If you’ve been following The Measured Mom, you know that literacy is my passion. For me, the best part of teaching was watching the light go on when my students began to read. It’s why I love teaching my own kids to read, even though I don’t homeschool past preschool.
But while my biggest focus is literacy, I don’t want to neglect other important subjects. Like science! Today I’ll share some tips for planning science activities for kids ages 3-7.
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Remember the scientific method?
1. Ask a question.
2. Do some research.
3. Make a hypothesis.
4. Do an experiment.
5. Analyze your data.
6. Make a conclusion.
While parts of the scientific method may come into play, it’s not necessary to follow it exactly when teaching science to young kids. What is important is teaching them how to think like scientists. They’ll be doing steps of the method without even realizing it!
Tips for Doing Science Activities with Kids Ages 3-7
1. Even though planning is important, it’s just as important to watch for the science in everyday life.
When your kids watch you mix up some pancake batter and observe that the gooey mess becomes fluffy cakes, they’re seeing science in action. When you’re blowing up a balloon for them, but it slips and zooms away from you as it expels air — that’s science too. Or how about the time they call you over to watch that tiny ant carrying a leaf twice as big as he is? Science again!
2. Teach your kids to be observers.
I am trying not to be a “hurry up” parent, but that’s my default. “Hurry up” and get in the car so we can get this shopping done before your baby sister’s nap. “Hurry up” and put away your toys so you can get to bed on time. “Hurry up” and eat so you have time to play with Daddy after dinner.
True, sometimes we do have to hurry. But when we don’t? We can encourage our kids to observe the bird at the feeder, the bubbles on the pancakes, and the condensation on the window. Science is everywhere! When we slow down to talk about what we see, we teach our children to be thoughtful observers.
3. Encourage questions.
I’ll be honest here. As long as something is working, I am really not interested in what makes it go. I just want my car to run, my computer to operate, and my washing machine to spin. When my machines break, my husband is amazingly gifted at dismantling them and solving the problem. He also loves to explain what he learned. While my eyes glaze over.
We have a little boy who follows in his dad’s footsteps. My Five is absolutely fascinated by how things work. With this curiosity comes endless questions. It’s tempting to get frustrated by this endless barrage of questions from my little scientist and his siblings. And truthfully, I often do. But what a learning opportunity these questions are!
For me, the best way to answer these questions is with books. You wouldn’ t believe how many kid-friendly science books you can find in your library. Some of my favorite science authors for young children are Melvin Berger, Franklyn Branley, Paul Showers, Gail Gibbons, and especially Allan Fowler.
4. Plan science demonstrations and experiments. What activity will you choose? Sometimes your kids’ questions will lead directly to a science activity. Other times you might find inspiration on Pinterest. My Science for Preschoolers and Science Fun for Kids (K and up) boards are great places to start looking.
Keep in mind the difference between a demonstration and experiment. A demonstration invites your child to observe a phenomenon. An experiment is where you do an activity to answer a specific question. You will typically change things to see a new result.
You might start with a demonstration but then change one part of the activity to see if something different happens. After I demonstrated baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, the kids used different amounts of baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap to see what produced the greatest eruption. We were careful to change only one thing at a time to make sure it was a fair test.
5. As you do an activity, encourage your child to make predictions.
Using what he already knows, what does he think will happen next? What will happen if he _____? What if we change _______? Then what will happen?
6. When possible, record your findings.
Simple charts are great for kids. We used one when we did our magnetic sensory bin. Our water science post has several free printable recording sheets. Some kids might also like to draw what they observe. After you’ve recorded your observations, talk about what you might do differently next time.
For loads of fun science activities for kids, visit these great blogs:
Inspiration Laboratories (I love her A-Z Science Series!)
Rainy Day Mum has many thoughtful and creative science activities.
Gift of Curiosity has a big collection of science activities. (I love how easy they are to find!)
KC Edventures has a lot of great science activities for older kids.
Wisdom Knowledge Joy is written by a former physics teacher and has a lot of great posts about helping kids understand science.
Schooltime Snippets shares science activities and product reviews related to science.
Adventures in Mommydom has a wide variety of science ideas. Her play dough models are fabulous!