Science encourages logical thinking, communication skills, making predictions, drawing conclusions, and interpreting information; all of these skills enhance literacy development for students of any age! Science also provides a springboard for reading and writing activities.
Young children are curious learners and therefore, natural scientists. They don’t walk into our classrooms with closed-minds and preconceived set-in-stone ideas. As teachers of young children, we should take the opportunity of these “wonder years” and provide our students with the chance to make discoveries, develop theories, and test their hypotheses. We must give them a safe environment with adequate materials to help them extend their understanding of the world around us.
But let’s not be confused about the nature of science: Science isn’t just a set of experiments or a table in a corner that we fill with magnifying glasses and leaves. Science should be happening every day in most areas of the early childhood classroom.
- In the block area, children are learning about cause and effect, weight, balance, classification, and many other science concepts.
- The water and sand areas should be filled with items that support discovery: eye droppers, funnels, food coloring, ice cubes, spray bottles, soap bubbles, sink/float objects. In the art center, have students actually help you make play dough and clay and talk about the chemical reactions between wet/dry ingredients.
- Every cooking activity that you do can be a science activity! Get a class pet or at least a fish aqaruium to learn about animal life cycles.
And let’s not forget those teachable moments; you know, those moments that are not planned, but present themselves as a chance to teach something:
- Outside on the playground, do you help the children notice the wind, a bug, rain droplets, or shadows?
- Have your students discovered that sometimes static electricity makes your hair stand up when going down the sliding board?
Look around your classroom and see what types of science discoveries can be found; I am sure that you’ll find plenty!