The value of scientific literacy is incredibly important in this day and age. Various people, including Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about the need for our children to be able to understand the scientific process. Beyond that, the trial and error that is inherent in scientific exploration teaches children patience and resilience. There is overwhelming information out there about the need for our children to be willing to persevere as they work towards a goal. Look at Carol Dweck’s work on Growth Mindset or Angela Duckworth’s book Grit if you want to dig deeper into these ideas. I’m sure you know many adults who could benefit from those skills as well!
That being said, how do we educate children about scientific ideas?
Can we do it in a fun way?
When we are teaching them these ideas in a fun way, can we also embed positive reinforcement for trying and failing?
When we reach the goal and get new information we can really say that we have taught our children new concepts on multiple levels.
The over-riding idea here is this: can we teach important lessons, and still make it fun? Toca Kitchen 2 with some companion materials can really do that, and believe me, it’s fun. Wild about Teaching make a great free resource with task cards and a review sheet to help guide the process
You start with 3 characters. At this point, we can ask a question to help guide what we are doing Of course, it would be help to know something about them beforehand. This is where part of the fun comes in. Let your kid(s) play around in the app for a few minutes and ask them to pay attention to what the different characters do. Also, it’s important that the kids know how to navigate through the app.
Food is on the left…
Salt and Pepper shakers allow you to open the bottom menu for seasonings, sauces, and plates to store food on…
Cooking materials and methods are on the right…
After observing the characters, we can ask a question: I wonder if the monster likes chicken with hot sauce…
Now we can make a hypothesis. My hypothesis is the monster will not like fried chicken with hot sauce.
Here comes some more fun- let’s test it out. Don’t forget to use the chart. This aspect teaches our children to be attentive while also having fun with something.
Time for a conclusion. After playing with some of my children, we discovered that the monster is okay with fried chicken with hot sauce. He doesn’t spit it out, doesn’t complain that it is too hot, or doesn’t make a “yummm” sound and lick his lips. Don’t forget to report the information when you are all done!
Of course, Toca Kitchen 2 allows for unfettered experimentation. We can mix up the sauces, add seasonings, and mix foods together. In the end, it’s a whole lot of fun to watch how the characters react. After working through a process, we can always just play around mixing watermelons, red onions, and octopus to make a great smoothie! Then again, I don’t know anyone who likes that!
Remember, it can be fun to work through the scientific process. Using a well planned lesson, your children can really grasp the process of testing things out. It is important to allow a little exploration before getting into the heart of the activity. This allows the children to try out things and to ensure they know how to get around.
Additionally, use this time to praise children for working through the process. This will help them learn that there is importance in being patience and letting little failures not pull you away from a goal. In the end, they are having fun feeding different foods to cartoon characters- if you can embed these other ideas, it benefits our children even more.
Don’t forget to take a little time and play with Toca Kitchen 2 also- it’s great fun!