Introducing Science Can Be Easy AND Fun for Parents and Kids


It is commonly known that children’s minds absorb new information like sponges in water. When wanting to introduce new things to your child, it’s never too early to begin encouraging their curiosity. Introducing a subject as complex as science can seem a bit daunting to both the parent and the child. However, these tips on how to navigate teaching science to your little learner should prove to be helpful.

Opportunities for Activities are All Around

Because your child is still too young to sit still for long periods of time, avoid attempting to give them lectures[1] . Science can be fun for the little learner when there are many hands-on activities. Here’s some fun activities to consider:

Elephant Toothpaste: Combine hydrogen peroxide with yeast to make giant tube-like volcanoes.

Shaving Cream Clouds: A little food coloring and a lot of shaving cream meet for a lot of fun times.

Static Butterflies: Static electricity makes paper butterflies appear to fly with a little help from a balloon.[2] 

Activities like these will involve your child and allow them to get them to get hands on with the experiments. This allows them the chance to investigate and explore, which helps develop their interest even further.

Beginner Science Lessons

At this point in your child’s life, he or she is very much still an observatory learner. Take your kids on a nature walk to point out different plants, listen for different animals, and watch the clouds develop and change. Truly allowing them to experiment and do the work will permit them to learn on their own. [3] 

Slowly introducing science with concepts your child already understands will make the whole process much easier. Learning something completely new and unknown is difficult- no matter how old the person. However, according to cognitive psychologist Rochel Gelman, electing to do science experiments that will nurture learning paths they are already familiar with will help build their understanding. For instance, preschoolers are already recognizing cause and effect like ice melting in the heat or how living things like plants grow and change. Stick to very few concepts rather than trying to cover many in a short amount of time. With that, you have the chance to really lean into the interests of your kid. Foster their curiosities and encourage them to ask questions[4] .

Don’t Dumb it Down

While sticking to concepts already familiar to your little one is important, make sure you are also using language and vocabulary they can understand while continuing to educate them. However, you want to avoid oversimplifying everything for them. Generalizing too much takes away his or her ability to learn even more. Our brains are wired to connect newly learned concepts with newly learned vocabulary, so when introducing new terms, you can still clarify it in ways he or she understands.

For example, if you are showing your child how plants grow, the term photosynthesis should be used. Take the time to sound it out and repeat it every few days, so it becomes a routine part of the vocabulary. When explaining what the term means, expound using words they know but continue to use the actual term so they learn it. Use opportunities around the house to introduce science concepts. [5] 

Participating in baking a cake for instance, can be a delicious way to show how ingredients can change their states of matter. They can help mix dry ingredients with liquid ingredients and then see the result of a solid cake coming out of the oven.[6]  Rather than a spider making a web in a window being cause for alarm, make it a chance to observe a creature up-close without touching. [7] 

Introduce the Scientific Method

Give them the opportunity to learn the scientific method through your science activities. You can allow them to learn the scientific method without overtly explaining what it means. The scientific method includes asking questions, doing research, constructing a hypothesis, testing through experiment, then sharing the results. Instead of trying to explain the entire method, start teaching them what it means to observe, predict, and then check their work.[8]  This also gives you an opening to discover answers to your questions together. Ask your children questions about what they think will happen and what they observe. How did the two differ and why? Encourage them to search for answers[9]  using books or the internet together when they do not know something to show the process for fact-finding. Sometimes your experiments together could lead to mistakes, which also make a fantastic opportunity to learn.

While science is incredibly complex, building your child’s interest and curiosity in it can be very exciting for the child and parent[10] . Taking time to plant a garden, watch how water interacts with different materials, or simply stargaze will help inspire your child to explore science even more. Introducing science to young children can be intimidating, but the results of spending time discovering and seeing the world through a child’s eyes will be awe-inspiring for you as well. [11] 

Lectures should always be avoided. It is better to let children come up with their own questions, and use science tto help them explain what they see.

Magic Milk; Ice Cream in a Baggie; Ice Cube Painting; Lava Lamp

Children are naturally scientists as early as when they are babies.  They test hypotheses etc.

Let their interests guide your path. My son LOVES plants right now, so we talk about how living things need water, he plays with hte hose to see how it sprays differently on different settings and different amounst of water are applied. He sees that composting takes rottten food and tturns it to soil and that sometimes plants we didn’t plant seeds for grow because they were in the compost bin. Some plants have flowers that turn into a tomato or a pumpkin and some plants grow underground like potatotes. caterpillars like to eat our kale and so do bunnies. Bees like flowers – etc. So much can be tied to what they like, and then the learning is relevent!

this entirely depends on their age. I would never say photosynthesis to my 3 year old, not yet. He knows though that trees give us clean air, and need water and sunlight. These building blocks are enough for now, thatt when he’s a bit older I can introduce that with some scaffolding.

This is tricky because it is a chemical reaction too. Maybe change to making homemade popscicles ?

Getting a bird feeder can be a good experience too in a similar way.

without necessarily calling it that.

Encourage them to provide evidence for their claims and find patterns. etc. Pulling language from SEP and CCC of the Next Generation Science Standards categories.

That it isn’t a book of facts, but a way to help us answer questions we have about the world around us.

We also need something here with allowing them to have misconceptions, and to give new experiences that challenge those mental models instead of telling them the right answer.

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