore musical composition (even for very small children).

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Hyperbolic Plane Crochet Model

Hyperbolic CrochetA crochet model of a hyperbolic plane is simple to make, and fascinating to play with. With these models, learning about hyperbolic geometry becomes kinesthetically available.

Until recently, some mathematicians thought that hyperbolic geometry was purely theoretical and could not be effectively modeled in the real world. Here is one I finished recently.

Click the “Continue reading” link to learn why hyperbolic planes are cool, access some links, see how I made one, and enjoy a gallery of hyperbolic planes which I have crocheted.

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How to Teach Chess

IMG_6133Attempting to organize chess playdates for my five year old showed me that parents struggle to effectively introduce their kids to the game.  Many won’t even try it, while others undermine their kids by letting them win“.

So I delved into my high school chess club experience, remembering the approach of one visiting coach in particular, and developed this chess teaching method, primarily for my child’s friends’ families to use.

It turns out that this method can be used by “teachers” of any level of chess experience and ability to introduce complete novices to the game.  This super-simple method can also be used to consolidate skills and re-build confidence of players who are feeling anxious about their ability.  All you need to start is a regulation chess set, the rules, two people and this method.

You can download the method as a pdf here: How to Teach Chess_v2   or click the “Continue reading” link to see it on the web.

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