Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recycle and Read

I just discovered a wonderful web site where kids can practise reading, and follow directions to create all sorts of toys. At the same time, they recycle junk and learn about science. Is that a win/win or what!

The site is Arvind Gupta's Toys from Trash. It has hundreds of projects. Once you click on the thumbnail that takes your fancy, its page comes up with a series of diagrams and instructions to follow. The directions are clear and pitched at about primary school level.

I tried out several experiments. Some were simpler than others in that the equipment needed was more likely to be lying around the house, but all that I tried had been expertly described with step-by-step instructions. More complicated projects had a "Do it details" link to a pdf. Young scientists will find so much to do here. So will young mathematicians, engineers, musicians, and artists (see Beautiful Butterfly and others in Paper Fun section).

While you're there, check out the amazing pdfs available (Books/English). They have different reading levels, so you need to browse to find suitable material for your own little learner, but I loved The Paper Aeroplane Book, The Rubber Band Book, AHA! Activities - a huge pdf of practical science lessons - and String Games, because they fascinate me still. So much to read, so much to do!

For younger kids, Thumbprints is cute. It starts with a lovely poem about using our thumb to make prints, then follows up with some wonderful animal thumb print ideas to spark some artwork. More Thumbprints adds objects. Leaf Zoo shows how to add details to leaves to make some great creatures.

There is also a gallery of films, showing the making some of the toys, and other documentaries. Most are not in English or subtitled, but fascinating just the same. 

This site would make a wonderful resource for one of those No TV evenings, or for teachers and parents looking for hands-on science activities. Arvind Gupta is so generous with what he's made available online. I thank him on behalf of children everywhere.
Photo credit: with permission from Mr Arvind Gupta

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