Preschoolers are naturally curious. They wonder and they question. They want to know how things work and why things happen. They love to observe, explore, and investigate. And all these things make for excellent little scientists who need lots of preschool science activities.
Many teachers shy away from preschool science activities because they think that science is all chemical reactions and formal experiments that don’t hold much meaning other than a fun show to preschoolers.
And they’d be right, science is full of those things, but that doesn’t mean those activities are not appropriate for preschoolers. It’s often times a matter of how the content is presented and taught.
Why Science in Preschool?
The phrase “children are natural scientists” is one we hear often.
Their curiosity and need to make the world a more predictable place certainly drives them to explore and draw conclusions from their experiences. But left to themselves, they are not quite natural scientists. Children need guidance and structure to turn their natural curiosity and activity into something more scientific.
They need to practice science—to engage in rich scientific inquiry provided by a teacher or parent.
In preschool, science is less about following the scientific method, (although a revised and guided version can be appropriate), but more about using a child’s natural curiosity to mold cognitive skills and traits, such as:
- Exploring objects and materials
- Asking questions
- Making careful observations, rather than assumptions
- Engaging in simple investigations (asking a question and implementing a plan to answer it).
- Describing objects, materials, and events (including shape, size, number),
- Comparing, sorting, classifying, and ordering objects, materials, and events
- Recording observations using words, pictures, charts, and graphs.
- Using simple tools
- Identifying patterns and relationships
- Working with others.
- Sharing observations and results with others
Preschool Science Activities
Pinterest is a gold mine for science activities including activities for preschoolers. But what the activities found on Pinterest sometimes lack is the explanation to teach your preschoolers. The how and why.
For a list of easy science activities for preschoolers (as well as all the scientific facts to teach them), see below.
Steps to Planning Preschool Science Activities
Science activities in the preschool classroom should consist of more than a magnifying glass and simple tools. To make activities in science meaningful to preschoolers, be sure each lesson or center meets the following criteria:
- inquiry based exploration drawn from the environment
- concepts are interrelated (for example, when studying seeds in a fall theme, a discussion as to why seeds look and feel the way they do and how that affects how seeds are spread)
- concepts are developmentally appropriate and can be explored over time in various depths
- concepts are engaging and interesting to the children
It is also important to note that preschool science activities should also be varied and from all disciplines of science. Often teachers are most comfortable with teaching life science, however physical science and chemistry are also important for preschoolers to explore.