When I was a preschool teacher I made it a point to have a “science center” set up in the classroom. Plants growing by the window, pictures of jungle animals hanging from the ceiling and a microscope. The resources were available but with only a few hours a week with the children, there was only so much science we could get in. Now that I am homeschooling my own children, the restrictions have been lifted and I am free to spend as much time on science as I want!
Not only do we have a “science area” in our home but we incorporate science often into our everyday activities. When cooking, I try to share the science behind the why’s of what is happening. When observing creation, I love engaging the children in meaningful conversation about the world around them.
Whether you have a set preschool schedule set aside for your youngster or not, it is easy to incorporate science activities into your day. When teaching preschoolers, it is always quality, not quantity that matters. So often it’s easy to think, “maybe I’m not doing enough.” But, the fact that you are home with your child, and have the desire to teach them says that you are! No, your preschooler won’t sit for hours on end as you discuss the ins and outs behind a science experiment. That is okay. When you set aside time to teach science, they are still taking it in and they actually are learning! Hands-on activities at this age are meaningful, memorable and impressionable. So even if you only set aside five to ten minutes a few times a week to engage in a science activity or experiment, it can have a powerful effect in your child’s life!
I have compiled a list of online resources to help teach preschoolers science. Note the word help here. These are not sites that you simply sit your child in front of a screen to learn about a subject. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that for some subjects, and I enjoy using the computer in my homeschool. With science though, preschoolers benefit greatly from the hands-on, getting dirty, getting messy, activities. As you know, they are full of energy and curiosity, and when we can provide them with the right learning environment, they will certainly thrive!
5 Free Online Resources to Help Teach Preschoolers Science
1. Handbook of Nature Study
. This Charlotte Mason style book is packed with hundreds of nature lessons that can be used in a variety of ways. This book can be used for any age including preschoolers! It encourages you to get outdoors and teach your child about nature. The lessons are only a page or so in length with questions included to ask your student. When learning about chickens you go and observe a chicken and teach the child right there in nature. It is very hands-on. If you are creative and don’t mind driving to a swamp when learning about frogs, or heading into the woods for a nature walk, then this is for you! When learning about feathers we made little cardboard houses with paper shingles to demonstrate how feathers are layered like shingles to keep birds dry. This was a memorable activity for my children! I enjoy having a hard copy of the book around, but you can receive a Free Download of the book online. There is also a site with Free Downloads of Studies to Use with the Book.
2. The Spangler Effect
This is a YouTube channel filled with science experiments easy enough to use with your preschooler! Some of his experiments use simple, everyday household items. Others can be a little more in depth. Check out The Spangler Effect and see for yourself! Simply watch the video ahead of time, gather the materials and have fun with your child!
3. DLTK Teach
If you check out their Super Simple Science section, they have easy experiments and lessons that you can do with your preschooler! From a tornado in a bottle to a lesson on how seeds grow this site provides the information needed to teach science to your kids, for free! If you aren’t quite sure how to incorporate science into your day simple pick a theme and go with it for that week. Study the five senses one week and focus on a different one each day. You don’t need a specific curriculum at this age, you can find resources online and plan a week or month in advance!
For the days you just can’t get the hands-on activities in, (we all have those days), it’s great to have tangible resources available that your preschooler can color, cut and paste. Scholastic has printables available for children ages three through five covering topics such as planets, animals, your body and more. Also, if you are teaching older children a topic, you can print out coloring sheets on the same topic for your preschooler to color while you are teaching the older ones. This way they feel as though they are a part and are able to pick up a little of what you are teaching as well.
5. Science Sparks
I personally have a pile of books that I’ve collected over the years full of preschool friendly science experiments. Sometimes I’ll just grab a book and try a few experiments over a time frame of a few weeks. You can always find exciting experiments online at sites such as Science Sparks or on Pinterest as well! Just have fun with your child, even if it is only a short amount of time a day, they will indeed learn!