Tag Archives: nature of materials

STEM: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

I wonder how teachers include the “E” in this acronym when designing or selecting class activities. And yet, the play that children do can be the foundation for future interest in engineering. This issue has several articles that describe how to capitalize on children’s curiosity and problem-solving abilities with engaging and purposeful activities, from race […]

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Two-year-olds explore transparent, translucent, and opaque materials

Science activities with two-year-olds may not last very long but sometimes the children surprise me. One group of four children spent about 15 minutes exploring a set of cardboard tubes with ends covered with either clear plastic wrap, wax paper, or a double layer of black plastic (black construction paper would also work). We looked […]

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Snow explorations

The snow was lovely for me, arriving on a  Friday night after my children were home and  enough neighbors were in town to make the  shoveling more of a community gathering  than a huge chore. I did wish that school was in session so I  could learn what my students would do with  20 inches of […]

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Making playdough is science

Making a dough for classroom play is also a time to teach vocabulary and math skills, and social skills such as cleaning up after oneself. Write the recipe on a page or easel paper to refer to even if your students are not yet reading. Illustrate with drawings or take photographs to use as illustrations […]

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Exploring light

Young children love using a periscope. Maybe because when you look through one, the view is not what your brain expects, somewhat like using someone else’s glasses. (My sisters and I used to take turns running down a hallway wearing my mother’s glasses. This was probably early in the morning and she’d do anything for […]

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With water play students gain experience they can record in writing and drawing

Playing in water opens many avenues for science explorations—flow, wetness or phases of matter, volume, and buoyancy. Unexpected results make children think and explore further. For example, children know that fish are supposed to float, so playing with a toy fish that sinks will get children thinking about why. We can let children know that […]

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Are children getting enough direct experience with natural materials?

There has been an interesting discussion going on among the middle and high school science teachers on the NSTA General Science email list about the lack of direct experience in their students’ background. Some have suggested that early childhood and elementary schools are not laying the groundwork for the later learning. One teacher said, “I […]

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Discovery bottles

All summer I was getting ready for the upcoming school year by collecting clear plastic jars and bottles with screw-on lids. Now they are on the shelf at school as “Discovery Bottles”, compact and beautiful, and (best of all) contained. (Click on the photo to view more photos of Discovery Bottles and other early childhood science […]

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When does science become significant?

Math and Science in Preschool: Policies and Practice, a National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) Preschool Policy Brief, says that teachers usually do not plan and support science and math learning in pre-K. How does that happen when young children are so curious about the world and so interested in who has more, is […]

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What shape is your bubble wand? Children and making choices

The children were happy that I had enough of each color pipe cleaner (known as “fuzzy sticks” nowadays) that everyone could choose their favorite color. We wanted to make bubbles and needed to make bubble wands. Children like to have choices (as do I). Choosing marker color, place in line, type of seed to plant, […]

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