Children in early childhood classrooms experience science in a variety of ways. They read science, sing science, and play science through their natural sense of curiosity and discovery.
Teachers incorporate hands-on discovery activities throughout the day that encourage children to see, touch, feel, and manipulate science concepts.
Many classrooms also set up one area of the room for a science center that encourages children to explore and discover independently during center time.
These opportunities to interact with science throughout the day help children begin building a strong knowledge base and science vocabulary at an early age.
“Our science center has a starfish, big magnets, and weight stuff.” Emma, age 4.
Science Materials in the Early Childhood Curriculum
A variety of science materials exist for use in the early childhood classroom. These tools are introduced individually and as children explore the world around them as they are guided through simple science investigations and appropriate vocabulary.
Many times, these early science experiences will be the child’s first time seeing or working with the given science tool.
It is recommended to introduce one science tool at a time and allow students ample opportunities to become familiar with how things work in open ended experiences.
This will allow children to gain familiarity with the tools. The teacher then provides fun, engaging, and intentional science lessons that allow children to manipulate the science tools and gain a deeper understanding of the key science topics presented.
Teacher Tip: Choose well made, kid-friendly tools to last for many years.
Here are just a few science materials that can be found in an early childhood classroom:
- Non-fiction picture books about key science content in life science; earth and space; force, motion, and energy; and scientific investigation and reasoning
- Magnetic Wands
- Test Tubes
- Photo Activity Cards
- Magnifying Glasses
- Recycled Materials
“I’m experimenting with paper clips to see if they are magnetic or not.” Jason, Age 5
What Makes a Good Science Curriculum?
A good early childhood science curriculum will have key science content integrated into each week’s learning activities. These include purposeful lessons for whole class, small group, and individual workstations. The lesson plans must be child-centered, engaging, and easy for teachers to prepare and implement.
The Frog Street Pre-K program not only has special science centers, questions, and activities, it also selects high interest literature with a science focus for topics within the curriculum such as zoo animals, insects, changes, and things that move. There are distinct learning goals for each lesson and scientific vocabulary lists to accompany explorations and investigations. The lessons are engaging and easy to implement.
Teacher Testimonial: The Frog Street Science items are fantastic additions when I am focusing on science!
They capture children’s interest and get them excited about exploration and discovery!
The Frog Street Science Literacy books, with beautiful photographs and illustrations, are also available and provide endless discussions to promote basic science vocabulary for young learners. These books enhance existing classroom science experiences through hand-on science investigations, writing extensions, and vocabulary instruction. Bilingual books are also available.
Cross Curricular Science Connections:
Integrated science activities provide children with repeated opportunities to interact with the academic content. A week learning about zoo animals in a pre-k classroom may consist of the following science activities:
Literacy: Read non-fiction books about animals to learn facts about them. Use words science terms such as predict, hypothesis, experiment, and outcomes to build interest.
Movement: Get kids moving in a rousing game of Zookeeper. Call out commands: crawl like a cheetah, prance like a peacock, trumpet like an elephant.
Art: Encourage the children to draw or paint their favorite animal.
Engineering: Provide recycled materials for children to build with. Encourage them to create a zoo. Provide photographs of real zoo buildings to get their designs started.
Pretend Play: Set up a station for the feeding and care of animals. Include water, washcloths, bowls, pretend food, and plastic or stuffed animals.
Music: Sing a song about the way animals move.
Math: Sort plastic animals into two groups: animals that live in trees and animals that do not.
Keep Students Engaged and Excited About Science
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Presented by Steve Spangler, Early Childhood Science Specialist and Founder, SteveSpanglerScience.com
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern Time
Are you a school, Head Start center, or child care facility interested in purchasing our books, materials, or early learning curriculum for Pre-K, Toddler, or Infant classrooms? Please contact us at 1-800-884-3764 for more information.
Author Bio: Amanda Boyarshinov is an experienced teacher and practiced parent to three active children. She has her Masters Degree in Reading Education K-12 and her National Board Certification in Early Childhood. She enjoys inspiring parents and teachers through her creative and inventive articles.