Explorer's Guide
Top Ten Tips
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Encourage, Support, and Participate!

    Group with Birds
  1. Nurture your child's sense of wonder and excitement about the natural world.
    Most likely, you already know that your child is naturally curious about the world and everything in it! Join her in asking questions about interesting things and wondering about the answers. "I wonder why worms come out of the ground when it rains? I wonder why puddles disappear when the sun comes out?"
  2. Engage your child in active science observation and exploration.
    You are the best model your child could have for learning to act and think like a scientist. Have you noticed that your child is fascinated by small bugs? The next time you see one, stop and check it out. Encourage your child to look closely at the bug, and notice what it looks like and what it's doing. Ask questions or make comments that invite further exploration like "How could we find out where that bug lives?" or "I wonder if there are any bugs like that in our yard."
  3. Find time for science exploration in everyday activities.
    Take advantage of daily opportunities to support your child's observation and exploration around your home and neighborhood. For example if you have house plants, invite your child to help water them while you talk with him about what plants need as well as different leaf textures and shapes. When you're at the supermarket, stop at the produce section. Look for all the leafy vegetables. Find the ones that grow underground like carrots and potatoes. Look at apples and talk with him about all the different kinds.
  4. Give your child simple tools to support science exploration.
    Some basic household items can enrich your child's science experiences by helping her explore and observe more closely. Give her some old spoons for digging or a shoe box for collecting rocks or other items she finds on a walk. Buy an inexpensive plastic magnifier, so she can look more closely at what she collects.
  5. Cat and Sally by Flower
  6. Talk with your child about science observations, explorations, and ideas.
    The conversations you have with your child are critical in helping him make connections, see patterns, and generate ideas. Asking questions that begin with "Did you notice . . . ?" "How is that the same/different from . . . ?" and "What do you think would happen if . . . ?" will encourage him to think like a scientist. Encourage him to share his observations, explorations, and ideas with friends and other family members too.
  7. Encourage your child to visually represent her science observations and ideas.
    Visual representations can help your child talk about and share her science experiences. Have your child show you what she observes by acting it out or drawing it. For example, she could move her body to demonstrate how a bird walks and flies or she could make a picture of a bird that visits your backyard bird feeder. Some children enjoy creating a small notebook to record their explorations. You or your child can also take photos of the things she is doing and noticing and add them to the notebook, which she can title "My Bird Book."
  8. Take advantage of family experiences to support your child's science learning.
    The relationships and experiences you share as a family provide unique opportunities for helping your child notice how living things grow and change over time. As pets like puppies and kittens grow into adult cats and dogs, and little sisters and brothers grow into toddlers, draw your child's attention to changes in their appearance and the new skills they are learning. Share baby pictures with your child and talk with him about how he is growing and changing too!
  9. Get your whole family involved in your child's science explorations.
    The interests and interactions that family members share can enrich your child's science explorations. Encourage everyone in the family to take part. For example, older brothers and sisters may enjoy helping your child identify the leaves he collects or sharing books about trees; an aunt or uncle may invite him to help seed a vegetable garden; and grandparents may have stories to tell about their own experiences collecting and using plants.
  10. Go on science adventures.
    Simple or more planned family events can provide opportunities to observe and explore the natural world. For example, take a walk through a local park or arboretum and help your child make a small collection of fallen leaves, nuts, or fruit to look at, touch, and describe. You can also head out for a more exotic adventure like taking a rowboat ride at a local pond, feeding ducks, going to a science museum or aquarium, or going out at night to look up at the stars.
  11. Have fun exploring science with your child!
    Take a tip from the Cat in the Hat and remember to keep the fun in science. Encourage your child to use words, create rhymes, and sing songs about what she is doing, noticing, and learning in science. Join your child in viewing The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!TM programs and use the parents resources to engage your child in fun ways to learn science.
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