Monday, November 29, 2010

Balancing Act

We started off by proving to ourselves that we could not balance a 6-inch long stick on the tips of our fingers, before switching over to our tree part balancers, with which we were successful in balancing on not only our fingertips, but also the ends of pencils, the backs of chairs, and the tips of our noses.

As impressive as that is, however, a group of nine 4-year-old boys had the toy mastered in a matter of minutes and Teacher Tom felt there was still a lot to explore in the concept of balancing, so we headed into the gym for a little full-body experimentation.

Some of us learned that lowering our center of gravity made balancing an easier task . . . At least until we'd gotten comfortable.

Some of us worked on finding a balancing point on either the small homemade balancing board or the larger manufacturing pattern.

Finding that balancing point on a ball was the hardest (and a lot more fun than this picture makes it look).

Balancing takes a lot of concentration and technique. Some of the guys found it helps to go fast, while others preferred the cautious approach.

And others took time to learn by watching before jumping up and trying it for themselves.

Then once we'd thoroughly explored the physics of balance with our bodies, tiring them out a bit in the process, we began the mathematical exploration of balance with our scales, including this nifty number that uses 10 gram weights to demonstrate the concept of a balanced equation as well as introducing the geometric concept of symmetry. 

(Note: I've mentioned many times before that this is the first time I've taught a class of all, or even mostly, boys, so much of what we're doing is an experiment. I knew that we'd need to skew things towards full-body learning, but what I hadn't expected was how much they would want to do everything together, like a team. Even during the parts of our day when I sort of compel them into small groups, it's generally only a matter of minutes before they've all gravitated to the same activity. Interesting.)

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inspiredmontessori said...

What a super gross motor center.
We all need this to get through the winter!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...


I have to ask -- I've been wanting Geoff to build me a balance beam for the girls with a 2x4 -- did you make this one yourself or is it something storebought/inherited with the school?

I'm thinking we might need it to survive the long winter months trapped indoors! Also want to install an indoor swing but not sure we have enough clearance to pull it off.