10 Science Projects for Your Pre-Schooler

By Erin McNeill

Science for your young child doesn’t have to be technical, require complicated ingredients, or even take more than 15 minutes. Science should be an activity that explores cause and effect, encourages questions and researching answers, and fun! Here are a few activities to get your started with your child!

  1. Baking soda and vinegar – Baking soda and vinegar is one of the simplest chemical reactions found around the home. You can start by putting a small amount of baking soda in a clear glass, add some vinegar and watch what happens. From here you can go onto to discussing volcanos and then make your own (create a paper mache volcano creating a well for the “lava”). Once you are ready, add some baking soda to the well, and pour in vinegar (you can dye with food coloring for special effects!) to watch it erupt! Baking soda and vinegar experiments can provide endless hours of fun, but you can also try to create the same reaction using other liquids found around the house (please make sure all are safe for children to be around!).
  2. Melting and freezing – Water and ice are the simplest examples of melting and freezing, and can be found in your own kitchen! Make ice cubes with your child, explain what happens when you lower the temperature of water to below freezing. Melt the ice cubes with your child (it’s a great activity for those really hot days!) and discuss how the ice is changing back into a liquid and why. You can create larger ice blocks by filling larger containers with water and freezing for 24 hours, if you add food coloring before you freeze them you’ll end up with multi-colored bricks!
  3. Trees and nature – Find a small tree in your neighborhood that your child can easily observe year-round. Have them observe the tree and record their findings in a journal. They should look at the leaves, at the trunk, the ground around the tree, and even get a bit closer to the tree and find out what insects might be using the tree. Visit the tree every few months and repeat the observations. Discuss what changes have occurred throughout the year. Taking your child’s photo by the tree each time will help your child see their growth compared to the growth of the tree!
  4. Floating in the air – Find a spot at a local playground that’s up off the ground, high enough to drop objects from safely. Use this as your station to compare how different objects travel through the air. Gather items such as cotton balls, paper, feathers, pinecones, balls, and other objects you’d like to use in your experiments. You can drop them one at a time and observe what happens and then start making predictions about which object will fall more slowly to the ground when you drop two at the same time. Record your predictions and make a chart to document your findings!
  5. Beating hearts – The human body can be fascinating to small children. If you have a stethoscope around the house, use it! If not, just put your hand on your chest and feel your heart, have your child do the same. Compare your heart beat to your child’s. Who’s is faster? Have your child run around for a few minutes and then compare what they are feeling now. Do different activities and discuss how it affects your heart rate. Talk about why the heart needs to beat faster when you are running around and why it’s slower while resting.
  6. Weather – Young children are often fascinated by weather! Create a calendar and have your child track the daily weather, either by drawing a picture or describing what they see. Place an outdoor thermometer in a place where they can see it, talk about temperature together! You can discuss the different types of clouds that you see throughout the week or month and what they mean. Have your child try to predict the weather for the next day!
  7. Bubbles – Bubbles are a staple of any childhood! Making them is an experiment in it’s self! Try catching them with dry hands, what happens? What happens if you put some bubble solution on your hands and then catch them? Use pipe cleaners to create bubble wands, make different shapes at the end. Does that affect the final shape of the bubble? What’s the biggest bubble you’ve ever made?
  8. Shadow puppets – This is a great backyard or nighttime activity! Create shadow puppets with your kids, do the ones you know, make up new ones, and research ones that you don’t even know about! What happens when you move closer to the wall and further away from the light?
  9. Weights and balancing – If you have a balance lying around this is the perfect activity for it! Gather household objects and start figuring out which ones are equal to each other. Which ones are heavier? Can you gather enough lighter objects to equal a heavy one? Why are some objects heavier than others even though they may be smaller?
  10. Make slime – Slime can be made quite easily at home, though you’ll likely needs to pick up some Borax (found in the laundry aisle at the store). Mix equal parts water and glue together (add food coloring at this point as well, if you’d like colored slime), then add 2 tablespoons of borax and mix. Watch it transform from a liquid to a semi-solid. Once it’s all mixed together pick it up and play with it! Create a shape out of it, set it down, does it hold that shape? Stretch it out, what happens? Form it into a ball and pull apart quickly, what happened this time? Discuss what it’s not quite a solid, but yet not really a liquid either.

Science isn’t a neat and tidy activity, so be prepared to clean up when you’re done, but know that the experience your child gets out of doing experiments will be well worth any mess that is created in the process! Activities that encourage children to ask questions will help them gain broader knowledge on how the world works around them.

*Used with permission from 4Nannies.com

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