Has teaching preschool science seemed like something you never get around to doing? Does it seem overwhelming or messy? Not sure how to get started?
Over the years I have written many posts, along with several guest posters on helping our littlest learners have a great start in science and more importantly—enjoy it! Our goal is to spark an interest in science and give parents some practical ideas on implementing these ideas with their children.
Debunking Preschool Science Myths
I have had the opportunity to teach science in a variety of settings. I enjoyed watching my students learn, and many times found myself learning right along with them. Often though, some parents are apprehensive about teaching science to their young children. The following myths seem to be fairly common reasons to avoid teaching science:
- Teaching preschoolers about science is time-consuming.
- Teaching preschoolers about science is messy.
- Teaching preschoolers about science is above their age-level and ability.
1. Teaching preschoolers about science does not have to be time-consuming.
As with anything, the more prepared you are the smoother things will go (usually) and the more likely it will be accomplished. I have found that I need to be intentional to provide opportunities for my children to experience science, and I have to be aware of every-day situations that could be turned into science experiences. The following tips have helped me incorporate more preschool science in our homeschool this year:
- have basic science materials on-hand such as magnifying glasses, eye droppers, binoculars etc.
- set up observation centers that can be used independently
- incorporate observing nature and being outside in our weekly routine.
- read quality literature that teaches science in the context of the story.
A science lesson for the day could be as simple as observing a cardinal eating outside.
What does the bird look like? What is in its beak? Can you tell which one is the female (mom) bird? Can you tell which one is the male bird (dad)? How?
This observation discussion introduced science vocabulary (male, female, beak), visual discrimination skills (difference between male cardinal/female cardinal), and hopefully had the student ask some of their own “I wonder…” questions.
2. Teaching preschoolers about science may or may not be messy.
I will admit that I am laid-back when it comes to children and messes. I see many of the “messes” young children create as natural extensions of their God-designed need to experience their surrounding. Children need to touch, taste, feel, smell, and hear the world around them. They need opportunities to be outside and be able to explore freely. It is during these times of exploration when children formulate questions and start investigating.
You can plan ahead for messes by:
- having children wear play-clothes or having smocks available.
- conducting possible “messy” experiments outside or in a contained area (like on a tray)
- having drop-cloths ready
- embracing the idea that messes are great for learning 🙂
3. Teaching preschoolers about science is not above their age-level and ability.
We are not “teaching science” but rather letting children explore and observe nature and science principles in action. Start off by picking topics based on questions they have asked, or current interests. I am constantly amazed at how much information young children can absorb! By pairing hands-on activities and observations along with great literature, games and songs, young children learn and can retain much of what was taught. Deborah Stewart from Teach Preschool has a wonderful article about science in the preschool classroom. Many of the points she makes can be applied to a homeschool or co-op setting too.
Preschool Science Resources
I have a whole archive filled with preschool science activities and printables.
Some of our favorite (afflink) preschool science tools.