About Kids & Santa Claus

Santa Claus” by Isacvale is licensed under CC by 2.0

Literally speaking, Santa Claus(es) are quite omnipresent as Christmas and New Year draw near. You find a whole lot of them everywhere, albeit in similar red outfits and white beards and twinkling eyes. As a kid, for a considerable number of years I was of the firm conviction that Santa actually exists. I remember it was fascinating to imagine the magical man descending to our warm homes all the way from North Pole, bearing gifts that we found under the Xmas tree. And then one fine day, I ended up asking my grandmother if Santa is for real; much to my mother’s chagrin, her mother decided to spill the beans as I was ‘a big girl’ by then.

The other day I chanced upon an article which talked about Santa-related research and the science (yes, science) of why kids have such firmly rooted beliefs which wane with time about Saint Nicholas. Apparently, there is some psychology behind it. To quote from the study:
‘The influential child psychologist Jean Piaget proposed that around age 8 children enter the “concrete operational stage” of thinking- a critical, observant phase of questioning impossible things. Is the North Pole cold? How do you fit inside a chimney?”

Surprisingly enough, researchers observed that it was parents who ended up being more woebegone than their kids, once their kids knew the sad truth about Santa. I can pretty much imagine myself feeling the same, which seems to be evident in the near future. No wonder my mother felt the way she did back then!

2 Simple DIY Science Experiments for Home

Science is everywhere around us. It is in the airplanes that fly, in the colors we see around us, in the storms that occur every now and then, in the music we enjoy and in the trees whistling through the winds. Explaining certain fundamental aspects of science to children becomes simpler in the form of simple science experiments for kids which can be carried out with everyday objects around us.

Here are two such examples of easy DIY science activities that talk about the concepts of bubbles in water and eggs, raw versus hardboiled.

The Bubbly Experiment
Why does water splash and form bubbles in a tub or bucket when it flows into it from a height in the form of a stream?

Water” by brainralien is licensed under CC by 2.0

A wide-mouthed bowl, a glass tumbler, some water.

Procedure & Observations:
• Pour water both into the wide-mouthed bowl and the glass tumbler upto the halfway mark in each.
• Holding the tumbler at a slightly higher level above the bowl, start pouring water from the tumbler into the bowl.
• You will see bubbles forming on the surface on the water.
• Now hold the tumbler lower (nearer to the bowl) and start pouring water again from the tumbler into the bowl from a lesser height than in the previous step.
• This time around, you will not see any bubbles forming on the surface of the water.

The answer lies in the formation of air pockets which cause bubbles to form when the water is poured into the bowl from a considerable height. While falling, air gets trapped in the stream of water and forms a number of pockets of air. When the stream of water strikes the surface of water with force (since it is from a height), it breaks through the upper surface or skin of water, forcing the pockets of air to come out as bubbles back on to the surface. On the other hand, when water falls into the bowl from a considerably lesser height (close to the surface of water), no air pockets are formed, it does not break through the upper surface of water and hence no bubble formation occurs.

The Eggy Experiment
You have two eggs. One is raw and the other is boiled. How would you find out which one is which, since both appear the same from the outside?

Egg” by WerbeFabrik is licensed under CC by 2.0

A raw (unboiled) egg, a boiled egg, a flat table top.

Procedure & Observations:
• On a flat table top, place the first egg. Spin it like a top gently.
• Do the same with the second egg and allow it to spin too.
• Next, gently stop each egg from spinning.
• One egg will stop spinning as soon as you apply force with your fingers.
• The other egg will also eventually stop, but will roll around a bit unsteadily even after you’ve applied gentle force with your fingers to stop its motion.

The egg which stops spinning altogether as soon as force is applied to it is the hard-boiled egg. This particular egg will also start spinning the instant you apply force to it in the right direction. This is because it has solidified from within and behaves like a single solid body. On the other hand, the raw egg wobbles a bit unsteadily when you try to stop it from spinning and does not come to rest immediately. This is because inside it there is liquid yolk and egg white which resist the force of motion. As a result of inertia, the shell outside is spun but the liquid part inside is still at rest and does not start moving instantaneously. It is the same inertia which prevents it from stopping altogether once force is applied against it. Inertia can be defined as ‘the property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

Have you carried out any interesting science experiments with your kids at home? Feel free to add to this list.

2 Fun Back to School Activities for Kids

September means it’s back to school time. Although the phrase ‘back to School’ does not seem to fit along with ‘fun’ or ‘games’, here are two fun ideas related to both of the above.

Back To School” by stux is licensed under CC by 2.0

Liven it up: Needless to say, a majority of the kids would still be in the holiday mood when they trudge back to school. In order to liven them up before getting down to books and other serious stuff, here’s a simple activity that can prep them up. Clap in a certain pattern and add a funny sound to it (say it aloud) intermittently. Ask the students to do the same along with you. In no time at all, the kids will all be giggling and clapping their way to become wide awake, minus any lethargy.

A Holiday Questionnaire: If a teacher asks kids to write out an essay about their holidays, it may not warrant the same interest as that of a questionnaire/worksheet with specific questions. For instance, ‘3 things that you enjoyed the most during your holidays’, or ‘What got you bored during the holidays?’ or ‘Name and describe a game that you played in your holidays’ etc. When everyone is done, the kids could come and read out their answers in front of the class. This could make it a fun exercise for every child.

The basic underlying goal is to get the kids opened up and active after a couple of months hiatus, and have fun in the process before getting down to homework and schoolwork.

Ways to Explain Solar Eclipse to Your Kids

The 21st of August will bring with it a complete solar eclipse in some places, while a partial solar eclipse in others. It is a good opportunity to introduce your kids to aid them in understanding the fascinating goings-on in the sky above. An eclipse in itself is a pretty complex phenomenon to explain to young minds, but there are a number of easy ways to introduce them to what it is all about.
Planets” by basker_dhandapani is licensed under CC by 2.0

Act it out with a simple DIY experiment
It’s pretty simple to make your own crude version of a solar eclipse at home using simple objects. All you need is a large ball (basketball or beach ball), a smaller soft ball, a dark room (for instance, a garage) and a battery-operated torch or an electric flashlight, in addition to three people. Get one person to stand stationary with the larger ball in his outstretched hands. Tell your kids that this ball is our planet earth. Next, another person needs to stand in front of the one with the ‘earth’ and turn on a flashlight, such that its light falls on the earth. This represents the sun. The third person with a soft ball now should walk around in circles slowly around the earth (between the larger ball or earth and the flashlight or sun). After this, the ‘earth’ needs to walk in circles around the ‘sun’ as well, with the ‘moon’ continuing its motion. The ‘sun’ will remain stationary throughout, as is actually the case. There will come a time when the ‘moon’ is passing between the ‘earth’ and the ‘sun’ and creates a shadow when it lines up just right.

The idea of three different people holding balls and a torch, with two of them moving around in circles may seem a bit weird, but it can be a fun way to explain the concepts of revolution and planetary motion to your kids, followed by how a solar eclipse occurs. This idea comes from Amy Mainzer, an astrophysicist at NASA. She says: ‘It’s silly fun, but it’s a good way to visualize what’s happening and get a sense for how it works – especially for young children. The idea is that the earth is traveling around the sun here and the moon is traveling around the earth, and sometimes they line up just right.

Simple worksheets about the functioning of our solar system
For kids to grasp the basic science occurring behind a solar eclipse, they need to have a proper understanding of what planets are, how they rotate on their own axes and revolve around the sun, what natural satellites (like the moon) are and how it revolves around the earth, and so on. To introduce them to the concept of our solar system, it is a good idea to begin with solar system worksheets like these for kids. For example, one worksheet talks about the features of the sun in a multiple choice format, in which the children are required to pick the correct option to complete the facts. Another talks about the different phases of the moon (such as full moon, new moon and so on) that are visible from the earth.

Once the kids are familiar with these fundamental concepts related to the functioning of the solar system, they can proceed to the worksheets that talk about how an eclipse occurs and draw it out on a printable to gain better understanding. You could always test your kids’ understanding of a particular concept by verbal questioning after he/she completes a worksheet to gauge their level of learning.

Mainzer sums it up very aptly when she says: ‘I think the main thing is, just get out there and experience it. It’s really an opportunity to be reminded of the big picture we fit into as human beings on earth.

Time to put on our special viewing glasses and look up to the heavens above with the kids!

5 Classic Outdoor Summer Games for Kids


Children” by martinedehart is licensed under CC by 2.0

Some games are evergreen – they haven’t lost their charm or element of fun even though we played them way back in our own childhood! Come summer, and it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce them to your kids (that is, if they are not familiar with most of them already). Here you go.

Hide and Seek: First and foremost on the list. Leads to a whole lot of giggles, develops problem-solving skills and helps kids learn all about the importance of teamwork.
Hopscotch: All you need is a solid floor and a piece of chalk. Hopping on one foot is fun, helps younger children learn how to maintain balance and improves hand-eye coordination.
Marbles: Drawing a circle in the sand and trying to knock each other’s marbles out of it – it’s as simple as that. Helps to develop fine motor skills, counting ability and hand-eye coordination. (Not suitable for toddlers though).
Tag: One child assumes the responsibility of becoming the all-important ‘it’ and chases the other kids around, trying to make them ‘it’. Helps keep them physically active and fit.
Simon Says: The ‘Simon’ of the group issues instructions to the others (for example, ‘stick out your tongue’) and they are required to follow it only when preceded by ‘Simon says’.

A hint of nostalgia, anyone?


I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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