Disclosure: This is a paid campaign with Camp Invention, all opinions are 100% my own.
Getting your kids to think like an inventor is easier than you think. After a week of attending Camp Invention, we as parents, are trying to be more aware of encouraging our daughter to build, invent, problem solve, engineer, and create.
What can you do to help your child think like an inventor?
Provide Opportunities to Experiment
Do lots of science projects at home like these ones on solar energy, ladybugs or plant propagation. Kids need to explore the world and find out why and how things work. They need a foundation of knowledge and vocabulary that allow them to take their thinking to the next level, which is solving a real world problem. Make sure to ask lots of open ended questions and use topic rich vocabulary.
Teach Your Kids about Math and Science
Yes, these are topics in school, but often times engineering, hands-on math, and real life science are brushed over in favor of worksheets and videos.
Teach your children how to build and use simple machines; a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, and screw. These are the building blocks of most machines. Children with a basic understanding of how and why these machines work will be able to build extensions.
Let them measure boards before you build the backyard shed. Encourage them to weigh the packages of 5 pound clementines to see which one is the best deal (the 5 pound box that weight 5 1/4 pounds is a better deal than the one that weighs exactly 5 pounds)
Let them Build
Sure, following step-by-step building instructions help teach kids sequencing and following directions. But what about problem solving and creativity?Let your children build with building blocks, (tinker toys, Lincoln Logs, Legos…) without any instructions. Challenge them to create towers and bridges.
Allow them to work with non-block materials to create cities. Home recycle bins can be a great source for building materials that will encourage children to think like an inventor.
Be Aware of Problems and Highlight them for Children
Most importantly, as my daughter’s week long camp ended, I realized I wasn’t “seeing” the problems in our lives. That is truly what an inventor does. They become aware of a problem in their lives and work to create a solution to that problem in a unique way.
I’ve tried to make a point of stopping and pointing out the problem and allowing my daughter to help or even come up with the solution on her own.
Just the other day:
The rain water collected in our gutter on the roof, went nicely through the downspout and then got backed up in the drain tube. This meant that our deck was flooded during a hard rain. I invited my 7 year old to come with me to take a look and started to “dig” up the problem. We shoveled and dug around until we found the end of the drain tube, which was blocked with rocks and soil.
“Even if we clean out the rocks, they will still fall back inside.” she commented.
“You are right. This is definitely a problem. I wonder what we can invent to make sure that our drain doesn’t get clogged up again?” I replied
And with just a few words of prompting, she began to invent…
“About Camp Invention: Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention. Through hands-on programming, Camp Invention encourages children in grades one through six to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum inspired by some the world’s great inventors. Camp Invention, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Collegiate Inventors Competition serve as the authority on inspiring invention and compose Invent Now. This nationwide nonprofit organization is committed to the curious minds and innovative spirits of the past, present and future. Through these three entities, over 250,000 children, teachers, parents, college students and independent inventors are encouraged to explore science and technology programs every year.”