Materials, safety, life science–Resources in "Science and Children"

Children painting on various materials using a thin and a thick consistency paint. Children I work with on a weekly basis have been exploring different types of materials as they work with them. Painting with thick or thin consistency paint (see the March 2015 Early Years column), running their hands through a pile of small stones before sending them through a tube, working with ceramic clay formulated for children’s use, and trying new kinds of play dough have provided them with experiences that involve testing the properties of materials. The children have also been making choices about which tool to use to achieve their purpose, measuring using informal units and making models to represent objects.

IMG_5261aChildren putting small stones through tubes.Children use craft sticks to incise ceramic clay.

I used the “Safety First: Safer Science Explorations for Young Children” by Ken Roy in the March 2015 issue of Science and Children to check my materials for safe use by children ages 2-5 years. Of course, the small stones were put away when the children who still “mouth” objects were in the room. Following the column advice, I kept damp paper towels in the area where clay was used to wipe up clay dust before it went airborne.  

A squash seed has sprouted.Alongside this exploration of physical properties and possibilities, we have been growing some squash plants from seeds the children excavated from inside the butternut, kabucha and pumpkin squash fruits. It’s a little early for our location to sprout seeds to put in the garden later unless you have an ultraviolet light to supplement the sunshine on the windowsill. We don’t and we may not have a garden space this year. But we can still explore life science concepts. The Early Childhood Resources Review in the print and digital February 2015 issue of Science and Children describes “Tools of Science Inquiry That Support Life Science Investigations.” 

I think I’ll make a basket of these items to have at hand for our nature walks and playground time.

Logo of NSTA Learning CenterThe NSTA Learning Center Early Childhood Forum is a great place to post a question asking other educators about a standard, lesson plan or concept. Create an account, and join in the conversations. As I tell the children, “Scientists don’t always agree, and that’s okay. We keep trying to learn, together.” 


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