You can’t turn around without smacking into STEM or STEAM-focused offerings for kids nowadays, especially as summer approaches and your mailbox becomes more and more stuffed with camp brochures promising to infuse even your preschooler with a love of science and wonder.
I personally think things are getting a little out of hand on this front, but even if you don’t jump head-first into the early academic pool, it never hurts to start incorporating a little scientific learning into your everyday fun.
If you expose your child to concepts in a way that seems like play, this will not only provide an opportunity for you to interact with your little learner, but will quite possibly spark an interest in the things you touch on later on.
Reading is such a huge focus during these early years – which, of course, is fabulous – and it’s so easy to do (just read, read, then read some more to your child!), but what you may not realize is that it can be just as easy to integrate science into your days, too!
To have the best chance of promoting your child’s emerging science process skills, consider these ideas:
Look for Everyday Science Opportunities
It’s easy to encounter science in your day-to-day life. Practically everything your child does is somehow related to something scientific or the scientific method – after all, a preschooler’s favorite thing to ask is, “Why?”
Instead of groaning and coming up with the fastest answer possible the next time you hear that question, take a deep breath and consider pursuing your child’s question further, guiding him or her in a further exploration to reach conclusions.
Don’t want to stop everything to follow these rabbit trails throughout the day? Consider using daily tasks as a chance to not only check items off your to-do list, but to allow your little scientist to reason out all sorts of “whys” at the same time:
- Baking – I have yet to meet a preschooler who isn’t jazzed about helping in the kitchen! Even if you don’t trust your tyke with cutting or adding ingredients yet, there is a way they can be involved. While cooking involves science at work, baking better sets the stage for those little inquisitive minds to come up with all sorts of great questions. Who doesn’t wonder how a puddle of cake batter goo can magically turn into a fluffy cake after a few minutes’ turn in the old oven?
- Cleaning – This might not be ideal if you rely on bleach and ammonia to get your home fresh and sparkly, but vinegar and baking soda can pretty much tackle any mess and there’s nothing more exciting to a preschooler than seeing those two ingredients react!
- Running Errands – Instead of handing your child an electronic device, use this time in the car to point out and discuss all sorts of science topics. The weather, moon, rock formations, rivers, and structures like buildings and bridges and roads are easy to find on most drives and provide unlimited things to wonder about. Can’t see anything out the windows yet? You can always talk about how a car works!
- Personal Habits – Whether it’s brushing teeth or hair, getting dressed or splashing in the bathtub, these daily activities are all fantastic chances for you to talk about the human body and how it works.
Read About Science
Reading opens up the whole world to your child and nonfiction books based on science topics are usually a preschooler’s favorite first informational book choice. It’s often more difficult to find fiction books on science topics, but they are out there! In fact, our favorite early chapter book series does just this! Click on over to my post on Zoey and Sassafras and read all about it!
Besides simply reading science-themed books, it’s often easy to coordinate scientific activities with picture books, as well. Click the links to see ideas for two books I’ve shared on my blog:
Groove to Science-Themed Tunes
Things are always easier to remember if you put them to a catchy tune. I shared in my preschool math post how much songs have influenced Gv and the same goes for ditties about science, too.
Play with Science
A preschooler’s number one priority should be on play, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn at the same time. In fact, most of the “toys” we have around our house are actual things from my classroom – because everything is a toy to a young child!
Even if you don’t have boxes and bins full of fancy school science supplies like I do, it’s not hard to incorporate science into play. You can find about a zillion ideas on Pinterest or by Googling (try kitchen science activities for a start), or you can invest in a great title like The Curious Kid’s Science Book to have on hand whenever your little one is in the mood to play and explore.
You can find a few more ideas on how to have fun with science on these Latticed Learning posts:
- Earth Science
- Forces & Motion
- 5 Senses
- Human Body
- Polar Lands & Animals
- Life Cycles
- General Science Explorations
PBS offers loads of great shows centered around science for little ones. Gv watches them for free at pbskids.org, which not only shares full episodes but plenty of coordinating, interactive games for each series.
Her favorites are Wild Kratts (centered around biology, zoology & ecology), Plum Landing (the environment and helping children see our planet from a new perspective) and Nature Cat (all things nature). We also love The Magic School Bus series, which you can buy here.
Do you have any other great tips for how to naturally incorporate science into your day? I’d love to hear!