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Tools and Resources for Exploring Science

girl with bug boxMost of the suggested explorations require few, if any, materials. If available, the following science resources can make for more extended investigation.

  • For exciting water play, visit your local hardware store for funnels, clear plastic tubing and a turkey baster. If you can, try to get tubing into which you can fit the funnel and the baster. You can also use empty, clear pump-style bottles such as for shampoo or soap.
  • A hand lens can be purchased from a number of sources including educational toy stores and shops at your local science museum or children’s museum. They needn’t be fancy for this purpose, as learning to use a magnifier is not a simple task for young children. Microscopes are generally not necessary at these ages.
  • A bug box is a particular kind of box-style magnifier. They too are often available at toy stores or your local science or children’s museum. Bug boxes are useful because they can contain an insect for observation for a short period. Be sure to let the insect go within a reasonable amount of time!
  • A hand trowel will make digging in soil an easier task. If you don’t have one handy you can always use a spoon.
  • Field guides focus on particular topics such as birds, insects, rocks and minerals, plants, etc. Guides written for adults are good to have around, but most series have some written especially for children. They can be found at children’s book stores and at web sites of well-known nature organizations such as The National Audubon Society.

    A number of other field guide series for children can be found at the Online Nature Mall.

  • Thermometers that can be used safely and read easily by children can be difficult to find locally. These are not the thermometers one uses to take a person’s body temperature. Do check with your local science or children’s museum shop or order from an online source such as or
  • There are many sites for learning about making paper airplanes. The Exploratorium, a marvelous science museum in San Francisco, has useful ideas on its web site.
  • Wondering how to engage your child in the wonderful world of plants? The National Gardening Association’s Kids Gardening web site has many suggestions.
  • Resources from PBS KIDS

    PBS KIDS also has several sites with suggested games for investigating science with children.

    Choose an age:

  • Preschool & Kindergarten
  • First & Second Grade
  • Upper Elementary School
  • Back to Science Tips

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