We're entering the last leg of the Summer holidays and I'm guessing that your creativity tank is beginning to run on empty.
Have no fear, Wicken is here to save you from back garden boredom and inject some new play ideas into your family, with three new science games to play at home. 1. Make Your Own Rain Gauge If the weather is keeping you from playing outside, try working with it instead of against it, and make the tool that every British back garden should have - a rain gauge.
You will need an empty 2 litre fizzy drinks bottle, some scissors, tape and a pen.
Cut the bottle in two, about two thirds of the way up, and turn the top part upside down, then nestle it into the bottom part, so it looks like a funnel. Secure this in place with plenty of tape. Then add a vertical strip of tape to the bottle and mark a scale along it.
You'll need a hole for the rain gauge to sit in, so that just 2-3 inches are poking out of the top. Hand your children and kid-friendly towel and observe from a safe distance as they do the hard digging work for you.
One way for children to use the rain gauge is to judge whether they need to water the plants that day, by checking to see if it rained over night. Alternatively you could check on the gauge at the same time every day and keep a diary of rainfall so your children can track the changes over the seasons.
2. An Introduction To Cartography (Map-Making) Pick out one of your child's toys and put it at one end of the garden, and put some treasure (chocolate coins are very realistic and tasty treasure) at the other end of the garden. Ask the children to draw a map for the toy, to help them find the treasure, marking out all the important landmarks in your garden. You can draw the paddling pool as a huge lake, and the slide as a vast mountain to climb. For an added test in spatial awareness ask them to add estimated toy-sized paces to journey points on the map.
3. Lessons In Gravity Possibly the easiest science lesson to teach, and yet still the most jaw dropping: that gravity works on two objects at the same rate regardless of their weight. Gather together a range of objects of various weights and sizes. They need to be small enough for your child to hold one in each hand. Wait for your child to climb to the top of the climbing frame, then hand them two objects and ask for a prediction about which will hit the ground first. For the best 'wow' from your child, try to make the objects differ greatly in weight, such as a snooker ball and ping pong ball. Don't teach them the lesson first as the experimentation is the fun part of science. Let them repeat the experiment themselves a few times over, with you taking notes as their administrative assistant, and after a few goes hopefully they'll draw their own conclusion that both objects will always hit the floor at the same time.