Why? What? How? If the constant questions sound familiar you might have a preschooler in the house. They are a curious lot, these preschoolers. They want to learn all about the world around them; sometimes by experimenting in ways we don’t approve of like drawing on the walls, filling the sink with soap bubbles, or exploring playdough on the carpet (or all of those if you live in my house, true story.) Exploring the world is natural to them which makes this preschool age a great time to introduce them to science!
Now, don’t start thinking you need textbooks and complex explanations to engage your preschooler with science; you don’t! All you need to provide them with are some easy hands-on activities and a little guidance. Their brains will put together more information then you realize just from that, and the best part of these activities, kids will enjoy doing them multiple times.
Now there is no way I can cover every possible science activity you can do with preschoolers, but I do want to highlight my favorite EASY preschool science experiment for each area of science!
Simple Physical Science Experiments for Preschoolers
Physical science, including Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, and Earth Sciences, definitely make for some fun, hands-on, science explorations, and this is as true for preschoolers as it is for other ages. In fact, some of these preschool science experiments are still favorites of mine today!
By far my favorite chemistry experiment to do with preschoolers is the classic baking soda and vinegar volcano. If you have never done it, it is such a simple experiment. Place some baking soda in the bottom of a cup or bottle, and pour in some vinegar. This is awesome every time. Just be sure to have a container underneath to catch the eruption.
The best part about this preschool science experiment is the way you can change it up! Hide food coloring in the baking soda for a surprise, place the baking soda in a shallow pan and use an eyedropper to apply the vinegar, or add dish soap and get foam!
My second favorite easy chemistry experiment is Magic Milk. The idea here is to show how soap works. You need whole milk in a shallow dish, food coloring (or glitter), toothpicks and dish soap. Pour some food coloring into the milk, have your preschooler dip the tip of a toothpick into the dish soap and then into the middle of the color. Color explosion! It takes a while before it stops working, so those curious kids can do it over and over with the same dish!
Preschoolers love to experiment with the laws of physics, even if they don’t realize it. Show them how to roll balls or cars down ramps and then vary the angle of the ramp. Or give them a couple of different size balls or other differently weighted items to drop off their swing set. Now you’ve explored gravity (as well as inclined planes.)
Some other easy preschool science experiments explore the physics of water, and what preschooler doesn’t love water? Let them explore buoyancy by seeing which of their toys float and which sink in a big tub of water. You can also show them how the water rises if you add a lot of things that sink like rocks.
A lot of astronomy for preschool age kids is observational, like watching the moon phases. One fun astronomy experiment preschoolers can do is making moon craters! Use a metal or plastic tub with a smooth, layer of flour in it. Provide your little scientist with some small rocks or balls to drop in the tub to make craters.
One part of earth science, weather, is always a popular topic for preschool. And what is a preschooler’s favorite part of the weather? Rainbows of course. An incredibly simple way to explore rainbows with your preschooler involves CDs and a flashlight. Let your science explorer shine the flashlight on the CD at an angle and watch the rainbows appear on the wall or floor nearby!
Another easy weather experiment for little ones is demonstrating how clouds get saturated with water and then start to rain. A glass, water, cheap shaving cream, and food coloring are all you need for this preschool science experiment. Fill the cup about 3/4 full of water and squirt a cloud of shaving cream on top of the water. Kids get to drop drips of food coloring onto the cloud and watch it rain into the water below.
Easy Hands-on Biology Activities for Preschoolers
While there are many disciplines in the realm of biology, the two that are most well known to preschoolers are botany and zoology. After all, plants and animals are two things kids frequently come in contact with and even observe in nature (another great way to get preschoolers into science.) Observation isn’t the only way to learn about these disciplines; these favorite preschool science experiments get kids hands-on!
Plants are all around and provide a lot of fascination for kids. Why not bring some inside and learn more about them hands-on? Grab some differently shaped leaves, paper, and crayons and show the kids how to make leaf rubbings to explore the veins of the leaf. You could even take your paper and crayons outside and do a bark rubbing from the same trees alongside the leaf rubbing.
Another simple, yet well-loved science experiment is changing the colors of plants. All you need is a vase of water and either light-colored flowers (carnations work well) or celery along with some liquid food coloring. Place food coloring in the water and then add your selected plant. The flowers show the most obvious change in the petals, but the nice things about using celery is that once you pull it out of the water and food coloring, the vessels in the stem that carry the water are very easily seen.
One other botany experiment I love for preschool age kids is sprouting bean seeds. Take a baggie, place a damp paper towel in it, and add a bean seed. Hang this in a sunny window and watch it a few days. You will quickly notice roots and a little plant emerging and be able to plant in soil.
While I love hands-on preschool science experiments, I wouldn’t recommend experimenting on live animals. There is still a fun way kids can practice classifying animals without live animals. Using plastic animals and sidewalk chalk you can introduce preschoolers to the idea of classifying animals. You can even see what ways they can sort them themselves whether it is based on the number of legs or if they have fur.
As you can see, introducing preschoolers to science does not have to be overly involved, intricate, or messy! Simple science experiments that engage preschoolers over and over are a great way to go, as well as, a great way to occupy their hands and save your walls, carpets, and bathrooms!