Visit http://blogs.nsta.org/EarlyYearsBlog to read about and comment on early childhood science.
With a white plastic trash bag taped between two chairs as a screen, and a flashlight-lantern light source, children can easily create shadow puppet shows and learn about light and shadow.
Copying the name of the dinosaur.
Making rubbings of dinosaur shapes, then adding details.
Painting in details after completing a shape rubbing.
Dinosaurs inspire young children to practice writing by copying dinosaur and time period names.
The "happy face" is typical in drawings of animals by young children.
At what age is your earliest snow memory?
Create a shadow puppet theater with a white plastic trash bag screen taped between two chairs and a flashlight lantern as the light source. Puppets are made from contruction paper with straws as handles.
Shape of a mourning dove, a 30 cm (12 inches) long bird.
Northern Cardinal, a rubbing made from a cardboard shape placed underneath the paper.
Holding the crayon sideways to "wipe" the paper, these children are making bird shape rubbings of common birds--pigeons and crows.
Housing for butterflies made from 4 paper plates, netting, tape, and hot glue.
The 'car' cup has stopped but the 'driver' marble keeps going.
'Driving' a 'car'......brrrooommmmm!
March 2008 issue of Science and Children
Spring blooms capped by spring snowfall.
Using a mirror to reflect sunlight around the room.
Reflecting sunlight with a mirror--part of an exploration of light.
Building with dominoes with the intention of knocking it down. Children often sort by color.
At the Rainbow Preschool in Portland some children were interested in washing apples. The apples floated!
A Family Science activity about vibration and sound.
The team discusses strategy, NSTA Portland Area Conference November 2008.
Ready, set, go! Moving as many small PVC pieces as they can without touching them with their hands--using only larger PVC pipe pieces.
Counting the pieces to see which strategy moved the most.
Wearing goggles while working with Borax to protect their eyes, these children are learning about following a procedure as they mix a solid (Borax) and liquids (water and white school glue) to make "slime".
Is the apple touching the bottom?
Recalling science activities while looking at the "What is a Scientist?" wall of photographs. Thanks to author Barbara Lehn and photographer Carol Krauss for the inspiration.
Working to move water and comparing a variety of tools--spoons, scoops, eye droppers, dental irrigators, and pumps.
Later they will consider these questions and tally the classes answers: Which tool did you like the best? Which tool moved the most water?
Introduce "sink or float" activities with two items to demonstrate and define the words "sink" and "float," in this case a rock and a wooden block.
Children often expect pumpkins to sink. With large items, have the children check to see if the item is touching the bottom of the container, or floating above the bottom.
Children can record the results by drawing.
Create a shadow puppet theater by taping a plastic trash bag between two chairs as a screen and using a battery powered lantern as a light source. Puppets can be made from construction paper.
Binoculars made of two cardboard tubes taped together enliven a walking fieldtrip and help the children focus their attention.
A Foundation for Family Science presentation at the NSTA Portland 2008 Regional Conference demonstated how families are motivated to do science together.
Looking up at the Foucault pendulum at the Oregon Convention Center.
Looking up at Latourelle Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. See more photos of this amazing part of the world at http://columbiariverimages.com/ a website connecting today's landscape with that traversed by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
The path did not look this wide when I was walking on it!
Putting a flashlight and periscope together leads to the discovery that mirrors can change the direction of a beam of light.
Children create new ways of using the materials, leading to further learning.
“I have to hold them to make them stay together.”
Testing attraction to a magnet and talking about what happens.
“I'm here in Small Group with Nadia. Nadia, what can you tell us about magnets?” Children turn a magnet into a microphone in imaginative play.
Sorting objects by material.
Using a felt board to communicate understanding.
Slug on the move...who can get it back onto the plate!?
Reading to encourage children to ask questions.
Thanks to Barbara Lehn for her inspiring book, What is a Scientist? Display photos of your student-scientists with her captions.
Using a mirror to change what you see--"Can you make it whole?"
A half-picture becomes whole when viewed with a mirror.
A Monarch butterfly egg on a milkweed leaf.
Baby food containers hold small animals, such as roly-polies, for upclose viewing.
Children are fascinated by roly-polies (aka isopods or pillbugs).
Science & Children, November 2008
Science teachers at the NSTA 2008 Portland conference observe the Foucault pendulum at the Oregon Conference Center.
This one is cherry, yum!
Building with dominoes to observe motion--“Let's put it closer together.”
At a Family Science session: Describing what happens to the air pressure (and the card) when you blow.
Science & Children, December 2008
Making bubbles by inverting a small container within a larger container of water.
Making "binoculars" from two cardboard tubes and tape. They will be fun to use on a walking fieldtrip.
A simple experimental set-up for sprouting mung bean seeds.
Counting the amount in each group of snack shapes.
Grouping by shape.
A snack of varied shapes leads to sorting, making patterns, and counting.
Showing understanding that words convey information. Student dictated the explanation to the teacher.
A feltboard provides the props to tell the story of the growth of a tadpole.
Counting using tally marks. Children marked which tool they thought moved the "most" water after their first exploration using tools to move water. In further work they can measure and count exactly.
Science activities are a time for conversation, sharing ideas and developing vocabulary.
Innovative thinking can happen when children do not feel constrained by the teachers' instructions.
The big (laundry soap powder) scoop is a favorite tool for some.
Pumps from liquid soap bottles are difficult to use, requiring two-handed coordination. To keep the tube on the pump from bending and breaking, support it by adding a larger clear plastic tube around it and just a few millimeters longer (sold by the foot at hardware stores).
Nasal aspirators make interesting tools for moving water (clean all tools with a bleach solution before first use and after the activity).
Colored water is easily seen in a clear tube. Open-ended questions such as, "What do you see happening?" support children's discussion of their work.
Young children can match the tools they used with the picture of the tool on the tally chart, and then record their favorite tool, or another category of tool, which one was the easiest to use.
A problem-solver tries using her hands to move water.
Sometimes the right tool is a nasal aspirator.
Colored acetate designs can be mounted inside a page protector or taped to a sheet of white paper.
Science notebook entries about mixing colors, and resist: oil and water in a jar.
Mixing colors using diluted liquid
Science notebook entries about mixing colors, and resist: oil and water (colored blue) in a jar.
Documenting the results of mixing colors.
Mixing liquid watercolors in snow.
Comparing substances for possible use as paint:
paprika, tumeric, and dirt mixed with egg yolk, oil, or water.
Mixing dabs of liquids with pinches of powdered solids.
The water is used to rinse the brush between materials.
Visit another classroom to learn from the room set-up and activities.
Painting together invites conversation, an idea to try in your classroom.
Use a cloth under potentially messy materials so spills can be gathered and returned to the container or trash can.
A sensory box is less messy when a cloth is under it to catch spills.
As rain begins to wet the ground, a lovely smell fills the air.
Clouds and precipitation can be observed and recorded by young children.
Cloud shapes vary.
As the rain begins, a distinctive smell fills the air. How would you describe it?
The children chose the color of the fuzzy stick (pipe cleaner) to use to make a bubble wand shape of their choosing.
Bubbles are science--shapes, air flow, property of liquids--and good for physical development--breath control and building muscles of the mouth--and fun!
Children may become more familiar with the purpose of tallying with frequent use of a tally chart to record observations and predictions.
Recording predictions and observations on a tally chart may not be accurate if the recorder is influenced to choose based on a friend's choice.
What shape will the bubble be? Children often use two dimensional words, square and circle, to mean three dimensional objects, cube and sphere.
The Cabbage White larva is well camouflaged by its color and shape, blending into the collard leaf.
Children can hold the empty cocoon of an Eastern Tent Moth. It can be kept for years now that the moth has flown.
Preschoolers often draw just the shape of a small animal, such as an Eastern Tent Moth caterpillar. With a longer observation time they may add details such as eyes, color spots, hairs, and legs.
Even preschool children appreciate the aid of a magnifier.
Children can learn the safe-smelling method of "wafting" or waving a smell to their nose instead of smelling directly from a container.
"Euwwwwh." (It's onion.)
Recording their favorite smell using tally marks helps children realize that not everyone experiences smell in the same way.
Few children like the smell of onions!
Children show which shape bubble they think a square bubble wand will make. They are comfortable in disagreeing with each other.
This newly adult Wood frog is about 2 cm long.
Although it has four legs, this Wood frog tadpole still has a tail and is still breathing through its gills under water.
Taking an "x-ray" in the doctor's office.
The children dictate a description of the bone breaks shown in the x-ray.
The children reveal their knowledge of their bone structure though their drawings representing x-rays.
The foam child-sized skeleton puzzle has been very durable. Children try different configurations until they have used all the pieces.
A metal radiator cover is a handy place to build with magnet-backed pattern blocks.
The children usually begin building using the largest pieces, the yellow hexagons.
Recording their work by taking a photograph makes it easier for children to accept that other children will re-use "their" blocks. Older children can draw pictures, sometimes tracing the shapes.
Did you guess that these are spaceships?
When most of the large yellow hexagon shapes were moved to use elsewhere, children began building in a different way, choosing to use more of the pieces they had previously ignored.
Can you see the Mourning Dove on the nest?
One place to find natually occuring rock in an urban area is along a creek bed.
The children scientists solve the problem of moving water from one container to another in different ways.
Using materials and finding out what happens, children learn about processes which occur in the natural world.
Read about NASA scientists like Deborah Amato at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/women/intro.html
Teachers can be a role model for children. models of women doing science.
Why do some objects sink and others float?
Children's concerns about keeping dirt off their shoes and clothing can be addressed by gardening on dry days, and using small tools so children can easily control the direction of soil movement.
Collards in a container garden provide food for Cabbage White butterfly larvae, and people!
Children in programs that go all summer can see tomatoes develop from the flowers. If your program takes a summer break, start your plants indoors so children can see a flower develop before the break.
Growing tomatoes helps children become familiar with them and more willing to eat them. See the Early Sprouts program at http://www.earlysprouts.org/
Sometimes gardening is simply digging in the dirt to see what is there--pebbles? grubs? roots? earthworms? a hole!
A fieldtrip to a field of sunflowers included the experience of seeing flowers in all stages of development and animals--
birds, many different types of bees, and a skink.
The curiosity of an accomplished preschool teacher knows no bounds.
Having a supportive guide facilitates explorations and entering new situations.
A Monarch butterfly visits a Butterfly Bush for food--nectar.
The Milkweed plant has flowered and produced a seed pod but has yet to host Monarch butterfly babies, otherwise known as larvae or caterpillars.
Do fireflies live in your area?
The children drew what they noticed about the caterpillars--many legs and a separate head.
Posting the children's documentation of their science activity makes the children's work visible to families and to the children for further reflection.
In drawing the initial experiment set-up, children show their understanding--in this case, that each cup holds a different amount of water.
During a large group discussion the teacher documents through drawing what the group observes.
Drawing the caterpillar and a unit cube every day for a week documents the growth of the caterpillar.
Science and Children, September 2009
Children and teachers learn about dirt and the small animals that live in it when planting spring-flowering bulbs in the fall. Teachers know their children and plan for safe science by choosing non-toxic bulbs such as Camassia spp. (also called Camas, Quamash, and Wild Hyacinth) when planting with very young children.
Read aloud, discuss, learn.
A well-sealed plastic jar or bottle filled with various liquids and solids is a contained science activity. Before sealing make sure the lip and cap are dry, then put hot glue around the threads in the lid and screw it on. Tape around the outside acts as a symbol that the bottle should not be opened.
This bottle has a few shells, a pinch of glitter, blue-tinted water, and mineral oil. What would you put in a Discovery Bottle for an experience about density?
Discovery bottle: blue tinted water, mineral oil, shells, glitter. Tightly sealed with hot glue!
When held up to the light, or used on a light table, more details can be seen.
Discovery bottle: blue tinted water, mineral oil, shells, glitter. Tightly sealed with hot glue!
Discovery bottle: blue tinted water, mineral oil, coin and sand and key to sink, rubber toy to float. Tightly sealed with hot glue!
Discovery bottle: buttons and an air bottle move slowly and even slower through corn syrup. Tightly sealed with hot glue! Tape the outer lid as a symbol that the bottle is not to be opened.
Fall color in a maple tree.
The leaves of other maple trees turn yellow in fall.
A wonderful resource book for early childhood science activities, aligned with national standards in reading, literacy, math, and science.
Four-year-olds like to make big tally marks when first learning about this method of recording data.
Teachers too, can record their favorite smell with a tally mark.
Oregano! Relatively easy to grow, children will enjoy adding this herb to their pizza sauce.
Fennel is an herb which smells of anise, or licorice, and also can host Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.
Can you smell the lilac blooms?
With practice, even young children can learn the wafting technique of smelling the scent from a container.
Wafting and thinking, "What does that smell like!?"
“[Accomplished early childhood teachers] realize that science is everywhere and that it can be integrated into the curriculum in a variety of ways." Early Childhood/Generalist Standards, for teachers of students ages 3–8, Second Edition (2001) by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, pages 35-37.
“[Accomplished early childhood teachers] show a love for science and generate in children curiosity and wonder about the world around them." Early Childhood/Generalist Standards, for teachers of students ages 3–8, Second Edition (2001) by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, pages 35-37.
Share your resources--tell a colleague about a favorite book (fiction or science activity), blog, commercial site, or journal today!
Take it slowly when first introducing insects to children. Over time they will become comfortable and capable in handling the small animals.
Observe and draw to really look closely at small animals such as Tenebrio beetles.
Is there a beetle or a larva hiding under the apple slice?
Everyone wants to see the beetles!
Grasshoppers courtesy of: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chrysochraon_dispar_Richard_Bartz.jpg
Share your Pumpkin Science with other early childhood educators at http://blogs.nsta.org/EarlyYearsBlog/default.aspx
What do you see? Let's try it again and see if the same thing happens.
Scientists have fun while answering questions such as, how do objects behave in water, will this object sink as I expect it to, and why do some objects float in water?
Watching closely to see what happens.
"I think it will float!" "But the other ball floated." "It sank in my tub." Science activities encourage discussion.
Learning about the Discovery Tree program, teaching young children ecology by connecting literature and visual models—from University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm, http://www.virginia.edu/blandy/
At the Virginia Association of Science Teachers' 2009 Professional Development Institute, there were plenty of sessions for early childhood teachers to choose from.
Young gardener (and Kitty) learn about soil by using a drain gauge to see how well water drains through the garden soil.
The young gardener uses her sense of touch to learn about the bean plant. The best reward for gardening--using your sense of taste--is in the basket: raspberries.
Not sure about how to approach a beetle baby, or use a magnifier. Children need time to practice using this tool, and time to observe small animals.
Using a magnifier to see the details.
This child knows how to get close using a magnifier correctly.
These children are competent using a magnifier, and comfortable handling the beetle babies.
Make a periscope using two milk or juice cartons, two Plexiglas mirrors, and tape.
Children are intrigued by what they view through the periscope and try to figure out "where it's coming from"---the path of light.
Read Science and Children, the National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal, www.nsta.org
One-half cup table salt...
plus one cup flour...
mixed together with TWO teaspoons cream of tarter...
then add one cup water....
and one-half cup vegetable oil.
Then cook in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring all the time until a playdough forms. Remove from heat, cool, and knead. Play!
Children can measure but teachers should hold the cream of tarter jar because it's expensive.
Playdough: cooked and ready to cool and knead.
Making dinosaur imprints is a popular play activity with playdough. Fill the imprints with plaster and let it harden to demonstrate the process of making a cast. Some fossils are casts.
Five ingredients to make playdough.
A winter footprint. Whose?
Summer birdnests are easier to see in winter.
Falling snow, beautiful to look at.
Children enjoy creating dioramas showing a dinosaur in its habitat, including sources of food and water.
Read The Early Years column in the National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal or visit http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/?lid=hp to search for articles and The Early Years blog.
Learn more about youth gardens at the National Gardening Association website, http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/index.php?page=educators
Garden Adventures, an easy-to-follow guide to gardening with young children.
Examining a milkweed pod and asking questions.
Planting Ajuga and noticing roots and leaves, and runners.
A cardboard tube with one end covered in transparent film, and a flashlight, intrigue a two-year-old.
Exploration of light and materials using cardboard tubes covered in a variety of materials--clear plastic, wax paper, and black plastic--and a flashlight. What else could you use?
Children like to handle materials by themselves. They often make surprising choices, teaching us about their thinking in the process.
Children design many ways to use cardboard tubes.
What are the characteristics of a clown's hat?
Firefighters use special equipment to do their jobs. An activity to explore how hats function, children try on a firefighter's hat before pouring water over it. Will it keep the water off your head? Try it and find out!
Recording observations is part of doing science with young children. What does this kind of hat look like? How does it function (do its job)?
Read The Early Years column in the National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal, Science and Children.
Could this be a deer footprint?
Support children's exploration of the world with feet-on experiences.
Seeing footprints in a track helps us learn how animals move in addition to what their feet look like. This track looks like a hopping squirrel track, with the front feet prints just behind the back ones which moved past before touching the ground.
When "Blue's Clues" was a popular children's show this footprint was easily identified by my preschool students. (It's a dog footprint.)
Under the bird feeder after a snowfall.
Dog tracks in a fresh dusting of snow.
15-16 inches of snow, so far.
Children learn about the properties of wood and balence by building. A structure that is glued becomes a sculpture that can be reflected on at a later time.
Is this structure stable? Will adding glue make it stable?
Carrying out a plan.
The plan was made real, and then the child dictated a description of what she built.
Children noticed that the wet sand held the shape of the walls better than when the sand was dry (before it snowed).
Become a member of the National Science Teachers Association and receive the journal Science and Children.
Seeds developed on the Honesty plant (Lunaria annua) by late fall.
In the spring, the Honesty plant (Lunaria annua) has purple flowers.
In the spring, the Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) has pink flowers.
The Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Drawing and writing in a notebook to record observations for future reference and discussion--in this case, the size of a caterpillar relative to a unit cube.
Science notebooking begins in early childhood with drawings.
Making a record of their observations over time as the bulb sprouts and flowers.
Noticing the parts of an amaryllis bulb through drawing.
Peas planted in a jar, inbetween the wall of the jar and the damp paper towels, so the sprout structure can be seen.
Watering an early crop, sugar snap peas.
To closely observe pea seed sprouting, "plant" them in a clear container, right next to the wall with damp paper towels inside.
It's interesting to see what children make when they put together the parts of a sprouting bean seed on a felt board.
Children are interested in animal growth and change--toad tadpoles are relatively easy to maintain but be sure to follow safeguards to prevent the spread of disease to other populations (see http://www.ssarherps.org/documents/Amphibs_in_ClassroomsREVISION3-1.pdf).
American Toad photo by Doug Wechsler http://www.dougwechsler.com/
"Wash" bandanas in water and hang them up to dry as a way of learning about evaporation.
A spill is an opportunity to discuss the concept of evaporation.
Young children notice magnification and may ask why it happens. What would you tell them? (The pink ball appears bigger below the waterline than above it.)
Maple tree seeds may develop in the spring or in the fall, depending on the species. The seeds can make "helicopters" or "whirlygigs"--separate the pair of seeds, then fling them into the air and watch them twirl as they fall.
It is really hard to capture the fun of flinging maple seeds into the air and watching them twirl as they fall.
A good book can introduce a topic or is a resource for extended learning. See NSTA Recommends at http://www.nsta.org/recommends/?lid=tnavhp
A fennel patch will attract Black Swallowtail butterflies who are looking for a suitable larval food plant on which to lay eggs.
Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs on a fennel plant.
The Cabbage White butterfly caterpillar climbed a wall to pupate.
Encourage children to add to a playspace, such as the weather system of rain cloud, thunder and lightning, and the frog lifecycle models added to the farm table.
Models of the lifecycle of a frog can be used in more than just the Science Center--put them in the Block Area, Writing Center, and at the playdough table to see how the children will use them.
With a little imagination and a few materials, children represent their experiences. Do you see the rainclouds?
Bring common, not-endangered caterpillars into the classroom for a closer look.
By looking through books, children become familiar with the idea of diversity in butterflies.
Newly hatched Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are tiny. How can young children measure them and record their growth?
Young children "make it look bigger" by using magnifiers to see the tiny Cabbage White butterfly caterpillars on the collard seedling.
Three- and four-year-olds enjoy conversation in a group while drawing caterpillars.
The National Science Teachers Association's journal for preK-elementary, Science and Children.
While reading Jean Craighead George's book, My Side of the Mountain, I learned, along with protagonist Sam, the lessons and beauty of the Catskill Mountains.
Author Jean Craighead George was awarded the the 2009 AAAS Science Books and Films Lifetime Achievement Award. http://www.sbfonline.com/Subaru/Pages/JeanGeorge.aspx
What can be seen in this small square of a backyard?
If you plant it, they will come. This Tiger Swallowtail butterfly enjoyed the flowers of the milkweed I had planted hoping that Monarch butterfly mothers will lay their eggs on it.
Tiger Swallowtail butterflies enjoy the milkweed flowers.
On a chilly day, a newly emerged Cabbage White butterfly is content to sit on a flower. With such close observation children can even count the number of legs and see the hairs on the body.
Four paper plates, enough fine mesh netting to go around and overlap, and a hot glue gun are all you need to make this butterfly housing. Use tape to hold the netting in place to glue--the glue can go right over the tape--before putting the second plate over the glue.
Summer 2010 Science and Children
Members of the National Science Teachers Association have online access to all four journals.
Find some Early Years columns online at no cost in the NSTA Learning Center
Follow these steps:
1.create an account (no charge)
2.use the "advanced search" option
3.search for "early years" as a keyword and "ashbrook" as author, and "free" as cost.
Three cups on the same window sill with the same number of mung bean seeds but with different amounts of water. Through daily observations of growth children will see seeds sprouting in both cups with water, then bright green leaf growth in the cup with a little water and fermenting sprouts in the cup with a lot of water. They may not understand that the "a lot of water" seeds did not get enough air but they will understand that there is such a thing as "too much" water. (The small green cup holds a single fava bean seed, for comparison.)
Without teacher monitoring of the water levels, the mung bean seeds sprouted and then dried up. Teachers support their students' science inquiry when they have children observe and record their observations over time. Add "plant watering" or "check seed cups" to the classroom job chart so the children can fully participate and the experiment continues.
Teachers have to always watch to see that children follow safe practices in science activities. When teachers model the use of the goggles, children are more likely to use them too. But we still have to make sure every child keeps them on--not easy to do, even with a small group of seven children!
Don't forget to look at the sky when out on a nature walk.
Children get excited about the small animals, such as this isopod (roly-poly or pillbug).
What will you find on your next nature walk? Take along a notebook to record the children's observations with drawings or dictations.
Growing bean plants is a time-honored preschool tradition.
Read about Climate Literacy in the Elementary Classroom at http://beyondpenguins.nsdl.org/issue/column.php?date=June2010&departmentid=professional&columnid=professional!science
Physical science activities turn into on-going science inquiry when children explore and record their discoveries and teachers support their learning by asking productive questions.
Learning about the properties of sand while playing.
Exploring the properties of dry sand while playing.
Using non-standard "measuring hands" while comparing lengths.
"I like cinnamon."
A strong reaction to the smell of onion.
Science and Children, October 2010. The elementary school journal of the National Science Teachers Association.
A sandy river bank in Virginia.
A beautiful North Carolina mountain forest in the fall.
Among the earliest spring flowering bulbs.
The concept of camouflage is easy to understand when you see it in nature.
The USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo will take place in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall on October 23 and 24 from 10am to 5:30pm.
The National Science Teachers Association has resources and community for teachers of PreK-12, and college. Membership includes a subscription to one of four journals--select the one that meets your needs--but all journals are available online with membership.
A "Discovery Bottle" filled with corn syrup, a few buttons, and air to create bubbles. Have your children draw the bubble shape.
Teach the names of three-dimensional objects that are common in the classroom--sphere and cube. Noticing the shape of bubbles is a good way to practice the skill of observation.
Putting flat squares and circles next to the 3-D shapes of a cube block and a ball highlights the distinction between 2-D and 3-D objects.
Exploration of phenomena continues on the playground.
Exploring what is alive and what is not--perhaps a first close-up experience with worms.
Looking at fruit flies at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
Learning about genetics at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
About to take a plunge? Or walk on a liquid? Fun with non-Newtonian fluids at the Michigan Technological University booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
What happens when you stop in the middle of a run over the cornstarch and water mixture? Helpers on hand, at the Michigan Technological University booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
Yes, you can jump on the cornstarch and water mixture at the Michigan Technological University booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
One last jump at the Michigan Technological University booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
It's a liquid! It's a solid! No, it's a non-Newtonian solid at the Michigan Technological University booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
We're going to spin you slowly and then you slowly spread out your arms.
Did he slow down, continue at the same speed, or speed up?
Sid the Science Kid was on hand to greet old and young fans at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
Robots controlled remotely--science and engineering are child's play at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
Robots in the water at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, October 2010.
Watching the motion of a robotic fish, a child asked, "Why doesn't it go backward?" at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Cutting out a paper spiral to hang above a (non-flame) heat source to learn about energy at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Hands-on fossils (replicas) teach about evolution at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Finding and sorting shells and fossils at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Wow, that ice is old. Participants touched ancient ice from the Arctic (sea ice), glacier ice, and permafrost ice, courtesy of Alaska's Cool Cryosphere, by SpringBoard, a Program of the Juneau Economic Development Council, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Booths were two to four participants deep at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Designing, building, and testing how many pennies your boat can hold before sinking at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
At the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Playing a matching game to find both halves of a moth or butterfly, and then look at the reverse side to see how patterns differ front and back, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Two colors (and densities) of plastic beads floating in __________? Shake to mix, then ask, "Why do they separate?" and "What is the clear liquid(s) they float in?"
Educational Innovations, Inc. materials raised many interesting questions at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
NASA had images of Earth on puzzles at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
http://www.usasciencefestival.org/ (Check out the STEM t-shirt!)
"Johannes Kepler" offered a look through his telescope.
Learn about the real Johannes Kepler at http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/kepler.html
What do you see when you look at a Martian landscape in 3-D?
The youngest participants were just happy to throw a spherical object at the board and have the Velcro stick.
Which mission are you on?
Check out mission patches at http://history.nasa.gov/mission_patches.html
NASA had a mini wind tunnel, just the right size for testing paper airplane disigns at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Fly larvae become suddenly interesting when used as paint applicators at the "Maggot Monet" booth, courtesy of Southeastern Louisana University, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Will he open those fists to hold forceps to move the maggots back onto the page? Southeastern Louisana University gave children a chance to use a science (and art!) tool and learn about maggot motion.
People who wear pink aren't afraid to paint with maggots at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Many young people got a close up look at fly larvae as they crawled over the page through paint drops.
"I AM A SCIENTIST" interacts with "I'M GOING TO BE A SCIENTIST" at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
American scientist and educator, George Washington Carver, talks with visitors about his early life and his work http://www.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/gwc/bio.html
at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, D.C., October 2010.
Participants learned about the anatomy of a Humboldt squid, courtesy of Squids4Kids http://gilly.stanford.edu/outreach.html
PreK teacher Sandy Martinez leads participants in “Big ideas for little brains: Teaching fundamentals of physical science to 4-year-olds” at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/
PreK teacher Montserrat Garibay helps us clarify an idea in
“Big ideas for little brains: Teaching fundamentals of physical science to 4-year-olds” at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/
Where to next at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/
Mixing colors can be part of a longer-term science inquiry on mixing and making a change. Participants seemed to find the process of moving drops with pipettes just as engaging as children do, in a session on science inquiry with Linda Froschauer, editor of Science and Children and Peggy Ashbrook, Early Years columnist, titled, “This is What Young Scientists Can Do” at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/
Following up a guided inquiry for teachers about mixing a solid (gumballs) and a liquid (water) with color mixing activities appropriate for young children at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/
Dr. Sally Moomaw showed us how STEM projects using pendulums, easy to manipulate ramps, and pattern-recognition using recorded bird calls in stuffed toy birds lead to increases in language development, reasoning, and cognitive development in the inclusive classroom of preschool special education teacher Jaumall Davis,
at the NAEYC www.naeyc.org 2010 annual conference in collaboration with NBCDI http://nbcdi.org/ (See their article in NAEYC's September 2010 Young Children.)
Children share a triangle to learn about sound by feeling the vibrations without monopolizing the instrument.
A string can instrument--vary the sound by tightening and loosening the string.
Children can make a simple box "guitar".
Wooo-woo...a cardboard tube and wax paper kazoo can sound like a train whistle.
The National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal, January 2011, focuses on collecting data.
Data chart on the results of a race down a short ramp between a wiffle ball, a marble, and a plastic egg--a beginning effort by four-year-olds at the teacher's suggestion. The teacher was the scribe.
Photography is one way to document observations, such as, how much rain filled the rain gauge.
Children begin learning to use science tools such as magnifiers as two-year-olds.
Early science education experiences prepare young children for more in-depth science learning in later years. Read article by NSTA President Alan McCormack at http://www.nsta.org/?utm_source=SEASON2010&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SEASON2010
Learning alongside colleagues at a conference is so much fun!
Experience science inquiry--part of learning how to teach science to your students, at the NSTA conferences.
Hmmm, I wonder....
Enjoy doing science inquiry at professional association conferences.
National Association of Science Teachers
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Experience deep thinking at a conference session!
National Association of Science Teachers
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Learn about science inquiry and science activities at a professional conference.
Learn from experienced teachers who present sessions at professional conferences.
Collecting data through graphing--favorite rainbow colors. The precut 3” squares of the color choices are big enough for children to write their names. They then glued their preference in the correct column. Young children really want to know which square is theirs: “Green is my favorite color and there’s my green square. It says my name.” After they have established which square is theirs, they can move beyond the personal to see the bigger picture — that green is the favorite color of three people and violet is the favorite color of seven people. Being able to point to their square makes the graph more meaningful to them. http://www.facebook.com/thinkingBIGlearningBIG
Visit the Great Backyard Bird Count at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/ and learn how your students can contribute data.
Get the support and information you need to teach science in the early years from the National Science Teachers Association, www.nsta.org
A bus ride to a fieldtrip destination a learning experience. What does the landscape look like and how did it get that way?
Regular visits to a natural area, such as this small creek, teach children much about the forces of water and wind, seasonal changes, and living things.
Young birders make observations and collect data. Who needs an expensive pair of binoculars to begin?
STEM Comes to Preschool by Sally Moomaw and Jaumall A. Davis. Young Children. September 2010 Vol 65 (5): 12-18. The article relates how they used toy Audubon birds (plush replicas of real birds), which have a micochip inside that plays a recorded authentic song of the species, in an inclusive preschool classroom to teach patterning.
Do you have a favorite book about birds to share with young children?
Share your early childhood science ideas and resources at www.nsta.org/earlyyears.
Read The Early Years column in the National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal, Science and Children. www.nsta.org
How high is the water in the rain gauge? This child used unit cubes to count/measure how tall the water column was.
"Measuring hands" and a string of beads are other tools the children used to measure the height of water in the rain gauge.
A few children noticed and used the markings (for tenths of an inch) to count how high the water was in the rain gauge.
What blocks and ramp pieces would you choose to make this design drawn by a five-year-old?
This is the structure the child built while consulting his plan. It's interesting that he put in the middle supports although they are obviously not needed to keep the ramp up.
What do you make of this plan? See what it meant to the four-year-old designer in the next photo.
This simple design is what the ramp designer had in mind when drawing the design in the previous photo.
The children enjoyed the challenge of setting up two blocks and then drawing them.
Children learn and use new vocabulary during an exploration of making bubbles.
"Beetle Baby" and "Beetle Adult"
Children sound out words to label their observation drawings.
Tenebrio beetle, aka "mealworms", get a close look as they are handled by preschoolers. The children also draw and write about these small animals, making observations of their life cycle.
Collards overwinter and provide a place for Cabbage White butterflies to lay their eggs.
Sugar snap peas are fun to plant and eat!
Play doughs can be sticky, crumbly, easy-to-shape, and stiff.
The National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal, Science and Children.
Children love to share their discoveries with their families.
Using potter's clay, sticks, and leaves children try their hand at making a nest.
Make certain that a downed nest has been abandoned before moving it. Note that in most states you must have a scientific collection or salvage permit to possess any nest. This nest was returned to the area where the family found it.
Teacher-to-teacher sharing of resources can happen in person and online. Check out the National Science Teachers Association's Learning Center at http://learningcenter.nsta.org/
Online professional learning communities are a good source of information and a place to share your tips, http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss
Join the book group to discuss Hard to Teach Science Concepts: A framework to support learners, Grades 3-5, by Susan Koba with Carol T. Mitchell (2011, NSTA Press) on the NSTA Learning Center, https://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=FGNz3YnmgVQ=
Can you identify this child-gathered flower? Planting the seeds is one way to find out what it is (was).
Drawing on blacktop turned into an exploration in deconstructing chalk.
In summer or winter, explorations of water can include sliding solid water (ice cubes) down a ramp made of a section of rain gutter.
On the first day of school, planting seeds of quickly-maturing and heat-resistant crops can be a way to start investigating the needs of living things.
Is the weather still hot when you start school? Begin the first day investigating the properties of water.
The excitement of going to "the big school" radiates from a kindergartener's face.
Where will the water go? Investigations into water flow can begin on the first day of school. Water play is soothing. Later in the month, teachers will ask open-ended questions to guide the inquiry.
Professional development strengthens teaching skills, introduces the latest research about learning, and is fun!
Documenting observations is one way to integrate literacy and mathematics with science.
Read about model making and maps in the September 2011 Science and Children, http://www.nsta.org/publications/browse_journals.aspx?action=issue&thetype=all&id=10.2505/3/sc11_049_01
Read "A Web of Learning" by Marie Faust Evitt to find out how this BIG model of a spider taught children to appreciate spiders and begin to understand animal classification. See the September 2011 Science and Children, http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/?lid=hp
What kind of fungus is growing on this fence post?
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall, http://www.nps.gov/mlkm/index.htm
The October 2011 Science & Children, the elementary school journal of the National Science Teachers Association.
Swirling light plastic balls in bowls is fun! Children learn what movement they need to do to set the ball in motion and observe what happens as they move faster and faster.
Exploring balence as part of learning about motion.
With so many spinning tops, and so much time to compare the motion, children can begin to understand pushes and pulls and balence, and use the muscles needed in writing. Conversation helps us deepen our understanding.
"The top went like this."
Spinning tops is an engaging topic for developing oral language.
On the playground children use lengths of plastic rain gutters as ramps, exploring how pebbles will move on the ramp.
Keep a top with an off-center crown (center post) in your collection for children to try. With experience, children understand that symmetry is needed for a long spin.
Children explore and experience motion on the playground.
Baby food containers make good display cases for dead insects and other small creatures.
Danaid Eggfly, Hypolimnas misippus butterfly head photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.
The National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council help teachers choose tradebooks by reviewing books and awarding some the Outstanding Science Tradebook Award.
However subtle or obvious, seasonal changes in plants can be observed and documented by children as they begin to learn how living organisms respond to their environment.
Examining rocks upclose to see the texture.
The adaptations of living organisms are amazing. This preying mantis eggcase doesn't look like it could hold so many babies! I wonder how they emerge so easily and how they know when to hatch?
One way to begin learning about life cycles of living organisms is to plant a bean seed.
Jill and Adam Bienenstock of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds had us designing our dream playground. We were truly engaged at the 2011 NAEYC conference.
Mix spoonfuls of clay, sand, and compost, add seeds and spray with water, then roll into a ball to make a "Bird Seed Ball" to put into your garden to grow plants that will produce seeds to feed the birds. Don't forget to wear your hat made from local leaves stuck to a band of contact paper!
Jill Bienenstock showed us how to make that cool hat out of contact paper and plant leaves that are found nearby.
Early childhood educators know the value of hands-on learning. We modeled a playground using a bag of sand and many natural objects.
Can you see the bike path, the loop, the slide, and how almost 50% of the playground is shaded? Do you see the Wacky posts that can be transformed with scarves into tents, our wooden Hanging Amadinda, and the art wall?
Vivian Paley invited NAEYC participants to tell stories with her. Learn more about this honored educator's work at http://www.naeyc.org/content/conversation-vivian-gussin-paley
The NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum table was a busy place at the 2011 national conference. Thanks to Ernie Kwok and his group of teachers and principals for stopping to talk about science education in early childhood.
The NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum held the first meeting at the 2011 NAEYC national conference. Find the ECSIF on Facebook or email email@example.com
Gathered around a pile of leaf litter from a forest floor, workshop participants look for common small animals such as isopods (a.k.a. roly-polies, pillbugs). See the AMNH online resource, Life in the Leaf Litter by E.A. Johnson and K.M. Catley.
The American Museum of Natural History (New York) presenter answers questions while keeping track of a Bess beetle, an insect which can be raised in the classroom.
Marie Faust Evitt, author of Thinking BIG Learning BIG, knows the value of BIG fun for children as they learn science concepts and engage in imaginative play. Learn more about how she integrates science throughout the preK curriculum in her book, Thinkking BIG Learning BIG. http://www.facebook.com/thinkingBIGlearningBIG
At the NAEYC 2011 national conference, early childhood educators shared their expertise and considered new ideas.
Kassia Wedekind, kindergarten teacher and author of "Math Exchanges," shared key characteristics of these math activities. http://mathexchanges.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/imaginative-mathematical-play/
Talk about discrepant events! The Wonderworks building in Orlando is upside down (on purpose). http://www.wonderworksonline.com/orlando/
A caterpillar, on a leaf, in a container. By Sasha, age 3.
Science and Children, March 2010, focuses on engineering.
Science and Children, December 2011
Exploring the Moon by direct observation, through reading books and looking a photographs, and by modeling crater formation by dropping objects into sand.
Shadow play and investigation can happen informally during playground time.
Comparing bare hands to covered hands--which is most slippery?
A playground sliding pole.
These children are exploring math concepts during free play (work or discovery) time.
Famillies connect at science and engineering events and through take-home activities.
February 2012 Science and Children, www.nsta.org
Will you see a Carolina Chickadee (photo by Ken Childs) during the Great Backyard Bird Count?
Friday-Monday, Feb 17-20, 2012
Maybe you'll see a Brown Pelican when you take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count!
(photo by Ken Howdeshell)
Crows are birds that many children recognize.
(Photo by Walter Siegmund)
Be part of the Great Backyard Bird Count
Friday-Monday, Feb 17-20, 2012
Scheduling science learning can make sure it isn't overlooked.
Graphic organizers help children see what their choices are and help them make a choice.
A calendar can display the progress of a science investigation.
Self-regulation practice is part of choosing an activity.
Ready to choose a science or engineering activity?
By displaying the daily routine, teachers give children the security of knowing what is planned for the day and support their ability to make choices.
Does your daily routine include "Quack Like a Duck"?
Put science and engineering learning symbols on the daily routine (see images posted on wall). Add science jobs, such as watering the plants, to the job chart.
Visit kindergarten teacher Kassia Wedekind's blog to learn more about her Math Explore time, http://mathexchanges.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/math-explore-investigate-choice/
Rachel Carson: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder . . . he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in”
(Carson 1956 The Sense of Wonder)
The lucky child who is not denied the joy of puddle-stomping.
Small animals like this Cabbage White butterfly might be seen on a "nature" walk.
Isopods like these "roly-polies" are a common animal in many environments. They are easy and safe to hold.
Spring is the season for observing birds building nests in convenient gaps in human construction. Do you see the starling?
A young engineer and parent design and try out a marble-and-plastic-tube "roller coaster."
Family Enineering events are wonderful for encouragning questioning, building, and re-designing. http://www.familyengineering.org/
FAMILY Engineering is the key here. With family involvement children get deeper into engineering, exploring ideas such as showerhead design to reduce water useage.
Which cup do you think will empty first? The cup with just a few large holes or the cup with many small holes? Try it and find out!
At the Elementary Extravaganza put on by volunteers from APAST, SEPA, the NSTA Committee on Preschool-Elementary Science Teaching, Science and Children and CESI, NSTA 2012 conference goers learned about many science activities, and tried some of them.
What a blast! Stomp on a soda bottle to send a paper rocket soaring to the ceiling at the
This model rocket is a "stomp rocket."
Paper rocket on PVC pipe support with a soda bottle to stomp on for launching the rocket.
Search online for "stomp rocket" to find many different instructions.
Ready for the count down? Education professors visited the Elementary Extravaganza to get hands-on (feet-on?) experience to pass on to their students.
How high up did your stomp send the rocket?
Can you guess what concepts these teachers are exploring at the Elementary Extravaganza? This event brought educators together to share and learn.
A demonstration of camouflauge using patterned cloth and colored candy.
A display of student work describing the systems of the human body shows one activity for assessing student knowledge.
On the back of each figure, student writing describes the organ system.
Describing a sorting activity, an Elementary Extravaganza presenter
shares with a conference participants.
Toilet paper binoculars!? Nope, it's all about adaptations. You could have tried these at the Elementary Extravagaza, a session at the 2012 NSTA national conference.
Googles, duct tape and two rolls of toilet paper create an exercise in understanding animal adaptations.
Welcome to the Council for Elementary Science International's Elementary Extravaganza! This session was supported by the APAST, SEPA, the NSTA Committee on Preschool-Elementary Science Teaching, and Science and Children. See the full list of participants at http://www.nsta.org/conferences/schedule.aspx?id=2012ind
Thank you to the hard-working CESI, APAST, SEPA, the NSTA Committee on Preschool-Elementary Science Teaching, and Science and Children volunteers who put on such an enriching event at the NSTA 2012 national conference.
Discussing a PreK Science program.
Can you make a model of a toilet?
Participants at the Elementary Extravaganza got to make a model of a toilet.
The NSTA 2012 conference drew participants from other countries, including Sweden.
Young scientist shows his model of the earth, labeled with flags saying, "lava," "rocks," and "more rock."
Discussing a "density bottle" at the 2012 NSTA national conference.
A "color box" with different colors of plastic film over window openings. What color do you think the red ball looks like when viewed through the red film?
PVC pipe makes an interesting sound when tapped with an open palm. What do you think happens to the sound when you use a longer or shorter length?
Nancy Sale presented a "Butterfly Bonanza" with many examples of butterflies and classroom projects.
What piece of the puzzle do you have? Scientists talk to each other.
We figured it out! The picture is completed through talking to match pieces, and then viewing to be sure.
What is this a picture of?
Ohhhh, it's a butterfly chysalis.
Cardboard and one-side-only paper make a nice science notebook.
Here's the bug catcher. Instructions from the Kitchen Garden Foundation are online at http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/uploads//09_resources/whats_happening_in_the_classroom/Yrs34_FriendOrFoe_WEB.pdf
Generous presenters shared their expertise, including how to make a "bug" catcher.
Participants were fascinated to see live caterpillars.
The table at the Butterfly Bonanza session was full of resources.
It was fun to work as a group to put a butterfly lifecycle into the correct sequence.
What kind of "Galimoto" would you like to make?
Found materials can make a toy.
Imagination and planning lead to working models, or toys.
Read "Galimoto" by Karen Lynn Williams and get inspired to make your own toy.
Children record the amount of rainfall in a rain gauge by drawing.
A children's garden of radishes, nasturtiums, and peas.
Cutting up seed pods to explore their structure.
Puddle stomping, an early experience with water.
"Washing" bandanas and hanging them to dry--an introduction to the concept of evaporation.
Going on a "Bug" Hunt? Maybe you'll find crickets.
Children immersed in science inquiry. Read more at http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/beyond/seed/hoisington.html
Read about Cindy Hoisington's work as a teacher mentor for the project Foundations of Science Literacy (FSL) developed at Education Development Center (EDC),
Early childhood teachers learn about science inquiry in the National Air & Space Museum’s Science in Pre-K program.
Cover of July 2012 Science & Children
A flower is a favorite natural object for children to share when it is their turn in a "Teach and Tell" circle time.
Children might bring leaves from a favorite tree to share in a "Teach and Tell" circle time.
Children learn about porosity--how permeable an object is to liquids--while washing up.
Children can measure how much water is held by different materials.
Giant Pacific octopus at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Photo by J’nie Woosley, SNZP photographer. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Invertebrates/default.cfm
September 2011 issue of Science & Children, the elementary journal of the National Science Teachers Association. http://www.nsta.org/publications/browse_journals.aspx?action=issue&thetype=all&id=10.2505/3/sc12_050_01
Children use pipecleaners as the "bones" of their playdough model.
How long will a playdough model of an animal stand without a skeleton structure? Count and see. Then add a skeleton made of something stiff like pipecleaners or sticks and count again.
A kindergarten class represents themselves through individual self-portraits grouped together.
The cover of Science & Children, October 2012.
Can you see the pink light on her chin? It was reflected off the smooth surface of the pink foam core cardboard.
Make a "block out the light" box. When you press your face against the art-foam viewing frame, you block out all light. What can you see inside a completely dark box?
Read about it in The Early Years column,
This poster serves as both an identification chart and a tally chart for recording the number of invertebrate species seen. It is laminated and using dry erase markers allows it to be used over and over.
Students look for invertebrates in a pollinator garden.
"There's one!" Elementary classes counted between 21 and 28 different species of invertebrates.
The second annual meeting of the NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum at the 2012 NAEYC conference. Connect with the ECSIF at:
NAEYC Interest Forum– www.naeyc.org/IF
ECSIF Blog – http://ecsif.blogspot.com/
ECSIF Facebook page – Early Childhood Science Interest Forum (naeyc)
ECSIF Pinterest page – http://pinterest.com/ecsif/
ECSIF Twitter page - https://twitter.com/ECSIF
ECSIF Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning about force and motion using cove molding as inclined planes and various objects to roll down those ramps.
Will the marble reach the cup? Early childhood educators get involved in this activity about force and motion so they can understand how to support their students as they investigate the concepts.
"Allyson said she saw a big round perfect circle moon-full moon. She also said that the moon had rainbow like colors around it. She thinks that the moon is following us wherever we go, it is moving. It is very pretty with the stars around it. She said that the moon is very light." Judy Brown from Dyer County Tennessee shared her students' work at the 2012 NAEYC national conference.
Smelling in science investigations is safer when we "whiff and waft" (use our hands to wave the scent towards us) rather than sticking our nose near an unknown substance.
"Ummmm" (This must be the bag holding the coffee beans!)
Early childhood educators ask questions, make observations, record data, make a hypothesis, and discuss their thinking as they worked through a gumball investigation.
Making playdough, playing with it, and counting shapes incorporate the objectives of many early childhood education standards.
Adding water to an activity often makes it last longer. Two leaf shapes from schoolyard trees were presented for exploration in a class of two-and-a-half year old children.
How does a leaf feel when it is wet? A small amount of water can change the way and length of time young children spend exploring objects.
Dropping temperatures caught a bumblebee on a flower at dusk with a heavy rain beginning. I cut the flower and put it in a jar tipped down to keep the rain out. The bee stayed for two days of cold weather and left on the first sunny day.
How does your class document weather events?
When children begin to understand numerals they can read a thermometer. Before that they can see where the "top of the red line" is and match it to a color chart.
Children may be curious about the properties and origin of rocks they find.
How does your class document their weather observations?
"Are these diamonds?"
Children can describe found objects by drawing and writing, or dictating their observations. By having experiences with objects made of various materials, children become knowledgeable about which objects are natural and which are human-made.
Science and Children, December 2012
Using a digital microscope to view ants drinking honey.
Using a digital microscope to view ants allows detailed view of their body structure and behavior. They are drinking honey that was put on the plate to keep them in one spot while we viewed them.
The seeds we planted during a warm spell in January sprouted in February. The mustard and arugula seedlings are growing very slowly in the variable mid-Atlantic winter.
Did the mustard greens and arugula seeds sprout yet?
The February 2013 issue of Science and Children is focused on early childhood life science. http://www.nsta.org/publications/browse_journals.aspx?action=issue&thetype=all&id=10.2505/3/sc13_050_06
The sensory table can be a place for imaginative play and investigating the properties of wet and dry sand.
Will all sand flow through a funnel?
The top half of a vinegar jug makes a nice funnel.
What can you find in the sand? The hole is deeper today after it snowed and melted.
How could these holes have formed? What could have made these holes? What do they look like? What can we do to try to make holes like this?
Super dry sand!
Start with just a few tools, introducing more as the children express an interest. Put a bin under the table to hold extra tools.
Children can feel how the sun's energy warms sand.
Children build a hill of sand and populate the landscape with models of houses, animals and people.
Using bottles with holes in the lids to "rain" on the landscape, children observe the erosion of the ground.
A heavy "rain" eroded the sand and the houses began to slip down the hill.
What could have made this hole? Is there an acorn at the bottom of it?
Ants using a tree, a plant, as a place to live.
Observing animals as they use a plant for shelter.
Finding evidence of animals using a plant for shelter.
What could have made the holes in the radish leaves? Children thought maybe a caterpillar at the leaves. The holes were evidence of an animal using a plant for food.
The tiny eggs on stalks attached to the onion plant are mayfly eggs. Kindergartners were looking for evidence of animals using plants for food or shelter.
Using a single piece of paper folded into quarters, a child records her observation of holes in leaves, perhaps made by a caterpillar.
A teacher and student discuss the observed evidence of an animal using a plant for shelter--insect eggs.
Strawberry plants can grow from seeds, with consistent care. The seeds are tiny!
Strawberry plants do well in pots or in garden beds.
Before planting seedlings in the garden, have children draw the parts of the plant to help develop their understanding of plants as living organisms.
Planting a strawberry seedling.
A strawberry plant has many parts. It can grow new plants from runners (stolons).
The July 2013 issue of Science and Children, the National Science Teachers Association's elementary school journal.
Stacking cubes are a measuring tool that children are able to easily use.
Children can use a balance to compare the weight of objects.
This relative measuring tool called "measuring hands" is made with the outlines of children's hands taped together end-to-end.
Magnifiers allow us to see small details and learn more about the structure of objects.
Outdoor use of magnifiers reveals tiny details and helps children slow down to closely observe.
Trays with many small compartments are a good tool for collecting and sorting.
Learning about the properties of water begins early in life and continues in a 2-year-old preschool classroom.
Clear tubes are great fun for pouring and watching water move.
Using measuring cups and sponges in a water table gives children experience with observing the volume of a substance.
Small tools help children focus attention and develop fine motor control.
Magnifiers are useful throughout a school, inside and outside.
Allowing children to be responsible by assigning them a task helps a teacher take optimal care of the living things in a classroom. The children all want a turn so care happens daily.
Can you read what she wrote? The symbols have meaning for her and the small clipboard encourages children to write and draw.
Measuring plant growth is a way for children to practice measurement while learning about life cycles of plants.
Getting sand in, and out of, shoes and clothes is part of a preschool day.
Sand exploration in cold weather.
The best way to sense the strength in wood and to smell its living essence.
When feeling and cutting leaves from the garden children learn about their texture and structure.
When putting a puzzle together, children often consider different solutions, a key part of the engineering design process.
How many small lids can fit inside this container? If I move them around will more fit in?
Children who are younger than three-years-old enjoy designing and testing small ramp structures.
"Now I can move all three dinosaurs!"
The elementary journal of the National Science Teachers Association, Science and Children, includes a column on science and engineering in early childhood, The Early Years.
The idea of building a structure for a toy animal inspires some children to work with blocks.
Building a structure to fit a stuffed animal requires testing for fit, and possible re-design.
Building with blocks develops appreciation for symmetry, balance, and more.
Redbud tree leaves turned yellow.
Oak tree leaves turned red.
Arranging natural beauty into a pattern to please oneself.
Sorting and counting a leaf collection.
Drawing to notice detail, counting the number of points, and writing to label are part of this scientific diagram.
Cup the dry end of the "ants on a log" pretzel to avoid messy hands.
The easy way to keep your hand clean while eating a messy pretzel.
What is the best way to eat a pretzel that is covered with soft cheese and raisins?
Does your fingerpaint style say anything about your approach to science or engineering problems?
Children enjoy building with a wide variety of materials, learning about the properties of “wetness,” texture, weight, stretch, strength, absorption, flexibility, and adherence as they build.
Will this container design hold water?
Testing a container designed and built to hold water.
Presenter and conference participant talk science.
All these people just waiting to play! Thank you to the NAEYC Play, Policy and Practice Interest Forum!
See where our explorations took us as we played with the materials together.
Early Childhood Science Interest Forum members meet to plan the annual meeting and discuss the progress of the past year.
The annual meeting of the Early Childhood Science Interest Forum provided snacks this year--and interesting discussion of videos of science teaching, announcements and collegial support.
The editors of NSTA's elementary journal, Science and Children, are strong supporters of early childhood science learning. Valynda Mayes on the left and Linda Froschauer on the right.
Rick Bounds, Stefanie Simmons, and Valynda Mayes staff the NSTA booth at the 2013 NAEYC conference.
Can you find three NSTA presidents, former presidents or presidents-elect in this picture?
Participating in a science inquiry for teachers, to be better able to lead inquiry with our students.
Using ice cubes as a slider is one way to experience the properties of frozen, solid water.
Singing a song together or talking about happenings at home are ways to enhance the chore of getting dressed for outdoor play in cold weather.
Sensory play with ice and warm water builds young children's understanding of the properties of water.
Feeling frozen, solid water in different shapes helps children build an understanding of the properties of water.
In early childhood, children are beginning to learn about systems as varied as magnetic train and track sets and pollinators’ relationship with flowering plants.
Building blocks, a staple of kindergartens since they were first organized, provide children with many experiences with stability.
Children are beginning to learn about measurement of time and objects through experiences in early childhood.
Caring for living organisms such as pea plants teaches children that they need food (energy) of some kind to survive.
An early experience with energy is feeling the warmth of sunlight on their skin and feeling cooler in the shade.
Early childhood educators teach their students to make patterns—ABAB, AABAAB, ABCABC—and to observe patterns.
We help our students investigate causes of events, such as isopods/pillbugs roll up when touched.
Happy about more snow!
Feet and other body parts can make impressions in snow.
Look for signs of frozen water, such as the frost on this leaf.
Use Denise Fleming's book, First Day of Winter, as part of a lesson that incorporates literacy, math and science.
Engage children in observing snow melting by providing liquid watercolors to paint the snow.
Self portraits reveal children's thinking about themselves.
At what age are children old enough to explore the natural world? We may have different ideas about this question, and the answer may vary between the specific children in our programs.