Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children

Kathleen Tuite

By: KATHLEEN TUITE

Tuesday 15 November 2016

- Kathleen Tuite and Máire Corbett

 

Aistear’s Exploring and Thinking theme is all about supporting children to learn about and make sense of the world around them. Curiosity is one of the learning dispositions central to Aistear. Children are naturally curious and fascinated by plants, animals, nature, cause and effect and how things work. Science is all around us, and children need to be actively supported to engage with it and enjoy all that it has to offer.

 

In this weeks blog we look at some simple ways in which early years settings have introduced scientific exploration with babies, toddlers and pre-school children. Through photographic examples we see where early years eductors facilitate children’s active involvement in the scientific process, by providing materials, encouraging children to observe, predict, describe and theorise about what they are doing and enquiring about. Where adults have posed questions and commented as children play and investigage. Where adults have helped young children to grow in their thinking and scientific understanding.

This weeks blog also highlights how young children can be supported with scientific exploration by providing time and opportunities to engage with nature, to play and experiment with natural and man-made materials. Science is all around us and children are budding scientists who touch, taste, smell, push, pour, bang, turn things up-side down, inside out and watch what happens!.

 

Below are a collection of these scientific opportunities and we would like to thank all the early years settings whom we have collected these examples from.

We would also love to hear from you about what opportunities you are providing in your early years setting!

 

Ceramic plant pots of different sizes on grass - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children

 

Planting is a great way of giving children a love of nature and a sense of time. Talking about the bulbs or plants, looking at the picture and planting the bulbs right way up are valuable experiences for children. This setting laminated the picture of the bulbs so it is clear and weather proof.

 

 

A nature table with pine cones, acorns, chestnuts and leaves  - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children This nature table is a really hands on space for active learning. The pictures at the back feature beautiful autumn scenes and the pine cones, acorns, chestnuts and leaves provide opportunities for children to touch, feel, smell and discuss the real life items.

 

Display of leaves - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children Novel ways of displaying leaves. The leaves are laid on clear contact paper and another sheet of contact placed over them. They are then secured on a window, so the light shines through. The shape of the leaves, the veins on the leaves, the lovely colours are all great talking points with the chilren, sparking their curiosity!

 

 

Child holding spoon of muck with a worm - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children Children love worms. Digging in soil reveals many wonders….not least the wiggly worm! Teasing out where worms live, what they do, how they aerate soil, why birds like them….lots of opportunity for scientific conversations!

 

ScienceWeekBlog6 Dinosaurs have an eternal fascination for children. Having them outdoors and exploring with them in nature makes the experience even richer. The complex names of the various dinosaurs intruige children and they love trying them out. Discussions about dinosaurs give opportunities for talk about volcanos, lava, the idea of extinction and other lovely words like paleontology, excavation, herbivore and carnivore can be tried out too!

 

Close up of apples growing on a tree - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children Growing food is a great way to introduce children to agriculture science. If you are lucky enough to have an apple tree, treasure it! If not you can grow smaller things like rhubarb, as this setting did!
Rhubarb plants - Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children These photos are from Stepping Stones Preschool, based in the grounds of Stonehall National School, Co Clare.

 

Scientific enquiry with babies and toddlers too!

   
Treasure baskets can be a wonderful way to support scientific enquiry with babies and toddlers. With the addition of some household items for example, plastic scent bottles, shells, spools and recycled materials.

 

 

Puddles for toddlers can offer many opportunities to explore cause and effect, what happens if I wiggle my fingers and hands in the puddle, what happens if I add some stones or twigs into the water? Scientific enquiry and hands-on experiences.

 

  Sand outdoors for toddlers to explore with their whole bodies, the science of movement, the impact of weight, flattening the sand, displacing the particles of sand with the movement of the feet or hands. Great fun too!

 

  Investigating the affordances of nature. What happens when grass is mixed with water? What will happen when the dishes are placed at the end of the water spout? Toddlers make all sorts of scientific enquiries, investigating their own working theories. This is why it is critical to provide interest and opportunity both outdoors and indoors.

 

  Playdough supports scientific investigation, the materials, how they go from wet to dry, then sticky, then pliable enough to allow young children to shape, pound, stretch, roll, flatten. Toddlers and young children can explore elasticity and early years educators can support them with concept formation and the use of scientific language in their descriptions.

 

The above photos were taken with kind permission from the parents of the children attending Scallywags Crèche, Fenagh, Co. Carlow, along with the opening photograph.


We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as this is Science week, please share in the comments box below. 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Behaviour(3) Care-giving routines(1) RTE Investigates(1) UNICEF report(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Equality(1) food(1) Upcycling(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Inter-generational(2) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Pobal(1) emotional environment(2) budget(1) Albert Einstein(1) Dance(1) Leargas(1) Appreciation(1) International Narratives(1) Death(2) communication(4) Kindness(1) Shoes(1) Plants(1) Seas Suas(1) Intention(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Facebook(1) play stories(2) Mo Scéal(1) Iceland(1) Self-regulation(1) child-centred approach(1) Children's Voice(1) AsIAm(2) outdoors(4) dublin(2) Family wall(1) Rich Documentation(1) Study Trip(1) CCTV(1) christmas(9) Treasure(1) Music(3) Santa(2) learning(19) Independence(1) online training(1) science(3) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Loss(1) Bereavement(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Time Out(1) Academic Skills(1) E.coli(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Learning through Storytelling(1) NAEYC(1) Eritrea(1) Teamwork(1) Titles(1) Early Years Education(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Autism(4) story time(2) Looking Back(1) Light table(1) Summer(1) Arlene Forster(1) Decision Making(1) Design(1) Time(1) stories(3) Awards(2) purpose(1) UD(1) blog(53) Reopening Childcare(1) Prexit(1) worries(1) Identity(5) Mud kitchens(1) Queues(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Culture(2) gender bias(1) curiosity(3) relationships(18) Italy(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) democratic citizens(1) Cork(1) Children(4) Anthony Semann(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Twitter(1) childcare services(1) EECERA(1) Capable(1) toddlers(3) COVID-19(14) Child Care(1) Learning journals(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Thinking(1) Sweets(1) keezy(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) UN(1) Participation(2) Celebrate(1) Professionalisation(5) Competent(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Graduation(1) Infectious diseases(1) Diversity(1) Valentine's Day(3) Trigonometry(1) aistear blog(3) School Age Childcare(1) respect(5) outdoor play(6) Reading Time(1) Pobal sector profile(1) RIE philosphy(1) TOY Programme(1) Gardening(1) Reggio(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Document Learning(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) continual professional development(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) memories(1) Budget 2018(1) science week(2) preschool settings(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Nonverbal(1) collaboration(1) Mathematicians(1) Rituals(1) Snack Time(1) Event Guide(1) reading(5) Children's Rights(3) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Magda Gerber(1) Treasure Chest(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Recycle(1) Inspirational(2) Biting(1) education(2) Affordability(1) pablo(1) risk(2) mental health problems(1) linc(1) Research Conference 2019(1) friendships(1) Consent(1) annual awards(1) value(1) Confidence(1) Mindfulness(3) inspiring interactions(1) early years settings(1) European Project(1) Confident(1) Maternity Leave(1) Maths(6) The Lullaby Book(1) Impact(1) Spiders(1) Thanks(1) Irish(1) Kilkenny(1) Wilenski(1) Penguins(1) early years research(2) AIM(2) Engagement(1) Masterclass(2) GDPR(1) bloom app(1) Quality(4) feisty(1) National Awards 2018(2) Covid19 crisis(1) Celebrations(4) annual conference(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Maria Montessori(1) research submissions(1) ears(1) Weather(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Adoption(1) Sessional service(1) Inclusion(3) Playdough(1) Vietnam(1) ECEC Setting(2) Degree(1) risk assessment(1) Mantra(1) Well-Being(10) Investment(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) Qualifications(1) interacting(2) Performing(1) children’s learning(1) Maynooth University(2) Inspiring Practice(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Pen green(1) Body Language(1) Síolta(137) STEM(3) Wesco(1) INTO(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Book Club(2) Fabric(1) Maths Week(1) Síolta QAP(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) awards 2020(1) Orla Kenny(1) Blocks(1) CPD(1) Sleep(1) Budget 2020(1) Funding(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Line-ups(1) community(5) Xbox(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Early Years(1) Craft(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Magic(1) Snakes(1) Communicating(1) code of ethics(1) planning(1) play(35) Support(1) ECIAwards20(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Educators(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Settling in(4) Maynooth(1) First 5(1) Sequins(1) DCYA(6) MECPI(1) emotional well-being(1) emotions(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Socioemotional development(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Sustainable(1) code of professional responsibility(1) dining(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) early childhood(1) creche(1) gender stereotype(1) routine(2) Child mental health(1) Visual Impairment(1) trust(4) Awards Night(1) Reflective Practice(1) Digital Devices(1) Exploring(1) family time(1) Supernanny(1) Workplace well-being(1) Opportunities(1) Decisions(1) Large Doll Play(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Flowers(1) Gratitude(1) Learning Stories Award(3) baby room(1) Traffic Lights(1) Love(3) NCCA(3) Imagination(3) Stress(2) grandchild(1) Exercise(1) Budget 2019(2) Awards 2019(1) Universal Design(2) Iraq(1) Snacks(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Japan(1) Plastic(1) Awards 2018(3) transitions(10) Malaguzzi(1) Feeding(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Mental Health(4) under 3's(3) Interaction(1) Frustrations(1) journey(1) outdoor space(3) Arts(1) movement behaviours(1) Trade union(1) imotion(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) United Nations(1) Staff Motivation(1) Limerick(1) First 5 strategy(1) Digital(1) Winter(1) Meal time(1) documentation(4) Learning Journal(2) Siolta blog(8) quarantine(1) early childhood educator(2) early life(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Photographs(1) child-centric(1) National Holiday(1) Engineers Week(2) playleader(1) ICBN(1) behavioural science(1) learning bias(1) apps for children(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Engineering(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Book Review(1) Laughter(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Home Corner(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Traditions(2) Mealtimes(1) EM Standing(1) babies(7) learning hub(1) Potential(1) Window(1) social media policy(1) Policy(2) Early Years Educators(3) Visitors(1) Jenga(1) National Awards 2019(1) Counting(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Irish guidelines(1) primary education(1) Glitter(2) Wonder(1) SAC(1) Little Buddies(1) Sport(1) bonds(1) ReCreate(2) Self Help Skills(1) Family(1) Builders(1) Buddies(1) Self-Esteem(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Leprechauns(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Obesity(1) Positivity(1) Favouritism(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Breathing(2) Meet the Members(1) Employee(1) Nutrition(1) Leadership(1) Communications(1) Workforce(1) educarer(1) outdoor environment(1) ELC(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Exploratory Play(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Afghanistan(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) multi-generational community(1) Shapes(2) Universal Design Guidelines(1) mushrooms(1) Anxiety(2) social science(1) Storytelling(7) Your place(1) eating(1) Challenges(1) Map(1) Trick or treat(1) Sculptures(1) Creativity(6) Seanchaí(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Smiles(1) IGL(1) Exit interview(1) Covid pandemic(2) phone apps(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Cognitive development(1) Pedagogy(2) man up(1) Trade Unions(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Syria(1) Margy Whalley(1) Health(2) New Appointments(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Running(1) World Health Organisation(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Learning Story(1) Mayo(1) Return to Work Training(1) HR(1) conversations(1) Wendy Lee(3) Pretend Play(1) Giraffe(2) Norway(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Nuturing interactions(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Painting(1) San Miniato(4) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Small World Play(1) Arithmetic(1) Social Skills(1) healthy eating policies(1) Brain(1) Academics(1) Elders(1) environments(1) racism(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Childcare(3) refugees(1) education system(1) Research Seminar(1) Empathy(1) Childhood(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Aistear(130) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Children's Research Network(1) Tuscan Approach(2) books(4) Routines(2) ECCE(7) Magnavacchi(1) Through the looking glass(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) staying connected(1) Loving Relationships(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Certificate(1) Interests(1) Covid response(2) Early Childhood Education(1) Online(1) experience(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) social media(2) College(1) Yoga(1) Graduate(1) CIT(1) Games(1) Easter(1) Change(1) june29(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Training(2) Community involvement(1) responsive relationships(1) ECEC(3) Pre-School Services(1) animals(2) parents(6) Infection Control(1) play pod(1) keep in touch(1) developing motor skills(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Wrapping paper(1) Mixed age groups(3) coronavirus(1) Horizon 2020(1) early years learning(1) Laugh(1) curriculum(5) Performance Management(1) supportive environments(2) Engineering Ireland(1) democracy(1) Belonging(3) Learning Stories(9) Kids Own(1) conference(1) MA(1) Care routines(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Buddy Bench(1) GoToMeeting app(1) play pods(2) Relaxation(1) Human Resources(1) Party(1) pets(1) TRAP(1) Names(1) meals(3) Playschool(1) UNCRC(2) Youtube Series(1) Liz Kerrins(1) maternity health(1) preschool(4) reopening ireland(1) Fantasy play(1) play therapy(1) Art(6) Lego(2) Touch(1) peer group(1) Workplace Relations(3) The Jelly King(1) Environment(2) art of the relationship(1) educating(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) dining experiences(1) Creative(1) development(8) Inspired Practice Award(6) listen(1) DES Inspection(1) Ceremony(1) Advocacy(1) Oireachtas(1) Proceedings Journal(1) youdoodle(1) EECERA 2016(1) Vertical grouping(1) Thank you(1) Children and families(1) show and tell(1) Montessori(3) overhear(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) ERASMUS+(3) Mark Twain(1) Primary School(3) life long learning(1) Scents(1) lockdown(1) Recycling(2) listening(1) Kindness Challenge(1) reopening(1) structure(1) Patterns(1) Building Resilience(1) scéalta(56) role playing(1) Grief(1) iOS(1) Looking Forward(1) dogs(1) Technology(3) research(6) Fee Play(1) Role play(1) Inspections(1) Story(2) Halloween(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Drawing(2) Kerry(1) Whole Group(1) an post(1) Our Little Seed(1) children development(1) Interactions(3) Mount Everest(1) SPICE Framework(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) University(1) Sustainability(3) Exclusion(1) risky play(2) learners(1) Administrative Burden(1) Ariana Pucci(1) PIP(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine