As a child, I have fond memories of sitting in my grandparent’s basement, with a box of old clocks. I loved taking them all apart and discovering, hands-on, what the insides looked like. It fascinated me to see how a wind up clock mechanism worked from the inside. I loved winding it and watching the coils tighten and seeing them loosen again as the clock ticked. This was a box of “stuff” that I could play, tinker, and get completely lost in, as I made new discoveries about how things worked.
Thinking back on my childhood, it was times like these that I remember so clearly, the times where I was allowed to just be, as myself. No immediate instruction or direction was present. Here, I was allowed to access my inner resources, coming out of it with the greatest discoveries of not only the materials I was working with, but possibly more importantly, of myself.
So much of our everyday goes much deeper than what we see face value. As an un-schooling mama to four, I feel that the best learning experiences that I can provide my children with are those where they can be on their own, discovering their lessons, from the inside out. It is in these moments that new concepts have the time and space to be fully absorbed and incorporated. Once we begin to mesh our lessons with the blossoming of our entire being, we open a gateway to a whole other type of learning experience, one that ties together what we do with who we are.
Allowing children the time to take things apart remedies their sense of curiosity with a feeling of accomplishment and discovery. Real tools being used in functional ways, alongside an active imagination…exploring what parts look like and could be used for in various different situations, shows two very different parts of the self coming together in unison. It is here that we can begin to contemplate the significance of the being as a whole and learn to honor the many different facets of learning that children hold.
The best way to obtain objects for Take Apart Science is to peruse your local thrift store or yard sales. People are always getting rid of old appliances and luckily you can usually obtain them for nominal cost. Clocks, stereos, vacuum cleaners, food processors, amongst many other small appliances work great for this activity. You may even want to provide your child with a small tool set of their own. Depending on the appliance, your child’s temperament, age, as well as the overseer’s personal comfort level, you may also want to get your child a pair of safety glasses to wear while doing Take Apart Science. Set out the appliance and tools and let your child discover what they can. This activity provides a lot of letting go on the part of the facilitator at times, as well as a lot of room for discussion with the child. Try to sit back and let your child run the show. When you are done, you can put some of the bits and pieces into an “Inventor Box” to provide another area of discovery for future activities and creations.
As with any project, please use caution and common sense when working with potentially hazardous materials. Use gloves and wash hands thoroughly after handling any parts which might contain lead or other substances.
Lisa DeNardo is a mama with a camera, trying to capture the little things in life. It is in these moments, which hold an unsurpassable amount of beauty and peace, where she finds the strength to grow and thrive as the individual she is. Lisa and her wonderful husband, and their four children, reside in southeastern Pennsylvania. More of Lisa’s daily contemplations can be found on her blog Earth Mama, as well as some thoughts on mindfulness at threading light.