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Science Throughout the Day: Babies & Toddlers

shadowThere are numerous everyday opportunities for exploring science with your child. For example, your child is learning about the basic properties of light when he notices the size and shape of his shadow change as the sun appears to move across the sky. Seeing his reflection in a mirror, window, or pool of water tells him more about how light behaves. Similarly, you can use common everyday objects such as balloons and paper airplanes to help your child explore the properties of air. And any of these experiences can happen indoors or out, day and night. Make the most of your daily experiences with these everyday ideas for science with babies and toddlers.

Meet your shadow: Young children are often amazed when they first encounter their own shadows! Sometimes children will notice these themselves, but often they will need to be introduced to their shadows and the language of shadows by you. At an opportune moment, point the shadow out to your child: “There’s your shadow! It seems to stay on this side of you. What happens when you try to step on the shadow?”

What do you see? Mirrors offer their own brand of excitement. When children are new to mirrors it takes some time for them to realize who it is they are seeing. Encourage your toddler to look at herself in the mirror to experience reflection. As she does, act as a “narrator,” by asking a question like “What do you see?” or “Do you see your eyes?” or making a statement such as “When I look in the mirror I can see my ears!” Very young children benefit from many experiences with mirrors in order to get a sense of what a mirror can do, and the narration can help them to associate language with what they see. These early experiences with mirrors will provide an important foundation for later investigations into reflection.

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