How to Create a Meaningful Science Activity in 5 Steps
Preschoolers are naturally curious. They want to know how things work and why things happen. Science activities allow opportunities for preschoolers to explore, discover how things work and ask questions!
Our 5 step system will show you how to take your student’s questions and create a meaningful science experience that connects with your students.
On average, preschool children ask about 100 questions a day (or more if you are like my four-year-old) but by middle school children have stopped asking questions. Why do middle school age kids lose interest and become less engage?
How can we encourage young children to ask good questions and be curious?
Dr. Rabi won the Nobel Prize in 1944 for his work in physics. He was once asked, ”Why did you become a scientist, rather than a doctor or lawyer or businessman, like the other immigrant kids in your neighborhood?” His answer:
”My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions -made me become a scientist!’
This answer has always stuck with me.
Why is preschool science important?
The goal of science activities at the preschool age is not to memorize facts but rather how to gain knowledge through observations, experimentation, and play!
Science is about connecting children’s senses to the world around them. As educators, we must spark this curiosity and sense of wonder especially when they are young so they continue to ask questions as they grow older.
One easy way to foster a sense of wonder and incorporate the five senses is through open sensory play.
>>> Step 1: Explore and Play with Sensory Activities for Preschoolers
Sensory activities for preschoolers is essential to child development.
Sensory play stimulates the senses allowing the brain to learn through play. Sensory activities have been described as “food for the brain”. You can read more about the importance of sensory play here.
An easy way to integrate sensory play into your classroom is with discovery tubs or sensory bins/tables.
They are easy to set up and encourage hands-on play. As your children are exploring the sensory table or discovery tub observe their questions and play and use that to connect their interests to additional science activities and experiments.
Take your preschool learning theme and brainstorm ways you can create a sensory experience that relates to your theme. Check out the links below to help get started.
How to Build a Sensory Table from Pink Oatmeal
A sensory bottle is another easy way to integrate sensory activities into the curriculum. A sensory bottle is a clear sealed container that is filled with a variety of liquids or objects to encourage observation and inquiry.
Nature Bottle from Little Bins for Little Hands
Magnetic Field Bottle from Left Brain Craft Brain
Water Cycle Bottle from Little Bins for Little Hands
Color Mixing Bottle from Preschool Inspirations
>>> Step 2: Observe and Listen
While the children are exploring the sensory activities you have set up, observe and listen to the children. What questions are they asking? What are they interested in learning more about?
Make a note of the questions they ask. Use these observations to plan a related science activity to stretch and grow their learning while connecting to their interests.
>>> Step 3: Plan a Science Activity to Scaffold Student Learning
How do you choose the perfect science activity?
Consider what your students’ interests are and plan to extend their learning with a balance of activities from the different sciences such as physical science, earth science, and life science.
Provide a range of activities related to matter and energy, earth and the universe along with the study of living things.
To help get you started click on the links below to see full step by step tutorials on a variety of science activities.
Physical Science Activities
Physical Science is exploring natural forces and the basic elements. Try pendulum painting to visibly show the forces of motion or play with the force of magnets with a Superhero challenge. Explore sound by creating your own DIY instruments. Click the links below for more physical science activities.
Magnetic Painting with the Alphabet
Exploring Sound with DIY Instruments
Earth Science Activities
Earth Science includes the properties of the earth, ocean, and universe. Observe the environment around you by collecting and studying rocks. Observe weather patterns and changes of the seasons. Learn about space and our solar system through hands-on play and exploration!
Explore Spring with your 5 Senses
Life Science Activities
Life Science is the study of living things. Observe insects and other animals in the environment around you. Study the life cycle of plants and learn about your own body!
Build a Bug Play Dough Challenge
Creative Preschool Learning with Bugs
Create a Music Video to Learn the Parts of the Body
>>> STEP 4: Integrate Science with Preschool STEM Activities
Science activities for preschoolers should connect to their prior knowledge. Integrating between subjects is a great (and easy) way to connect your student’s learning. STEM or STEAM activities make it easy to integrate science into other disciplines.
Our Favorite Preschool STEM Activities:
Play, Build, and Think with Preschool Engineering
Storytime STEAM with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Build a Rain Shelter | Preschool Engineering
>>> Step 5: Share, Display, and Reflect
Allow time for your children to share their findings and results. Draw pictures or create classroom collaborative display to show other students, teachers and parents.
Also, allow time for student reflection. This can be done in a whole group setting.
What did we learn?
What do you still wonder?
Make sure to allow time for your reflection too.
How did the activity go?
What would you do differently next time?
What other activities connect their interest and will help stretch their thinking?
Taking the time to reflect after the science activity will help make it go smoother the next time.
So, how can we encourage young children to ask good questions and be curious?
In your curriculum include a variety of science activities that encourage children to wonder, to be curious, to ask questions and learn through play!