Sure, you could do it like that, but you don’t have to. Really, all it means is that you put an object at the center of what you are learning about. Any object, no matter how seemingly mundane, as long as it helps illustrate your point.
This method works because kids are such concrete learners and having a “thing” that they can center their exploration around helps them to tie it all together. It can also be a springboard for more abstract ideas as they build (or scaffold- another great education term) new learning off of it.
In grad school one of our first assignments was a “5 Minute Object Lesson” (5MOL for short). You had to pick an object and get up in the front of the class and teach about it for five minutes. There were some pretty memorable ones, like the classmate who taught us the PROPER way to peel a banana!
I hadn’t thought about that 5MOL in years, until I noticed that my son and I were doing our own version. He will bring me something, or ask a question, and we delve into it briefly but thoroughly so he feels like he “gets” it, then he is off on something else.
These 5MOLs are perfect object-based learning experiences on a small scale. Not only does it keep it from being this overwhelming task for you to create, it also lets you follow the child’s lead and jump on little learning opportunities that come up.
We were watching Sesame Street and the “Global Grover” segment was about his visit to South Africa and learning about galimotos (the video segment can be found here) My son was fascinated so I checked out the book “Galimoto” by Karen Lynn Williams. After reading it he wanted to see pictures of all different kinds of galimotos and try to make his own (we used pipe cleaner since that was what I had on hand).
Not a complicated set-up, but he gained an appreciation for what a galimoto was, and how hard it is to make one, through exposure to an object, a book and some media (video/pictures). If I wanted to extend it even farther, we could go visit that Natural History Museum and see the galimotos they have on display.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of incorporating objects into your child’s learning, think about how it could happen on a more concentrated, specific level. You’ll be surprised all the places it will take you!
Keep checking back for more sample 5MOLs!