Everyday moments, such as kicking a ball, bath time, and blowing bubbles can be turned into fun science moments with your child! Young children are natural scientists, always observing and questioning how the world around them works. As a parent, you can support your child’s curiosity and create meaningful learning moments, turning your little one into a science investigator. Remember one of the best ways to help children understand science concepts is through everyday activities that relate to things they are familiar with and are naturally curious about.
What if I don’t know the answers?
It’s okay if you don’t have the answer when your child asks you a question. It’s a great opportunity to explore and find out together. In fact, it’s often better when you don’t know the outcome of an investigation and you can observe and make scientific discoveries with your child. When your child asks you a question, you can model being an investigator by responding with “I don’t know, let’s find out together.” Or “What can we do to answer our question?”
Remember, children love to learn, ask questions, and explore—all important parts of science. Have fun learning together! Below are some everyday activities that can be turned into fun & meaningful scientific investigations.
Every Day Science Ideas:
Kicking a Ball: The next time you are outside and your child is kicking a ball, explore science concepts, such as force and motion. Turn ball kicking into an investigation by asking what would happen if he kicks the ball lightly versus hard (force) and talking about how hard he kicks affects how far it will travel (motion). Extend the investigation by kicking balls that have different shape and weight, such as a football with the same amount of force. Ask your child to predict which ball he thinks will travel the farthest and why. You can also figure out which ball is the bounciest! If for example, your child comments about how high the ball bounces, you can turn his observation into an investigation by posing the question, “I wonder which one of these balls is the best bouncer.” Pick three or more balls such as a tennis ball, ping pong ball, and basketball and ask your child to describe each one. Then, have him make a hypothesis, or guess, about which ball he thinks will bounce the highest. Stand against a wall and drop each ball from the same height. Put a post-it or sticker on the wall to show how high each ball bounced. Which one is the bounciest?
Bath Time Sink or Float: Bath time is a great opportunity to investigate what things sink and float in the water. Talk together about what it means to sink down to the bottom of the water and what it means to float on the surface. Pick some safe items that can get wet such as a full and empty shampoo bottle, soap, bath toy, spoon, and a sponge. Before you drop each item in the bath, ask your child to make a hypothesis about whether she thinks it will sink or float. Then investigate!
Don’t Pop the Bubbles: The next time your child is playing with bubbles, ask him to try and catch one in his hands without it popping. Then try an investigation to see if you can find a way to catch bubbles without popping them. Wet your hands with water and try to catch a bubble. Then, put soap and water on your hands and try to catch one. You can also try to catch bubbles on different materials such as newspaper and aluminum foil. Which material works best?
Kitchen Science: The kitchen is a great place to explore science together! Talk about what it means when something transforms and discover ways that food and liquid transform when you add cold or heat to them. Try putting water in an ice cube tray and asking your child to predict what will happen if you put it in the freezer. Take the ice cube tray out every 30mins to see how the water has changed. When the ice is frozen, take out an ice cube and put it in a bowl. What does your child think will happen? Put one ice cube in a shady spot and one near a sunny window. Will one melt faster than the other? You can also help your child make predictions about what will happen when heat is added to food such as baking a cake or cooking eggs. Help him make predictions and then observe what happens.
Explore Nature: The next time you and your child go outside encourage her to use her senses to explore the world around her. Explain that “observe” means to look at something closely and carefully. Talk about how her senses can help her observe and find answers to her questions. As you observe the natural world together, talk with your little scientist about what she notices. Point out the different parts of a flower, feel the bark of a tree, listen to the sounds of a bird chirping, or smell the rain after a rain storm. You can encourage her to keep a nature journal and draw pictures of all her observations.
Cars and Ramps: Using cardboard, blocks, and toy cars, investigate how changing the incline of a ramp can affect the distance that a toy car travels. Start by placing one block on the floor and propping one side of the cardboard on top of it to create a ramp. Put the toy car at the top of the ramp and let go. Measure how far the car traveled. Put another block under the cardboard to create a steeper ramp. Ask your child whether she thinks the car will stop closer or roll farther. Try it and measure! You can also try to use the same ramp on different surfaces such as a carpet and wood floor to see whether it rolls farther on one or the other.