As a parent and a teacher there are so many things I want to instill in my children while they are in my care. At the very top of that list are kindness and curiosity. Of course, there are many other characteristics below those two, but I think if kids grow up to be kind and curious then all of the remaining skills I hope to teach them will come naturally along the way.
Today we’re going to focus on just one of those traits: curiosity. Why is curiosity so important? At it’s most basic, curiosity will always keep a child from being bored. Instead of waiting for an activity to come along, a curious child will actively investigate and come up with their own activity ideas. And by following those inquiries, a curious child develops a continuous stream of active learning and play. In the long run, curiosity plays an even larger role. It is curiosity that encourages a child to follow his or her passions…and isn’t that what we all want for our kids? Curiosity is the force that creates new ideas and leads an adult to take risks so that they can ultimately create their own success stories.
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**Read all the way to the end of this post for a special gift for YOU!**
7 Ways to Encourage Curiosity in Kids
Kids are naturally curious. Just think about it. How many times a day do you hear:
- “Why can’t I eat my peanut butter sandwich after it fell on the floor?”
- “Why can’t I put my dirty shoes on the table?”
- “How does cold air come out of that vent in the wall?”
- “Why does that light turn on when I push this switch?”
Sometimes we dismiss these questions, assuming the answers are obvious, but asking these questions is one way kids demonstrate their natural curiosity. And we have a choice to respond in a way that encourages them to investigate or not. My first tip is also one of the sanity savers I discovered when my kids were in the preschool “why” stage–you know, the one where every question is “why”.
Instead of dismissing these questions, I chose to ask “Why do you think ____?” Not only did this save me from having to come up with a million responses to questions that I may or may not have really known the answers to, this simple response allowed us to have meaningful conversations that showed my kids that I valued their ideas and their curiosity.
It’s also important to let kids explore topics of interest to them. No their third grade class might not be learning about how the levers on the garbage truck work (or maybe they are!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t support them as they research and experiment with creating their own levers at home.
The right toys can help promote curiosity. Provide toys that allow for open-ended play and inquiry-based learning. In the preschool years things like blocks, Lego, and science tools are great places to start. But what’s next as kids grow older? There are some awesome possibilities. We just received one of the coolest toys I’ve seen in a long time, a littleBits kit. Think electronic building blocks for tinkerers! The magnetic bits snap together in endless possible combinations to create circuits.
Whether you are outdoors exploring new areas, trying out a new science experiment, or playing with new toys, give kids time to investigate and tinker. Instead of rushing to the final destination or project creation, allow kids to formulate questions and test them. Here Lovey was experimenting to see how different amounts of pressure would make her servo move.
Kids ask some big questions. Help them turn those questions into solutions by encouraging genuine problem solving. Does their drink thermos leak everyday in their lunchbox? Encourage them to develop a solution. Over on the littleBits project page you can see how littleBits creators have come up with all sorts of solutions. See how they’ve used littleBits to protect bikers at night with this safety backpack, kept unwanted visitors out of their room with an intruder alarm and more.
Whether they are problem-solving with a real-world problem or playing with an educational toy, let kids learn through trial and error. As adults we often see a solution before our kids do, or we think we know the best way to accomplish a task. By telling a child our ideas before allowing them to discover their own, we are eliminating a valuable and rewarding part of the learning process. So do your best to sit back and observe. You can provide encouragement, but don’t jump in with the answer!
This can be harder than you think. Here Lovey is trying to figure out how to make a chain that includes all of the pieces from our Premium Kit. Even though I am an experienced educator and I know the value of kids making these discoveries on their own it is still hard for me to sit back and watch as the clock ticks by. But trust me, the smile and sense of accomplishment kids feel after figuring out a challenging problem on their own is well worth the time!
Finally kids are naturally curious, so the best way to encourage curiosity is to let them be kids! Let them be silly and active. Join in when you can, and watch as their silly antics and play lead to new discoveries and prompt even more questions that continue to move the learning process forward.
Lovey thought the vibration of this circuit felt “like holding a bee that wouldn’t sting you”. This led her on a path to see if she could use the vibration motor to create a flower garden with a bee and other moving insects using our premium kit. And you know that lead to more learning and play!
More About littleBits
Seeing how much my girls enjoyed playing with the littleBits kit definitely inspired me to share ways we can all encourage curiosity in our kids. littleBits is an expanding library of magnetic modular electronics that can be used to create so many things…the list is virtually endless.
Not too techy? Don’t worry! I love how easy the littleBits are to use. To be honest I was a little intimidated when I first saw the kit. I don’t know anything about electronics or circuits…although I do know that my kids (and I) should be experimenting and learning about these things. This kit was a perfect starter set for us, and I can’t wait to expand with some of the additional kits available in the library.
Here is a brief video of Tinker–my 4 year old–playing with littleBits just to show you how easy they are to work with.
And the kits come with excellent guides for getting started and for creating your first projects. All of the pieces are modular, so they will all work with one another to expand the learning potential.
Classroom teachers, littleBits isn’t just a toy for home. There are great possibilities for classroom learning too. With the pro library you can guide kids through meaningful hands-on lessons and promote STEM and STEAM skills with littleBits.
littleBits are also global! I was so intrigued to see that there are local chapters that do things like share weekly design challenges, workshops and events with other littleBits inventors. How cool is that?! These could be a great way to provide enrichment for school age kids or a way for homeschool kids to interact and collaborate on science skills. If your a classroom teacher, you could interact with global chapters to try a problem-solving challenge. Imagine the possibilities!
An Exclusive Gift for YOU!
Okay, I know this was a long post, but can you tell I’m passionate about developing curiosity and littleBits? As a reward–and a thank you!–for sticking with me all the way to the end, I have a special discount code for you to save on your very own littleBits purchase.
For a limited time, Fantastic Fun and Learning readers can get $20 off by using the code: LBFALL20OFF2 during checkout at littleBits.cc. That’s a great savings! And it’s perfect timing to save on a great gift for the holidays (yes, Christmas is coming sooner than we want to admit!)
After taking a look at some of the projects young inventors have made with the littleBits kits, stop back by and tell me what you think your kids might create first!
Disclosure: We received this littleBits Premium Kit to assist us in sharing this post with you. All comments and cute kiddos are my own.
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