When our summer fell apart halfway through July, Paige Hodson contacted me and generously offered to write a blog post for Preschoolers and Peace readers on the topic of science and preschoolers. I said YES!
Because I'm that mom who teaches science but doesn't like science. You can scroll down my resources page and find an MP3 of a workshop I teach on that. Yeah, that's how pathetic I am about science.
So, thanks, Paige!
SCIENCE WITH PRESCHOOLERS
Preschool students are constantly absorbing information about the world around them through hands-on experiences. They enjoy seeing how things work and love being introduced to new concepts, which can be wonderful or exasperating depending upon the day!
Preschoolers are more than ready and willing to learn, but their motor muscles aren’t quite ready for all the writing that formal education entails. Plus, their attention spans last about as long as ice cream on a hot day, which makes proper lessons more problematic.
So, it is even worth trying to introduce preschoolers to the world of science? Yes!
Since preschoolers are naturally wired to be curious, they are fully prepared to learn about science. I do acknowledge that many concepts will go way over a preschoolers’ head. However, we can still introduce them to the subject as a whole.
These early years are a good time to display before them the simple ideas of science. An early introduction to the subject will enhance their observations skills and create an interest for learning science in the later years. By showing these children the miracle of the scientific processes going on around them, you can construct a basis for their future learning.
The Goal of Preschool Science
The goal for preschool science is simple:
- To introduce the students to the world around them.
Because preschoolers are completely blank slates, the goal for science during these years will purely be to introduce them to various concepts and ideas through a hands-on approach. This will help them to exercise their observations skills and build a basic framework, or bucket, that they can fill during the elementary years.
The Components of Preschool Science
There are four basic components to preschool science education that will help you to accomplish this goal. They are:
- The Weekly Topic — This topic will give focus to your plans for preschool science. You can create a main idea from the subject that you will repeat over and over again with your preschoolers. For example if your weekly topic is, “rain“, a good main idea would be, “Rain is water falling from the sky.”
- Practical Projects — These are teacher-guided scientific demonstrations or nature studies. Scientific demonstrations should be designed to help the preschoolers see the science in action, while nature studies should be designed to aid them in learning about the world through discovery and observation.
- Read-Alouds — These books will introduce the preschoolers to the body of scientific knowledge at a level they can understand. They can be fiction or non-fiction and your local library is a great source for these. I personally love the “Let’s Read and Find Out” series for this age group.
- Coordinating Activities—These crafts, snacks and other activities reinforce what the preschoolers are learning.
What you accomplish each week will vary because the preschoolers’ interest will vary. Some weeks they will want to spend every waking minute learning something; some weeks they will only want to spend 5 minutes on educational topics.
Look at the above components as a buffet of ideas that you can use to introduce preschoolers to the world of science rather than a list of things you must do each week.
Remember that science during the preschool years needs to be very hands-on and teacher directed. During these years, science should also be strictly enjoyable for these young students. There will be plenty of years for them to learn and memorize what they need to know in the not so distant future.
Paige Hudson is a homeschooling mom with a passion for sharing the wonders of science with children. She has co-authored a manual on science education entitled, Success in Science: A Manual for Excellence in Science Education and also writes science curriculum aimed at homeschoolers for Elemental Science. You can find her sharing tips and tools for science education at Elemental Blogging. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and currently resides in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia with her husband and 2 children.