Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Preschool Science: Learning by Doing

The early years in science, for us, are filled with informal nature studies, as we spend lots of time exploring, sketching, and learning to use field guides.  That doesn't mean we don't do other things that my girls are interested in.  My oldest spent years studying dinosaurs, then she continued by focusing on a different animal type each year.  Always my little zoologist.  But she also showed an interest in space, so we dove into that for a while.  We are extremely interest-led with our science studies.  Always have been, always will be.

My youngest child, however, has been a bit of a challenge.  She's not as naturally inclined to settle into an interest as my oldest.  Maybe it's because she's always trying to follow her big sister's interests.  Maybe it's because she's too busy doing things (always in motion, that one) to pay attention to any one area.  Whatever the reason, it's been difficult to find an area to focus on.  To be fair, she catches bugs, helps in the garden, and listens for our barred owl every night.  I'm ok with that for now, truly, but I'm sort of thinking ahead for ways to spark her interest in other areas.

She's naturally a kinesthetic learner, so forget setting her loose in the library to find books on a subject like her older sister.  That doesn't speak her language at all.  We'll work on that eventually, but for now I just want to reach her where she is and ignite a few fires.

She got this Learning Resources Primary Science Set  from my mom last Christmas.  One day, when she didn't want to do anything, we pulled the box out and did the first activity.  It was a simple color mixing activity (we've already done this with paints), but it helped her get used to the equipment and the names of things.  She had a blast!  I probably would have preferred ordering some nicer glass beakers and test tubes, but it was nice to have everything ready to go in one place, and the tools all have large enough openings to prevent messes. Also, it's very nice to have the activity cards, so I don't have to think about what to do.  Mama's brain is overloaded already, and science (especially chemistry) is not my strong suit.

She is so serious about her experiments.  And she loves the goggles.  This is exactly the kind of thing she needed.  No lengthy explanations or worksheets or time spent sitting still.  Just ask what might happen, and jump right in to follow a few steps.

A particularly dangerous round of Appleletters.
Safety first!

I can see us basing a lot of our science studies with this child around kits and experiments.  For my 5yo tornado, this is all the science she needs for now.


  1. I tend to think science should be more doing than book-reading anyway whenever possible, especially at this age. Although it's hard to turn over the dining room table to experiments sometimes... :-)

    1. Agreed! My oldest, however, actually preferred reading to doing experiments & hands on things for a long time. So I tried to honor that, too. Now I feel like we're getting back to the "real" stuff! And my oldest is seeing the joy of doing also, instead of just having her nose in a book. Win-win. :)

      Yeah, I feel like we need an art table AND a science table AND a table for eating.

  2. It is neat to see a review on this set as it's been in my Amazon wish list for quite some time. Now I REALLY want it! ;-)

    Shanrell @ countingcurls.wordpress.com

    1. It was on my wishlist for months, too! I have some photos of one of the experiments I'll be posting soon. It's a cute set, and there are step-by-step instructions, but questions to extend the activity and conduct their own open-ended experiments.

  3. Hi Michelle, I've been enjoying reading your blog for a long time, and I've particularly liked your recent project-based homeschooling posts. So I thought it was time to drop by and say hello, and thank you for the inspiration you've given me over the years :-)
    My youngest (now 8) is a whirlwind, too. When we first started PBH he spent several weeks doing experiments out our "Science Experiments" book. That completely changed the way we do science - I stopped the curriculum and followed his lead. We've all enjoyed science much more since then!


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