Are you struggling with infusing Science into to your childcare program? Are you lost on what type of items to add to your Science center, and how to set up your space? No fear! Below, I will share some Science related spaces, recommend items to add, and suggest some invitations to create.
Be sure to download your Free Science Space Checklists and specimen sorting mat at the bottom of this post as well!
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The space you provide for Science should allow the children in your care to view, touch, record, and explore items from the world around them. As with many other learning spaces, the Science Space can be changed out to reflect the changing interests of the children in your care-or the different thematic topics you are inviting the children in your program to learn more about.
Create an indoor space for exploring science:
A small table and bookshelf provide space for children to explore items independently. Use plastic tubs, baskets, and trays to contain items .
Add new items to the shelf for the children to explore. Include tools such as magnifying glasses, tweezers, scales (I have a more comprehensive checklist below) for the children to explore while they are viewing objects. Provide the children with related books, paper and pencils to draw photos, and record the items they observe.
Darlene G. has made great use of this corner. Also she facilitates group experiments, This science discover center is placed in a corner with just a couple of chairs to create a private, and cozy space for just a few children to explore specimens. In addition to magnifying glasses, she has also included a balance scale that allows children to explore the weights of different materials.
Veronica G. has combined her science area with her math space. She has included baskets with natural items, counters, sensory bottles, tweezers, magnets, sensory blocks, and a scale.
Community Member Dawn L. of Dawn's Daycare created this science center using a shelf. Each basket contains a different Science exploration.
I think this shelf Roxanne C. created to explore pumpkins is so inviting! She has included a variety of print rich items as well as a variety of hands on items to explore.
Short on Space?
Don't have enough room to dedicate to a whole Science Learning Space? Don't worry! Using a mobile cart, or a tray to invite children to explore items is just as meaningful.
Community member Sherry W. of first friends family childcare created an inviting space for exploration using a table set up with an invitation to explore.
Sensory Bins & Light Tables
Sensory bins and light tables are wonderful for science activities, They allow children to learn more about their 5 senses. They are also great alternatives if you are short on space. A sensory bin allows you to display a variety of science related items, and can be a great portable option. A light table can also be used to display hands on items for exploration as well. To find specific suggestions please sure to visit my Sensory Bin post, and light table post.
Inviting them to explore
There are so many items to be discovered! Many of the items for your Science space and be found around your home, and at the Dollar Tree. Be sure to also check with your clients for items they have around the home. Many Educational retailers offer child sized Science Materials as well as Child Safe Specimens. Some of my favorite places to find Science Materials are: Lakeshore Learning, Discount School Supply, and Learning Resources.
Provide children with materials for Measuring & Recording their explorations. They can draw photos, and take pictures of their findings. This is a great opportunity to explain how tools such as scales, and Rulers work.
Include print rich materials for your invitations such as related books, posters, Photos of real images, field guides, etc.
*Please note: While there are a variety of items that are safe for children to explore independently, many of the invitations in this post require supervision.
Use your outdoor space for exploring science
Different Science topics to explore ....
As educators we are always trying to give children the most authentic learning experience as possible. With Science, that means the outdoors may be the best place to explore the word around them.
A small picnic table can be set up as a space for exploring nature finds. Provide the children with fabric shopping bags, and plastic containers for carrying their items.
You can easily create a portable tote that contains: Clipboards with paper, notebooks/composition books, field journals/guides, plastic test tubes, bug houses, tweezers, field microscopes, and magnifying glasses. Take it with you when you go outside or on field trips!
Earth & Space Science
These invitations allow children to explore Earth, it's Atmosphere, and Solar System.
Explore Rocks: Provide the children with a variety of rocks, and minerals. Provide them rock identification cards, rulers, a scale, and different sorting mats to investigate the properties of the rocks.
Explore Space: Provide the children with mini planets, real photos of planets and astronauts. Do a simple sun paper, melting experiment, or create a solar oven to observe the effects the heat of the sun has on objects.
Explore Weather: Provide the children rain gauges, outdoor thermometers, and wind socks to observe the effects of nature.
These invitations allow children to explore the living things around them.
Explore Animals: Provide the children with specimens, pets to observe, real photos of animals, pretend animals (to explore their characteristics ex. how many legs they have, how they eat, how they walk, etc.), their habitats, and life cycles.
Explore Plants: Provide the children with a space to grow their own plants, different seeds to grow, discuss what plants need to grow (water, sun, oxygen). Explore the parts of a plant. Provide the children with a variety of cut up fruits and vegetables, Scales, Magnifying glasses, Photos of real fruits and vegetables.
Explore the Human Body: Provide the children with sensory experiences that allow them to taste, touch, smell and see different items. Explore x-rays, and models,
These invitations allow children to explore basic elements and the effects of natural forces on objects around them.
Explore Magnetism: Provide a variety of magnetic and non magnetic items and a small cookie sheet. Use a sorting mat for the children to "record" which items are magnetic.
Explore Color & Light: Provide flashlights, prisms and mirrors. Allow the children to experiment with mixing colors.
Explore objects that sink and float: Provide the children with a shallow dish of with a variety of items that sink (Rocks, ) and float (Cork, Rubber Toys,). Allow the children to experiment with each item.
Explore Chemistry: Provide the children with a variety of substances (Sugar, Salt, Flour, Corn Starch, Food Coloring) to mix with water. Cook with children so they can explore the transformations caused by mixing, adding heat, and cold have on substances.
Explore speed, and distance: Provide the children with ramps, balls, and cars. Also provide yard sticks, or tape measures.
Technology & Engineering
These invitations invite children to explore how things work, and are constructed. They encourage children to create solutions to problems, or make things work differently or better.
Explore building: Provide the children with photos of architectural buildings, blocks, assorted building kits. Create a DIY PVC building kit from different connectors, and PVC Pipe cut to length. Provide children with materials to create bridges and tunnels.
Explore tools and simple machines: Provide the children opportunities to build with child sized tools. Provide simple machines such as ramps, levers, and pulleys to demonstrate how they can make work easier.
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