Simple Science for Kids

Science and Kids: A Match Made in Heaven

Since science is everywhere, every day of the year, it's easy to make science an everyday activity in the daycare setting. Moreover, kids are natural scientists by virtue of their curiosity, unlimited imagination, and love for exploration, making science and kids a match made in heaven.

Science in Daycare

You probably don't even realize it, but science happens all the time inside the daycare, outside the daycare, and in the daycare playground. By helping kids pay attention to and ask questions about their surroundings and by providing them with some basic scientific vocabulary, daycare staff can go a long way in developing scientific skills in children and in helping them learn about how the world works.

Teaching Kids Scientific Concepts

Here are some scientific concepts, scientific tools, and science-related phenomenon which crop up all the time in the realm of children, making it easy to teach science to kids:

•- Boiling and Freezing

•- Water versus Ice

•- Cause and Effect

•- Bubble Activities

•- Magnifying Glass Experiments

•- Paint Color Mixing

•- Trees, flowers, bugs, insects, and how seeds and plants grow

•- Healthy Eating (nutrients, fruits, vegetables)

•- Liquids and Solids

•- Cooking (following recipe directions, measuring ingredients, setting oven temperature, etc.)

3 Simple Science Experiments for Kids

Here are some easy science activities appropriate for preschoolers and young children:

•1) Watch a Potato Grow: Fill a jar with water. Take a sweet potato (or a regular potato) and stick four toothpicks into the middle of the potato. Place the potato inside the jar such that the toothpicks keep half of the potato above water and half of the potato submerged below the water. Place the jar in a sunny spot and watch (over the course of a few weeks) as the potato sprouts roots and shoots; using a ruler, measure the roots as they grow.

•2) Sink or Float: This is a classic science experiment for kids of all ages which teaches the concept of buoyancy and the concepts of heavy vs. light and sink vs. float. All you need is a large bowl of water and a handful of household objects (i.e. toys, cans, various sizes of wood, a small rubber ball, coins of money, etc.) Ask the kids to predict which items will sink and which will float; after they observe the results, have a discussion about and explanation of any surprises (for example, large items which float) and come up with some scientific conclusions.

•3) Change the Color of Celery: This fun science experiment is a children's favorite! All that is needed are some celery stalks, a glass of water, and some food coloring. Simply add several drops of food coloring to glass of water and place a celery stalk inside the glass. Within a matter of a day or two, watch as the celery stalk absorbs the water (much like a tree root drinks up rain water) and gradually changes into the color of the food coloring! To create even more science "magic" and for nice visual effect, repeat the experiment in several glasses of water, adding a different color of food coloring to each; then observe as a rainbow of celery stalk colors grow.

Kids' Science Activity Resources

Whether you are looking for science activity ideas for kids or want to find answers to some the many science-related questions children ask you every day, there are many free children's science resources available to you, including the local library, children's encyclopedias, the Internet, and more. If you're looking for answers about plant growth, consider taking the daycare on a field trip to a nursery; if the kids have questions about the moon and stars, enjoy a daycare outing to the planetarium, where an experienced guide can answer of the kids' science questions.

Remember that in the world of science, asking questions is far more important than the answers (and often there is no one 'right' answer in science). Further, asking open-ended questions encourages kids to think for themselves rather than give one-word answers to closed questions. Encourage children to hypothesize, to predict, and to discuss what they think will happen next in any science activities. Afterwards, have a discussion about what they learned and introduce an arts-and-crafts activity related to the science project.