Kids are natural scientists. They love to ask questions—sometimes, seemingly endless ones! Fortunately, all those questions can be used to help children learn. We can follow their curiosity to build science skills. Science at home might feel daunting, but there are many simple ways to foster science exploration…no lab necessary! Try these activities to get started.
– Don’t Pop the Bubbles –
Together, watch Murray observe bubbles popping as he tries to catch them. His teacher suggests setting up an experiment to learn if anything can prevent a bubble from popping. They test on wet hands, soapy hands, dirty hands, garden gloves, aluminum foil…and get different results! After watching, ask:
- “Murray made an observation in the beginning of the video. What did he observe?”
- “In the experiment, what did Murray and the children change?”
- “What helped everyone to catch the bubbles without popping? Why do you think that worked?“
You can do a similar experiment with bubble solution, a wand, and a few items found around the house:
- Invite children to observe and touch different types of paper. Say, “Now let’s make a hypothesis. Which paper do you think the bubbles can land on without popping?” Have children raise their hands to show what they think.
- Tally the results, and point out which hypothesis got the most votes.
- Blow bubbles and let them fall onto each material. Tally the number of bubbles that stay on each material without popping.
- Finally, compare the two sets of data. Ask, “Which material was the best for catching bubbles without popping? Why do you think the bubbles were less likely to pop on that material?”
– Sink or Float –
Launch Sink or Float
Help kids play the sink-or-float game with Grover. Talk with kids about which items sink and which items float, and why that might be.
Then, do your own sink-or-float investigation with toys, food storage containers, and bottles of shampoo. Make a hypothesis, a thoughtful guess or possible explanation, for why something happens about which item will sink or float, then try it out! You might draw pictures of each item in a chart that shows your findings.
What else can you investigate? Start by looking around your home and asking the question, “What do you think would happen if…?”
– Body Science –
Your own body is one of the best tools for exploring science concepts. Try these activities:
Balance this! Challenge kids to see if they can balance different items on one finger (or two or three, depending on age). Try a wooden spoon, a sponge, and a sock. Which is the easiest to balance? Which is the hardest? Why might an item be easy or hard to balance?
There she blows! What can kids move using air? Challenge kids to move a tissue by blowing on it. How far can they make it go? Now try heavier items, like a pencil, book, or bar of soap.
Hummmmm… What’s happening when you hum? Try humming a simple tune. Lightly put your hand on your throat as you do. What do you feel? Does your throat vibrate? Try humming louder and softer. Do the vibrations change? What happens when you blow air without making sound? Do the vibrations stop?