In today’s world it is very easy to forget about the variety of life going on around us. But for a child, the sound of birds singing or the rustling of wind in the trees, is still a new and exciting phenomenon. Helping them discover more about each sound, sight and species can ignite a love for the natural world that will stay with them for life.
Not only is it important for our children to interact with the world around them, but introducing them to the basic principles of science at an early age can help them understand more about the way things work.
It might not seem like it to you or me, but the way bubbles move is a very visual representation of science in action. By blowing a stream of bubbles into the wind and watching where they go, your toddler can learn a lot about the way motion and forces work. Comment out loud on the speed of the bubbles and ask your child where they think they might end up. Seeing these ideas in the bubbles will help them apply velocity and direction to other objects.
Science On The Swings
The playground is a great place to talk about physics. Between the ages of 2 and 5 a child’s vocabulary will increase by over a thousand words, so including a few choice ones such as ‘forwards’, ‘backwards’, ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ can cement these ideas in their mind. You needn’t go into more depth than this; the words and the actions associated with them will be enough to engage them with this kind of motion.
Getting hands on with different textures and materials can help young children explore and understand their properties. Sand, mud, playdough and water are all great for experimental play, as they feel very different from one another. By describing the properties of each material as you go, you will help your child build important vocabulary.
Words like ‘gooey’, ‘stretchy’ and ‘crumbly’ will give them a grasp of just how different these substances can be. You could also comment on the colour change that happens when sand gets wet or how the mud gets harder when it dries.
Naming Body Parts
Babies are very interested by their own bodies, especially their feet. Pointing at different parts of their body and saying the name out loud means they can begin learning what and where everything is. As they get older, start talking about the function of these parts. For example, you might point to their feet and say ‘Look, those are your feet and you use them for walking!’
Often toddlers will notice their shadow by themselves, but if they don’t be sure to point it out to them. Ask them to see what happens when they move into a shaded area or suggest they try to stand on their shadow. If they seem to be engaged with these games, then you can think about introducing the concepts of light and dark.
Author Bio: Sam Flatman is an outdoor learning specialist and an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Play. Sam has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the school curriculum.
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