Selecting Resources for Teaching Science to Young Children

Instructor: Meredith Mikell
Teaching children science is a fun yet challenging task that requires many different types of resources. Here we will describe how to select good resources and plan science lessons for young children. At the end, you can test your knowledge with a quiz.

Little Scientists

Great news! Young children are already scientists. Their minds are primed for systematically examining and testing the world around them to learn how it works, which is precisely what scientists do. The challenge for teachers is simply to provide resources and opportunities for their students to hone these skills and apply them. Which way to approach scientific inquiry will depend on the grade level or age of the students. Let's talk about some options.

Learning Through Inquiry

In general, children are very tactile and kinetic learners, especially very young children. Activities that engage multiple senses - touch, sound, sight, smell - tend to be the most successful for all types of learning, especially science skills. Outdoor activities, especially when children are able to explore a new or unique area, provide a prime opportunity for scientific investigation.

Children love to ask questions, and only stop doing so when they think that adults don't want them to. It is important to encourage children to question their world, which is best achieved by taking an inquiry-based approach to their learning. This can mean refraining from always providing an answer to their questions about the world, and instead pose further questions for them to consider.

For example, a third grader finds a uniquely-colored flower while on a field trip and asks his teacher why it has that color. Instead of answering that flowers are colored to attract insects and birds to help spread their pollen, the teacher might ask the student what other living things interact with flowers, and why he thinks that might be. The teacher might also draw a parallel to something the student personally understands, like how billboards and neon signs are used to get our attention, and that perhaps bright colors in nature serve a similar purpose.

Questions that are too difficult can be off-putting and frustrating to a child. Instead, using inquiry-based questions that are within the student's age-level and reach of understanding poses an interesting challenge for them.

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