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Creating an Early Childhood Science Center

What makes a motiving science center for the Early Childhood classroom? Early Childhood is a time in a child's life of natural curiosity and desire for independence. If a center does not contain interesting items and an interesting presentation, the science center may become unused waste of valuable space. First, the teacher needs to keep in mind the purpose of the science center.

 

According to Nevada's PreKindergarten Content Standards, the Goals of Pre-Kindergarten Science are as followed:

  • To enhance children’s natural and instinctual observational skills

  • To support and guide children’s curiosity and their need to experiment

  • To encourage exploration and discovery

  • To highlight the wonders of the world around them

 

Science conecpts can be broken into six strands,  Physical, Life, Earth and Space, Environment, Nature and History, and Scientific Inquiry. As children explore these strands, the concepts need to be concrete and observable. Interest may be sparked by literacy, questioning, or their own imagination. Adults can facilitate discovery by inviting questions, asking open-ended questions, encouraging hands-on experiences, and providing opportunities to experiment and observe the world through a variety of media and realia (McGraw-Hill, 2003).

 

As I examine the quality and appropriateness of my science center, I keep in mind the following words...

Scientific Investigation

Problem Solving                

Observation                       

Discovery  

 

Vocabulary Development

Concepts of Change

Classifying

Sorting

 

 

In my science center, I have a basic set of the "staples" - items that always remain in my science center. These include items such as magnifying glasses, balance scale, magnets, books, plastic bugs and small animals, sample rocks, and View Masters. 

 

I have also created themed unit boxes with sciences questions or experiments to rotate use for a couple weeks at a time. PTA once generously donated $200.00 per grade level for science materials. We chose to purchase two scrapbooking container sets that hold 6 boxes and science materials. In each box, I used an experiement question or concept theme with materials. I used Lessonpix.com to help create directions, visuals, and work mats to be used with each theme. Our team of 3 teachers share the boxes. We put one box in the science center set as a display and change it every 2-3 weeks.

 

In addition, I place various materials in the science center rotating as my theme changes. For example, during the fall, the science center includes fall items such as gourds, pumpkins, fall leaves, color boxes, color paddles, hay, acorns, and fall books.

The well-supplied science center must also be supported with directions or prompts on what to do. I like to present new items during a full group lesson as if to say, "look at these cool new things" and "I wonder what would happen if?". In addition, I create activitiy cards, visuals, sorting mats, matching games and other items at Lessonpix.com. Every item in the science center has a place labeled with words and pictures. Picture cards may also be used to prompt children on questions to ask, vocabulary words to use, how to sort (using categories, not just color or size), and labeling objects. 

 

The Early Childhood science center is a great place for young children to build a foundation  of observation and classification skills. Teachers should foster their natural curiosity and interest in experimenting and discovery by keeping the center interesting and fun. By providing items and support to use the items, their student can learn many skills through play, solving problems, and learning about the world around them.

LessonPix.com provides over 30,000 images and numerous materials. Members can support science lessons and the science center with visuals and printables custom created for their topic. They can just 1. click on the pictures they need, 2. Click "Create Materials" and choose what to make, and 3. Print.

Here is a free sample of the pictures above. Just Click for the pdf file of these pictures.