There 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 preschoolers and children in kindergarten.
Investigate your shadow: Once children have some familiarity with shadows they can be challenged to experiment with them a bit. Encourage your child to make different-shaped shadows, first with her hands, then with some other objects. What happens when you use a circular object, such as a hula hoop? Can you turn the hoop to make a circular shadow? What happens as you gradually change which way the hoop is facing? This kind of investigation can help your child make a connection between where the light source is—and if you are outdoors during the day, that means the sun—and how the shadow appears on the ground or other surface. This can also be done indoors with a lamp. Consider this Shadow Casting game for a related activity.
Where else can you see yourself? Mirrors are not the only surfaces that reflect. As you walk past buildings with your child, encourage him to look at windows. At certain times of day, windows can act as mirrors! See if he can begin to notice the patterns of where the light source, usually the sun, is in relation to the reflective surface. Can you see a reflection in the same window all day? What about when it is dark? Pools of water can also be reflective at certain times, so be sure to ask your child to talk about whether or not he can see himself or anything else reflected in a pond or river.
Exploring balloon power: Partially inflate a balloon and ask your child what she thinks will happen when you let go of the end. Where does she think the balloon will go? “Do you think its shape and size will change? In what ways?” Then watch and discuss its flight. This investigation can be extended by attaching the balloon to something else that can move, such as a toy car or truck, or even a toy boat in a small pond. Ask, “What do you think will happen when I let go of the balloon now?”