Rapunzel Science Play-of-the-Day
The story of Rapunzel can inspire a science experiment with hair for a play-of-the-day. All of us can do magic with our very own hair.
Rapunzel is a beautiful baby stolen by a witch. In some versions she is a princess and her hair has magical properties. In others, her mother has become very ill and must eat some rapunzel from the witch’s garden; this is the German word for a plant like spinach or radish. The witch imprisions Rapunzel in a tower and her hair grows and grows. The only way into the tower is by climbing Rapunzel’s hair.
Although she is eventually freed by a prince and the witch is vanquished, Rapunzel then has to rescue him. You can either read this story to kids or tell your own version. In Rachel Isadora’s beautifully illustrated book, Rapunzel has dreadlocks and the prince rides a zebra. Jessica Gunderson writes Really, Rapunzel Needed A Haircut! and tells The Other Side of the Story.
Once you’ve shared the tale of Rapunzel, ask kids if their hair is magical. They might change their minds after this fun.
To do this magic, blow up a balloon and then have your child stand in front of a mirror. Hold the balloon just slightly over your child’s head. Is anything happening? Now, rub the balloon a few times on your child’s hair (or on a shirt) and try again. What does the hair do now? Can your child see and feel it?
This works best on dry days rather than damp ones, but the static electricity that has built up on the surface of the balloon should lift the hair. Not only can kids see it, they can often feel it. Sometimes, the same thing happens when we take off a knitted hat, or pulling a sweater over the head.
With a blown-up balloon ready to go, kids can launch it up into the air and tap it as it floats down. For this fun game, don’t let the balloon touch the ground or the floor. The balloon travels in unpredictable directions so playing this game takes lots of moving around to keep the balloon up in the air. This is best played in a space clear of obstacles because it’s hard to keep an eye on the balloon and not bump into things at the same time.
Rapunzel couldn’t play this game in a tower but can you imagine her hair sticking out all over? Or maybe having balloons stuck all over?
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