Preschool science experiments your children HAVE to try blog header

Preschool science experiments your children HAVE to try

As an educator, there are so many items on our agenda to “get done”, that having time allotted for preschool science experiments tends to be few and far between. You may be thinking, “that would be fun to do but I don’t have the materials,” or “if only I had more time to devote to preparing and completing that.” If we all truly understood why science inquiry and exploration were so important, it wouldn’t be glossed over and we would be doing it WAY more!

So, how can you make science more meaningful? As you are listening to your young scientists talk with each other in class, pay close attention to what they are discussing. What recurring topics keep coming up? Are they really into trains? Are they really into animals? Keeping an inventory of their interests will really help you to know what aspects of science to explore.  When children have the option to pick what they want to learn more about, they take ownership of it and tend to get even more excited than if you presented it. 

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Here are a few preschool science experiments that I love to do throughout the year that come from children’s genuine interests and turn into fun projects! These won’t break the bank, and they will be so fun that children will beg for more! 

sunscreen painting preschool science activity

Sunscreen painting

My children wanted to know why they had to wear sunscreen at the beach and when we go outside (they were complaining about the smell and the amount of time it took to apply). So, we explored how sunscreen works! This is an easy science activity that also integratess art. This will help children learn why sunscreen is so important to keep us safe!  

what melts in the sun preschool science activity

What melts in the sun?

Another topic that came up with the summer/sunscreen experiment was why some things melt and some things do not in the sun. So, we collected a bunch of different objects to see what would melt and what wouldn’t. The children LOVED this! 

ice cream in a bag preschool science activity

Ice cream in a bag

Another way to learn about melting and cooling in the summer is to make ice cream, using salt to help melt ice and get the ice cream to form. This will cause all kinds of questions and children can enjoy the yummy cold treat while discussing the learning outcomes! 

Once you wrap up this project on learning more about the hot sun, one direction you can go with your next area of study is water. There are SO many ways to explore water and what better time to learn about it than in the summer! Something that we did at my center was ask our PreK children what they knew about water and what they wanted to learn.  Many of them were confused about how boats could float and carry so much weight yet we sink when we are in the pool or ocean.  Here are some great activities that we explored to learn more about water, buoyancy, and density. Even preschoolers can create a great base of knowledge with these fun activities! 

sink or float preschool science activity

Sink or float

In order to gain an understanding of why some things sink and some things float, it’s always best to do something fun and simple like this comparison activity.  Set up your science center or your sand/water table with a variety of objects to try.  Make sure a variety of items will sink and float. This can be done in small groups during center rotations or be something you can do with a few children at a time. Children LOVE playing in the water, so I’m sure it will be a popular activity! To enhance the lesson, children can graph their findings by drawing a picture of the item that floats or sinks.  Another option is to have a laminated bar graph on the wall with photos of the items that can be placed in the correct column of “sink” or “float.” 

salt water density experiment preschool science activity

Salt water density experiment

Once children understand that certain objects sink or float due to what they are made of, it is time to learn how different types of liquid can also affect whether objects sink or float. This is when we introduce the concept of “density.” Using salt and a variety of objects, children will learn about how items are more or less dense. This can also be set up as an independent center or something done with an educator in small groups. Having children draw what happens in their science journals is a great way to integrate some writing as well. Be sure to document any questions that come out of this activity so that you can explore it further as a class!

milk carton propelled boats preschool science activity

Milk carton propelled boats

Once children have created a base of learning about objects and what helps them to float, it is time for a fun, culminating activity! When my children were learning about water, we did this boat activity! To make it more personal for each child, they got to choose one special toy from home that they love (parents were given clear instructions for size), and they got to design a boat that would help their favorite toy float! All materials were discussed from what they learned throughout the unit, and they created their own boats with the materials provided.

Helping children foster a love for deeper learning and answering their open-ended questions with hands-on experiments is such a great way to keep them growing! Remember – having your little ones (even as young as 3!) help choose what they want to learn more about will help build their confidence and excitement for learning! 

Children learn best by doing, and through science experiments, they can explore their senses and enhance skills such as critical thinking, social and verbal, and processing and organization. We all want to help children be confident and grow in skills that will last a lifetime. If you are allowing for science inquiry and exploration, you are doing just that! 

For these and other fun and educational early childhood activities, check out HiMama’s activities database!

Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 18 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

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