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Preschoolers really enjoy hands-on learning, so we've put together a selection of easy experiments and activities that combine science with play, craft, and a huge amount of fun.
Encouraging kids to explore and question the world around them from an early age is a great way to pave a future love of all things scientific. Gently introducing your child to science at an early age helps to develop their cognitive skills, and provides a firm foundation for the progression to KS1 science at age five, and KS2 science at age seven.
All of the early years science experiments and activities detailed below use household materials, are visually impactful, and are designed for short attention spans!
Sink Or Float?
When it comes to early years science activities, this one has been a favourite for years. It teaches children about buoyancy and the fact that an object’s weight can appear to change when it is in water.
1. Take one item and ask your child to guess if it will sink or float.
2. Get your child to place the object into the water to find out if their guess was correct.
3. Repeat with the other items.
Magic Dancing Milk
Proving there’s great fun to be found in super simple science activities, this early years experiment is a great way to get children learning about chemical reactions.
1. Pour milk into the dish or tray.
2. Add a few drops of food colouring, ideally a selection of different colours.
3. Put washing up liquid into the small dish.
4. Get your child to dip a cotton bud first into the washing up liquid, and then into different places in the milk.
5. Watch the colours dance!
How Do Clouds Make Rain?
Grasping the concept that clouds are made of water vapour, and that this vapour turns to liquid to make rain, isn’t easy; even for adults! EYFS science experiments make tricky ideas easier for young children to understand, and this particular experiment is one of those science activities that brilliantly manages to mimic natural processes; in this case, the water cycle.
1. Fill a glass about three-quarters full of water. Explain to your child that, for the purpose of this science experiment, the water in the glass is representing the sky.
2. Use shaving foam to create a cloud that sits at the top of the water.
3. Now, use the pipette to drop blue food colouring into the cloud.
4. Wait and watch, as the blue droplets start to seep through the cloud.
6. When the droplets cause the cloud to get too heavy, they will create ‘rain’.
Fun Early Years Feely Book
The great thing about this early years science activity, which teaches kids about different textures, is that children get to create a fun resource that they can use over and over again.
Materials Needed: Two pieces of A4 card, crayons or coloured pencils, PVA glue and a variety of material scraps (such as foil, cling film, paper, tissue, fabric, fleece, faux fur, lace, wool, bubble wrap, and anything else you can find).
1. Ensure your scraps of materials are pre-cut so that no scissors are required for this experiment.
2. Ask your child to hold each piece of material in turn. Ask them questions about its colour, its texture, its thickness, its weight, and what they think it would be used for.
3. Get your child to fold each piece of card in half, and then to slot one inside the other; creating an eight-page A5 book.
4. Next, they can draw some large, simple, shapes and pictures on the card.
5. Help your child to pick the best materials to stick on each picture.
6. Depending on their age and stage of development, children could then add words about the materials they have used, such as names, colours, or how they feel to touch.
We guarantee your kids will have love this early years science experiment, which is based on the more advanced volcano science experiments that older children do at school. This science learning activity will help your child to explore the ways in which different substances react when they are mixed together.
1. Line up the cups and put a different shade of food colouring into each one.
2. Add a scoop of baking soda to each cup.
3. Now pour in a little vinegar; you won't have to wait long for the eruption!
Easy science experiments for EYFS children that involve edible ingredients will always top kids’ lists of the best simple science activities. This fun, food-based learning activity is no exception.
Materials Needed: Warm water, an empty glass, a glass of vinegar, a spoon, three tablespoons baking soda and jelly worms.
1. Add the baking powder to the glass of warm water and stir.
2. Now add the worms and give it another stir.
3. Leave for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the worms and drop the worms into the glass of vinegar.
5. Wait a few seconds, then enjoy the dancing!
Important: The jelly worms used for this science activity must not be eaten.
Paper Cup Bubble Machine
One of the easiest early years science experiments to prepare, this is one of those early years activities best reserved for children nearing, or at, primary school age. (There’s a chance that younger children will suck, rather than blow, through the straw, and get a mouth full of washing up liquid.) The experiment, which is best done outside, helps kids learn about bubbles and that when air combines with certain substances it take on a different form.
1. Use the pencil to make a hole in one side of the paper cup, about 3 cm from the bottom.
2. Push the straw quite far through the hole, but be careful not to let it touch the other side of the cup. The bendy bit of the straw should on the outside of the cup and facing upwards (otherwise the liquid will pour out!).
3. Use the tape on the outside of the cup to secure the straw in place. Make sure there are no gaps for the water to escape.
4. Pour enough washing up liquid into the cup to cover the straw.
5. Add two tablespoons of water.
6. If you would like coloured bubbles, add in a few drops of food colouring.
7. Gently blow through the straw and get excited as the bubbles emerge! Make sure to explain to kids the importance of blowing rather than sucking the straw.
8. As an added extra, children might like to make their bubble machine a bit more special by painting or decorating it.
Aluminium Foil Boat
Combing EYFS science activities with crafts is a great way to facilitate children's understanding of the idea that science is all around us. This simple science experiment shows children how to make aluminium foil boats and teaches them about the density of things in water. Full instructions can be found here.
Does Mint Cool Things Down?
Is the cooling sensation we experience when we put mint in our mouths really down to temperature? The results of this early years science activity may well surprise parents and kids alike! Full details for the experiment are here.
Magic Floating Paperclip
Early years science experiments and activities are a fantastic way to wow EYFS children with the magic of science. This easy experiment shows how science can transform a paperclip from an object that sinks in water, to one that floats. Find out how to do it here.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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