Build Science Skills

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The title of this post is meant quite literally; to build your child’s science and engineering skills, help them… Build! For a long time, Travis has enjoyed playing with Lego figures, but preferred to leave the actual building to me. I’ve been thrilled then to see a difference in his Lego play lately, insisting he do each step himself and learning to read and follow the diagrams in each instruction booklet.

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Yet while there’s nothing wrong with building a Lego exactly according to plan, you can give things a STEM twist by building off-book. I set out a bunch of Travis’s Lego pieces and challenged him to make a bridge. How wide could he make it go?

At first he wanted it to span from a stool to a side table, but he quickly realized that the distance was too great.

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Dialing back expectations, he moved them closer together an next puzzled out how to build up supports, then started laying the longest pieces across the gap. Black rectangles helped piece it all together.

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We encountered a glitch when the table was lower than the stool. Thinking quickly, I helped him build up a base for extra height on that end. Success!

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He was so proud of this construction, and continued to build a structure around the base of the bridge. When it tumbled to the ground at one point, I was so proud that he didn’t grow frustrated and used it as a chance for improvements.

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Any Lego engineering challenge like this will work those STEM skills. Consider asking your child to build the tallest tower he or she can, or seeing if a bridge or roof can support a weight like a toy ball. Happy building!

 

Nordic Cinnamon Buns

Nordic Cinnamon Buns (4)

Known as kanelbullar in Scandinavia, these twisted cinnamon rolls were the first recipe from Travis’s Swedish Eats Raddish Kids. What a sweet start these give to a weekend brunch!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. To prepare the dough, heat the oat milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk and canola oil, stirring to form a dough.Nordic Cinnamon Buns (1)
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth. Raddish always gifts us with the most wonderfully workable dough, neither too sticky nor too floury!
  4. Roll the dough until you have a rectangle that measures 8 inches x 20 inches. Don’t worry if you get a tear or two; you can easily patch this dough from a thicker portion.
  5. Brush the melted butter over the dough. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the dough.
  6. Fold the dough in half, then use a pizza cutter to cut into 8 strips.Nordic Cinnamon Buns (2)
  7. Working with one portion at a time, twist the strip, then fold into a knot and tuck the ends under (almost like a soft pretzel shape). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  8. Let rise for 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can stop here, cover the dough, and let rise overnight in the fridge).Nordic Cinnamon Buns (3)
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 17 minutes. Immediately transfer to a platter and dust with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, if desired,

Travis was a huge fan! As a fun bonus, Travis learned a bit about Scandinavia and a few Swedish words on the recipe card.

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Popsicle Stick Drop

Popsicle Drop (1)

Coordination, learning colors, and the endless surprise of watching a stick disappear and then reappear; this game has it all for toddlers!

As prep, simply use masking tape to attach an empty paper towel tube to a wall. I recommend using multiple strips of tape for extra security. I then provided Veronika with craft sticks to drop into it and placed a bucket at the bottom to catch them. That’s it!

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The game will have the most visual appeal if you use a rainbow assortment of craft sticks (which you can purchase already colored at the craft store).

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It took Veronika a few tries watching me release a stick into the tube before she realized she needed to release her grip to achieve the same affect. And then she was hooked!

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Of course toddlers will also just love playing around with the sticks in the bucket at the bottom.

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For a touch of color learning, I sorted the sticks for her into different colored piles. Needless to say, they didn’t stay sorted for long!

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