Ep 63 The Early Years Roadmap for Science – Part 3: The Methods
We have chatted about your goals and tools for early years science, but what does it look like to actually science during the early years? In this episode, I am going to share two different options for how you can put the tools in action to accomplish your goal.
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The Early Years – Part 3: The Methods Transcripts
So, you know your goal for early years science – to introduce the students to the basic concepts of science found in the world around them. And you know the tools you have at your disposal to share the three keys of science – weekly topics, hands-on projects, read-alouds, and coordinating activities.
Today, I am sharing with you two different options for how you can put the tools in action to accomplish your goal. We’ll chat about how early years’ science can be folded into the ebbs and flows of life. And we’ll chat about at what it looks like to use a formal program for early years’ science.
Let’s dig in…
2 Methods for Teaching Science during the Early Years
Within the ebbs and flows of life
When you fold science into the ebbs and flows of life, you take a more informal approach to science during the early years. This way, you are building on your child’s interest and taking the main idea from things that occur naturally in your daily life.
Here’s a look at how we folded science into our week…
“Momma look!!” our four-year-son called out to me.
I took a break from weeding the flower bed to look over at what he was pointing out to me. He had found a family of snails hiding out in the moist warmth of our mulch. “Wow, buddy, that’s so neat! You found a family of snails! What do they feel like?”
“Hard. And a bit slimy,” he answered, as he touched the nearest snail’s shell.
“Yep, that’s the shell you are touching. It protects the snail’s soft body inside. Let’s be really quiet and really patient to see if one of the snails comes out of its shell,” I responded.
We waited patiently for about twenty seconds, which is like two hours in little-boy-time! Thankfully, one of the snails slowly poked its tentacles out of its shell. As the soft, slimy body of the snail appeared, I smiled at the “WOW” that came out of our son’s mouth.
“Hey, buddy, do you want to go to the library today to look for a few books on snails?” He vigorously nodded his head. “Great, we’ll go after we eat lunch,” I informed him, as I went back to my weeding.
Later in the week, we read another book about snails from the pile we picked up at the library. Then, we headed out on a backyard snail hunt. We looked high, we looked low, we looked on the leaves, and we looked in the mulch. As we headed back inside, we chatted about what we learned from our snail hunt.
Once inside, I wrote down a sentence or two of what he shared under a picture of a snail that we had found. And then we made a few breadstick snails from the recipe I found on Pinterest to go with our lunch for that day. In the process of all that we did that week, our son learned quite a bit about what snails are and where snails prefer to live.
And that is what it looks like to do science during the early years within the ebbs and flows of life. The weekly topic comes from something that your child observes or sees happening. Your hands-on projects are typically nature studies or observations. Your read alouds can be off your shelves or books from the library. And the coordinating activities are ones that you find on Pinterest and actually have the supplies on hand for!
When you fold early years’ science into your life, you will feed your child’s curiosity with information about the science in the environment around him. Teaching science like this is very informal, you will be planning for behind – meaning that you will record what you do rather than do what you have planned. For some, this may be the perfect way to approach science for the early years, for others it will be too loosie-goosey. But this is an effective way to teach science during the early years.
With a formal program
When you have a formal program or guide for science, you have a plan in hand with an idea of where we are going and what we will cover during the early years. This way, you know that you will hit the highlights and cover the things that you want to cover before you hit the elementary years.
Here is what a sample week learning about rain looks like when you plan ahead…
I started the week by looking over the plan for the week, making sure we have the supplies listed in the guide. This week, the main idea was, “Rain is water falling from clouds in the sky.”
During our normal science time on Tuesday, I started by sharing the 19th-century nursery rhyme - Rain, Rain, Go away; Come again another day; Little Johnny wants to play. Then, I asked our daughter, “Do you know what rain is?”
She answered, “It’s clouds crying.”
I smiled at her and said, “Sort-of. Rain is water falling from clouds in the sky. First, water evaporates from the rivers, lakes, and oceans around us. It goes up into the air and forms clouds. When those clouds get really heavy, they let go of some of the water and it falls to the ground as rain. This week we are going to study rain.”
I gave her a coloring page with a picture of rain falling from a cloud that had the main idea printed on the bottom. She colored it as I got the supplies ready for our hands-on project. Once she was done, I told her how good her coloring looked and re-read the main idea sentence before adding the sheet to her science notebook.
Then, we did the “Raindrop Landing Pad” activity from Science Play. It was a hit, so we spend a bit of extra time on this one. As she was making raindrops, I asked her what she was learning about rain and we wrote this on the demonstration sheet. I snapped a quick picture to print out and add to the sheet before it was added to her science notebook.
The following Thursday, our next science day, we were lucky enough to have a bit of rain. She watched the rain fall from the front window as I read the suggested book, Down Comes the Rainby Franklyn Mansfield Branley and James Graham Hale, aloud to her.
When I was done the reading, we started on the art project, Pitter Patter Paint, from Science Play. When she was done with, we added the sheet to her science notebook and worked together to make a few apple and pretzel umbrellas to have as a snack. As we ate our snack, I reminded her of the main idea as we chatted about what she had learned about rain that week.
And that is what it looks like to do science during the early years when you use an actual program. The weekly topic comes from the plans and the hands-on project is a simple demonstration of the main idea. Your read alouds will be books suggested in the plans or scheduled pages from a children’s encyclopedia. The coordinating activities included in the plan will be crafts, snacks, or games that you can pick and choose from depending upon how much time you have and how much interest your child shows.
When you have a plan for science, you will spark your child’s natural interest with specific information. Teaching science like this is a bit more formal, you will have a plan for each week – one that lays out your weekly topic and hands-on project, plus gives you options for read-alouds and coordinating activities. For some this may be too rigid for the early years, for others it will be a relief to know that science will be covered each week. This is also an effective way to teach science in the early years.
In a nutshell
There is no right or wrong way to introduce science to your students – both of these methods are effective options for early years’ science!
Whether you choose to fold science into your daily life, or you choose to use a program for science during the early years, introducing your young students to science will be worth the effort.
When you teach science in this way during the early years, your student will develop an interest to learn more. Science won’t be scary or boring and this alone will pave the way for a much easier science-learning experience in future years.
In the next episode, we are going to move onto the next stage on our roadmap to teaching science – the elementary 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!
See how we can help you teach science to your preschooler!