Exploring the Laws of Motion

Here’s another stellar example that makes the case for learning through play and the value of making available loose parts children can use and manipulate in ways of their own choosing!

This child, age 5, is testing out gravity and Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.  She is learning about simple machines like the lever and the inclined plane.  She may not be able to tell you about them but she is experiencing them here firsthand.  Ducksters is a website that explains science in simple terms for kids.

Our preschoolers have used the boards to make their own seesaws which is super fun but they have also discovered how to make a catapult and I will admit, I do like to be nearby to help guide which type of items are sent flying.  The inclined plane has helped them move some pretty heavy objects on their own with great feelings of satisfaction! You can read about the inclined plane solution here: That Time When a Little Frustration Was a Good Thing.

These boards are made of cedar and are normally used for decking. I had them cut into lengths of about 2-3 ft which seems about right for our purposes. They stand up very well in all kinds of weather but we do bring them indoors each day in the hopes of making them last as long as we possibly can.

If you do not have any boards for children to use in your outdoor play area, I highly recommend you go out and get some… they have provided so many excellent learning opportunities!

“Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.”  -Albert Einstein

All of my blog posts are written during my free time.  If you appreciate what you’re reading here, please like my Facebook page.  Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!

Introducing author Cynthia Mackey – Readilearn

A huge thank you to Norah Colvin for featuring me on her readilearn website and on her blog, Norah Colvin. Please have a look and read about my new picture book, Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker!  I’m so excited to be a published author 🙂

Introducing author Cynthia Mackey – Readilearn

Also posted in part on Norah Colvin’s blog

Picture Book Gem: Not Quite Narwhal

As part of the 12×12 picture book challenge, I have been trying to read as many new picture books as I possibly can.  The best part about that is I’m making some really great new discoveries.  One of these is Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima.

Kelp finds he is a little different from the Narwhals he lives with.  He feels very loved but knows there is something amiss.  One day he discovers unicorns and realizes there is a whole other world above the ocean where unicorns who are exactly like him are living.  The problem for Kelp becomes how to merge the two worlds of land and ocean.

The illustrations are delightful and the characters are engaging.  My preschool class loved the story and you will too.  This picture book takes you on a journey to other worlds with some unique and creative ideas about how narwhals and unicorns live.  Jessica Sima creates two magical worlds in this book and children will be transported.

I’m surprised there aren’t more books about unicorns and narwhals as they are such unique and magical creatures.  

Now Available on Kobo!

I’m happy to announce that Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker is now available on Kobo!  This is a very affordable way to get the book.  I’m pretty sure that you will like it so much, you’ll want the soft cover copy as well.  I will keep you posted but it should be available in other eBook formats very soon.


Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round…. PANCAKES!

If you’d like to know more about the book, check out my author website!  Thanks and have a great day!

When the Ocean Becomes the Teacher

Here’s a fascinating learning story from a recent trip to the beach with our smaller outdoor program group.  We often say that the environment is the third teacher.  This story is a great example of how that can work.

D thought it would be fun to “launch” a small driftwood log out into the ocean. Then he and J would wait patiently for the waves to bring the log back to the point where they could actually reach out and get the log. They did this over and over many times.  In fact I marvelled at how long they spent with the task considering the fact that there was a lot of watching and waiting involved.

They both had to use some self-regulation to keep from wading right into the water and huge amounts of patience as the waves were barely a ripple and each time it took several minutes for the log to finally come within reach.

Can you think of a more fun way to learn patience?  I cannot!  If we told the children “today we are going to practice patience,” it would probably be met with a huge groan or protest.  And yet this was a pastime that seemed like it might continue all morning!

Then I asked about what might help get the log back faster.  (I couldn’t let the ocean be the only teacher that day.) D had two ideas:

He explained we either needed a wave maker to create bigger waves or something long to help reach the log from a further distance.

Problem-solving at its best!

Reflecting on these ordinary moments shows me what a great teacher the ocean can be and why the outdoor classroom is so valuable.

The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.   -Margaret McMillan