Instructions:Science Centers in the Early Childhood Classroom
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you develop science centers for young children:
1. If it can't be touched, or survive repeated handling, the object should not be placed in a center, but rather should be used at group time, with an adult.
2. Children learn best through hands-on activities, so items in a science center should be touchable! This, of course, does not necessarily include any animals living in the center.
3. You should change the items in the center on a regular basis. If the children don't visit the science area, the science area needs changing, revitalizing, refreshing.
4. Include items that involve four of the senses, perhaps on a bookshelf with four shelves:
Sight: viewers, magnifiers, color panels
Hearing: sound canisters, bells, shakers, different noisemakers
Touch: different fabrics to match by touch, sand paper, a feely box
Smell: flowers, scent bottles, whole fruits, perfume samplers
For obvious reasons there would not be a shelf for taste: it is dangerous to have children think they can put whatever they find into their mouths.
5. When putting plants in a science area remember to use non-toxic varieties. Your local poison control center or garden shop can help you find safe plants to use. Peppermint or other mint plants are a good choice. They are hearty plants and prolific growers, smell wonderful and are non-toxic if eaten. Children may assist in taking care of the plants.
6. No science area is complete without animals of some kind. Our center has had good luck with goldfish and crickets. Both are relatively inexpensive and easy to take care of. Crickets will reproduce within six to nine months and the children can take their own pet crickets home.
7. Another nice addition to the science area is a magnet board. The local auto supply store sells drip pans that make wonderful magnet boards when mounted on the back of a shelving or cubbie unit.