Children are experiencing forces at work in their daily lives as they walk, run, bike, and play. Just because they don't see the forces, doesn't mean they don't exist. Learning some balance basics are a great way to introduce them to many aspects of science such as gravity, force, engineering, and technology.
I'm utilizing stations in my home to help fill in the gaps of my student's education in a fun and engaging way. This week my 31+ Days of Hands-On Learning Stations are filled with ideas for STEM stations. I'm sure your kids will love playing with balance basics in these hands-on activities.
Balance Basics for Preschool - 2nd Grade
See Saw Basics
Did you grow up playing on a see-saw? I loved it. Without even realizing it, we were playing with engineering concepts as we scooted forward or backwards to balance out the sides for enjoyable play.
All you need for your little guys to play with balance basics are:
- A ruler
- A glue stick
- A bit of play dough
- Counting Bears or coins
When you put a glue stick in the middle of the ruler, it creates a fulcrum on which the ruler can move up and down. We secured the glue stick with a bit of play dough so that our see-saw wouldn't roll away. Simply place the counting bears on each end of the ruler and try to get it to balance. Let them have fun pretending that the bears are on a see-saw at the playground. You can change up the experiment by adding different objects to the ends like coins, or even cut up squares of cardboard boxes. It doesn't take much weight to upset the balance!
Paper Clip Mobile
When you think of mobiles, you generally think of the object that babies love to look at when they're little. Mobiles are another great way to play with balance.
Here's what you'll need:
- A wire hanger
- an unsharpened pencil
- a stick
- some paperclips
Simply tie the pencil to the hanger in the center. Next, attach a paperclip to each end of the pencil with some more string. Now they can play with adding paperclips to each side and watching what happens. How do you keep things in balance?
Games That Encourage Balanace Practice
- Trekbest Balance Chairs Game Toys - the challenge is to stack as many chairs as you can on the one on the bottom until they fall over!
- Balancing Beans - A cute little see-saw game with challenges to complete.
- Blackbeard's Balance Boat - This cute little pirate themed game challenges kids to think critically as they stack the wooden objects on the boat.
Balance Basics for Elementary Aged Kids
Upgrade the Previous Ideas
Even elementary aged kids can have fun with see-saws and mobiles. All you need to do is increase the difficulty of the activity and your kids will have a great time learning about balance. Let them use a 2x4 with a tin can for their see-saw.
Here are some more challenging mobile activities:
Games That Encourage Balanace Practice
Games are a great way to play with balance concepts. Here are a few of the best ones out there:
- Equilibrio Game - My kids love this one. Although it starts off easy, the difficulty of the designs that you attempt to recreate get very challenging. It encourages focus, 3D thinking, and balance. You can pick up an extra set of the geo-blocks to allow two kids to play at once.
- Melissa & Doug Suspend Game - I love this one because you can play by yourself or with others. It is a great way to experiment with balance and force. It's also a whole lot of fun!
- Bottle Top Challenge Maker - This one says the game could be for ages 4 and up, but I think you'd definitely might make a young one frustrated with this challenge if they didn't have some help. I love the simplicity of trying to get the wooden disks to stack up on the bottle top. It would be a challenge for me!
No matter what you give your kids to play with balancing, they will enjoy conducting informal experiments with balance.
What fun ways would you give your kids to play with balance?
Check out more hands-on learning stations inspiration in my 31+ Days of Hands-On Learning series! Here are some more hands-on learning stations that feature science concepts.
- Construction Fun
- Snap Circuits
- Engineering Feats
- Investigate Nature
- Cultivating Curiosity with Documentaries
- Computer Science
- Fire Prevention and Safety
Check out the rest of the series for stations featuring other subjects:
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.