Play can be an amazing portal, not only for learning essential life skills, but also for learning the fundamentals of science. And since you can play anywhere, you can also Do Science anywhere! Read on for ideas and resources to make Doing Science part of your child’s day.
Do Science in the kitchen
- Gather multiple sizes of measuring cups and spoons. Find some dry material like rice, noodles, or cereal. Let your child experiment with measuring, manipulating, and pouring. How many tablespoons does it take to fill a cup.
- The kitchen is a great place for making music. Create a low drawer or cabinet full of pots, pans, lids, containers, and spoons. Encourage your child to bang to their heart’s content.
- A recycling bin of boxes, bottle tops, toilet paper rolls, and milk jugs has endless possibilities. Help your child select items for building, creating, and experimenting. Add some items like tape, balls, and lots of floor space. Create the tallest tower, the longest roller coaster, or the biggest castle.
- Mix 1/3 cup of water and food coloring together. Slowly add about 1 cup of cornstarch and mix with your hands. Is this mixture wet or dry? Together pick up a handful of “Oobleck” and squeeze it until it forms of a hard ball. What happens when you open your hand?
- Mix together baking soda and vinegar. What happened?
Do Science in the wind
- On a windy day, conduct a flight test with some items like rocks, sticks, leaves, and grass. How does each item travel? Do they swirl, fly straight, or drop to the ground? Where do you predict they will land?
- Go fly a kite! With paper, sticks, tape, and string you can make your own kite. Observe how your kite travels through the sky. What do you think is holding up the kite? How does your kite move with each gust of wind? What would the kite do if you let go of the string?
- What could we do with a cup, some yarn, and a plastic grocery bag? Try tying the yarn to the cup and grocery bag and dropping from chair height. What happened? You created a parachute! Test and redesign your parachute until the cup floats to the ground. Try putting small objects or toys inside the cup and see what happens.
- Do you think the wind ever changes directions? Let’s test it out! Roll a piece of stiff paper into a cylinder and tape it. Add curling ribbon, crepe paper streamers, or other decorations to make a windsock. Hang it outside your home. How do you think the windsock will react to the wind? Using a calendar, draw the movement of your windsock each day. How did it react over a week? Over a month?
- Make your own wind! Gather things around the house you can use to make wind. What worked the best? Gather some lightweight objects and see if you can make them blow away in your “wind”.
Do Science with your senses
- Have you ever noticed how different objects make different sounds? Gather items like keys, paper, spoons, pens, or pencils. With a partner, take turns making sounds with each item. The listener should have their eyes closed. When you’re listening, can you identify each item by the sounds they make?
- Line up 10 household objects on a table. With a partner, memorize all of the items on the table and their placement. While one person closes their eyes, the other person should remove or rearrange the objects. Now open your eyes and guess what changed. What are some tricks you used to help remember or guess what your partner hid or rearranged.
- Using the same items from the above activity, place them inside a pillow case and tie a knot. By feeling the pillowcase, can you tell which object is which? What are the characteristics of the object that helped you figure it out?
- Our sense of smell is tricky. With the help of an adult, gather some different or unusual smelling items, like vinegar, cheese, or even spices. Close your eyes and take a whiff of each different item. How would you describe the scents?
- Now take those same items you described through smell and decide how you think they would taste. Taste each item. How good were your predictions? Did each item taste the way you thought it would? Why or why not?
My Big Little Adventure – Building on the natural curiosity, deep passion and busy habits of young children, My Big Little Adventure offers a continually updated roadmap of activities, events and resources designed especially for their families and caregivers. My Big Little Adventure invites adults and kids to read, play, and explore together. Learn more at mybiglittleadventure.org.
Ask Dr. Universe – Dr. Wendy Sue Universe is a very smart cat who investigates tough questions from curious elementary and middle school students. Based out of Washington State University, Dr. Universe teams up with professors, researchers, and experts in the field, to tackle big questions like: What is fire? Why does soda fizz? Why is the ocean salty? Why is liquid nitrogen so cold?Learn more at askdruniverse.wsu.edu.
NASA Kids Club – NASA provides a safe place for children to play as they learn about NASA and its missions. On this site, you will find games of various skill levels for children pre-K through grade 4. These games support national education standards in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Learn more at nasa.gov/kidsclub/index.html.
National Geographic Kids – Find amazing facts about animals, science, history, and geography, along with fun games and activities. Learn more at kids.nationalgeographic.com.