The other morning my son reminded me that I said we would play tennis in the morning. And by "play tennis," I mean whack some tennis balls with a racket in the handball court. We don't play regulation rules.
When we got to the courts, we saw that someone spray-painted on the side of the skateboard jump. I said, "Oh cool, look at that."
My kids didn't know what the symbol was and I had to explain it.
My kids questioned my explanation, "So you'd buy little records with holes too big for the turntable, and you'd have to put a little piece of plastic in the middle to make the record play?"
"Right," I said.
"Why didn't they just make the holes the right size?"
"Because," I said, "the little plastic things were cool."
They didn't believe that was the reason, but I told them to prove my theory wrong.
Instead, they headed to the handball court to whack some balls against the wall. I gave it a try, too, which is why my arm aches today.
At home, while I made lunch, the kids worked on making a DNA model. It's harder than it sounds. After all, the Nobel prize was awarded for this same task. Okay, the award-winners didn't have a diagram to follow and little pieces ready for assembly, but it's still hard to put together a DNA model.
When my son finally completed the model, after using lots and lots of concentration and coordination, we celebrated by dancing around. That's when he he dropped the DNA model and it fell apart. We need it for the next experiment tomorrow, so I told him, "Such is the life of a scientist. This is a normal setback, and you'll have to re-build the model."
"It's normal for scientists to dance around and break things?" he asked.
"Yes," I said.
I've never been keen on science kits, but I've been encouraged this year to add more hands-on science into our studies. Since we've been studying the human body, I bought a kit called Genetics & DNA by Thanmes & Kosmos. The kit doesn't get great reviews on amazon.com, but it's been working for us. Honestly, I think taking a CM approach to the kit - going slowly, narrating, connecting the activities to our other readings - is what makes it work for us.
When I read the kids' written narrations, I see that the experiments do reinforce our science readings. And I finally "saw" the spiral in the DNA structure, where before I would look at a DNA diagram in a book and think, "Okay, sure, double helix, got it." But, I didn't really get it. Now I see how it twists around the center. Maybe these hands-on science experiments are worth doing after all, even if you have to pick up the pieces off the floor now and then.
While the kids worked on their project and I cooked lunch, we listened to music, and I reminisced about records like some old-timey person.