Using the Spark Station More Effectivly

by Mary Ann on September 6, 2014

Dear Mary Ann,

Am I supposed to put activities in [The Spark Station] and just observe/be present with Max rather than jumping in and giving the ideas? It almost seems counter productive to make it educational or rather me go in with an educational agenda if the whole point is for us to connect. So would that mean I should have Spark Station and when I get to it, have kid school separate? Then in the kids school I can focus more on the things I want him to be learning or rather sharing with him what I am learning

The Purpose of the Spark Station


When you are working with a child under 6 they will usually want you to play with them and be with them. For them it is all about being with you and having that really nice “family” feeling. That is the connection part if you are really mentally Present during this time.

Here are the key points to the purpose of the Spark Station:boy with rocks

• The nature of the Spark Station enhances a child’s interest in learning. Nothing is required. Children are inspired!
• It is most effective with ages 0-12/13.
• It tends to create family togetherness and connection.
• It is designed to help you teach core values, help you be present, allow children to play and learn in a stress free atmosphere where their interests are honored.
• It is just plain fun for both children and adults.

Regardless of what you have in your Spark Station, you let them choose what they want to engage with. If they ask questions answer them. If they want you to play, play. If they seem content to just explore on their own, let them.

Why Have Educational Items in the Spark Station

learningThe point of having things that are educational in your Spark Station is that it is fun to learn and it creates a culture of learning. We all want our children to enjoy learning, want to learn and frankly just be part of a culture where learning is what we do.

Remember that practically anything you put in the Spark Station will be educational for a child Max’s age. Everything is interesting to them and they learn by exploring, feeling, and playing. In fact play is the main way that younger children learn. It is only adults that think of play as separate from learning.

Let’s say you have put a small package of plastic dinosaurs in the Spark Station for four year old Max. He will open the package, take them out, handle them all over, and maybe ask a question or two. He may growl and want to chase you with one. You play and then begin a mini conversation.

“Max what do you think dinosaurs eat?” He might respond with “I don’t know” or “other dinosaurs”.

“Well, some ate meat and some ate plants. Do you know what a meat eater is called?”


“Carnivore, grrrrrr” (hands up like claws and reach for the child) Do you know what plant eaters are called?”



While I was answering this email for you my 4 and 6 year old grandchildren were watching television in my home. I looked up and animal conceptsasked the question about meat eaters and had this same conversation with my six year old grandson.

The only difference was that he knew the name for meat eaters and plant eaters. One of the reasons he knows this is because we have had this same mini-conversation a few times before or something like it.

Then my 6 year old grandson said, “I am just a carnivore.” I asked him if he eats any plants like grapes or carrots. He smiled a mischievous smile and said, “no”. So I replied, “Well if you did eat plants you would be a carnivore and an herbivore. He laughed. Then I asked, “Jack if you eat both plants and animals I don’t have to say you are a carnivore and an herbivore; you would be an omnivore. Mary the 4 year old popped up and said, “Well I am an omnivore.” Then Jack repeated the word. Big smiles and the mini-conversation was done. See what a small package of plastic dinos can do. : )

I know families that have special work books in the Spark Station. They are only available when the Spark Station is and they aren’t required and so children want to use them. The field of “what do I put in there” is wide open! And it is all educational!

Learning is connecting, when it happens in a family. And this is the point of the Spark Station, to connect with your children in really fun, interesting and exciting ways while they are learning.

When to Use the Spark Station

As to your question about when to use the Spark Station, there are multiple answers for that. It all depends on what you need and what you are trying to accomplish.

Maggie and Jack in Spark StationDifferent families have different needs for the Spark Station –

• The Spark Station – a space used during family learning time or school time to enhance your child’s desire to learn and your ability to stay present with them.
• After School Station – a space to unwind from school, reconnect with family in ways besides videos games, and TV.
• Just before Bed Station – a space to help the family gear down for the night.
• Dad and Me Station– a space to help dad spend some quality time with younger children.
• Family Home Evening Station– a space used after your lesson for added anticipation, fun and excitement.
• Sunday Station – a space used to help keep the Sabbath day holy.
• Love of Learning Bag – a space used while traveling to keep children occupied, happy and learning
• Love of Learning Letters – A way for grandparents and those far away to influence and share with the children they love
• Traveling Spark Station – A basket or other container that you fill and carry to children that you are visiting.

If you are using it as an educational tool then it can be used in conjunction with what ever else you do in school or it can be used separately. Many families have a school time that looks something like this:

• Devotional
• Family reading
• Math
• Free Learning (This is when the Spark station is offered as one of the learning options along with the family library, writing materials and so forth
• Etc.

Other families, who have really young children may have a school system that looks like this:

• Devotional
• Song
• The Spark Station

Either scenario works and there are dozens of other make ups for a school day and how the Spark Station might fit in.

When moms have specific things they want to teach or share they can put key items in the Spark Station to get the ball rolling. It might look like this:

You want to teach math patterns. So you put long strips of construction paper and a package of assorted stickers in the Spark Station. When the Spark Station is opened and a child is free to use it, they may get out the container with the stickers and construction paper strips and ask, “Mom, what’s this for.” You would reply,” I thought you might like to make some patterns.”

“What’s patterns?”

simple patterns caterpillar picture

Maggie’s simple pattern caterpillar

“Let me show you.” Then you take a construction paper strip and use some stickers to make a simple pattern.

“Now you make one.” You let the child begin, giving small helps as they need them, helping them come to an understanding of what a pattern is.

Another option that some use is to teach what they want in more of a mom school setting. There is kid’s free time to learn where the Spark Station is available and then there is Mom School, where mom teaches something.

The ways to use the Spark station are many and varied and you can experiment with what works best for you and your children. Hope this helps.

Mary Ann

Please share how you use the Spark Station in your home and school time. We all really want to know. : )

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