Mar 21, 2016

WonderWorks: Chains and Links

Loop-de-loop is surprisingly tricky engineering....

Today's Topic: Links and Chains
strips of paper
paper clips

  cover art Small smaller smallest / Fletcher, Corina

to talk about the relative lengths of the chains we made.  Not the greatest tie-in, but I had problems finding a picture book about chains for 3 & 4 year olds....
The inspiration for this class (or "what I thought kids might do"): make a super long paper chain

What the kids actually did:  the paper clips made the easiest chains:

 though they were still a little tricky to manage:

 "i made a bunny!"

 "my bunny is hopping!"
 nice color sorting here!
 the twist-ties were surprisingly fascinating.
 This young explorer spent pretty much the whole hour making this "pillow for her bunny."
 turns out, actual paper chains are fairly complicated to make.
 First, you need to know how to use a stapler (this young explorer has the paper tucked into not quite the right spot....)
 This one just put lots of staples into each strip of paper.
 This one tried to just staple the tape.
 Here's a loop, but.... it's not quite the "right" shape...

 what can you DO with a long chain of paperclips?  Lead your mom around the room....
 Measure the table (yay, math!)
 Make a handle for your purse (purse constructed of sheets of unseparated twist ties)
 And then we added something NEW to WonderWorks -- a reflection journal inspired by AnjiPlay! At the end of each week, participants are invited to draw, write or dictate a page about what it was that they did during that WonderWorks class.  We'll compile a notebook by the end of the series that each child can take home.

 I love the literalness of this particular entry:

Hindsight Tip:  wow.  This project was much more challenging for the kids than I'd anticipated. There are so many tiny skills hidden inside each of these chain-making methods -- twisting, looping, connecting.... so many fine motor skills! I think if I were to do it again, I would ONLY put out paper clips and then if that was a big hit, maybe try twist-ties for a follow-up class (you know there's a lot of overlap between the engineering and technology in this class.  And if we include a book about long vs. short, you could even call it a math class!  Maybe round out the series with a conversation about the food chain??).  The paper chains definitely needed the most assistance for this age group.

Related Apps: Although I didn't use an app in this class, the Crazy Gears app has some nice tie-ins.

Please note: "Anji Play,” refers to a specific philosophy and comprehensive approach to early education developed by Ms. Cheng Xueqin in Anji County, China. I use the term "Anji Play" to describe my programming and throughout this blog with the explicit permission of Ms. Cheng because our programming has been developed as part of a close collaborative relationship with her and her team of Anji Play educators. If you are interested in learning more about how you can bring Anji Play to your community, please visit 

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