Casually Encouraging Curiosity

Tonight as I was putting my 11 year old to bed, I had to keep clearing my throat, as I've just gotten over a cold, and it always seems to linger on my vocal cords (chords?). I commented that it's like there is something sitting on them.

"Are the vocal cords the two long lines on the outside of the neck?" he asked.

"No" I said. "I think those are tendons or something. The vocal cords are inside, in the breathing part of your throat."

"Oh! I always thought they were on the outside, but that makes much more sense!" he said.

"Well, I don't mean they are suspended in there, I think they are on one side, but inside there." 

Then we continued to talk about vibrations, and whether the tongue movement had anything to do with the vocal cords, and so on, for a few minutes.

I said that I'd never looked up where, exactly, the vocal cords were in our throats, but that I thought we might have a book or two that showed it, and it would be cool to look it up.

That was all.

I kissed him goodnight, and then went in to tell his sister goodnight.

Then I came out and folded some laundry while petting the cat (about the max for multi-tasking I can handle), and started thinking that I should write this blog post about what to do next when we have these little conversations with our kids.

So I went to the bookshelf, and found an old Anatomy and Physiology textbook I found at a thrift store years ago. It's one of those old ones with the plastic overlays (that are inevitably ripped) that you can layer over the skeleton that include the nervous system and the muscular system and all that. I always loved those books when I was a kid, so picked it up when I saw it.

Anyway, I went to the index and found the entry that included the vocal cords with a great illustration and way too many big words and confusing medical talk, LOL. I put it on the coffee table open to that page. 

Then I grabbed the V Encyclopedia (we have a 1980 set that we got free from a school) and looked up Vocal Cords, which said, of course, "see Larynx" so then I had to get the L Encyclopedia and looked up Larynx. There is only one small illustration, but the text is easier to understand. I left that open on the coffee table too. 

I'll just leave them there and see what happens in the morning. Then I'll come back and report.

I don't know what will happen. Perhaps no one will be interested, and they will just go back on the shelf. I'll try to prevent that by showing a little interest myself, but I won't push it very far.

Either way, I'll be back with an update.


We came out to the living room this morning, and my son saw the books there, and stood over them, looking for about a minute.

He then said, "vocal cords, that's where they are", and he was done.

He didn't even touch them. 

We went into the kitchen and I started making my coffee, and said that I had looked it up online last night and found a top down view (to which he said "no, thank you"), and then demonstrated with my hands for just a moment, but he was done. So I dropped it.

The books are still on the coffee table. I'll leave them there today and report on whatever else happens.


5:20 - no takers yet.


Well, I left those books out for a few days and still got no takers. So, back on the shelf they went. No biggie. I'll try again when something else comes up.

When I do this, my kids "take the bait" about half the time, as they do both have a good love of learning. If your kids are resistant to learning, you might try this many times before you even get a glimmer of interest. 

That's ok, just keep trying.

When someone does pick up what you've laid down, keep cool. Let it be their thing, don't take over. 

This does take practice, and you will likely push a little too hard or make too big of a deal about it when they do show interest (and they will back off again), but no worries. Just keep trying. You will love the results that come.


What little interests can you think of right now that you could do something similar with in your home? Comment below, I'd love to hear about it.


  • Totally meant to say magnifying glass!

    Amber Moore
  • I love this. Thank you. I did this last year with an old rock observation kit and book from my old university course. My 3yo loved looking at the details with a magnificent glad and Identifging the quartz which we had talked about on the beach that week.

    Since then I can’t say ive done much of that my self.
    Thanks for the reminder! I’m not sure what I could do it with next but I’ll be keeping my eyes open and ears peeled.
    M is having a lot of fun with learning how to write individual letters St the moment. I wrote about it here.
    Ill see if I can find something related to lay out for him and see if I can’t grab his attention. But what?

    Amber Moore

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