Children entering school already have substantial knowledge of the natural world, much of which is implicit…. Contrary to older views, young children are not concrete and simplistic thinkers…. Research shows that children’s thinking is surprisingly sophisticated…. Children can use a wide range of reasoning processes that form the underpinnings of scientific thinking, even though their experience is variable and they have much more to learn. (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007, pp. 2-3)
Exploring the natural world is one of children’s favourite activities and, I dare say, the one that keeps them engaged for longer as they use all their senses to absorb as much information as possible. Children want to know about why things happen and how things work, as if they were born natural scientists.
Everything amazes them as there are many phenomena that can be explored, many questions to be answered. Science activities in the classroom are a fun way to introduce many basic concepts and they make children curious about things they’ve experienced. Simple activities like mixing vinegar and baking soda, helps children developing an understanding about how things change and realise cause-effect relations. As they start asking why/ how questions, our role as teachers is to guide children in building foundational experiences for later science learning and merge them with the development of other cognitive skills like Literacy and Mathematics.
At Hummingbird Nursery, we have Science Time weekly and we keep amazing children every single time. One of everyone’s favourite experiment is the Dancing Milk. It’s so simple but yet so impressive! You can also take part in this activity at home with your little one: just pour some milk on a plate and add a few drips of food colouring. Then, drop a tiny bit of washing liquid and let the magic happen! The detergent will make the milk react (the fat seprates) and all the colours will start mixing making a beautiful effect. Try it, you will have fun!