A New Little Explorer

Dominic rushed through the front gate and bounded up onto the decking area, ‘We need a box, quick ! We found a bird’

Zara, his sister was behind him in her blue witches outfit with pink fairy wings. ‘yes, quick, we saved her, it’s good to help you know, we are helping’  I had a sinking feeling – we had just burnt every bit of cardboard in an attempt to clear out the barn for the new Movement Method centre, once stuffed to the brim with cardboard boxes the outbuilding was now empty.  But I had a delivery that morning I thought, my riding boots – the box from that will do nicely.  So once the poor little bird was safely inside I found out all about our new member of the activity club.  The family had found it just before leaving home, the bird seemed stunned or something, maybe with some rest it would recover.

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Miriam talked to Dominic about the physics activities while Zara and her mother had another mission, finding out what type of bird it was, what it liked to eat, where it lived…a spontaneous natural sciences lesson emerged.  Trouble was it did rather distract from our ‘confirm it’ treasure hunt.   Zara chirped in ‘we need to find worms’ and went off on a mission with me to find worms, then discovering that the bird was a Swift and that it liked airborne creatures the hunt turned into winged insects.

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“Oh! I found something hidden.” Dominic had seen the handwritten letter with a Hot Wheel Car on the back.  He has been struggling with reading so I was a little concerned as I watched but with Miriam by his side he was relaxed and read the letter beautifully with her.  There are several reasons why I think he found it easier, they had a great time the day before doing activities that were all intrinsically motivating to him and it was the same with this, it was a letter from the Hot Wheels Company.

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“Dear Dominic, thank you very much for your great job yesterday. Your idea to let the cars go through the tunnel and jump over the cardboard ramp was great. We still have a few questions that we are curious about and we would be so happy if you could help us with it. We set up some secret messages in the first part of the garden. THANK YOU! Your Hot Wheels team USA”

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The treasure hunt began for the secret messages “That´s what they are talking about in the letter” he said as he found one.  ‘’Shall we see what they want us to do’’ Miriam suggested.  He agreed then his sister Zara came along asking for help finding food for the bird. Dominic went back to the car ramp and had some ideas about another plan.  The Playdate started to take on a more disjointed feel with both siblings having different ideas about what they wanted to do making it tough to stay with the treasure hunt.  ‘Oh wait, I have an idea…we could do this’ he would say and then before we worked out what to do next it would be onto the next grand plan.  Keeping the focus was difficult and I admired Miriam’s abilities to follow them and to keep her spirits up even though things weren’t going how she expected.

With the map in hand she guided them back onto the Hot Wheel treasure hunt.  “I know where that is.’ Dominic immediately figured out how to read the map and find the place where something hidden.  “Professor Owl” was found to take along on the hunt, we use a cuddly toy to add humor.   When the child gets a question wrong we can ask the professor owl what she thinks in silly voices, tickle them with the toy and they can be corrected without any pressure or feeling down about it.  Arrows pointing the way helped him go in the right direction.


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After a few clues it was clear that although he got some of them right we would need to revisit some of the physics at a later date.  These ‘confirm it’ sessions are ideal for finding out what we need to cover again in a different way.  Maybe it’s just too early right now and with time and another activity he will understand it properly.  We found that it could be due to how we phrased the questions, making a ‘note to self’ that they needed to be clearer and possibly with some pictures too.  We are always self accessing and wanting to improve on how we run the sessions so each time something doesn’t work out quite so well we think about how we can develop it for next time.

Both of the children were still full of energy so we headed over to the trampoline, then some ‘time for innovation’.  They were free to explore and decide what they wanted to do next.  Making paper planes and some fun with playdoh was on their minds.

In an ideal world day 2 of the Physics Playdate with Dominic and Zara would tell the perfect story of ‘Confirm it’ the last stage in the Movement Method, testing his knowledge through fun games like treasure hunts and he would have proved to us that he understood it all from the day before but life is well, Life!…it doesn’t always go quite as planned and sometimes you get some unexpected visitors or distractions.  Remember that is OK, the movement method is all about following the child, we guide them but there is always time to re visit things if needed and the most important thing of all is that we encourage their love of learning and support them on that journey in an environment that suits them.  Life should be filled with wonder, discoveries and adventure.

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Miriam, our physics specialist is back for a few weeks at The Little Explorers Activity Club working on her thesis and we have a series of one to one playdates planned and this was the first of many more to come.

“I have an idea, let´s time how fast the cars can go with the stop watch.  How does it work?”

Dominic was excited and very happy to see the theme was all about his favourite cars ‘Hot Wheels’.   Miriam had made beautiful signs and instructions for him all adorned with these brightly coloured racing cars.  She explained to him how to work the stop watch, the car whizzed down the drainpipe track and hit the monkey cushion at the end and wrote the name down and the time.


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This process introduced an important method of how scientists get their data in labs everyday: Have an idea of what you want to discover, think about how to find it out, set up an experiment and measure.

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“Now we can measure the weight, we need it to be flat though.” Dominic gestured over to the kitchen scales that was sitting rather lopsided on the grass bank and as he tried to read the weight it wouldn’t work, being out in nature sometimes does have it’s complications.  It was soon remedied by using the cardboard box so all was well again and a good lesson in problem solving.

I was impressed with how thoughtful and inquisitive he was, how motivated but of course it all made sense, the motivation was within the activity, his racing cars.  I had looked at those cars with him at my computer, he longed for more even though his collection was already impressive, ‘this is the one I want for my birthday’ he would say ‘and this, oh actually this one…’

Physics in the Movement Method was the opposite of physics I remember at school from a text book.  Today it was all about investigating by doing, problem solving and figuring out how the world is working. The ‘Drop it’ phase was through little laminated signs with pictures and keywords hidden in the garden. ‘Do it’ was all the investigating, measuring and experiments, looking at acceleration, speed, momentum, air resistance…

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His sister Zara came over and Dominic asked her which car is faster.  She explained it is because of the mass and Miriam said she thought it is because of the air. With these two statements and the tablet they went back to the house to find out more and watched the video about a ball and a feather falling simultaneously in a room without air.  Zara suggested to let play dough fall like in the video.   But Dominic couldn´t really believe that it was just because of air and suggested it could be because there is no gravity, Miriam mentioned that it is on the earth and that there is gravity everywhere on the earth.  Hearing all these discussions made me smile as I went to the kitchen to make some tea.

From the decking I could see more fun and games with the wheelbarrow, teaching the children about forces and mass.  Dominic and Zara climbed in, Miriam pushed them around the garden.  They pointed at the signs that had been set up in the bushes and read what it said. “There is a snail and it says slow down.” Miriam pushed very slowly. ‘There is another one saying reduce mass.’ They threw pillows out of the wheelbarrow to reduce the mass, Miriam pushed faster and said that it is so much easier to push the lighter wheelbarrow.  They laughed and giggled and wanted to do it all over again.

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Then a new game of Hide and Seek began which caught Iris’s attention.  She had been sitting quietly observing the session from her comfy swing chair, able to soak it in without any pressure.  ‘Hurray’ she cried as Dominic found his sister.

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After some more research on the computer in the shade under the trampoline which allowed for some chilled quiet time aswell as some reading and spelling practice they got up on top and had a bounce counting as they went.  Back into the wheelbarrow again for more sign hunting and after that making ramps for the Hot Wheel cars.

‘Thank you, that was so good, I loved it, I want to do this again.  Look I made a ramp with paper and they really really jumped!” He bounced around the garden and we all felt like jumping with him.  It had been an incredibly successful morning of learning about physics, maths, English and some P.E too but most of all it was inspiring for all of us.  This is how teaching should be, we should feel energised and happy afterwards with an eagerness to learn more.

Tomorrow we have the next stage ‘Confirm it’ it’s the Movement Method’s version of the Friday test but I think you get the picture by now this will not be any ordinary boring test at a table in silence, this will be filled with fun & adventure, a treasure hunt.  Can’t wait !