– 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!
|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!
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.