Balancing like The Cat in the Hat: A Mini-Lesson on the Center of Gravity

When my son was a toddler, his favorite page in The Cat in the Hat was the “Look at Me! Look at Me! Look at Me Now!” page, in which the Cat balances and hops with all sorts of fun items. I have to admit, this is a favorite for me too.

“It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how.”

Now that my preschooler is also old enough to enjoy reading the book as well, I thought it was time to put our favorite book into a mini-science lesson. Today’s challenge was to balance the items from the book in a tall tower. While we were busy balancing like the Cat in the Hat, we learned about the center of gravity.

We learned about the center of gravity after we read The Cat in the Hat and practiced balancing items.

When Raisin was about Strawberry’s age (4), he gave a lesson on gravity to a toddler at the library. Yes, he’s always been a bit precocious, and this was simply darling because he could not say his Rs and the v became a b!

The toddler was crying because he dropped his toy.

“It’s okay,” my son comforted. “It’s just because of gabity. Gabity is what makes things fall down. Like this!”

He picked up the toy again and let go of it once more.

“It’s just gabity!”

I reminded my son of this story and asked him some questions. If gravity makes things fall down, how come he does not fall over when he stands? What about when he is on one foot?

My daughter always gets in to it when acrobatics is required, so she tried balancing on one foot for us.

My daughter wanted to balance on one foot like the Cat in the Hat!

Raisin and I talked about the center of gravity in our bodies. We noticed how our bodies move when we’re holding up a foot to balance.

Then it was time for the fun!

For our balancing tower, we decided to use toys from the Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! game. (This is a fun preschool game that includes balancing, hopping, crawling, skipping, and so forth using items much like those in the Dr. Seuss book. For this activity, we’re just using the items…all of them!)

We used items from the I Can Do That Game to make a balanced tower like one the Cat in the Hat would make!

In the book, the Cat is balancing the items on his hands and hat. We put ours on the table so we could take better pictures and focus on building a tower as high as we could!

As we built, Raisin and I talked about the center of gravity (also called center of mass) of each of the objects. This was not meant to be a serious science lesson for him (he’s taking a geology class right now) but mostly just a thinking one.

We talked about finding the center of gravity for each object as we made our Cat in the Hat object tower.

Here are some questions we discussed:

  • How could we best balance the rake?
  • Why does putting the book on its side make it easier to balance?
  • Where is the center of gravity for the ball, which is a sphere?
  • Where is the toy man’s center of gravity? Why it is harder to balance him anywhere?
  • The cake and the fish did not weigh very much as it’s made of foam. How and why would a real cake and fish bowl be much harder to balance?

Strawberry mostly enjoyed her own gymnastics balancing act as she held the objects.

We all loved the challenge of getting all the items to balance on our tower.

We discussed balance and the center of gravity as we built our tour of Cat in the Hat items.

And, of course, we all loved watching the things fall!

This post is a part of the Storybook Science blog hop.There is a lot of science in stories! Check out these ideas at the Storybook Science blog hop.


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