Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Old-Fashioned Learning Fun, Inspired by the Delaware Children's Museum

Last week, we went to the Delaware Children's Museum in Wilmington, DE.  It resides in a huge warehouse that used to be home to a bar / restaurant back when we were in college.  I will tell you - the museum is a GIANT upgrade.  At $10 a ticket with AAA, it was a GREAT value.  We were there for three hours, and we could've stayed for more.  Because my right shoulder seems to sag below my left shoulder due to the gargantuan weight of my pocketbook, I didn't bring my camera.  But, we got tons of good ideas for low-tech, old-school summer activities as a result of exploring the museum.


#1 - Marble chutes - Along one wall was an awesome chute where kids could drop a ball and watch it roll up and down hills.  The next day, we were at a yard sale and found something like this for $4.  It is SUCH a fun toy (for kids and adults) and the possibilities are endless.  My son's review was "This is one of the awesomest toys of my life!"  Marbulous is available for purchase at various places, but you can also try your hand at making your own marble run. See this one from Mrs. Myers' Kindergarten blog.

#2 - Nature Rubbings - A station was set up to make rubbings of various leaves found in nature, along with a way to match them up to the trees that they came from.  I know, making rubbings is pretty simple, but here's a quick refresher from wikihow. Tip: Save broken crayons or crayons from restaurants that can easily have their wrappers removed.

#3 - A race track for Roller Racers - Do you remember these from growing up!?  The museum had a room set up like a little racetrack, with plenty of roller racers.  They can support both kids AND adults, so I was on that thing in no time.  It is just as much fun as it was growing up, but it was a LOT harder to stand up afterwards than it used to be!  It's awesome exercise, too.  They are NOT cheap, but I'm THIS close to ordering one for a birthday or the holidays!
Roller Racer
#4 - GIANT slotted sticks to build with - These are just popsicle stick size, but could be just as fun.  Use the slots to build houses and more.  Skill sticks (as they're called) are available at Amazon, JoAnn, etc.
#5 - Fun with Structures and Shapes - Using transparent flat, plastic pieces on a slightly slanted lightboard, the kids experiment with ways to build a tall structure.  The key is to use larger shapes at the bottom and smaller ones towards the top.  I wasn't able to find an example of this activity online, but I did find a fun one involving making bridges and towers from toothpicks and gum drops (educational and tasty!)  Here are two detailed how-to's, thanks to the Magic School Bus and Galileo Camps
#6 - Make Your Own Lemonade Stand Computer Game - Using a simple computer game, the kids become their own lemonade stand owners, deciding how much lemonade to make and how much to charge, taking into account simple variables such as the weather and cost of lemonade.  It really held our son's attention, and he wanted to play all three levels of the game.  Here's the exact game we played in the museum (for free)!
Moneyville Lemonade Stand Game

The thing I really loved about these six concepts is that they're simple - Using blocks, marbles, bikes, and crafts, you can still create an environment that holds kids' attention.  What are your low-tech favorites?