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Teaching your child about science is a little different from teaching him about math and reading.  Because science is all around us, lessons do not require a structured environment and the research and experimentation required to understand some facets of a scientific nature make this subject much more fun.  My initial approach in teaching science was to interact with nature and the immediate environment, go to parks, zoos and museums and conduct science experiments. I incorporated more formal knowledge when my son entered school.


Practical adviceLife, Earth and Physical ScienceThe Scientific Method9 Basic Scientific Concepts Helpful Resources

When teaching science more than any other subject there is an opportunity to be interactive, adventurous and embrace nature.   Here are some practical tips for instructing your child in scientific methods.

  • Nurture their sense of creativity and adventure.  Science projects can sometimes be messy so find a special place where they can mix and make messes when conducting them experiments.
  • Allow them to become problem solvers and find their own conclusions.
  • Take adventure walks to explore nature and point out various characteristics and wildlife.
  • Don’t criticize them for their lack of scientific understanding or overwhelm them with information
  • Permit them to do independent experiments, (provided the experiment is not dangerous) Kids will love the sense of independence when they are able to mix and create things for themselves.
  • Allow everyday interactions to become science lessons or exploratory experiences
  • Allow them to help you with cooking; show them how, when you mix two substances, science occurs
  • Conduct gross science experiments like making slime, science kits like Gross Science
  • Buy a telescope to view the night stars and use the internet to identify star clusters
  • Use a microscope to view grass or strands of hair.
  • Use science kits and view experiments on the internet.
  • Most of all make it fun, better yet make it an adventure. Children become excited about learning when it seems fun or an adventure.

Life Science, Physical Science and the Science of Earth and Space cover a vast spectrum of fields. At the most basic level, these subjects can be easily observed in nature and at home.

LIFE SCIENCE: comprise the fields of science that involve the scientific study of living organisms – such as microorganisms, plants, animals, and human beings.  Life science includes the study of botany, zoology, biology, genetics and medicine. Some common methods of studying include may include:

    1. Plant life: understanding the plant lifecycle and how they get food.
    2. Animal life: understanding differing animal lifecycles
      1. Why some animals lay eggs and others have babies
      2. Butterfly life cycle
    3. Human Life: why humans interact the way we do
    4. Habitats: where people and animals life, why they migrate

Find Life science in the Community: Zoos, Aquariums, Safaris, Circus, Farms, Nature shows

PHYSICAL SCIENCE: comprise of the fields of science that involve the study of nonliving organism. This field of study will help your child  analyze the nature and properties of energy and nonliving matter.  This subject is preparation for physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology and related subjects. Since Physical science incorporates almost everything in your everyday life there is no shortage of things and ways to experiment. Some key concepts include:

    1. Hot versus cold
    2. Solid liquid gas
    3. Simple machines
    4. Forms of energy

To illustrate consider the items in this graphic and how and why they related to physical science.

EARTH SCIENCE is a subset of planetary science dealing with the study of the earth and its relationship with space.

    1. In your neighborhood or state: View stars with a telescope, keep track of the temperature, and start a rock collection using beach rocks.
    2. Rocks (minerals) and Soil
    3. Weather and seasons
    4. Sun, moon, and earth
    5. Solar System
Although your child may not be able to understand the full basis of things such as the scientific method, using a more simplistic method, you can teach your child to determine cause and effect, make predictions and analyze results. Rather than using the well known terms in the scientific method, use simpler words.

To simplify the scientific method use these interpretations:

  • Research (Observe):
    • Your children will do this naturally. They will begin asking the hard questions like: Why is the Sky blue? Why does it get dark? Why does it rain? How do lights work? Etc.
    • Other ways children observe will be to watch and interact with nature
  • Hypothesize (Predict):
    • Allow your child to use critical thinking to determine why things are happening the way they are. Or if you are conducting an experiment ask your child what he or she thinks will happen.
  • Experiment (Check)
    • Conducting experiments is the best part because children get to see how things work and participate in the process.
  • Evaluate (Communicate Results)
    • Identify and explain what happened and possible reasons why.

The National Center for Improving Science Education created a handbook specifically for preparing Pre-Elementary school students for science curriculum. The handbook helps prepares students by using theories and concepts which are drawn from elementary school curricula. Below are excerpts from the book on the various concepts and how they can be easily used within the community or around the home. To download the handbook from the Department of Education Website Click here.

Scientists have made the study of science manageable by organizing and classifying natural phenomena. For example, natural objects can be assembled in hierarchies (atoms, molecules, mineral grains, rocks, strata, hills, mountains, and planets). Or objects can be arranged according to their complexity (single-celled amoeba, sponges, and so on to mammals).
Primary-grade children can be introduced to this concept by sorting objects like leaves, shells, or rocks according to their characteristics. Intermediate-grade children can classify vegetables or fruits according to properties they observe in them, and then compare their own classification schemes to those used by scientists.
  Nature behaves in predictable ways. Searching for explanations is the major activity of science; effects cannot occur without causes. Primary children can learn about cause and effect by observing the effect that light, water, and warmth have on seeds and plants. Intermediate grade children can discover that good lubrication and streamlining the body of a pinewood derby car can make it run faster.
   A system is a whole that is composed of parts arranged in an orderly manner according to some scheme or plan. In science, systems involve matter, energy, and information that move through defined pathways. The amount of matter, energy, and information, and the rate at which they are transferred through the pathways, varies over time. Children begin to understand systems by tracking changes among the individual parts. Primary children can learn about systems by studying the notion of balance–for example, by observing the movements and interactions in an aquarium. Older children might gain an understanding of systems by studying the plumbing or heating systems in their homes.
  Thermometers, rulers, and weighing devices help children see that objects and energy vary in quantity. It’s hard for children to understand that certain phenomena can exist only within fixed limits of size. Yet primary grade children can begin to understand scale if they are asked, for instance, to imagine a mouse the size of an elephant. Would the mouse still have the same proportions if it were that large? What changes would have to occur in the elephant-sized mouse for it to function? Intermediate grade children can be asked to describe the magnification of a microscope.
  We can create or design objects that represent other things. This is a hard concept for very young children. But primary grade children can gain experience with it by drawing a picture of a cell as they observe it through a microscope. Intermediate grade children can use a model of the earth’s crust to demonstrate the cause of earthquakes
  The natural world continually changes, although some changes may be too slow to observe. Rates of change vary. Children can be asked to observe changes in the position and apparent shape of the moon. Parents and children can track the position of the moon at the same time each night and draw pictures of the moon’s changing shape to learn that change takes place during the lunar cycle. Children can also observe and describe changes in the properties of water when it boils, melts, evaporates, freezes, or condenses.
  A relationship exists between the way organisms and objects look (feel, smell, sound, and taste) and the things they do. Children can learn that skunks let off a bad odor to protect themselves. Children also can learn to infer what a mammal eats by studying its teeth, or what a bird eats by studying the structure of its beak.
 To understand the concept of organic evolution and the statistical nature of the world, students first need to understand that all organisms and objects have distinctive properties. Some of these properties are so distinctive that no continuum connects them–for example, living and nonliving things, or sugar and salt. In most of the natural world, however, the properties of organisms and objects vary continuously.

Young children can learn about this concept by observing and arranging color tones. Older children can investigate the properties of a butterfly during its life cycle to discover qualities that stay the same as well as those that change.

 This is the most obvious characteristic of the natural world. Even preschoolers know that there are many types of objects and organisms. In elementary school, youngsters need to begin understanding that diversity in nature is essential for natural systems to survive. Children can explore and investigate a pond, for instance, to learn that different organisms feed on different things.


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