October 21, 2009

Why can I see what I'm not looking at?

That was the question during lunch. "Why can I see Haven over there when I'm looking at my baked beans? And I can see you cooking over there when I'm looking at my book! Why?" Ahh...I had not planned a lesson on peripheral vision, but how often is a kid actually asking about that. Right? This was one of those teaching moments you hope for but rarely get!

What to do? Build an eye! I had on hand some good eye building supplies on hand so we made a go of it. This will be my excuse to Joe next time I buy some random junk with no plan for how to use it. I'll just say, you never know what will come up! Here's how it went!

I tossed Hannah Jane a Styrofoam ball and said, "take your markers and make this an eye!" Her response threw me for a second. Do you ever have those moments when you realize that you failed to teach your kid a really basic thing? Yeah, this was one of those. She said, "This is a sphere (ooh! I love hearing those geometry lessons pay off!). How am I supposed to make an eye out of this?" Huh? Did she really just ask me that? "You know our eyes are shaped like that, don't you?" She looked puzzled. "Our eyes are little balls in our head." Still puzzled. "Okay, just trust me and I'll show you. Just color a pupil and an iris on that there ball and we'll see what we can find out. Okay?"

While she colored the eye that was abnormal in roundness despite what her gut was telling her, I ran out to the garage and found a cardboard box to cut up for our little vision test. I cut off two flaps and cut eye openings into them. And because I'm a dork, I felt the need to embellish with an eyebrow and ear just to make it more authentic.

Next I let Hannah Jane draw a pupil and iris on a piece of flat paper, as it should be in her mind. We used tape or "muscles" to put our eyeballs into out box flap eye holes. Already I could see the light bulbs going off. It got better.

We talked about how the pupil is where the light comes in and is unscrambled into pictures by our brain and then we got to experimenting! We put both eyes into the box about half way. I gave her a ruler and said that if light must get in through the pupil, and it can only go in a straight line like this ruler, let's figure out what our flat eye can see of the box and what the round eye can see. She lined the ruler up with flat eye's pupil and decided it could barely even see the edge of the box it was in. Then she looked at round eye. "Whoa! It can almost see behind it!!!" She laughed and rolled around in the floor!

Then she asked if a flat eye could move around in the head like a round eye could (leave it to Hannah Jane to always take lessons farther than I intend). We moved the round eye around in the eye socket and said in funny voices, "I see Hannah Jane! I see Hunter. Now I see mommy!" But poor old flat eye said, "I can only see Hannah Jane. Can you please turn my head so I can see Hunter too?" They were cracking up! I think she learned something and had some fun. For the rest of the afternoon Ive been hearing, "I'm looking at my paper but I can see your legs because I have a round eyeball!"

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