Monday, August 20, 2012

Water Science

I heart teachable moments!!! Baby Bear and I had a wonderful teachable moment last week, and it just made my day! Even now I'm super happy about it because he still uses the some of the vocabulary words we learned. What did we do, you ask? We played with water!

I've used water in science lessons before during my teaching days, but, until now, I've underestimated the extent to which water lends itself to hands-on science. I swear, we covered five lessons in one long play session! I'll let the pictures show you what we did, and I bet you can think of even more ways to use water to introduce new science concepts and vocabulary.

This was our water play setup. I had intended on this mostly being about practicing fine motor skills like pouring from one container to another. We definitely did that, but we also did so much more!

Full vs Empty: Two of the vocabulary words Baby Bear learned on this day were full and empty. He had a lot of fun with this one because it meant he got to keep filling up his bucket (or asking me to) and then dumping it back out. He likes to use this new vocabulary during bath time now. He also quickly learned which methods for filling were faster (i.e. squirt gun vs. bowl vs. shovel).

Force and motion: While we didn't use the words force and motion as we made the pinwheel spin by using water, Baby Bear got to see how there were other ways to make it spin besides blowing air.

Capacity: This lesson evolved from our lesson on full vs. empty. Baby Bear learned that the small bubble container filled up much faster than the big bucket because the bucket could hold more water. We counted how many times we had to fill up the bubble container to fill the bucket and how many times we had to fill the bucket to fill the bubble container. Even though numbers are still pretty new to Baby Bear, he got the idea that it took a lot more to fill the bucket.

Water displacement: Again, this lesson spun off from our full vs. empty lesson. After the bowl was full, Baby Bear added some toys and noticed that some water spilled out over the sides. We experimented by adding more and more toys to see if the water would keep spilling over the side (it did, of course). I kept saying things like, "I wonder what will happen if I add Ernie to the bowl now," and, "What do you think will happen when Eeyore jumps in? Do you think the water will spill any more?"

Float or Sink: While Baby Bear was playing with his little toys in the baby pool, he noticed that he couldn't get Batman or Robin (the Little People toys) to stand on the bottom like his other toys. This opened up the window for a discussion of how some things float on top of the water and some things sink to the bottom. Sometimes I thought aloud like, "I wonder if Cookie Monster will float on top of the water," or asked a question like, "Do you think the blue Batman will float or sink in the bowl?" This is another lesson that Baby Bear likes to continue during bath time.
Like I said, we had a ton of fun doing both science and water play. I think the thing I liked most of all was that none of these lessons were planned. I just took note of Baby Bear's activities and interests and introduced the lessons as they arose... teachable moments. These early preschool years are the perfect ages to seize moments like these!

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