Science: Encouraging a Sense of Wonder
For the littlest scientists, the whole wide world can be a laboratory for learning. Nurture their natural curiosity. Experimentation and hands-on science and nature activities help build a preschooler's understanding of the world. Using every-day activities to introduce concepts such as hypothesizing, organizing, and classifying will launch your preschooler's never ending quest for knowledge.
Efforts to introduce children to essential experiences of science inquiry must begin at an early age. During early childhood, children are acquiring fundamental concepts such as: one-to-one correspondence; counting; classifying; and measuring. They also develop processes to apply these concepts and to develop new ones. Children acquire fundamental concepts through active involvement with the environment. Science content can be introduced effectively in a natural, informal, or structured learning experience.
“When properly presented, Science can be a fascinating subject to just about anybody. It teaches us more about the world around us, showing us wonders to behold and how it works! This love for science needs to be started as soon as possible, so teaching Science to preschoolers is important. But how does one go about teaching Science to preschoolers? Books and videos are nice, but simple, hands-on experience is the best!
A small child is going to be fascinated by a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, so put a caterpillar in a tank, feed it and watch the metamorphosis! Except for that really gifted child, don't explain too much of the details; long words frustrate them and make them feel as if they are stupid. Small children need to learn that they are bright and can understand. Science at the preschool level is to generate interest and build a foundation for later classes to work with, not to construct the Great Pyramid at one go!
Growing plants in the classroom will work wonders. A small hard seed becomes a green growing thing in just a short time using a little bit of water and some warm sunlight. Try some tomatoes or carrots and they can eat the finished product, small children like to eat (this can then be used as an opening for discussing the sense of taste). Teach them how every plant requires light, water and nutrients, but forget trying to really explain photosynthesis until High School!
Old alarm clocks are fascinating to preschoolers. With all the gears, levers and noise when they go off, children can watch them for hours, learning a great deal! Wonderful for teaching about springs, how big gears move at different rates from small gears and also about sound. Don't worry about wave frequency or advanced mathematics at this age, it is noise and how things turn that are amazing to the preschooler.
Cheap binoculars can be used for a lot and you can usually even get the parents to purchase them. They teach about magnification and lenses. They can be used for watching birds and bugs without trying to get to close and scaring them away. Have the children try to look at the stars at night, millions of new stars suddenly become available; it's like magic!
And that is what teaching science to preschoolers is really about, introducing them to the magic of the world in which they live! Try a few of these and then mix them with some of the videos and books (compare the tomato plant and then learn about the rain forest). Preschool is the time to get them interested and excited about science, building the foundation; the upper floors and roof come later.”
James Johnson, Author
Learn more about this author, James Johnson.
Scientific Journals Reinforce Learning
Why would you want to create a scientific journal for preschoolers when most preschoolers can’t write? Having a special place for your preschooler to make notes, scribble and draw about science experiments is very important.
Some of the reasons for creating a scientific journal for preschoolers include:
You don’t have to run out to the store to buy a specific scientific journal for your preschooler. A simple wire-ringed notebook is great. You can add anything your preschooler wants to the pages—everything from stickers, drawings, even photos of the experiments.
For the full discussion of this topic, go to: PreschoolRock.com
Young children learn science best by direct hands-on learning. Here are some very simple science experiments that children in your preschool can participate in.
Fill a clear plastic liter bottle 3/4 full with water. Add blue food coloring then add cooking oil. Leave about 1 inch at the top of the bottle. Show preschool children how the oil and water do not mix. Tilting the bottle back and forth causes a wave effect
Place an empty baby food jar on a tray. Surround the jar with playdough. Form the dough to look like a mountain. Put a drop of red food coloring and a tablespoon of baking soda in the jar. Then add some vinegar to it to make it erupt.
Using a cotton swap or paint brush, let children write messages or paint designs on white typing paper with lemon juice. Let dry. The adult is to hold the paper close to a light bulb until the writing becomes visible by turning brown.
These and other preschool science experiments can be found on the Child Care Lounge website.