I do a ton of hands-on science with my preschoolers, as well as my son (who’s in second grade right now). There are so many reasons to include it in early childhood classrooms and at home. I’ll share some reasons why, as well as some examples you can try out!
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why is hands-on science important for kids?
Kiddos learn best when they’re involved in the learning. This means getting to ask questions and have discussions, and it can also mean letting their interests guide planning.
Children need their senses engaged. Hands-on science activities let children do just that, giving the kids a chance to engage multiple senses.
Kids learn by doing. Hands-on science encourages the children to DO something – observe, ask questions, touch, smell, experiment.
Allowing children to really get into science gives them the chance to make discoveries on their own. They’ll be more likely to remember a learning experience if it’s just that . . . a real experience.
Critical thinking skills are enhanced during such science activities. Kids can ask the why, how, and what questions. Even better, they can help answer the questions themselves. They can learn the scientific process along the way!
involve children in planning science activities
Right now, my students are learning about reptiles. At the beginning of the school year, I hadn’t given any thought to teaching a unit about reptiles. However, based on my students’ interest, and the many questions they’ve asked, I decided to delve into the subject a bit more. Even though I, as the teacher, am planning and creating the activities, I’ve let the children help decide what we learn. That gives them the chance to really be involved in the learning.
examples of hands-on science
Since we’ve been learning about reptiles, I’ll stick with that theme. Here are some ways I’ve already incorporated hands-on science this month:
- One of my students has two leopard geckos and a ball python as family pets. His dad was awesome and brought these animals into the classroom one day. Having the real things grabbed their attention like nothing else! They were able to observe first-hand what the reptiles looked like, how they moved, etc. They listened to their friend’s dad as he explained tidbits about the pets. Even better, they were able to come up and gently touch the python (if they wanted to). This visit made a big impression, and we’ve already referred back to when learning even more about reptiles!
- A past student donated some snakeskin his pet had shed. I brought that out one day, and the kiddos were enthralled. They were able to see and touch the snakeskin, making all kinds of observations about it. Yes, telling them about snakes shedding their skins gave them some background knowledge. But actually seeing the skin and touching it cemented that learning in their minds. I loved hearing their discussions as they observed the snakeskin!
Those are two very simple examples of hands-on science in my preschool classroom. Here are a few more (without the reptiles) 🙂 –
- Preschool magnet science with jingle bells
- Frozen fairy tale science
- The smelly pumpkin experiment
- Hatching chicks with children
How do you incorporate hands-on science learning at home or in the classroom?