Family Inventors’ Lab

Ages: 3 – 6 years old when class begins.

 Watch our video to see what our Family Inventors’ class is all about!

Overview

 

Our kids are true digital natives, and have known how to “swipe” a touchscreen since before they knew how to walk. Technology will always be a part of their lives. But if you talk to the engineers who designed and built that technology, most will tell you of childhoods spent running outside, digging in sandboxes, taping cardboard boxes together, building blanket forts, and a lot of time with Legos, Lincoln Logs, erector sets and more. The inventors of tomorrow will come from the kids of today who have that same interactive experience with the real world – hands-on, child-led, diverse play with all five senses engaged.

Our Saturday classes focus on those types of experiences. We are a parent-child / cooperative class, where parents and children play, learn, and grow together.

 

What will your child experience at our class?

 

We are a STEAM enrichment class – that’s STEM with the arts mixed in.

Each week, our hands-on activities include:

  • Science exploration: although the theme changes each week (see below), every week has hands-on exploration of scientific concepts that let children discover ideas and then deepen their understanding through further exploration.
  • Construction projects: big blocks, giant tinker toys, Lincoln logs – every week we have construction materials available to inspire kids to build.
  • Art exploration: painting, collage, play-dough, and more allow children to build small motor skills, enrich their creativity, and become familiar with art materials.
  • Circle time: songs, stories, and group games build literacy, musical skills, math skills, and give kids practice with sitting still, paying attention, and following the rules.
  • Outdoor time: On campus, kids have the opportunity for playground and sandbox time (sometimes we substitute indoor activities during winter quarter). When we meet at Robinswood, we spend a large chunk of class time out in the woods, learning about nature and wilderness skills.

We are a multi-age classroom, where all our activities are designed to work for kids age 3 to 6, with siblings as young as 2.5 or as old as 7. The younger children have a chance to learn from and be inspired by the big kids. The older children enjoy showing off their skills, teaching, and mentoring the littler ones. Learn more about the benefits of multi-age classrooms at https://gooddayswithkids.com/?s=multi-age

 

Themes:

In the 2016 – 17 school year, we will have a specific focus each quarter. Families are encouraged to sign up for all three quarters, but may choose to enroll in just one or two quarters if that works better for their schedule. Each quarter will feature one field trip which will be held on a weekday or a Sunday.

 

Fall – September through November. Engineering

Let’s build cool stuff! And then let’s knock it down! And build it again! But better this time…

Our fall sessions focus on building skills. We’ll study the six simple machines, learn about electricity, practice using the Tool of the Week, and build towers, tunnels, bridges, houses and model cars. We’ll learn some key math skills on the way. The focus is on Tinkering and the PROCESS of creation and problem-solving: we’ll figure out goals, make an initial plan, build a first prototype, test it, then improve it, test and improve it again. This design process teaches kids that they don’t have to create a perfect product on their first try, but whatever they create, they can always keep working to make it better.

Our field trip will be to the Adventure playground on Mercer Island.

 

Winter – December through February. Science

Let’s explore science! Join us as we gaze at stars, simulate earthquakes, change the states of matter, and make things go boom!

Our winter sessions explore fundamental ideas from the physical sciences. We’ll study geology, paleontology (dinosaurs!), astronomy (planets, stars, and space travel), physics (gravity and magnets) and chemistry (states of matter and reactions.) The focus is on INQUIRY. We’ll follow these steps of the scientific process: observe, ask a question, make a guess, test it, and tell others what we learned.

Our field trip will be to the Bellevue College planetarium.

 

Spring – March through May. Nature

Let’s learn about the world around us! We’ll hike in the woods, play in the mud, and learn about animals, birds, bugs and plants.

Our spring sessions explore the life sciences. The key focus is on OBSERVATION skills. We’ll use all five senses to explore and we’ll learn how to describe what we see, and group items into categories based on various criteria. But, since we’re the Family Inventors Lab, when we talk about exoskeletons we’ll also talk about how humans have designed armor; when we cover evolutionary adaptations like bird beaks we’ll also talk about how humans have developed tools based on what they see in nature, and more.

Field Trip: Farrell McWhirter Park in Redmond or Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue.

 

If you want to see all the activities we did in class this year, they’re all documented on our parent educator’s blog: www.InventorsOfTomorrow.com.

Location: Most weeks, we meet on the Bellevue College campus, in our Creative Development Lab in Q116. On the third Saturday of each month, we meet inside the barn at Robinswood Park, the site of our Discovery Lab class.

What will you get out of our class?

This class includes a monthly Parent Education session, led by a parent educator, which covers topics like early learning, discipline, brain development, and ways to support your child’s learning throughout their childhood. Parents share experiences, offer support, and build friendships.

This is a parent cooperative program. You should expect to be in the classroom about half of the days that your child attends.  Attendance at monthly parent ed sessions is required. You will also be asked to work in the classroom 3 times a quarter – approximately once per month.

Classroom tasks include: supervising children for safety, providing and serving snacks, classroom clean-up, and, most importantly, playing along with the children as they invent new games and explore new construction projects. We welcome dads, moms, grandpas and grandmas to attend – any adult who expects to attend regularly will be asked to attend an orientation session to learn classroom policies.

On non-work, non-parent-ed days, you are welcome to stay and play, or you can drop off your child and use the time to catch up on the weekend’s business, go on a date with your partner, or just relax!

Visiting/Observing a Class:

You can schedule a visit during a class meeting time by contacting the instructor listed on the schedule or by contacting the registrar.

How to Register and Tuition Information:

To register for a class, go to our online registration form or call our registrar at 425-564-2365. You’ll register for class #7099 (morning) or #7093 (afternoon).

The activities in this class are best suited for 3 – 6 year olds. We welcome children who are 2.5 to 3 (as of August 31) or as old as 7, but only if they have a sibling 3-6 years old enrolled in the class.

Tuition cost is $237 per quarter (fall, winter, and spring). If two children attend from the same family, the second is offered a 33% discount, so the total for both children is $395.

Our 2017–18 program runs from September 2017 to June 2018.

 

Class Location Item# Age Day & Time Contact
Campus Q Building and Robinswood Park Barn 7099 3 – 6 years Sat 10:00a-12:00p Janelle Durham
Campus Q Building and Robinswood Park Barn 7093 3 – 6 years Sat 1:30-3:30p Janelle Durham

 

Please note that class times, days, locations and tuition are subject to change.

 

Read some of the articles that inspired us to create this class:

The Five Best Toys: http://archive.wired.com/geekdad/2011/01/the-5-best-toys-of-all-time/all/  (Spoiler: they’re a stick, a box, string, cardboard tube & dirt! We’ll play with all these on a regular basis.)

The Last Generation of Kids that Played Outside: www.huffingtonpost.com/nate-hanson/the-last-generation-of-ki_b_6139504.html

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19267988

The Importance of Learning to Make Things: http://harvestamericacues.com/2014/03/10/the-importance-of-learning-to-make-things/

Tinkering:  Why is tinkering important? http://tinkerlab.com/why-is-tinkering-important/ and Tinkering is Serious Play: http://tinyurl.com/TinkerSerious.

Benefits of Outdoor Play: http://gooddayswithkids.com/2014/06/10/benefits-of-outdoors/

 

Last Updated May 5, 2017