Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Preschool Engineer's Body

Picture from reasontostand.org.
I just love how young people make sense of the world. It is both egocentric and fanciful. Like in Leo Lionni's book "Fish is Fish" where the fish imagines birds to be fish with wings and cows to be fish with utters, a preschooler has a small world within which to understand how stuff works. One of the most pressing, if not the most pressing, mysteries to figure out for a preschooler is himself or herself...especially their bodies.

In the "Gears Gears Gears" post, I told a story about a sleepless night. I hadn't slept because my "wheels were spinning" - a phenomenon many adults experience when they turn an idea over and over in their head. It usually happens when you want to be sleeping and it almost never results in any productive conclusions. Mikey was two and a half when he overheard me use this lingo and was intrigued.

It made sense to my preschool engineer that there might be wheels or gears in his head. The idea was even supported by his work on the iPad when he played Toca Doctor. In a simple matching puzzle, the child drags and drops four gears to their spots in the patient's head. The "Lite" versions are free. (Not available on Android.)

Toca Doctor for iPhone
Toca Doctor Lite for iPhone
Toca Doctor HD for iPad
Toca Doctor HD Lite for iPad

Of course, like everything, we explain our bodies in terms our children might understand or relate to. Our bones are like blocks (birds' bones are like pipes). We have hoses and funnels inside there, too. What I've really enjoyed is that as he grows older Mikey starts trying to fit his experiences into the framework of his life. For example, he always asks me why we have to sleep. I have to repress my inner voice that screams, "because I need a break!" and answer him thoughtfully. Recently, he has bought the explanation that when he sleeps his body builds his bones and new gears in his head. He accepted it so thoroughly that the other day he woke up from his nap and told me, "Mama, I heard a 'clunk' while I was sleeping. You know what that sound was Mama? It was a new gear in my head! I heard it get built."

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