Thursday, May 19, 2011

Let Go! Where'd It Go? I Don't Know!

We've been playing with our rubber band collection in the sensory table for the last couple days.

Our homemade geoboards are in there along with sturdy boxes for making rubber band "guitars." There are a couple rubber band balls that are getting pretty large by now, having been added to for several years. 

But the centerpiece of the rubber band table is usually our Chinese jump ropes. We like to send these very long elastic bands sailing across the classroom. The fact that they're fabric-wrapped takes the sting out of them. We've lost one of them this year (or possibly I re-purposed it for holding something together and it will turn up during our pending move to the center of the universe) so we're down to two, which means that shooting them becomes an exercise in wild fun and turn-taking. 

The 3-5's class has played with the rubber bands many times before and have been enjoying a wild time with them. Yesterday, Dennis' dad Terry offered himself up as a target, ducking behind the snack prep counter as the kids launched the bands at him from the finger of Max's mom Callie, a game that created a sound level that was almost too much for me, which is saying something. I'm sure there were more intricacies of the game, but when our parent-teachers get this kind of self-sustaining, cooperative, large group play going, I like to just stay out of the way and let them roll with it.

This is, however, the first time our Pre-3's class has seen the rubber bands. I like to wait until as late in the year as possible, until I'm confident they've all moved beyond they classic 2-year-old phase of shoving everything into their mouths. Taking these pictures was a challenging exercise for me, since I was simultaneously engaged in providing a finger for launching the things.

There's a lot more physics to learn in making this work than might at first meet the eye. First of all there is the question of Where do we want it to go? It's not intuitive for some kids to comprehend the idea of stretching the band away from the intended target. In this case, he's just declared he's aiming for the window, which is behind him. After this experiment, we tried stretching the band in the other direction and, sure enough, we hit the window. Eureka!

Another challenge is the timing of the release. Most want to pull with two hands and if you don't release both at once, or if you let it get hooked up on your fingers, or if someone else is pulling with you, the band won't go as far as you'd hoped, perhaps even falling right at your feet. And when you do get it just right you learn to stay alert because the thing goes so fast it sometimes seems to just disappear.

Ah, but once you've figured it out, what fun! We hooked several onto the overhead light fixtures, curtain rods and even other people, all causes for cheering and laughter. We even sent one all the way over to the do-it-yourself table where it gently hung itself around Lily's neck like a long necklace. She stood there amazed by this magical thing that had suddenly appeared around her neck. I'm still not sure she understands how it got there.

Let go! Where'd it go? I don't know!

Let's do it again!

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angelique said...

Love the idea Tom! So much fun and excitment I can imagine :)

Sherry and Donna said...

This warms my heart Tom, to see those little boys so engaged. It's all about the science of it even though they don't realise it's science. I reckon people should be using a lot more science with boys, like your rubber bands ... so simple and FUN! Unfortunately too many teachers are afraid of science and think it is too complicated. You just showed how simple science can be. Science isn't just brain surgery!
Donna :) :)

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