History records Isaac Newton as a genius but most toddlers can tell you what will happen if you drop a ball! OK, so gravity wasn't merely the observation that things fall, so much as the reasoning as to why, but introducing such basic concepts to young children genuinely is laying the foundation for a scientific education. Next time you are bathing your little ones, take some time out to look at floating and sinking. Add a number of waterproof toys into the bath and see which ones float, and which ones sink? Can you find objects that float when they are bobbed on the surface but that sink when filled with water?
Bathtime presents a fabulous opportunity for little ones to explore water and its properties. Make sure that as well as experimenting, you talk with your little ones; discuss what they are observing and if you can explain it simply, then do so.
Pumice stones are items that you naturally expect to find in a bathroom. Pumice is extraordinary - it is volcanic in origin, created when superheated rock is spewed from a volcano that then cools very rapidly - usually because the volcano errupted underwater. Although it is a rock, it floats in water, so it's a wonderfully confusing item to play with at bathtime, and when you've had enough fun watching it float, you can use it to scrub your little ones clean...good, practical fun!
We're all used to keeping height measurements for our little ones, but how about something a bit more unusual - here's a great science experiment you can do at bathtime and log growth over time! How large are your toddlers lungs?!
Get hold of a plastic measuring jug (don't be tempted to use a glass jug) and a straw for bathtime. Bendy straws that bend towards one end are perfect for this experiment.
Fill the jug completely with water by submersing it in the bath. Now turn it upside down and slowly lift it out of the water until it is almost completely proud of the water level. You'll notice that pressure keeps the jug full of water even though the column of water rises higher than the water level in the bath. The only way that the water will fall is if you lift the rim of the jug above the water level, at which point the water will cascade out very quickly!
Get the jug to a position where it is filled with water and standing above the water level with the rim still just submerged. Take the straw and place it so that the one end of the straw is under the mouth of the jug with the other out of the water. If you have a 'bendy' straw, bend the end and point the short end up into the jug, and hold the long end clear of the water.
Have your children take a deep breath in and then blow as much air as they can from their lungs into the straw. Younger children may need to practice a bit to master the technique of blowing out fully.
The air blown out will displace the water in the jug and when they are done, you can read off the measurement on the side of the jug to tell the volume of air displaced. Teach older children how to read the quantity by looking at the scale on the side of the jug. You'll be quite surprised at just how much air they can hold! Take a note of measurements and repeat it every couple of months to see how your little ones are growing!
It has been reported that teachers and carers who are afraid of spiders and creepy crawlies are stopping our children learning about the natural world! Children are not getting involved with nature because teachers and carers are afraid of getting mucky from soil in the great outdoors and are too scared of insects to teach about them.
Experts have said that natural history and nature in general is not being taught in schools. Not so for the childminders and parents who enjoy ToucanLearn! There are some great outdoors activities that introduce insects and teach children about their natural environment. We don't agree with the 'don't get mucky'! philosophy of learning and teaching! The whole idea is to get children involved. Get them interested and inspired! The muddier the better!
The Chairman of the Association for Science Education said teachers need more support to carry out experiments and take children outside. Perhaps these teachers should join ToucanLearn!
He also said that Parents should take their children outside to enjoy the natural world, to learn where their food comes from, what grows in the woods and what goes on in nature.
So, let's take his lead, pull on some wellies, grab a magnifying glass and get out there in the undergrowth! Have fun, explorers!
It's never too early to introduce your toddlers to science - you don't call it science, of course, but there are plenty of fun activities that you can do to help build an understanding of the world around them. Here are a few ideas:-
Weather: Create a series of card pictures for different types of weather, and a picture for each of the seasons. Each morning look at the weather and put the appropriate weather and season pictures up on the wall.
Faces: Create a large picture of a head and then create a series of different eyes, noses, mouths, ears, eyebrows, hair and pairs of glasses. Have your toddler create faces, placing features in the right place. Discuss different coloured eyes, different shaped features and talk about what glasses are for.
Planting: Buy some cress or mung beans, plant them in a plastic pot, water them and watch them grow. Have your child chart the progress each day as they germinate and shoot up. Discuss the ways that they change each day, draw how they look and at the end, make a sandwich and enjoy them! Talk about how healthy they are and that good food makes you grow.
Colours: Show how mixing finger paints creates different colours. Create swirling patterns on paper by pouring on generous amounts of paint and swirling with your finger.
Growing: Use a wall to mark the height of your children. Have them stand against the wall, make a pencil mark at the height they stand and measure how tall they are. Add a date, and repeat on the first day of each month. Sometimes you'll see almost no difference, other months you might notice change. Over a prolonged time you will see how they grow. Discuss what makes you grow and the concept that your little ones are growing into big children.
These are just a few ideas, there are hundreds more activities that you can undertake with your toddlers to get them used to the concepts of science, and to spark an interest in the world around them.