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Living Things

Play & Work & Learning are all fun for young children. A lot of experience and experiment (calm and casual) is essential for laying a foundation for understanding Our World (Science).

Kitchen Science: 

--animal shaped or decorated food is fun for kids

--when you roast a chicken or a turkey, or cook a whole fish, it won't hurt to let your child learn a little anatomy and physiology.  Germs will be cooked away; wash hands thoroughly with soap, don't touch faces and don't taste raw.

--purposely leave some food out to grow mold or sour; caution children about touching or tasting your experiment

--the night before making bread, put a tablespoon of each ingredient in an individual glass or jar with a half cup of water (make sure the container is less than half full--don't use egg).  Add 1 teaspoon of yeast to each container.  Which ingredients were the best for yeast to grow?

--at the grocery store, notice which things are found in meat, dairy, produce, and other sections.  Use ads or labels to make a collage of dairy products from cows, or all products from cows, pigs, etc.  You can paste pictures of food on a plate to practice planning a healthy meal the child would like.

Art and Science are Natural Buddies at this age.  See Art.

Similarly, a lot of science learning can happen reading interesting non-fiction, and browsing books with lots of pictures, especially when a more knowledgeable person engages the child in conversation about the pictures, and the child gets to try things.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, an interest level video can be worth ten thousand.

Animal figures and/or cards can make a zoo.  Use pictures of various habitats to show where each animal lives.  Ask about relative sizes--would a bear be smaller than a butterfly?  Would a rat or a mouse be bigger than a cow?  Could you keep a real dinosaur in your house?

Animal cards can be used to play Concentration (use two sets, or a set that has more than one of each animal).  Cards can be used to play Crazy Eights.  And they can be used to draw a card from a hat/bag to play animal charades (act out, or even sound out, the animal you choose).

Some people catch butterflies with a net ... I used mine to fish bugs out of the kiddie pool.  How did they die?  Can't swim?

Watering the indoor plants can help teach kids that too much water will kill a plant as much as too little water.  And different plants have different water needs.  Likewise, caring for a pet is a good way to learn what animals need to live.

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Non-Living Things . . . Physical Science

Access to all kinds of blocks is a great tool not only to develop motor skills, a child can internalize a lot about the way the world works (such as balance, gravity, etc.).  Similarly bowling (you can make your own pins by partially filling water or soda pop bottles with sand, beans, rice, marbles, or just water. You can make them interesting and colorful), a barrel of monkeys, a pendulum (basically a weight on a string--don't make the string too long, and set rules about using it safely), and other toys can teach kids without being pedantic.  

Humans seem  to love ball games of all sorts, and playing with a variety of balls not only helps children learn physical skills, they can see that's the way the ball bounces (or doesn't), or rolls, flies, etc.


There are lots of ways to explore sound.  More about that under The Arts--Music.

Kitchen Science

Observing is a primary science skill.  Whenever you are in the kitchen, notice what happens (changes) when things get wet, mixed, cooked . . . such as:

--cooking an egg or a cake

--"mixing" oil and vinegar for salad dressing

--stirring/dissolving sugar or salt in water (look, taste--add the sugar to the water before the Koolaid; taste the salt in the water before heating it to cook rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.)

--adding vinegar to a little baking soda (be prepared to contain the results)

--If the syrup or honey forms sugar crystals, how cool!

--Don't save the candle lighting just for birthdays, try blowing just enough to make the flame dance, then enough to blow it out

--Look but don't touch as the toaster element heats up and makes light

--Whip the cream, then the eggs

--Make a little (or big) batch of butter and try the buttermilk.

--Children can learn about different materials by helping with recycling

--Chores help kids learn--and there is SO much learning that can happen in the Kitchen!


Lots of outdoor toys in the back yard, at the park, at the beach . .. give children experiences that will form the basis of their future learning, in language, comprehension, as well as science.   A 2x4 can be a balance beam, a hula hoop has all kinds of possibilities; my grandson used to love stacking plastic plant pots like blocks. Things to learn from don't have to be expensive, be creative.

Children love to play with water--in the tub, the pool, a big bowl or bucket, and natural bodies of water.  They can play Sink and Float (try all kinds of items to see if they will sink or float), they can pour water from one container to another (or through a funnel) and learn about volumes and the behavior of water.  Do hoses and sprinklers.  A baster is a fun way to experiment with water, or a syringe, as well as blowing into the water through a straw.  All kinds of things are fun in the water.

Chalk is an earth element, and children love to use this soft rock.  Other rocks will also leave a streak. Kids love to play in sand, with rocks, and in the dirt.  All these give them important learning.  Don't be afraid to get a little dirty.

Air is invisible, but when it blows you can feel it, hear it, and see it cause things to happen.  Bubbles are always a favorite for kids from toddlers to about 2nd grade.  They still fascinate us as adults.  Pinwheels and planes are also very engaging.  Streamers blowing in the breeze, or even in front of a fan are fun to watch.  Balloons are another popular way to experience air.  

When it's time to decide what to wear, have the child check the weather to see what is appropriate. You can make a pictorial weather calendar.  Don't forget to notice the weather all the time . . . notice the clouds, look at the rainbow, play out in a warm rainstorm--of course, make a snow person, fort, or balls (just don't hurt anyone).

Early science learning doesn't have to be a college course.  Just try out different things.  Look through a glass of water at something.  Enjoy looking through a kaleidoscope.  Hang crystals in the window to make dancing rainbows.  Look through a magnifying glass, or even grandma's magnifier spectacles.  Get flashlights the kids can play with (especially in blanket forts), mirrors, anything for looking.

Under Doing and Going are ideas for field trips and other learning experiences.


Creation & Science Summer School by ST-- 2009

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