Every time children play in the rain, watch leaves fall from trees, or inhale fragrances from flowers, they are experiencing the wonders of science. “Young kids are filled with curiosity, and they are constantly developing theories about how the world works” says preschool program director Tammie Donald. Introducing science into the things youngsters do each day is what encourages them to explore, experiment, observe, predict, reason, and analyze the things around them.
Integrating science into familiar settings can bring the magic of science to life, and encourage preschoolers to flex their scientific thinking skills. Here are some fun ways to introduce your mini-adventurer to science at the park!
- Bug Off
There’s no shortage of bugs in the world. Even though these creepy crawly critters can be annoying at times, each of them benefits the earth in some way. And young children get a kick out of watching bugs in action. Bug boxes are perfect for observing bugs because they have built in magnifying glasses that allow children to view insects in a contained area. So next time you visit the park let your child scour the ground for interesting bugs to put in his bug box and observe. Use a piece of paper or a pair of plastic tweezers (usually included with the bug box) to gently place the bugs inside of the bug box. Once the lid on the box is secure, your child can observe the critters in action. Share any knowledge you have about the particular type of bug your child is viewing. And encourage him to discuss his observations. Also, don’t harm the bugs during your experiment; when the activity is complete, release them. Click here to find out how to make a homemade bug jar.
- Hunting We Will Go
A science scavenger hunt at the park is the perfect way to encourage youngsters to explore their environment. Create a list of things that are easily found outside such as birds, butterflies, grass, rocks, twigs, leaves, pinecones, and ants. Each time your child discovers one of the items on the list, he can check it off. Not only does this encourage exploration, it can serve as a precursor to writing, and promote reading and literacy in youngsters.
- Bird Watcher
Your preschooler can get up close and personal with one of nature's most fascinating creatures by doing a little bird watching. But if your child is going to watch birds, he has to lure them in – and simple pinecone bird feeders will do the trick. Make the bird feeders at home, take them to the park, and hang them in a nearby tree. In order to get a curbside view of the birds, your preschooler will need a pair of child-sized binoculars. You’ll need a pair of binoculars as well – this will enable you and your child to see the birds at the same time, and make discussing the birds’ colorings, movements, and markings easier to do. Click here to find out how to make your own pinecone bird feeder.
- A Closer Look
Take your preschooler on a stroll around the park and let him use a small bag to collect interesting items such as blades of grass, twigs, dirt, and rocks. Take the bagged items over to a picnic table and dump them out. Have your child use a magnifying glass to take a closer look at the collection. What are some of the different textures, colors, and shapes of the items? When your child is finished observing, he can use a digital camera to take snapshots of the items, and add them to a photo album or scrapbook.
- Put it on Paper
“Your young child can use a personalized journal to document his scientific findings – no writing necessary. He can simply keep tabs of his adventures by drawing pictures,” suggests preschool teacher Christie Graham.
Kids are naturally enthusiastic about learning. And when science lessons are fun, interactive, and integrated into kids’ everyday experiences, it reinforces their natural desire to learn, and helps them gain a better understanding of what science is all about.
Want more ideas for preschool science learning? Check out more of our preschool science activities.