The deep freeze overtaking a majority of the country has arrived and we are making sure the cold weather doesn't bog us down. Today we took to the outdoors, bundled in snowsuits, hats, gloves, and boots. Our mission...to explore whether or not our bubbles would crystalize. Toddlers and preschoolers learn best from tactile or sensory experiences, the stuff they can touch, smell, hear, and make observations from. Exploring topics in science is the perfect avenue to take with young children and our natural environment provides endless possibilities for uncovering new knowledge and discoveries.
We started out with a basic question, "What will happen when we blow bubbles in cold air?" I further elaborated with the question, "How might this be different than blowing bubbles in warm weather (like summer)?" in order to provide a context and reference point for the boys. We discussed a number of responses, including it will be the same in cold weather as warm weather and one prediction that the bubbles might not want to fly in the air because it is cold. Documenting our brainstorming and predictions included drawing what it would look like to blow bubbles in the cold (photo above).
I like to keep things simple and generally do no over plan our adventures. In this case the essential components to ensure the topic and activity were accessible to both a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old included the following:
Our bubble recipe for this activity was the following:
Once outside we revisited our predictions before creating our first set of bubbles. The boys' faces lit up with excitement as the bubbles flew delicately into the air. Initially, the bubbles appeared to float as in the warmer temperatures, but in a relatively short amount of time (approximately a minute or two) the change in consistency was apparent to the boys. Furthermore, the boys could see the bubbles that remained in tac on the ground crystalize.
I did not expect the boys to walk away from this activity with an understanding of physics or even completely grasp the concept of freezing/crystalizing. The opportunity was created to practice observing and asking questions along the way. I wanted the boys to feel the experience of making predictions (or in preschool terms, guess about what might happen) and grapple with the sensation of meeting with the expected or possibly the unexpected. Even as adults we can often find this type of experience surprising, uncomfortable, or unsettling.
Exploring science with children doesn't have to be elaborate and should build upon their innate tendency to enjoy nature and their environment. Also, sharing your own love of science (no matter the amount) fosters a love of learning that is forever invaluable to our children. If you would like to learn more about the importance of teaching science in the early years, I encourage you to read this article published by National Geographic Learning.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families and design ideas based on our adventures building a home from the ground up.
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