Science and math activities fit together quite nicely. Mathematics is an essential component of communication for scientists as they test and record observations. Children can learn to count, sort and measure all while steeped in scientific discovery. In The Preschool Scientist, you'll find hundreds of activities that weave math throughout a science lesson. But don't stop with preschoolers! Many math and science activities can easily be adapted to become math activities for toddlers, laying the foundation for deeper scientific discovery. Scientific explorations lend themselves to toddler sensory activities with textures, temperatures and motion in the mix.
Sensory activities for toddlers also instill the lessons of science in a way that makes sense for their developing minds.
Activity: Rocket on a String
Children love watching objects move, particularly when those objects appear to move on their own. This activity will introduce children to the concept of propulsion and helps show that an object does not simply move on its own; rather, there is a force behind any movement.
- 2 chairs
- 5-meter-long (5-yard-long) piece of string or fishing line
- Plastic drinking straws
- Several balloons of the same shape and size
Before the Activity:
- Cut approximately 5 cm (2") from the plastic drinking straw and thread it onto the length of the string. Tie the ends of the string to the backs of two chairs. Pull the chairs apart to make the string taut. Note: Do not leave balloons unattended as they can be a choking hazard. Be away of any latex sensitivities from the balloons.
What to Do:
- Blow up one of the balloons. Have the children hold their hands out and let them feel the air as you release it a little at a time. Talk about blowing air into the balloon using the force of your lungs and letting it come back out. The air coming out has a force that the children can feel. Blow up the balloon again and let it fly around the room. Talk with the children about what happened when the balloon was released.
- Blow up the balloon again with just a little air. Tape the partly inflated, untied balloon to the straw on the string. Pull the straw to the end of the string. Discuss with the children what will happen if you release the balloon now.
- After the children make their predictions about what the balloon will do, let it go and talk with the children about what they see happening. Keep a record of how far the balloon went by laying it on the floor. Keep a record of how far the balloon went by laying it on the floor under the string at the distance it traveled on the string.
- Repeat the process two more times, blowing up a balloon about half full. Then completely filling the balloon with air.
- Talk with the children about what they observed. "Did this balloon go farther than this one? How do you know? Why do you think that this balloon went the farthest? Why did this balloon only go a little way?" Use the words force and motion to explain the movement of the balloon along the string.
Connection to Mathematics:
- In this activity, the children use a nonstandard unit of length to measure the distance the balloon travels.
For more great scientific activities, check out The Preschool Scientist: Using Learning Centers to Discover and Explore Science.