“Teacher, why the bubbles are not square?”
“How come leaves turn yellow?”
“Why do we water the seeds?”
Preschool children are naturally very curious. The desire to know everything, explore, question and to investigate is a vital part of their existence. This sense of query lays the foundation for science in young children. Early childhood Educators and parents can foster scientific knowledge by thoughtfully preparing age appropriate indoor and outdoor environments and also by providing various opportunities for children to investigate and solving the problems.
Creating a science promoting environment–
One simple way to include science in everyday classroom activities is to set up a science/discovery area for children. This could be a shelf or a table with a variety of age appropriate science related materials such as a balance, weighing scale, prism, magnifier or some plants etc. that will introduce children to the nature. Very young children enjoy the sensorial experiences of smooth shells, rough pine cones or some typical smells. As children grow and they begin to explore and answer some questions by using different tools and materials to observe, weigh and measure. The best investigation topics are encountered on a daily experiences that allow them a hands-on enquiry.
We can ask some open ended question to children that support their enquiry process.By using some descriptive vocabulary along with the materials, we can introduce them to the world of investigations. Along with this, teachers can gather the materials that support the inquisitiveness of science in all the areas of the room. Fiction and non fiction books with science themes can be added to the class library and writing area. A balance scale or a basket of materials of different size and weight can be kept in math area. A variety of objects can be kept on water table such as containers, tubes or other things which explain floating and sinking.
The outdoor settings also provide a rich environment for scientific explorations. As children of all the ages view different colours of nature and their curiosity leads to new questions and it fosters their connections with the natural world. Gardening is an excellent activity for children where they can predict, compare and observe the characteristics of living things. These experiences may prompt some long term study habits of growing cycles, food chains or habitats. Garden, plants, shrubs, trees, insects, flowers and butterflies lead children to ask about the natural surroundings.
Some books can be read aloud in these kinds of outdoor settings where the teacher can pacify young minds with logical answers with a practical touch.
Teachers can encourage the children to predict and try out different situations, which can enhance their understanding of the influence of light, air and water on the growth of plants. Children should be involved in the research of every topic which teacher has chosen. if the preschool has not sufficient outdoor settings, Teachers should arrange the visits to nearby places like parks or grounds or nurseries where children can have a hands- on knowledge about natural surroundings. Children can be encouraged to represent what they have learnt through drawings, collage or photographs. Their work can be displayed on the panel boards in the classroom or some common display area of school. Their work can be laminated and kept safely together in a form of some file or album. This allows children to recollect their learning when seen later. Children can take this folder/ file home to share their work with their families.