Developmentally Appropriate Science Activities for Preschoolers

Use developmentally appopriate science activities to enhance your preschooler's learning.
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You wouldn't allow your preschooler to watch an adult cartoon that isn't designed for them, so you shouldn't expect them to learn in the same way that older children do. When it comes to planning science activities for your little one, you will achieve better results if you plan activities that are developmentally appropriate for them. OK, you've heard that phrase used before, but what does it really mean? Developmentally appropriate simply means taking into account your child's age, abilities and interests when planning the activities. Preschoolers typically learn through hands-on experiences that are flexible and allow them to make choices. So, pull out your scientific thinking cap.

1 Sensory Table

Chances are your little one likes to get his hands dirty. You might not realize that in doing so, he is learning in one of the best ways possible for his age. Create a sensory table, which is simply a table that allows your child to explore his senses. The table allows your preschooler to build his cognitive and physical skills. To do this, place various items on the table such as sand, water, Play-Doh, dried beans and rocks. Give your child some measuring cups or containers and allow him to play! In doing so, he'll be learning concepts of science such as gravity when the sands pours from the cup, and cause and effect when he hits the water with his hand and it splashes.

2 Magic Goo

Want another activity to allow your preschooler to use her senses? Create a magic goo that helps her explore states of matter. In a bowl, mix one part water to three parts cornstarch. Add a little green food coloring for a fun effect. The result will be sticky substance that will resemble both a liquid and a solid. The substance will drip like a liquid, but when it's in a bowl and pressed down on, it will feel like a solid.

3 Shadow Fun

On a bright and sunny day, head outside with your little one and find your shadows. Using a piece of chalk, draw the outline of your child's shadow. Come back outside later in the day and redraw the shadow, allowing your preschooler to observe the change. Allow him to try and make his shadow change shapes and sizes. On a cloudy day, head outside and have your child look for his shadow and talk about why he doesn't see it.

4 Round and Round

Give your preschooler the opportunity to explore how items bounce and roll. Give her a collection of small and large balls. Allow her to drop the balls from different heights, observing what happens when the balls fall and hit the ground. Have races to see which ball rolls across the room the fastest. Another idea is to use small race cars to roll across the room or even down ramps made from books or blocks.

Elizabeth Black is a middle school educator and freelance writer who lives in Cookeville, Tenn. She has been writing on education-related topics since 2008. Black holds a Bachelor of Science in multidisciplinary studies from Tennessee Technological University.