Fingerlings Fun: Learning science and engineering through play

Fingerlings are the big toy craze right now and were likely under your tree this past holiday season. So now that you have your fingerlings, what can you do with it?

Fingerlings are an interactive little monkey who makes tons of different sounds and movements to interact with the world. Pet a Fingerlings hair and you’ll get a little appreciation from your tiny friend.

With your kids so enthralled, you might be wondering if you can spice up their playtime with a little extra fun and learning at the same time. Why not hijack something they are playing with and turn it into an educational activity?!? Then you at least won’t have to be fighting about getting them put away to pull the schoolwork out!

We thought up 5 science projects and 5 engineering challenges you can do with your Fingerlings to keep the play going and the learning happening. Check below for our lists and keep on scrolling to find out more about each activity.

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5 Fingerlings Science Project Ideas

  1. Learn about pendulums as you swing your FIngerlings.
  2. Get graphing practice as you graph your Fingerlings interactions.
  3. Test various materials to see what Fingerlings can hold on to.
  4. Decide what kind of monkey your FIngerling is and research its habitat around the world.
  5. Learn about plastic molds as you melt your own Fingerling jewels.

5 Fingerlings Engineering Challenges

  1. Build a Fingerlings habitat using only sticks and twine.
  2. Make a spinning merry go round with objects you have in your house.
  3. Design a zipline for your Fingerlings that comes to a slow end.
  4.  Create a parachute for your Fingerlings to land softly from a toss.
  5. Make a treehouse for your Fingerlings using only popsicle sticks and clothespins.

5 Fingerlings Science Activities Explained

1. Learn about pendulums as you swing your Fingerlings.

There is a lot you can do while you explore pendulums. You can see if changing the length of your pendulum changes how fast your friend swings. Or maybe if you put two Fingerlings on the pendulum is will swing faster or slower? What happens if your pendulum is moving? You could all pile in the car with your pendulum and see what happens as you drive up and down the block or turn around in a traffic circle.

To make a pendulum you don’t need too much, we made them out of coat hangers, fishing line, and scrap wood at our community shows, but you can always engineer a new method as well.

This project gives you the opportunity to just look and think, or you can dig deeper and record what you find. You can also extend this activity to the playground and have kids think about how they could speed up or slow down their swinging!

2. Get graphing practice as you graph your Fingerlings interactions.

You could make a huge bar graph on your wall by cutting out squares of different colored construction paper. Make each color one type of interaction (like monkeying around). You will have to label the squares so everyone knows what each color represents, and you can decide what interactions you want to graph, as well as how long you want to record data for.

Then, let your kids play with their Fingerlings with one catch – they have to set aside a colored square to represent each action their Fingerlings takes. At the end of ten minutes or an hour, or the day you will have a pile of variously colored construction paper squares.

Put painters tape on your walls, one piece vertical and the other horizontal, so that it makes a graphing axis. Roll a piece of masking tape to the back of each colored square and have kids build the bar graph as they put the squares on the wall. If one color of interaction is already on the wall then kids will need to start stacking them (or building the bars) on the graph.

Once you are done you will need to label your graph. You can do this by writing what each color represents on a notecard, and taping the notecard underneath its respective column. Voila! You have a huge wall-sized bar graph! I love this activity because it makes collecting data and graphing the data a ton of fun! Who wouldn’t want to make a huge bar graph on the wall?

3. Test various materials to see what Fingerlings can hold on to.

I’m sure that Fingerlings can hold on to more than just fingers. Challenge your kids to make a pile of objects they thing their Fingerlings could hold on to. If they are struggling with starting you can ask them to think about the size, shape, and feel of your own fingers.

My kids gathered things like crayons, lots of different types of markers, forks, straws, necklaces, belts, dolls, etc. Once we had our pile we started testing and sorting. As we sorted everything we tested into two piles, one that they could hold on to, and one that they couldn’t, we were able to start looking for similarities.

Do smooth hard surfaces work? To cloth surfaces work? What about wide surfaces? Or thin flat surfaces?

Once you get the hang of making and organizing your pile, your kids will want to go collect more and more items from around the house!

4. Decide what kind of monkey (or unicorn or sloth) your Fingerling is and research its habitat around the world.

You can use your child’s Fingerlings friend to learn about various monkeys around the world. Have your child pick a type to study in depth and let them research the habitat and diet of that monkey. Can they make a little diorama for their Fingerlings monkey to live in? What do they think a day in the life of their monkey would be like? What challenges, either from the environment, predators, or humans, do they face? Your child can even write and illustrate a handbook for their friend full of their research!

If you have a unicorn you can use it as a chance to dig deeper into mythology and discover the roots of unicorns, what unicorns eat, what their powers are etc.

5. Learn about plastic molds as you create Fingerling jewelry.

This is a fun way to learn about phase transitions, like what your kids see between ice and water. And how not all phase transitions result in the same chemical compound or look. In our winter science series, we made pony bead suncatchers using metal cookie cutters as molds.

In this project, you can use silicon or metal molds to create molded melted pony beads or just melt single beads at a time to make jewels for your Fingerlings friend!

5 Fingerlings Engineering Challenges Explained

1. Build a Fingerlings habitat using only sticks and twine.

This is a fun engineering challenge that will get the kids outside as well since they will need to collect the sticks. Kids will need to think about the size the habitat will need to be, as well as shape, look, and various functions. Will their habitat have rooms? If so, how will they make the walls of each room?

Will their habitat have lights? If so, will they wire them up and learn about circuits? Will their habitat be large enough to fit the Fingerlings inside, but small enough to keep in their bedroom?

You can think up design parameters together and set limitations so nothing gets too out of hand!

2. Make a spinning merry go round with objects in your house.

I love this engineering challenge because it forces them to try and think about household objects that already spin. Some ideas that already spin are a fidget spinner, top, lazy susan, drill. Some items they might be able to modify into spinning could be a stack of CDs or a ball glued to a cardboard disc.

Once they have thought about what will spin, they will then need to think about how it will spin with the weight of their Fingerlings riding on top. Will they use more than one friend? Will they need a counterbalance? How will they keep their friend in one place instead of flying around and getting hurt?

Be prepared to use a lot of duct tape, glue, and recycled materials in this one.

3. Design a zipline for your Fingerlings that comes to a slow stop.

Ziplines are a ton of fun, so why not make one for your little friend to enjoy? Of course, you’ll need to be safe and find a way to have the zipline slow down near the end.

Kids will need to think about what they can use to make the zipline out of. For example, a thick rope might not allow the Fingerlings to actually travel on it, while too thin of a thread might not hold their weight.

They will also need to think about any cages or boxes they need to make to make sure their friend doesn’t fall off in mid-flight and plunge to its death.

If your kids are having a tough time on designing a slowing mechanism you could take them to a nearby park that has a zipline for them to investigate!

To increase the difficulty of this challenge for older kids you can give them time limitations on either the building part of the project or on the time it takes the Fingerling to traverse the zipline.

4. Create a parachute for your Fingerlings to land softly from a toss.

To start off this project you will want to determine what you are going to be dropping your Fingerlings from. I certainly recommend having a safer soft landing such as a pillow in use as kids are testing and revising their parachutes, with the goal of removing the pillow for the final drop.

Ask kids what materials they think would work best for a parachute and gather them up. The shape, size, and tying of the parachute will all affect how softly their Fingerlings lands, so if they are having trouble getting started you can ask them to find photos of parachutes to get them started.

You’ll likely need to be there to help tie, glue, tape, and untangle the parachute lines. We want to save all of their frustration for things like designing the parachute, and less so on the implementation – unless your child is ready for that.

5. Make a treehouse for your Fingerlings using only popsicle sticks and clothespins.

No tape, no glue, no string…just popsicle sticks and clothespins. This is a great way to help kids think outside of the box with force constraints that really turns them into an engineer. After all, in the real world engineers have to deal with constraints such as the strength and safety of building materials, as well as the project cost.

How tall can they build their tree house? can they make a fun playground around the treehouse?

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