Teach Science to Preschoolers


Children ages 3 to 5 years old are incredibly curious, inquisitive, enthusiastic bundles of energy who are so ready to absorb everything presented to them. If you plan exciting lessons, preschool-age children are always ready to learn. This is especially true of hands-on science experiments. Rather than teaching preschool-age children all the steps of the scientific process, I like to focus on teaching them two terms: prediction and observation.

For prediction, I ask the question "What do you think will happen if we (insert activity)?" Children can make whatever guesses they would like. As a teacher, you can record all the predictions on a marker board. For one or two children at home, you could record the responses on a chart (see below). For observation, I ask the question "What happened?" or "What did we see?" Again, responses can be recorded. Predictions and observations can then be compared. Were the predictions correct or incorrect?

How do you clean a penny? Preschool Science Experiment!

Here's a fun experiment that will walk you think the process of having children make predictions and observations. I found this experiment online called Copper Caper and expanded upon it to include additional variables.

Materials For Cleaning a Penny Science Experiment

  • 4 small bowls
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t dish soap
  • 1 t hand soap
  • 1 t powder detergent
  • 40 dirty pennies
  • paper towels

Directions for Cleaning a Penny Science Experiment

Step 1 - Begin by explaining to the children what they will be doing. In this experiment, we created 4 different solutions in 4 different bowls to see which solution cleaned the pennies the best. I explained each solution to my children, and my daughter wrote down her predictions about which would clean the pennies.

Step 2 - Next, we mixed the solutions as follows:

  1. 1/4 cup water + 1 t dish soap
  2. 1/4 cup water + 1 t hand soap
  3. 1/4 cup water + 1 t powder detergent
  4. 1/4 cup vinegar + 1 t salt

Stir the solution to prepare it.
Step 3 - We placed 10 dirty pennies in each bowl and stirred them. We left them in the bowls about a minute.

add the pennies to the solution for cleaning

Step 4 - We removed the pennies from each bowl and placed them on separate paper towels.

Dry the pennies as the last step of our experiment
Step 5 - We then compared the appearance of each group of pennies and decided the salt and vinegar cleaned the pennies the best. To further test this theory, we dipped half the penny in that solution.

Make observations to compare and contrast the pennies

Step 6 - Finally, we compared the predictions and observations and discussed how we did. This is the chart my daughter completed as we worked through the steps of the experiment.

Predictions and observations chart to help kids document their learning experiments

Teaching the process of making predictions, testing the predictions, recording observations, and then comparing predictions and observations is engaging and exciting for young children.

How do you clean a penny? Give kids a fun science observation experiment.

This process would be a great way to conduct similar, visual experiments such as: Does it sink or float? Which objects are magnetic? What happens if we mix different paint colors?

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Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, and work-at-home mother to two young children, Lydia (age 5) and Bryce (age 3). Carrie graduated from the University of Florida in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and in 2002 with a Master’s degree in special education. After teaching children ages 3 – 21 with varying abilities for several years, she completed her Doctorate in special education in 2008 from Nova Southeastern University. In March 2010, Carrie began writing Huppie Mama, a lifestyle blog focusing on family, food, fun, fashion, and fitness.

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