All Around the Classroom: Science Exploration
- Grades: PreK–K
1. Invite children to make ramps so that they can experiment to find out which cars race down fastest. Compare wheels, sizes. Keep records of the fastest cars.
2. Allow children to make "the tallest tower," even if it's above their heads. Get them to think about balance: What works? Give children time to build successful towers, even if structures need to stay up two or three days.
3. Make a balance beam for children to navigate. Talk about balance and how one keeps it, then connect this concept to the tower-building activity.
4. Provide cardboard tubes and tape for children to make tunnels for balls to roll through. Changing angles changes speed. Encourage observation and conversation.
5. Suggest children use three-inch squares of coarse sandpaper to sand six-inch pieces of scrap wood. Feel texture before and after, notice the warmth of fingers and wood while doing it, and mention friction. Talk about bits of wood wearing away. If your unit blocks are grimy, ask children to sand them a bit with medium-grade paper.
6. install a screw hook in a ceiling beam or door frame. Thread a long cord through a single pulley and hang it from the hook. Guide children in lifting and lowering a bucket of blocks with the pulley, is it easier with the pulley?
1. Set up a health clinic with stethoscopes, bandages and Band-Aids, an eye chart, height chart, a body-parts diagram, cot folders and paper, pads for prescriptions, a bathroom scale, medical uniforms. Note that doctors and nurses are scientists because they observe people to see what is happening in their bodies and then try safe experiments to fix the problem.
2. Play detective using fingerprints and magnifying glasses. Use an ink pad to make fingerprints.
3. Play shoe store using shoe boxes and all the children's shoes piled in a heap. Two or three children can set up a shoe store by putting a pair of matched shoes in each box. "Customers" can receive their own shoes by describing them to "salespeople."
4. Set up an "Olympics" obstacle course, and time children as they go through it. Record the times so that they can try to improve their individual performances. Allow teamwork if children enjoy that.
5. Provide cardboard boxes for constructing vehicles for exploring space. Offer books on space and Web sites for ideas.
1. Cook playdough with children so they can experience irreversible changes as flour, salt, water, and heat combine to make a sticky mass that cannot be separated back into the original ingredients.
2. Set up a shallow tray with sand and a few rocks, providing a toy rake or comb for making patterns around the rocks.
3. Provide colored cellophane for looking through to a changed world.
4. Provide animal print stamps.
5. Use Montessori color tablets or paint swatches for color ordering and for matching to other objects in your room.
6. Make collages of collected leaves, ferns, grasses. Take children outside to forage for materials.