Science for three-year-olds? Absolutely!

Children have many of the qualities all scientists need: curiosity and a joy for learning new things.Can three-year-olds really begin to understand scientific concepts like states of matter, force, and motion?

“Absolutely,” says Meg Davis, manager of curriculum and content development for KinderCare Education. “Children are young scientists. They learn about the world around them through their senses.”  This natural curiosity is the basis for KinderCare’s new early science education program, to be launched this summer.

Called Spectacular Science, the two-week program presents basic science concepts in ways three-year-olds can engage with and understand. “The key,” Davis says, “is to provide children with plenty of hands-on opportunities to explore science in a playful way.”

For example, while learning about states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases), our children will pretend to be balloons filled with air that float up into the sky…and then fall back to the ground. That kind of physicality helps bring complex concepts to life for young children.

Can’t wait to nurture your own kids scientific curiosity? Bring a little bit of Spectacular Science home with these three ideas inspired by our new curriculum.

1. Science in creative expression: Shadow Art   

Materials needed: Sidewalk chalk

Scientific concepts: Light and shadows

Pick a sunny day to head outdoors with your sidewalk chalk, find a hard, flat surface, and search for shadows to trace. Encourage your child to identify a shadow and trace its outline with the chalk. Create your own shadows and trace each other’s outlines.

Ask open-ended questions: What does a shadow look like? What shape is it? How is a shadow made? Extra Credit: Later, go outdoors to see how far the shadow moved!

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2. Science in motion: Freeze Tag

Scientific concepts: Liquids and Solids

Physical movement and acting out ideas and concepts helps children understand them more clearly, and this well-known child’s game incorporates a science lesson too: Freeze Tag. (Freeze Tag works best with a few friends.)

Explain the simple rules: One child is It and tries to tag the other children. If a child is tagged, the child “freezes” in a fun (or funny) position. If another child tags the “frozen” child, he or she becomes “unfrozen” and can begin running again. After several minutes, ask another child to be It.

During breaks, ask: What else freezes?…That’s right, water. When does water freeze? What is water like when it unfreezes?…What is another word for ‘unfreeze’?

3. Science in everyday conversation

Scientific concepts: Critical thinking, hypothesizing, and science vocabulary

Science learning at any age involves curiosity, exploration, and discovery. Families can support science learning in everyday conversations by asking “how” and “what” questions that prompt children to think critically and explain their reasoning.

Ask questions like What would happen if… or How do you know that….? Then sharpen children’s skills by inviting them to test their ideas. For example, if you are exploring what sinks or floats ask, Will the rubber duckie float ? Let’s try it…

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Summer at KinderCare

Spectacular Science is one of six new thematic units KinderCare is offering this summer for preschoolers and pre-kindergartners. Our new summer programs are handpicked for fun—and the learning definitely continues.

Every two weeks, children will be immersed in a new theme keeping children exploring and playing all season long. Take a look at their best summer yet!

Staying Safe

From dialing 911 to learning what police officers do, our new Staying Safe program gives children the tools to stay safe in their homes, schools, and communities. (Firefighters may even pay your center a visit!)

Exploring the Arts

Shapes, sounds, rhythms, melodies, and movement: Exploring the Arts lets children’s imagination soar. We encourage creative self-expression through drama, music, dance, and art.

All about Books

Immerse your child in the joys of reading and the wonderful world of words and books. Stories take center stage, and even outdoor activities support literacy through active games and read-alouds.

Foods and Flavors

Children have hands-on fun preparing and eating snacks, while exploring food’s flavors, textures, shapes, colors, and the importance of healthful eating. Plus, they’ll get a good dose of science by learning about fruit seeds and how plants drink water.

Shapes and Colors (Preschool) & Alphabet Letters (PreK)

These end-of-summer programs are designed to get children ready to go back to school come September. But the main focus is still on fun:  While preschool children explore shapes and colors, our pre-K children learn letters and sounds. Both programs employ plenty of art activities and outdoor games to make the learning fun!

Meet Meg.

Meg Davis believes deeply in providing all children access to high-quality early childhood education and care—a goal she’s worked toward for more than 12 years at KinderCare Education. Today, she serves as our Manager of Curriculum and Content Development. That means she’s had a hand in developing just about every single page of our Early Foundations and School-Age curriculum. Integrating fine arts and the outdoors into early childhood education are particular interests for Davis—interests that show up strongly in KinderCare Education’s programs today. Davis holds a Master in Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education.

Read more articles from Meg.

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