Fun with Science
Science is everywhere. It can directly and indirectly influence all aspects of our lives. As a child, have you ever tried making your own recipes to see how they turned out? If I remember right some were good and some not so good. Children are natural learners and love being hands on.
Science can be a lot of fun. Keep in mind, your child’s interests, when deciding what kind of science projects you want to introduce. Unstructured play, like in the observation of the ants, can lead to many ideas you will be able to expand on. This will help to keep your child engaged, focused and will increase their excitement.
Children often take us in directions we never thought we would go. Children are primed for learning and what they are introduced to early in life can lead to a lifelong career opportunities.
Science can be an exciting way to teach teamwork, communication and problem solving. What a fun way to learn and discover together. As kids learn to ask questions, make predictions, observe, test and talk about observations they are developing science skills.
There are basic science concepts for preschoolers. These concepts are used to practice skills a child may have or need to work on. Science is cumulative which means a child will draw from knowledge they already have. Introduce science in your home as early as possible. Whether it means looking at the stars, looking up bugs in a bug book or cooking together and learning to measure. Kids love to discover new things and science is a great way to do just that. Here are some concepts to help you along the way.
Observing or comparing is one of the first ways to explore. It is a great way to gather information and put it together in a way a child can understand. A good example of this is comparing apples. They can compare the color, size, taste, whether it’s sweet or sour and on and on. By focusing on attributes it is easier to see the similarities and the differences. It is also a great way to open up dialogue with your child. Making comparisons plays an important role in beginning to explore science.
Classifying is a form of grouping and sorting. It is a higher level of observing and comparing. This concept allows the child to group together and sort by the attributes they deem are important. Simple graphs can be made using the attributes. For example, still using apples, how many are red? Green? Yellow?
Measuring is a way of describing qualities, like size or weight. Children learn to measure in many different ways. As they spend more time comparing, they can use measuring units to further gather information. For example, if they are determining if an apple is bigger or smaller, they could measure using a tape measure or ruler, instead of observing and comparing. Gathering information such as measuring is more advanced. Another fun way to measure is using a scale to weigh the apples, instead of determining by sight or holding the apple.
Science experiments are an incredibly effective means of getting a child interact with the world around them, both inside and outside the classroom. For kids of all ages, the benefits of science projects are enormous.
Being outside allows them to explore and seek out lots of opportunities. Have you ever found your child watching a colony of ants? Ants can bring a lot of amusement. Add a few crumbs and they become even more fun to watch. It’s amazing just how much an ant can carry.
At the start of preschool we often talk about the weather- what it’s like outside, what kind of clothes everybody is wearing and how the trees and flowers look. In our neck of the woods we watch the birds and squirrels to see what they are doing too. As fall arrives the weather gets colder, the kids start dressing differently, the leaves are falling, the birds are fewer and the squirrels are busy hiding nuts. This gives us lots of opportunity to learn about how the weather changes and the effect it has on us.
Another experiment we experienced was watching the life cycle of the Butterfly. This was a favorite in preschool. We watched them change from tiny caterpillars to big fat ones. Soon they were in a chrysalis and then hatching to beautiful butterflies. The best part was letting them go and watching them flying away to land on nearby flowers.
Communicating has to do with conversations. It is a preschool skill that needs to be practiced often. When we teach children, especially young children, we need to talk to them, ask questions and allow them to ask us questions to keep them engaged. A great way to also keep them involved is to have them create a picture journal. Talk about what happened with them, the results and help them to write down their thoughts.
Inferring refers to using gathered and organized information to make a conclusion. Children often use the information they know or have experienced to predict an outcome. For example if you and your child are growing a garden, a child may know how important sunlight and water is in order for the plants to grow. Watering when it is hot or hasn’t rained is very important. If your family goes away for a few days you may come back and notice that the plants are drooping. Using the information your child has observed, they will conclude the plants need to be watered. Children learn to make sense of the information they gather too, which leads us to our last concept.
Predicting is making reasonable guesses or estimations based on observations and prior knowledge and experiences. Science, like math builds upon itself. So for a child this is a guess they think will happen based on what they know. Let’s go back to the apple example. If you put two apples in front of them, one green and one red, then ask them which one is sweet and which is sour, they will pick one of them. If they tried both types of apples, they will have the answer from previous experience. As children grow they will guess less and draw conclusions from what they already know.
Purchase some inexpensive tools used in science. A microscope could turn a quick visit to a pond or lake into an afternoon of learning. Telescopes are great for checking out the stars and talking about constellations and planets. Looking to see if the moon is really made out of cheese.
Explore, explore, explore! Encourage your child to ask questions. If there is something you or your child don’t know, look for the answer together. As a parent you don’t need to have all the answers. It’s more beneficial to the child to model curiosity. Most importantly have fun.