Friction and force.

Today’s lesson is a science one. Believe me, no kid is too young for science!

Friction is defined as: The rubbing of one object or surface against another.

Force is defined as: Something that acts on an object. You can calculate force with this equation – force = mass x acceleration.

Today’s lesson used ice cubes and our driveway. I needed to clean out the freezer and the kids needed to go outside so, presto, two things accomplished at once.


We took the ice cubes out onto the driveway. It was a cold day, so I wasn’t sure this would work, but it did.  I told my son the definition of friction and asked him to find a way to create friction with an ice cube.

First, he rubbed it against his hand. But that got too cold for him. “Mommy, the ice cube is making my hand cold and my hand is making the ice cube melt.” Thus we had a transfer of heat/energy and another topic for discussion. He repeated this on each hand, on his nose, and on his sister’s hands before deciding that the “ice cube transfers too much cold energy to me.”

Second, he rubbed ice cubes against the driveway. This is what I wanted him to do in the first place because with enough rubbing you get the ice to melt and you can draw pictures. He made all sorts of lines all over the driveway with friction. He calls it “friction painting.”


Then we moved onto force, which was his favorite part of the lesson. I told him that force is something acting on an object. I said the ice cube will be the object, and we will be the force. I let him figure out how to be a force.

His first “force” move was stomping on the ice cubes. He got to make cool sounds. As a variation, I told him that we can change the amount of force we put on the ice cube to change the result. So we stomped slower and with less force and jumped with lots of force and everything in between.

His second “force” was throwing the ice cubes down on the ground at various places and watching them break. We repeated the same variations as before.

We had a blast with this lesson. It wasn’t intense, it didn’t involve writing. It simply involved doing something he likes (throwing and stomping on things) in an environment where I was okay with it (outside and ice cubes).

A special thanks goes to Rader’s Physics 4 Kids. They gave me a lot of ideas on thing to do in the future and helped with the definitions.


Santa Letters

Writing a letter to Santa seemed like a good idea. It would teach him that letters are written (not just email, like he thinks), and how to address an envelope and all the skills about letter writing. Or at least, it would introduce these skills to him.

Alas, all was not so. I wrote the “dear” and had him trace “Santa.” That was about our attention span.

“How is the letter getting to the North Pole?”

“Why do I have to write a letter after I already saw Santa?”

“Is he going to bring me everything on our list?”

“We don’t have a chimney, so how does Santa come in?”

“There isn’t enough time to send Santa a letter. Can we send him an email instead.”

These are a few of the questions that popped up after we traced “Santa” on the letter and then wrote it all over the paper (with varying degrees of success and legibility).

So I strolled the Internet and we found these sites that let you email Santa:

So we did those. My son finds typing easier than writing – as do most people. The kids, once they have letter recognition, can really do a good job with email and typing. So we did these websites.

Then of course, we had to write emails to everyone he could think of. We sent one to Dad (at work, so Nicholas can get one back), grandmother, aunts and uncles, and even a few of Mom’s cousins. Maybe he will get messages back. I’m seriously considering getting him an email address. Is that strange?

And then we got to go visit my favorite Christmas site – NORAD’s Santa tracker!

We played some of the games and had a lot of fun.

Now I’m being treated to the 50th rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because he knows that reindeer make Santa’s sleigh fly. 

Cheerio garlands

Christmas time is full of fun activities. But one that we did (and have no pictures of because they were promptly eaten) is Cheerio garlands.

First, not all lessons have to be “taught” – some lessons are best learned just hanging out or doing something else. Second, I believe in making lots of Christmas decorations, dumping them, and making new ones next year. Third, I have a 1 year old now, so the Christmas tree is decorated on the top-half only – and I thought Cheerio garlands could be added to the bottom half (too bad they were eaten).

This activity is simple – cut some yarn and string the Cheerios on it, then tie it off at the end. We did some traditional academic stuff while stringing them – we counted, added, and measured. But we also sang songs and talked about anything and everything from Santa and sharing to clouds and storms. It was a great activity.

It reminded me why it is fun to simply talk to your kids sometimes. As an added bonus, he made the snacks for the rest of the day.

And what was Abby doing during this you might ask? I gave her a shoelace and some Cheerios – she tried stringing them and then gave in and ate the Cheerios and tried to eat the shoelace.

it was a fun activity.

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