Making formal dinner a learning experience

We celebrated Easter this weekend, and for the occasion, we hosted a formal breakfast with many of our extended family.  We don’t get to see each other so often, and I was hoping that we could all sit together at the table for more then 5 minutes with the kids (before they would be up and running again).  I knew just asking them might not be enough, so I search for an idea to have them WANT to stay at the table.

How about a scientific experiment?

So instead of having a beautiful Easter themed centrepiece, I set a magic tree right in the middle of the table.  I felt like it was a great tribute to spring.  The kids were intrigued and all came at the table to know what this was.  We started the experiment, and then I handed out to each child a new set of colored pencils, and a booklet (they were on the table before I had the time to shoot a picture, but they were gone for drawing faster then I could picture them…).  IN a flash, they were drawing their initial observations.

Everybody got included in the discussions that followed, and right before I added the liquid, I asked each of the children to tell me what they thought would happen (learning about making an hypothesis).

As breakfast unfolded, the tree blossomed, and the kids stayed way longer then I thought to see how big the blooms would become.  We talked about capillarity, crystallization and other topics such as colours.  The adults had just as much fun as the kids.  They stayed!  And came back to draw again what was happening later after they were excused.  It was fun, they had fun, and they learned. Science at the table is fantastic!

I am sorry that I wasn’t able to take more pictures.  Everything just went too fast, and I had a whole lot of people in my house…


ETA: a magic tree is a fun experiment in which you set a cardboard tree in a crystal growing liquid.  The liquid is absorbed by capillarity, and start to create crystals at the tips of the tree.  In 5-6 hours, the crystals grows at the bigest, and make a flowery tree.

Making formal dinner a learning experience

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