There are SO many preschool science activities we can do in our classrooms and so little time! I LOVE science in the classroom and therefore found ways to have hands-on, child-directed activities available for the children every day!
You can provide new science explorations in your classroom each day as well. You don't need to facilitate #allthescience! You just need to put out interesting materials and let the children explore and investigate.
During most preschool science activities, your preschoolers will share their thoughts and ideas with the other children and with you!
They will ask questions and this is the time for you to help them answer their own questions...not by answering their questions but, rather, by encouraging them to explore further to answer their own questions!
By asking open-ended questions to their questions!
For example, let's say they are using a balance scale and placing items in each bin/bucket of the scale. They observe that one side goes down. They ask "Why does this side go down and that side go up?"
You could answer: "Because the side that is going down is heavier because it has more items in it."
You could reply (instead of providing an answer) with: "I wonder why that is?" "What do you need to figure that out?".
Here are some preschool science activities you can set up very quickly to have available for your children to explore. They don't require you to facilitate, give instruction or even be at the science center for children to learn and investigate!
Needed: balance scale(s), items to place in it.
Use what you have available: rocks, crayons, LEGO, manipulative counters (teddy bears, sea animals, etc.), pom-poms, marker covers you've been collecting! You get the point! The materials used aren't the important thing...it's the exploration of the balance scale and the investigation of how it works!
Place the scale and items out for the children to use and explore on their own.
Using open-ended questions will help them explore even more:
"I wonder why that side is going up?"
"I wonder what would happen if we added more teddy bears on that side?"
"I wonder why that happened when you added more teddy bears."
Needed: clear cups with different colors of water (using paint or food coloring to color the water); pipettes; a clear cup for each child; a large bin for waste water.
The children use the pipettes to put different colors of water into their own cup to create new colors.
Encourage the children to guess what color they will make by mixing the colors they are choosing!
Needed: magnet wands, variety of items (some that will stick and some that won't!), a piece of paper that reads: Will It Stick to the Magnet?
Place the items and the magnet wands on a table along with your paper sign.
Read the sign to any children who come to the table.
That's really all you need to do--read the sign "Will it stick to the magnet?"
The children will explore from there!
Here is our version of making 'lava lamps'! We used large, 2-liter bottles but you could use smaller water bottles. They would be easier for the children to handle and they could make their own individual bottles!
Here is a great use for old crayons!
In advance, slice the paper of old crayons (Score (slice) the crayon paper with a knife before doing this with the children. They will get very frustrated trying to tear the paper off. However, if you have the paper scored, they will LOVE getting the paper off and you will be helping to develop their fine motor skills!)
Provide muffin tins and have them choose the colors they want to mix together.
Then melt and use!
Clearly the presentation of the above preschool science activities is informal for each one. They do not require demonstration or explanation. The goal is to give preschoolers the opportunity to learn about how materials in their world work!
You might extend each of these activities in small groups or at Circle Time in a more 'formal' presentation after they have had a few days to investigate. During that time you might introduce words like heavy, light, magnetic, etc.
Teaching preschool science, or any subject, does not always mean we impart what we know onto them but, rather, that we give them the time to find out how things work on their own and then add vocabulary and extension/scaffolding activities which help bring them to the next level of understanding!
You'll find suggestions for preschool science activities in each of the preschool themes I create. Click any of the images below to check out the themes!