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?
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:
- 1/4 cup water + 1 t dish soap
- 1/4 cup water + 1 t hand soap
- 1/4 cup water + 1 t powder detergent
- 1/4 cup vinegar + 1 t salt
Step 3 - We placed 10 dirty pennies in each bowl and stirred them. We left them in the bowls about a minute.
Step 4 - We removed the pennies from each bowl and placed them on separate paper towels.
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.
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.
Teaching the process of making predictions, testing the predictions, recording observations, and then comparing predictions and observations is engaging and exciting for young children.
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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