Tips for Designing Your Preschool Science Center

Jul 10, 2018 by

There are several learning centers that every preschool classroom should have. They include art, dramatic play, literacy, blocks, math and science. Designing some of these centers is fairly easy. Art, for example, requires supplies like crayons, markers, and paint, along with paper of various sizes and colors. Your blocks center will obviously contain blocks of different sizes and materials as well as accessories to enhance and enrich the play experience. These can include toy cars, figures, and road signs. But what about your science center? How do you successfully bring science elements into the preschool classroom? Read on to find out.

Materials

Materials are likely the most important part of your science center. Regardless of the season or lesson, there are some staple items that every science center should have. These include:

  • Magnifying glasses
  • Balance/Scale
  • Goggles
  • Tweezers
  • Sorting trays
  • Rulers
  • Test tubes
  • Magnets

These basic tools can be utilized throughout the school year. The most exciting and versatile aspect of a science center is your ability to bring natural materials in from the outside. Enhance the student’s experience by having them collect the items outdoors when possible. The options are truly endless but here are some basic ideas.

  • Sticks
  • Leaves
  • Rocks
  • Pinecones
  • Shells
  • Gourds/pumpkins
  • Seeds/beans

Students can balance and weigh these items, measure, sort, and investigate them. Here are a few ways for students to compare and hypothesis using these materials and tools.

Weigh and Measure

Allow students to weigh and measure different items of varying sizes. Help them make predictions about which items will weigh more or less or how long or short they’ll be. You can introduce the concept of measurement to them, as well as weight and volume.

Make Comparisons

Comparing two similar things is a great way for students to practice making observations. Let them sit with a notebook or journal and write down everything they notice about each item. They can document the color, size, shape, smell, texture, and any other observations they can make. Help them use this information to document what is similar and different about each object.

Sort

Sorting can be done in a variety of ways including by color, size, and shape. Take leaves for example. Have students sort which leaves are brown, green or another color. Place all of the larger leaves in one pile and make another pile for smaller ones. Children can group broken leaves and ones that are fully intact. Sorting strengthens a student’s observational skills as well.

Incorporate Living Things

Science is the exploration of living things and their relation to the rest of the universe. So what better way to expose students to nature than bringing living things into the classroom? This can be achieved in two ways. One, by incorporating an indoor plant or by getting a class pet. The most popular classroom pet is a fish. They are beautiful and interesting to watch, relatively resilient, and easy to take care of. Students will love naming the fish and taking turns caring for it. Not only will they learn responsibility, but they’ll watch their fish grow.

If you’re not prepared to care for a fish, a plant is another great option. Students can take turns watering the plant and gain a better understanding of what plants need to thrive and grow. You can discuss the life cycle of a plant as well. Living things are the perfect way to bring nature into the classroom and add another resource to your science center.

Sand and Water Play

You can also equip your science center with a sand or water table. These offer enriching sensory experiences for kids. Be sure that your sand or water table is kept on a hard floor and easy to clean surface. Children must also wash their hands following sensory play. Stock your tables with materials like cups for filling and dumping, shovels, strainers, things that sink and float, and anything else that supports your current lesson. You can’t go wrong with sensory tables in your science area.

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