Three States of Matter

My son is continuing to explore the ideas of solids, liquids, and gases. (See previous post.)

Some of the lessons from our impromptu experiment have sunk in, and he’s also learning new stuff. When I pour his milk, he says “look, it’s a liquid.” When we were steaming veggies, he pointed at the steam, and said “look it’s a gas.” He wanted to set up 3 categories, so we gave him a bowl of ice for solids, a water bottle for liquids, and bubble wrap for gas. We explained there was gas trapped inside the plastic bubbles, and we had a lot of fun popping the bubbles and listening to the gas escape.

Later we came back and he was upset that his solid water was gone and there was liquid water in the bowl instead. We talked about how it was the same water, it had just changed from solid to liquid as it got warm.

I never imagined I’d be covering these topics with my three year old. How did we get here? By following his interest.

When he was two, he wanted to play trains and talk trains all day. So, we learned the names of all the types of train cars, and we learned the names of all of Thomas’ friends. Now, he’s into the planets and science, and I can tell you more facts about the solar system than I’ve ever known before.

With my oldest daughter, we followed her down the path of stories – books, plays, movies, writing – I’ve always loved musical theater, but after 20 years of engaging with her about theater, I know much more about it, and that’s only deepened my appreciation. My middle child has loved wilderness survival, soccer, theater, art, fashion design, hair color, and now vinyl LP’s from the 50s. I’ve followed her down all these paths, learning about each of these things. I love the joy of connecting over something they’re passionate, and love the opportunity to learn alongside them, and appreciate things I may or may not have ever explored on my own. (Yeah, types of train cars…. I never would have learned that on my own!)

A side benefit: I know kids learn more when they’re happy, and learn basic skills (like language) more quickly when we use that basic skill to explore something that’s important to them.

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