Workshop Topic: Involving Parents in Science Discovery

ECT Staff Workshop: Instructions for workshop leaders

By Carol Seefeldt PhD
  • Grades: Early Childhood, Infant, PreK–K, 1–2

1 Goals

  • To develop ways of involving parents in exploring discovery science with their children
  • To prepare a handout for parents on how they can explore discovery science at home

2 In Advance

  • Get a flip chart and marker.
  • Distribute the handout (pages 11-12) one week before the workshop. After reading the handout, ask teachers to underline key phrases and ideas they think would be most useful for parents. Then, ask them to reread the first guideline and:¬†
    • ¬†list a few classroom or playground materials they use to involve children in science and how they do so, and
    • think of a couple of ways to involve parents in exploring science with their children using similar materials in their own homes.
  • Collect four baskets or other containers. Fill one with toys including a ball, a wind-up train or car, a yo-yo, a top , and a paper or balsam-wood airplane; fill another container with different-sized blocks; fill the third with clear plastic containers and a plastic funnel, a turkey basted and a sieve or other materials used in water play; fill the fourth with plastic or wooden farm, wild, and pretend animals.

3 Begin the Workshop

Divide teachers randomly into four groups. Give the first group the basket of toys, the second the blocks, the third the materials used in water play, and the fourth the basket of animals. Ask each group to list:

  1. the science ideas children might develop from playing with and exploring the materials, and
  2. how they would use the materials to demonstrate to parents how they could explore science at home with their children.

Ask someone from each group to share the group's ideas with everyone. List these on the flip chart.

4 Continue the Workshop

As teachers' ideas are recorded, discuss the scientific concepts that can be gained by playing with everyday materials. As you do, draw out teachers' thoughts on how to talk with children in ways that foster observing, questioning, classifying, and problem-solving skills.

Next, take time to discuss ways of using the materials with parents. Talk about what you would do with the toys, blocks, and so on, what you would say to parents, and how you would illustrate the science involved in everyday activities and materials. Make initial plans for inviting parents to your program for a science night.

5 Summarize

Conclude by brainstorming ideas for a handout to send home to parents or give to them when they attend science night. Ask teachers to look back over the parts of the workshop handout they underlined. One group might work together to construct a simple, basic "Exploring Science With Your Children" send-home based on the sections they've chosen and insights gleaned from the workshop. Another page could be developed based on the workshop you just had. Choose three or four toys and/or materials that parents would most probably have at home (or that children could "check out" to take home). These might include a ball, a top, and plastic or wooden animals. List each material and next to it, provide parents and family members with a list of open-ended questions they can ask as the children play and explore.

View the Teacher Handout, linked in the "More Information" section.

  • Subjects:
    Early Science, Science Experiments and Projects, Scientific Method and Process, School Administration and Management, Teacher Training and Continuing Education, Working with Families and the Community

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