Experiments in early childhood needn’t be complicated.
We read about magnetism during reading time yesterday, so our activity time was a very simple exploration of magnetism.
I gathered up a magnet for each child (the magnetic “keys” for our magnetic child locks are great because they have “handles”) and a selection of everyday items I have from around the house (Q-tips, pens, bobby pins, paper clips, barrettes, earrings, steel wool, etc.)
Each child got a piece of paper that had been divided in two and labeled “Y” for yes and “N” for no (with different colors for all the pre-readers). Their challenge was to guess which items the magnet would pick up and to put those on the “Y”. If they guessed that the magnet wouldn’t pick something up, they could put it on the “N”.
I explained that their guess was a hypothesis and that now they could test their hypothesis using the magnets.
While testing their hypotheses, they moved their objects from the paper to different cups.
Once they’d divided all their objects and tested all their hypotheses, they could get down and explore the house, making hypotheses about the objects they found around the house and testing their hypotheses.
That’s it. A very simple exploration of magnetism – and one that helped the children also understand a bit about the process of science.
You can help your child become a scientific thinker this same way.
Ask, “What do you think will happen if…”
Explain that what your child just guessed is their hypothesis.
Now ask the child if they’d like to test their hypothesis. Is their hypothesis true or false? Test it several times just to make sure.
Familiarizing your early learners with the scientific process is that easy.
You can do this!