Last week, we chatted about your main goal during the early years. In this podcast, we are going to talk about the tools you can use to do this.
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Last week, we talked about the main goal of teaching science during the early years, which is to introduce your students to the basic concepts of science found in the world around them. Today, we are going to chat about the different tools you can use to accomplish this goal.
There are four pieces that you can use during the early years.
We’ll dig into what these pieces are in just a moment, but before we do that, I want to talk about how to use these pieces during the early years. The pieces can build upon each other, reinforcing the scientific concept, but the pieces you use each week will really depend upon your student’s interest.
Some weeks your kiddo will want to spend every waking minute learning something and science will be the most fascinating subject ever! Some weeks your kiddo will only want to spend five minutes on educational topics, and even those five minutes will elicit the “I’m not happy with you right now” face.
So, think of the four pieces of science during the early years as a buffet of ideas that you can use to introduce your student to the world of science, rather than a list of things you have to do each week.
Remember that science during the early years needs to be very hands-on and very teacher-directed. That said, it should also be very enjoyable for the student. If your youngster does not enjoy reading books about science (or any of the other pieces), don’t force him to do so, as this will be counter-productive to your goal. There will be plenty of years for him or her to learn what they need to in the not so distant future.
You can certainly accomplish your goal for early years science by capturing moments and chasing rabbit trails. But you can also present your preschooler with those “ahh-mazing” moments through a plan for science. This plan should include four pieces.
First, you want to start with a topic for each week, in other words, you want to have a main idea that will guide your studies for the week. It is best to put this idea into words a preschooler will understand. For instance, if you wanted to spend the week learning about rain, your weekly topic could be:
“Rain is water falling from clouds in the sky.”
This is a very basic look at rain, but that’s ok because our goal is just to introduce science during these years.
To share the weekly topic with your student, you can use a simple visual explanation or guide the student to observe the topic outdoors. I will share a few examples of how to do this in our next episode.
But when you give this introduction, be sure to share the main topic for the week several times. You can have your student color a page related to the topic or have them copy the main idea and illustrate it on a separate sheet of paper. If your kiddo has questions during your introduction, answer them, but try to keep the discussion on the topic. This introduction should only take five to fifteen minutes so that you don’t overextend the student’s short attention span.
Second, we have hands-on projects. This piece of your buffet can include simple scientific demonstrations or nature studies. These demonstrations should be designed to help your student see the science of their environment in action, while nature studies should be designed to aid your student in learning about the world around them through discovery and observation.
You can choose to include one or both of these in your week. Here are two posts you can read to learn more about each of these types of hands-on science activities:
Whichever hands-on projects you choose, these simple scientific demonstrations and nature studies will present the “ahh-mazing” parts of science to your preschooler.
Third, we have read-alouds. These non-fiction books will provide your student with information on the weekly topic. We love the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out series, but your local library should have a good selection of non-fiction books that your child will find interesting. Simply look up the topic for the week, skim the available books for appropriateness and take home what the student will enjoy listening to.
You can also choose fiction books that are related to the topic you are studying to add even more interest. Either way, make sure to choose books that you know the student will like you to read to him or her.
Check out this list of 50+ books we love to use to teach science for a few ideas.
Fourth and final, we have coordinating activities, which are meant to reinforce what the student is learning in science. You can use crafts or snacks that relate to the weekly topic or you can incorporate simple finger plays or songs.
When you complete these activities, share the main idea for the week with your student to continue to reinforce what he or she is learning.
As you use these four tools with your student, you can create a journal or scrapbook of what you do together. If you choose to make a journal, you can include coloring pages, papers, projects, and pictures that your student has drawn or cut out. As for writing in the notebook, most, if not all, should be done by you, since a preschooler’s fine motor skills are still developing, and writing can be a chore.
These science journals are fun to look back at when your kiddos get to high school, but even so, they are optional. The main point of the early years is to introduce your student to science in an interesting way.
Your early years' science buffet of tools should include a weekly topic, hands-on projects, read-alouds, and coordinating activities.
A good science plan for the early years will give you options for each of these four pieces to fill your plate for the week. Add on a bit of gravy in the form of a science journal and your students will leave the early year’s table full of the basic scientific facts – ready and excited to keep learning about science.
Next week, we are going to chat about what it looks like to use these tools to introduce science during the early years.
Until then . . . thanks for listening – I hope that you leave our time together encouraged in your homeschooling journey.
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I can’t wait to share another piece of the roadmap in our next episode, but until then – I hope you have a great week playing with science!
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