Hands-On Science: Playtime with a Purpose
By Yvonne Paul – Sept. 18/2023
J.Chee & Y.Paul (Ed.)
Time to Read: 5 minutes
Incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) into your child’s daily activities might seem like a daunting task at first. We don’t often consider these topics to be fun or engaging, but rather often associate them with the concept of studying hard and pouring over books.
In reality, the world of science is not as intimidating as it may sound. In fact, you can seamlessly infuse STEM concepts into your playtime with your kids, making it both enjoyable and educational.
Exploring Everyday Science🧪🧬
Surprisingly, we engage with STEM based science in our daily lives more often than we realize. Whether it’s organizing and cleaning, shopping, or baking, there are countless opportunities to introduce scientific concepts to your children. Best of all, these activities can be incredibly fun.
Fun with Science Experiments⚗️🔬
One of the most engaging ways to introduce STEM to your kids is through hands-on science experiments. As a teacher and a mother, I’ve handpicked a selection of experiments that are not only simple but will also captivate young minds. I particularly like them for their simplicity and basic supplies anyone can find in their home.
1. The Dancing rice experiment🔬
We’ve all done or heard of experiments that use baking soda and vinegar, and there is usually a volcano involved. Those can be fun experiments, but for something different, fun and longer lasting, I suggest the dancing rice.
I should mention, you do need to use instant rice as they suggest (I tried using regular rice and it doesn’t work, just like it says); regular rice won’t yield the same exciting results. Watching rice dance is not only fascinating but also a great way to explore basic scientific principles.
2. The Color Surprise Experiment🧪
I love this experiment because it works with a basic concept that all toddlers learn early – colors – and while it uses a similar concept to the volcanoes, there’s a surprise twist.
Plus, it’s very hands on and messy fun for kids! Again, basic supplies are all that’s needed and you’ll have a color experiment that is sure to spark interesting conversation with your little one!
3. The Strength of Shapes Experiment🧬
Here’s an experiment that is a combination of engineering and math. It’s easy to do and an excellent opportunity to practice prediction, invoke conversation and debate and encourage friendly competition.
It’s a hit with my older kids as well as the younger ones, too. Everyone is sure to find this experiment fun and engaging.
4. Sink or float?⚗️
This classic experiment is a perfect introduction to the scientific method. Children get to predict and observe whether various objects sink or float in water so it’s a simple yet effective way to teach them about these concepts.
I have done this experiment with my students before, as have other teachers I know and it’s a great way to begin learning the process of carrying out an experiment.
And while prediction is something children can continue to practice with this investigation, they will also have the opportunity to draw conclusions based on their observations. By looking at their results, they can try finding commonalities between items that sink or float.
5. What Dissolves in Water🔬
This is another easy water experiment that is great for young ones. It’s easy to set up, and you can adapt it based on the materials you have on hand. This water-based experiment not only engages children but can continue to reinforce their prediction skills.
6. The Glitter Germ Experiment🧪
This final experiment visually demonstrates how germs spread through the use of glitter. It’s a bit messy – okay, no, that’s not exactly true – it’s very messy as it involves glitter, but the payoff is worth it.
It is a fantastic way to SHOW kids how easily germs spread, as it underscores the importance of proper hand-washing and hygiene.
As I said, it does use glitter – a lot of it – but it really does pay off with a visual example of how quickly germs get spread around, plus the clean up portion of the experiment emphasizes how soap makes all the difference.
⚗️Exploring More STEM Ideas🧬
While these experiments are a great starting point, there are countless other STEM ideas available, ranging from easy to more complex concepts.
There are some links below if you’re interested in checking out more fun experiments for young children but the ones above are a great start to introducing science into your playtime together!
Remember, the most crucial aspect of incorporating STEM into your playtime with your children is to have fun and cherish these precious moments of learning together. Enjoy the journey of discovery and exploration as you nurture your child’s curiosity and love for science.
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