Friday, January 25, 2013

But First, Can I Show You a Trick, Mama?

Our kids have all kinds of ways of trying to manipulate and distract me from actually getting the teaching/school parts of the day.  Yesterday, though, O had the best attempt yet.

"It's time for your school, J and O!"

"Okay, Mama, but first, can I show you a trick?" O asked.

I said, "Is it a quick trick?"

We'd already spent the morning at Walmart and Trader Joe's and the school day was getting a very late start.  Pretty soon, even I would be out of the mood.

"Um ... I think it will be fast.  Just a minute and let me get the stuff ready," he said.

Then I was vested.  He was getting stuff for his trick.  It was either let him do it and move forward or get stuck in a pointless argument with an 8-year-old.

So he got a bowl full of water and a cup with a dry paper towel in it.  Before I could realize the show had begun, he plunged that cup straight down into the bowl.

The water sloshed over the sides of the bowl, but then he quickly pulled the cup back up in the air and said, "And now, you can feel the paper towel in there ... it's not even wet!"

Sure enough, it wasn't.

I talked to him a minute about why the paper towel wasn't wet.  We talked about the air in the cup and how that actually takes up space and when it's pushed down into the water, the water moves out of the way (out of the bowl) to leave room for the air. 

This momentary bit of attention made his 8-year-old sister envious and desiring some of my attention, too.  So before I realized it, she had components for the trick she decided to show me.

At this point, O and I were at the homeschool table getting ready to start school and so J set up in there.  Her trick also included water.

I quickly moved all paper items and books off the table.

J's trick involved filling a cup to the absolute brim, which yielded a whole series of funny conversations between J and O to get the cup full at the table instead of carrying it from the sink that way.  O was happy to assist and J was glad to have an assistant.  ("Ok, O, I need just the eensiest-teensiest more water now."  Sigh.  "That was only an itty-bitty amount ... now you need to go back and get a little bitty-bit of water to finish filling it, O."  And on and on until the cup reached perfection.)

Then she took a piece of construction paper and tried to flip the cup over and have the paper stay on the inverted cup.  Fortunately, she thought ahead and flipped it over a big bowl, just in case. 

Construction paper was not exactly the right kind of paper for this trick.  So she refilled the cup.

Then she tried an index card.  But the card was too narrow for the top of the cup.

Finally, she comes back with a chunk ripped off from a manila envelope somewhere in the house.  Stiff, less-absorbent and larger than the cup's opening.

Flip!  And amazingly, it worked.  The paper held the water in the cup, even though it was completely upside down. 

This demonstrated principles of suction and other stuff I couldn't think of at that time because I was just too darn proud of our kids for using Science to delay school! 

I've finally accomplished something.  The kids have finally been brainwashed enough to start thinking that learning stuff is fun (as long as we don't call it "school").

So I let them play for a little while longer and then we still accomplished planned school later in the afternoon. 

I love homeschooling these kids.  I love these kids!


  1. Love the science and the picture is the BEST! Have fun!

  2. The two of them are taking a 4-week science class for 2nd and 3rd graders at the library and neither of them are really excited so far about how it's going, but then they come home with these "tricks," and I know they're learning some cool stuff. I think they can stick it out for the last two sessions. :)

  3. It just occurred to me, actually, that that is where they must be learning the tricks. This week's class was about water. Last week was sound. I forget what the next two classes are about.

  4. You may end up having another delayed lesson due to "tricks"!

    Very cool, love, Mom

  5. That's fun! I'm glad their tricks both worked out when they demonstrated them for you. And J learned a little about what doesn't work, too. :) the water filling conversation.

  6. Thank you, Mom and Jessica. I wasn't even planning to blog this one, but it was one of those priceless memories I had to jot down for another day. Plus, it sort of filled the requests for more "cute kid stories." :)