Learn science and math concepts
Practice language, observational, and thinking skills
Small electric fan with multiple settings and enclosed blades for safety
Different types of paper, including tissue paper, paper towels, drawing paper, and cardboard
A variety of objects, including fabric, buttons, feathers, small beads, a pencil, rubber bands, paper clips, and hair clips
Step 1: Show the children a fan and ask them to share what they know about it. Why do we use fans? Why does it have a cord with a plug attached on the end? What are the different buttons or dials for? Record their comments on the board.
Step 2: Explain that a fan is a machine that moves air. Discuss safety rules first, and then turn on the fan. Invite each child to feel the air and describe how it feels. Is the air cool or hot? Change the speed settings to show them how the air moves differently at each level. Does the fan create enough wind to blow things around?
Step 3: Tell the class that they will do experiments to learn about the types of materials a fan can move. Begin with the different types of paper. Put the fan on a table and place the various papers in front of it. Turn the fan to the lowest setting. What happens? Increase the power and ask the children to describe the results. Lay the paper down, then hold it upright to observe how it can or cannot be moved when placed in different positions. Record the children’s observations on the board.
Step 4: Continue the experiment using the other recommended materials. The children can take turns placing each object in front of the fan. Before turning the fan on, ask them to predict if the object will be moved by the air or if it will remain in place. Then, cycle through the settings from lowest to highest, and document the results for each of the materials.
Step 5: Talk with the group about the similarities and differences between the materials. Which materials were easily blown away? Which would only move at the highest setting? Which of them remained unmoved? Create a chart to summarize what the children learned.
Remember: When using any type of machine or tool with children, it is important to review rules for safety and to provide close supervision.
Provide small safety mirrors, and invite children to blow on them. What happens? Encourage the group to use their fingers to draw or write in the fog caused by their breath. Remind them that they should not draw on mirrors or windows at home without adult supervision.
Cut out pictures of a variety of household machines (vacuum cleaners, toasters, hair dryers, washers and dryers, computers, coffee makers) from a catalog or print picture from the Internet. Paste them onto a sheet of paper and make enough copies for each child. Send these copies home with a note requesting that parents help the children circle all of the machines that they have in their home. Ask that parents help their child create a list of other types of machinery that they use on the reverse side of the page.