Tag Archives: bubbles

How to Teach Preschool Science

I don’t make assumptions about what my children will learn from an activity.  I don’t presume that they will learn anything, I’m happy if they are absorbed and having fun.

Sometimes a simple activity can unexpectedly become a rich learning experience full of questions and discoveries. These for me are precious moments. I have recently become aware that the simplest craft activities lead us unexpectedly into an exploration of scientific concepts. For example,we recently acquired a movie reel canister, perfect for paint rolling .  I gave the girls a small box of marbles and small balls (a ping-pong eyeball and a golf ball) and a few pots of paint. The discussion that ensued was interesting.

paint rolling

 Child 1 : 5-years-old    Child 2 : 3-years-old.


Child 1: The eyeballs go much slower.  I think because the eyeball is bigger it goes much slower but the marble is smaller so it goes faster.

Child 2: It’s too sticky

Why do you think it is sticky?

Child 2: Maybe there’s too much paint.

golf ball

Child 1: This one is not as sticky as the other one but it is much bigger.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t put as much paint on.

What makes the 2 balls different?

Child 1: One is bumpy and one is smooth…………..but that would make it slower.

It gets stuck and the other one goes really fast.  Maybe the material it is made from is sticky but now that we don’t have as much paint on, it goes fast.  Perhaps the paint sticks to the material and stops it slipping and sliding.

Maybe because the golf ball is hard it doesn’t stick to the paper, maybe the paint doesn’t like it and slips off.

When we went to wash the balls we checked to see which would float.

Child 1: The golf ball and the marble sink and the eyeball floats.  This one floats because it is all filled up with air.

Child 2: This one sinks because it is bigger…………………….. but what about the marble, that sinks?

Child 1: It is because it is heavier.

The connection between the mass of the ball and how fast it travelled did not register but there are many other projects we can explore to help them work it out.

These incidental science experiments happen a lot. There was the time I left an empty milk carton outside and they turned it into a tap by inserting a straw. The girls decided they needed to find a way to turn it on and off. Further experimentation helped them work out how to get the tap to drain all of the water.  My role as teacher was not to give them the answers but to ask questions like ‘How could you make it better?’ What could you use to…? or what would happen if…?

tap science

Having open-ended materials readily available makes it easy for them to instigate projects .  This week, I put pieces of foam in the water table soaked in bubble mixture and showed them how to squeeze the foam to make bubbles.  I knew my eldest would love this.  She had another idea, taking a piece of plastic tubing she blew into it creating lots of foam. The children’s ideas are always the best! She asked me for test tubes and filled them with  bubble mixture and opened her own beauty parlour with potions that made your hair soft or skin younger.

foam bubbles


In the TED talk, Science is Play , Beau Lotto views Science as a way of being. He explains,

“We normally walk through life responding. If we ever want to do something different, we have to step into uncertainty…. Science lets us step into uncertainty through the process of play.”

Our youngest children are full of uncertainty so they are naturally questioning things all of the time. Isn’t that the foundation of science? Our skill as teachers is not to feed them the answers but to give them the tools to make their own discoveries. Do we need to plan specific science lessons? Isn’t science and discovery the very essence of childhood?Children don’t call it science, they call it play and in play they work things out for themselves.

I love this quote from the American Scientist article entitled ‘Science as Play

When I grew up, every kid put in some serious sandbox time, and it often involved building (what seemed like) complex sand structures around which fantasies were composed and competitions took place with neighborhood kids. The organic chemistry labs (at Yale during the junior year) were fun in the same way. We constructed molecules and competed with each other in the class on speed and yield. We mixed things up, and chemical transformations took place. We separated, we isolated, we analyzed. The odors were pleasant, and the physical process of working with our hands, as with sand, was satisfying. The biweekly organic labs became the high points of my week. By the end of the year, I knew that I wanted to be an organic chemist, as I realized one could play in the sandbox for a living. (Joseph B Lambert)

Playing in the sandbox for a living? ‘Isn’t that what I do?




Tots & Bubble Friday at Dr Maze’s Farm

Dr Maze's FarmIn a bid to meet new people the girls and I sometimes join groups of other mums and their kids through meet up groups.  Our latest venture was to Dr Maze’s Farm.

Dr Maze’s Farm is a family run working farm that grows seasonal crops. What I loved about it was that it was a no frills day of outdoor fun.  It was lovely to visit a farm that didn’t have rides, softplay or large playgrounds, no café or extras to pay for; a place that encouraged exploration and being at one with nature.

Dr Maze’s farm is open during the Summer months on a Friday and Saturday from 10am till 2pm. Opening hours are extended during their special events such as Lavender Festival in July and Pumpkin Patch during October.

On a Friday morning Tots Friday is included in the admission price ($6 increasing to $9 from 12th July) and runs from 10.30 to 11.30. Tots Friday is aimed at the under 5’s but my 9-year-old was welcomed and enjoyed herself too. Each week they have a different theme with activities set up under cover. The theme when we attended was goats, which included goats for the children to pet. There was also a large mud pit for the children to dig and find worms, various sensory bins containing grain and a cut and stick caterpillar activity.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Towards the end of the session they took the children out to pick crops from the field. They picked kale, sugar snap peas and chard and were encouraged to fill a bag to take home with them. This was a great opportunity for the children to see how crops grow, how to harvest them and experience some new plants.

Once we had filled our bags the girls enjoyed petting and feeding the animals before going on a tractor ride around the farm.

We explored the grounds further. There was plenty for them to do from giant Jenga, mazes, a chicken show, a giant spider web and various things to ride on.  My personal favourite was the music garden. They had perfectly utilised household objects to make a great little sound garden that would be an inspiration to any pre-school or someone like me who now wants to build one in the garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next came the girls favourite part of the day ‘Bubble Friday’.  A  station was arranged with all kinds of bubble wands and trays of bubble mixture.  The girls started with familiar ones and then learned how to use more elaborate methods to make giant bubbles. They had an  amazing time experimenting with the different types, supported by 2 very friendly ladies. They were so proud of their huge bubbles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When it was time to go, they didn’t want to leave but I promised we would go back. We are going to sample the Lavender Festival tomorrow armed with a picnic and with extended opening hours I’m sure we will have a very busy day.

It feels like you are visiting the farmer’s family, who give the impression that they are people who love children, being outdoors and sharing their farm with the public. They even gave us a freshly laid egg to take home with us.

There is a small shop in the entrance selling plants, lavender products, honey and drinks but I would recommend taking a picnic or at least snacks if you intend to stay until closing time.

This is a personal recommendation, no payment of any kind was received for writing this post.