I’m in to doing science with kids. That’s pretty clear. Every week I try a new project with Ben and share it on Facebook. I’m working on bundling them together to get posts with 3-5 activities to try. Now, if you have been following along on Facebook you might think, Wow, some of these seem too easy. What’s the point? The point is that they are super easy. These activities are designed for three to four year olds. Yes, older kids and younger kids can for sure get enjoyment from them and learn something too. They are pretty easy to either step up or down in terms of your explanations. But I have a few very good reasons for the level of ease these activities have.
A big reason for the ease is that parents of little ones are busy. I know with three kids three and under at home I always have something going on. I need to be able to set up something fast and clean it up just as easily. Kids have a short attention span as it is, and it is frustrating to spend a lot of time prepping for an activity your child will enjoy for two minutes. I want these projects to be cheap too. There are so many cool experiments you can do with kids. I mean, spend a few minutes on Pinterest and you can find hundreds! But could you do those right now if you found yourself with ten to fifteen minutes to fill? Maybe, but often times not. You just might not have a key item to complete the project. I want to be able to look around my house and create an activity with things we already have. Sure, as I start to gather steam and do more science I might start to stock pile some equipment. The reality of life is if something is easy and accessible we are more likely to do it. Add to that we are all on a budget these days, I don’t want to add in any more costs.
For this age range the simple is good. Little ones are still getting a handle on the order of the world. They are recognizing the fundamentals of how our world works. Seasons change in a predictable fashion. Liquids tend to have similar properties, and these vary from solids, that sort of thing. They are learning the ways of their world and how to predict what will happen based on these observations. Think about it, as adults we have had years to gather this sort of background data that allows us to pretty accurately predict what will happen in the physical world. For example, look at two objects like a marshmallow and a marble. Both are solids, both are about the same size and shape. However, it is clear to us that when put in water the marshmallow will float and the marble will sink. We don’t even think about it, we have so many examples we have seen throughout our lives that tell us that. Three and four-year-olds just don’t have that same level of background data. That is what you are building up with a lot of these experiments.
I admit have an ulterior motive to the simplicity, and that is to build up confidence in the parents. I have tutored and talked with a lot of adults about the STEM fields. The biggest reason I see for people being completely unwilling to even think about math or science is fear. I know it is hard to admit we are afraid of something like this. The fear is of not understanding, appearing foolish or unintelligent, and feeling inadequate. Those are some big and real feelings. There is also the worry that it will just be too hard, or that our kids just won’t get anything out of it. I don’t want to discount them or tell someone to just get over it. Human nature tells us that won’t work. And they are understandable feelings. A lot of people didn’t have the best or most enjoyable STEM educational experiences themselves and are finding their way through it on their own now. That’s a tough position to be in.
These activities are meant to encourage adults to find joy in discovering the world around them as well. They are easy on purpose basically. We are building ourselves up for success. I want adults who are a bit hesitant to consider doing science with their kids to try these and think, Oh, that was easy. Maybe we could try another one. So you try another, then another. Yes, you will hit some that don’t work out well. I do, it is inevitable! How you handle this is what matters. With some confidence from previous successes, I am hoping reluctant parents are more likely to stay positive and demonstrate for their children that it is okay if an experiment ‘fails.’ It’s okay if things don’t work how we thought. It’s okay if we don’t know the answer to something. In fact, that is kind of the point of science. We don’t know how something works, so we try to find out.
At the end of the day, kids are heavily influenced by their parent’s opinions. We all know that. I have written before about how we need to stop telling our children we hate math and science and then expect them to dive right into it. I seriously believe what I wrote. But where do you start? How do you get this sort of talk with your kids going? Well, simple activities like these are a good jumping off point. Even if you love science it can be daunting to know where to begin. Here is where to start, with the easy stuff. Try a few things, see what you children like. Their interests will lead the way if we let them.
I am sharing these easy activities because you can do this with your child. It is important that kids enjoy learning about the world around them and embrace math and science. And they will if we give them the chance. I’m here to help. What topics do you want to cover with your children? Are you looking for a particular type of activity (water based, good for the outdoors, etc.)? What are your go to projects for science with your kids? I’d love to hear about them and share them with others.
Science with kids doesn’t have to be big or messy or flashy. Did you try something new? Did you observe? Did you ask yourselves why? Then you’re doing it. Any one can do science. You can do science, and most importantly you can share it with you children. You got this.
If you want to get more of my science projects, tips, and ways to make science with littles easy you can sign up to get our science emails! Signing up also gets you access to my library of free printables, which includes all the science projects we have done so far. Plus you will get a list of easy science things you can talk about when you are out to eat with your kids. No supplies needed, just the items typically found on a restaurant table. These are great ways to engage with your children and keep them entertained while you wait for your food. (Now this sign up is just for the science updates. If you want all Team Cartwright latest you can sign up for the newsletter over on the sidebar!)