I’m sharing a few free online resources that I’ve recently come across. Share a resource that you use, by commenting, below.
The Fred Rogers Early Learning Environment has many short videos that families and early childhood educators can use to get ideas for activities that are appropriate and engaging for young children.
I especially like the activities that feature real people doing activities that relate to science learning:
Getting to Know You where Ella Jenkins teaches Mr. Rogers (and the viewers) how to play a clapping game “Head and Shoulders, baby, 1-2-3.” The “Talk About It” commentary discusses how everyone makes mistakes, encouraging children to try something new, and modeling how to handle mistakes. The “Why This Is Important” section shows:
- When adults admit to making mistakes, we teach children that it is okay to make mistakes, and how to correct them.
- Complimenting effort, instead of ability, can help children feel more confident in their abilities and persist longer when they feel challenged.
Science is all about learning something new and accepting mistakes.
Tracking Down Notes is a short video of children noticing and making sounds. The “Talk About It” commentary offers some open-ended questions to ask while exploring sound. The “Why This Is Important” section includes the relationship between learning vocabulary and hands-on experiences.
Teaching Young Children, a publication of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, has some material posted online. The June/July 2012 issue has a “Message in a Backpack: Home Sorting Ideas” page that describes sorting activities to help children notice how things are alike and different. One sort helps prepare children to assist with grocery shopping:
Sort shopping lists according to the type of item, such as fresh vegetables, frozen foods, or cleaning supplies. At the store, predict where each item will be located.
Online articles include “Planting Smart,” “Using Graphic Organizers in Preschool,” and “Creatures in the Classroom,” an article by Alyse C. Hachey and Deanna Butler from the March 2012 Young Children. You can receive the journal as part of your NAEYC membership or by subscribing.
The NAEYC website page “For Families”, describes science activities in the “Music, Math & More” section of the Learning & Development pages. Two of the science-related activities are Playdough Power and A Family Shadow Walk.
Here is a resource for the senses—from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Marvelous Explorations Through Science and Stories: MESS®. See Experience 6 in the “My Body My Senses” Teacher’s Guide for an activity on the sense of touch, and also take a look at the extensive bibliography on pages 46-55 listing books such as See, Hear, Touch, Taste, Smell by Melvin Berger, Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young, Touch the Poem by Arnold Adoff, My Hands by Aliki, I Can Tell by Touching, by Carolyn Otto.
A fun way to use our sense of touch designed by some preschool teachers is a “Sensory Walk,” done with bare feet along a series of trays with various materials. Pans or trays of corn starch packing “peanuts”, playdough, sand, rice, cotton balls, corrugated cardboard, cold jello, tempra paint and ending with warm water…and a towel. For stability, adults can hold a child’s hand. Children can use a wet wipe to clean the feet before and after. Putting socks and shoes back on is a good exercise in fine motor use (for the children) and patience (for all).
Activities for use in school and home can be part of a broader science inquiry into a concept such as “living organisms use their senses to find out about their environment” by continuing the exploration with additional activities and through many conversations and discussions to learn what children think and why they think it.