There is a wide range of science experiments that you can explore in the learning environment. You can find ideas on our Pinterest page. With young children, experiments are likely to be informal and look a lot like play. For example, a food color mixing activity is an opportunity for children to use observation and prediction skills with minimal guidance from teachers. Other experiments have a series of steps that must be followed in order to achieve the intended outcome of the activity. Here are a few general categories of experiments that are appropriate for young children:
- Opportunities to explore cause and effect
- Sensory bottles with oil and water or other liquids
- Open exploration of sensory materials
- Explore sounds using different materials and containers
- Sink or float activities using different materials each time
- Experiment with growing plants
- Experiment to find out what plants need to survive
- Life cycles with butterflies or frogs
- Weather-related explorations
- Observing changes in nature
- Magnet play
- Chemical reactions (most common is vinegar and baking soda)
- Experiments with force, speed, and pressure
Regardless of the experiment type, children should be encouraged to document what they learned. You can transcribe children’s words as part of the documentation. Children might also prefer to draw what they learned or observed.
During experiments, document what you notice the children learning. Take pictures as they explore. Capture moments of discovery. Record the results on video. All of these items can be shared with families and on social media (with photo release consent) as a way to promote the excellent learning opportunities your program offers. You can add this documentation to children’s portfolios as part of your ongoing assessment process.
What are your favorite experiments to do with children and how do you encourage children to share what they have learned?
For the main article Strengthening Scientific Thinking, CLICK HERE
For the article Making Observations, CLICK HERE
For the article Asking Questions and Gathering Information, CLICK HERE
For the article Making Predictions, CLICK HERE