Here is a sampling of science activities - organized roughly from easiest to most difficult--suitable for children from preschool through the early elementary grades. In a box near the end of each activity are a few facts and explanations for those who want them. But exploring, questioning, and having a good time is more important than memorizing facts. And, although your children may be able to do the following activities alone, we encourage you to join them.
The activities in this section are safe with the appropriate supervision. Some require help from an adult. Others can be carried out by children alone, if they are old enough. Look in the instructions for the "Grown-up alert!" It will highlight an activity that may need supervision. Be sure your children who can read know which activities you do not want them to try by themselves.
Young children may not fully understand that bad things can happen to them. We don't want to scare our children away from science, but we must:
- Provide supervision when it is appropriate--for example, when using heat or mixing chemicals;
- Teach children not to taste anything unless they know it is good for them and is sanitary;
- Insist children wear goggles whenever fire or splatter could endanger eyes;
- Teach children to follow warnings on manufacturers' labels and instructions;
- Keep toxic or other dangerous substances out of the reach of young children;
- Teach children what they can do to minimize the risk of accidents; and
- Teach children what to do if an accident occurs.
Keeping records is an important part of science. It helps us remember what didn't work as well as what did work. Someone asked Thomas Edison if he weren't discouraged after trying thousands of experiments - without results - to make the incandescent light bulb work. He replied:
Results! Why, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work.
So before starting, get a notebook for recording observations. If your children cannot write yet, they can draw pictures of what they see, or you may want to take notes for them.
We should remember, too, that seeing isn't the only way to observe. Sometimes we use other senses; we hear, feel, smell, or taste some things (children should be careful, of course, about what they taste).
Science can be learned in many places and environments and just as easily from everyday experiences as from formal projects and experiments. We can get our children interested in science with simple toys, books, and objects around the house and have fun while we're doing it.
So, click through the following pages and find something that looks like fun.