Family science: ideas and resources for activities

Child uses a magnifier and shows discovery to parent.Towards the end of the school year we often think of resources we can share with families to use over the summer. I like to describe my favorite outdoor areas to explore with young children with tips for what to take to make the experience last longer (snacks and hats) and be safe (know what poison ivy looks like and use sanitizer after playing near, in, a creek). As I tell my preschool parents, don’t discount the science you do every day with your children. Most household chores involve math, literacy and science skills— sorting clothes by color, reading pictures and words to see how much and then measuring the amount of laundry detergent, and watching bubbles form as the water pours in. Once all the chores are finished (lol), turn to the public library and internet for science activities to do with young children.

Reading books aloud, especially those that allow children to predict what might happen next, or what a character is thinking, give children practice in coming up with questions and ownership in voicing them. It gives us adults practice too, in allowing enough “wait time” for children to to formulate their thoughts. Try Fortunately by Remy Charlip or any other work of fiction.

Use your judgment about the age appropriateness of activities because you know your child best. Here are a few sites to gather ideas and directions:

First Hand Learning’s printable mini-journals for observations in nature.

“Go Beyond the Classroom” blog with videos on play-based learning and book suggestions.

Foundation for Family Science, with activities on the website and a book of activities, Family Science, for various ages.

Museums of all kinds often describe activities to try at home on their websites. The Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception has pages and pages of activities to pick from.

Scientific American “Bring Science Home” activities based on the National Science Education Standards for children ages 6 to 12 years old—to be undertaken with the help and guidance of an adult.

The list doesn’t stop here—share your sources with all of us Early Years teachers and families.

Peggy

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5 Comments

  1. Liz Heinecke
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Growing up, we played a lot of “20-questions”, which helped inspire my love of science. Today, I have a website (http://kitchenpantryscientist.com) devoted to making science easy and fun for parents to do with kids…even kids as young as two. Most of the experiments can be done using things you already have in your own kitchen!
    Let your child watch the videos on the sidebar and tell YOU how to do the experiments! Look under “Experiments” to find many more fun, easy science projects with simple explanations of the science behind them!

  2. Peggy Ashbrook
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Liz! Your videos are a great resource for teachers too, as we learn how to do an activity.

  3. Ellen Foley
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Peggy- Loved your article in First Hand Learning. Thanks for mentioning me.
    I found this site and checked out Liz’s videos-lots of great stuff!!! I plan on putting the Kitchen websight on my list of websights for parents to check out. Thanks!

  4. Peggy Ashbrook
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Ellen, your presentation at the NSTA conference in Philadephia inspired me to try the take-home science journals with my preschool students. Thank you! It has been a partial success, with some families embracing the idea and others not so much. Which is fine; at least I’ve exposed them to the idea. And it has encouraged me to do more journaling in class.
    Peggy

  5. Liz Heinecke
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE science notebooks and wrote about them when I first started my website http://kitchenpantryscientist.com/?cat=27 ! I treasure my own kids’ science notebooks…they’re amazing keepsakes.

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