An exerpt from my after – school program experiences



Today I planned to execute a creative learning lesson for my school age program. (Fun after school time)  Lessons must be learned. Lessons must be executed in a fun way. My students spend all day in school sitting at a desk learning academics. My role is to present a constructive learning format. One stipulation is that a high fun factor is present. This task can be formidable to say the least. How can a lesson in science be hidden in play?  How can theories of magnetism or math be taught in a form that gifts the children with new information, but does not threaten student burnout? This is a challenge I am worthy of accepting.

I presented a lesson on soap sculptures. The children believed they were experiencing a mere arts and craft project. The hidden content was learned. The craft was fun but structured. Harmless melted soap chips turned into a math lesson, science lesson, and exuded a large curiosity factor. With out curiosity the children would rebel my efforts to implement this lesson. Solid soap chips of varied colors were melted together into a soppy mix. Before hand, the weight of the soap slivers was examined. My young charges placed a small mountain of soap on a scale. The weight was recorded. The soap was prepared for liquefying in the microwave.

Before transforming the soap into a liquid form we examined the solid consistency. I placed the slivers in the microwave. When the soap was removed, we compared the liquid form to it’s solid past. We talked about temperature changes. We poured the soapy liquid into measuring cups. A lesson in weighing liquid versus solid masses was learned. What had weighed 5 ounces in solid form had been transformed into liquid measurement. The children were in awe of the fact that microwaves could alter the composition of the mass.

We than proceeded to pour the liquid soap into molds intended for use in our play dough projects.  The amount of ounces needed for various molds was measured and noted. The soap was set aside and transformed into a solid mass. Upon observing our finished project, we weighed our creations. Children estimated beforehand what the weights would be upon the soaps return to a solid form. They were shocked that the creations weights were now varied. I explained that we had used various size molds to complete this project. This obviously affected the weight. A lesson was learned. The children left my classroom with a prize (their soap), and a new idea to ponder.  Objects in our world can be manipulated and structurally changed. Much like the children’s young sponge like minds.

One child looked concerned and lost in thought. I asked what the problem might be. My five-year old charge asked if he could turn into something else like the soap did. I responded by stating that his body was not capable of melting like soap. He is made of skin and bones, which hold him together. (Simplified for the child’s purpose). I told him that the only change his body would ever make is to get larger, stronger, and smarter.  An Aha moment has occurred. Perhaps one lesson will overlap into another based on these questions. Perhaps I shall have a lesson on the human body. Stay tuned for updates.


Mari N.