Saturday, August 22, 2009

ECE Science: More Than Dead Leaves and a Magnifying Glass!

Why Science?
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: 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 there are plenty!

The Connection Between Science and Literacy
Not surprisingly, science has a direct connection to literacy development. Science helps students with 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 spring board for reading and writing activities. So this week, I am taking a different turn for the Book of the Day. This week the books are not for children, but for teachers! I’ve listed my some of my favorite Science books for early childhood educators.
Please comment below: What are your favorite Science Resource Books? What are your favorite science/discovery activities in your classroom? Do you have any obstacles that prevent you from doing science in your classroom? If so, how do you overcome them? What are some science activities parents can do at home?

Science Resource Books for Teachers

Mudpies to Magnets Robert Williams, Robert Rockwell, & Elizabeth Sherwood

More Mudpies to Magnets by R. Williams, R. Rockwell, & E. Sherwood

Worms, Shadows, and Whirlpools: Science in the Early Childhood Classroom by Karen Worth and Sharon Grollman

Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences by MaryAnn Kohl

Science is Simple by Peggy Ashbrook

The Giant Encyclopedia of Science Activities by Kathy Charner

More Than Magnets: Exploring the Wonders of Science in Preschool and Kindergarten by Sally Moomaw and Brenda Hieronymus

The Kids' Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences by Susan Milord


  1. I just posted a great ECE science experience on my blog!
    Jami West

  2. Thanks for a great post! I LOVE the Mudpies to Magnets books! Here is another one of my absolute favorite science experiment books: "Secret Science - 25 Experiments Your Teacher Doesn't Know About" by Steve Spangler. I purchased the book because I had been teaching elementary school science for 17 years and thought there were really were not any experiments that I had not done. I was WRONG! Here is the link to the book:

  3. @ Jami: Great! Thanks for sharing the blog. I will repost it to my twitter page.

    @ Tess: Thanks for the tip! I will check out the Secret Science book.

  4. Probably the biggest obstacle to teaching science with a classroom of five year old kids is management. I'm fortunate that my school district adopted a hands-on science program that provides a sufficient number of materials for an entire classroom.
    That being said, I find it easier to break the students into smaller groups (no more than eight per group). While I am working with one group observing, interacting, experimenting, and discussing the science project/theme, the other groups are involved with related activities. Perhaps one group is 'reading' a box of high interest books related to the theme while another is engaged in a theme related art project.
    Children, particularly young ones, love learning about the world around them. Teaching them science is worth overcoming the obstacles.

  5. While these are not books, the new Sid the Science Kid show on PBS (tie-ins books soon to be published) is a good introduction to beginning science. Also, I really like the Steve Spangler Science website and blog.

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