My preschooler’s interest in science experiments was sparked recently by a simple little experiment we did on the dining room table. It involved a plastic drinking straw and various small objects we found around the house. We lined up a feather, penny, eraser, paper clip, shell, and a few other things. She then hypothesized on which ones could be moved by blowing through the straw, and which ones would stay put. This kept her interested and occupied for at least a good hour. I was shocked that I could teach my daughter science while having fun! (We have to thank Kiwi Crate for this idea. They had also provided some plastic test tubes in one of the subscription kits. These were a big hit, as well!)
I’m not sure where I picked up my fear of science. Somewhere along the line I came up with the notion that I couldn’t do it. Maybe it was the “C” grade in Advanced High School Chemistry (obviously I didn’t belong in the Advanced class.) Now a whole new world has opened up to me. I’m as excited as my daughter about learning science from the preschool level on up. When is it appropriate to introduce those oh-so-serious (but fun-looking) microscopes!?! Probably need to wait a year or two….
After our dining room table experiment, M kept asking to do another, so I came up with a few more simple activities. Since this just fueled the fire, We decided to invest in the Sonlight.com science curriculum for Kindergarteners. (We are using the Sonlight PreK curriculum.) I honestly lost count of the number of experiments we performed in the three days following receipt of our package. They ranged from the very simple “feeling air” to slightly more involved “play dough volcano” and “rocket balloon.” She loved all of them.
Kiwi Crate kits have been a favorite at our house for almost two years. Each month we receive a kit in the mail containing supplies and instructions for science and art activities. To find out more, please read my Kiwi Crate review.
I also suggest the one of The Usborne Book of Science Activities volumes (we are using Volume 2) and the related Sonlight-produced DVD. My daughter loves to sit and watch “Professer Ike” do experiments. (I then hear: “Can we do that one next?”) Sonlight produced a DVD for each Usborne Science Activities volume; each DVD demonstrates how to do the experiments in each volume.
Lots of good ideas can be found on the internet, of course! I am keeping track of the ideas I’d like to try on my Science For Kids Pinterest board, which I will update as often as I can.
You Can Do It!
I used to be intimidated by science and scientific experiments. However, I realized after doing a few with my child that it is very similar to crafting, in that being prepared is at least half the battle. A disclaimer: we have just begun exploring science! The steps I listed below are suggestions I came up with after doing several activities with my preschooler. They may or may not be all-inclusive for your particular activities and situation.
Science Activity Preparation Steps
- Decide on an activity/experiment.
- Shop for and/or gather supplies, and have them readily available.
- Decide where you are going to perform the experiment. Clear off surfaces if needed. (Many experiments can be performed outside, weather permitting.)
- Read through the instructions a few times by yourself, and then with your child(ren).
Depending on the age(s) of your child(ren), you may want to involve them in some or all of the preparation steps. (With my preschooler, I find it easier to be “ready to go” as soon as I ask “would you like to do an experiment?”) Older children may enjoy keeping a science journal: a notebook where they record their hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion for each activity.
Performing the Experiment
- Follow the instructions for the activity, discussing with your children the different steps and allowing them to do as many as possible.
- You may want to take photos or video of the various stages.
- Talk about why the experiment worked or didn’t work, and be prepared to repeat (sometimes several times!)
- My child likes to come up with her own variations, and I encourage her as much as possible!
- Remember to leave enough time to clean up the work surfaces, equipment, and supplies.
Science Activity Ideas
Below are links to posts on this blog describing science activities. I will link them up as soon as they are live! You may also want to visit my Science For Kids Pinterest board.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiments (Inflating A Balloon & Erupting Play Dough Volcano)
- Two Experiments with One Perrier Bottle (Air, Weather & Water)
- Wind Experiments
- Green Science Windmill Generator Review
- More to come in the future…..
I welcome feedback and suggestions! Please let me know your experience with science experiments with children!
Copyright 2014 Kathryn Depew