The art of responding-inspiring kids to learn

by Mary Ann on September 1, 2010

kid with compass picture

A friend dropped by today to pick something up. She had a baby, a toddler

Michael, who loves his compass

and a four year old in her car so I met her at the curb. I gave her what she had come for and then like women do we talked for a few minutes about the projects we had going. Soon a small voice in the back said, “I got a new compass.” I looked back to see four year old Michael engrossed in the compass he was holding. He never looked up from it, just kept turning the case while watching the needle stay in the same place. Then he would give it a quick shake and go back to rotating the case. He was very interested in that compass.

Wow, what a great Spark that was. Now I know that his parents really want to

The future Scout

get him involved with Scouts when he is old enough so I said, “You’d better hang onto that compass Michael. You’ll need it in Scouts for camping and stuff”. At that happy and interesting news he looked up at me and smiled. His mom picked up there and said a few more things about compasses and Scouts.

Now I don’t know if these parents have a Master Inspire Plan or not but if they did it would have Scouts under the organizations segment. How else could they use this little Spark to move the interest and idea of scouting along?

boy scouts with compass picture

They could find a scout in their neighborhood to come and show Michael their compass and talk about how they have used it. I know Michael is having a birthday in a couple of weeks. Maybe it could be a father and son birthday party with dads helping little boys search out a treasure in the back yard using two or three coordinates; just something simple.

How could this little Spark be used along with a Family Mission Statement? Suppose a portion of your Family Mission Statement looked like this:

Habits of Our Home
We obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
We love, honor and pray for each other.
We tell the truth.
We consider one another’s interest ahead of our own.
We do not hurt each other with unkind words or deeds.
We speak quietly and respectfully to one another.
When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
When someone is sad, we comfort him.

You could have your child show his compass to the whole family and tell the fact that the needle always points north. Then you could use that as an analogy to show how the very first sentence in your mission statement is like the needle on a compass to help you reach all the other important things in your statement.

Moving to The Spark Station, how can we use this Spark to inspire a four year old or anyone for that matter?

You could have the directions for making a compass at home , in your kitchen. This would be a fun activity for a four year old with the help of a parent.

chinese hanging compass picture

chinese hanging compass

These directions could be tucked inside a book on pirates, sailors, or privateers. Read the book or look at the pictures. Have a familiar conversation about sailing and the need for a compass. Then make a compass.

While you are engaged in these activities you can give your child a clear and short explanation of how a compass works. Remember that you are not attempting to help your child learn and understand all this information. You are responding to a Spark and allowing him to be exposed to new and interesting information.

You could put some books in your Spark Station on famous Privateers like Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. You could have books on famous sailors like Leif Ericson and Ferdinand Magellan. You could have books on pirates. You could have books on sailing ships. If your child still seems interested in this topic you could begin adding things of interest from the countries where these men came from such as Norway and Portugal. Add coloring books on these topics. I found books on pirates, sailing ships and Vikings for example at Dover Publications.

compass rose pics

compass rose

Make a drawing of a compass rose and hang it on the inside of  The Spark Station door. When your child asks about it explain that it is a compass rose which helps people know the directions of the earth. Then you can introduce some activities associated with the compass rose. You can engage in these simple activities as a family or one on one. These activities can demonstrate what a compass rose is, what the four directions are and the basic use of a compass. You can also play a great game called Compass Tag using a compass rose.

You can post the website for a simple interactive game on the door to The Spark Station so they can learn the directions on a compass rose .

Write as story about a child and their compass with missing words and let your child fill in the blanks as you read them the story. Leave blank pages so they can illustrate the story. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. For example: When Ted turned four his __________ gave him a compass. Ted was so ___________. He wanted to know what this wonderful new gadget could do. He asked his ____________ to help him learn about it.  You get the idea.

If you have a GPS unit in your car you could have a familiar conversation with your child about how finding directions has changed over time and how you use the GPS in your work and life.

Depending on the age of your children you can then explore and inspire them with many more subjects that are spin offs from the compass: shells from the sea, sea animals, map making, boat building, the wonderful book Carry on Mr. Bowditch, more geography of countries that sailed, explored and claimed land.

Following a Spark in this manner is the Art of Responding. You can also use the Art of Inspiring by putting a compass in your Spark Station and seeing where the inspiration takes you and your family.

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