“Absolutely,” says Meg Davis, manager of curriculum development for Knowledge Universe. “Children are young scientists. They learn about the world around them through their senses.” This natural curiosity is the basis for KinderCare’s new early science education program, to be launched this summer.
Called Spectacular Science, the two-week program presents basic science concepts in ways three-year-olds can engage with and understand.
“The key is to provide children with plenty of hands-on opportunities to explore science in a playful way.”
For example, while learning about states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases), our children will pretend to be balloons filled with air that float up into the sky…and then fall back to the ground. That kind of physicality helps bring complex concepts to life for young children.
Can’t wait to nurture your own kids scientific curiosity? Bring a little bit of Spectacular Science home with these three ideas inspired by our new curriculum.
1. Science in creative expression: Shadow Art
- Light and shadows
- Sidewalk chalk
Pick a sunny day to head outdoors with your sidewalk chalk, find a hard, flat surface, and search for shadows to trace. Encourage your child to identify a shadow and trace its outline with the chalk. Create your own shadows and trace each other’s outlines.
Ask open-ended questions: What does a shadow look like? What shape is it? How is a shadow made?
Extra Credit: Later, go outdoors to see how far the shadow moved!
2. Science in motion: Freeze Tag
- Liquids and Solids
Physical movement and acting out ideas and concepts helps children understand them more clearly, and this well-known child’s game incorporates a science lesson too: Freeze Tag. (Freeze Tag works best with a few friends.)
Explain the simple rules: One child is It and tries to tag the other children. If a child is tagged, the child “freezes” in a fun (or funny) position. If another child tags the “frozen” child, he or she becomes “unfrozen” and can begin running again. After several minutes, ask another child to be It.
During breaks, ask: What else freezes?…That’s right, water. When does water freeze? What is water like when it unfreezes?…What is another word for ‘unfreeze’?
3. Science in everyday conversation
- Critical thinking
- Science vocabulary
Science learning at any age involves curiosity, exploration, and discovery. Families can support science learning in everyday conversations by asking “how” and “what” questions that prompt children to think critically and explain their reasoning.
Ask questions like What would happen if… or How do you know that….? Then sharpen children’s skills by inviting them to test their ideas. For example, if you are exploring what sinks or floats ask, Will the rubber duckie float ? Let’s try it…