Spring Science activities for preschoolers through second grade.
I teach 3-5 yr Special Needs Pre K students- I have 10 boys in my class.
During our Spring and Plant unit, we were talking about how to plant a seed. After doing the typical sprout a lima bean in the cup or bag (we used zippy bags with wet paper towels taped to the window… FABULOUS!) we threw some lima beans in the sensory table that we had filled with dirt. I found some smaller gardening tools at the dollar store and the kids practiced “planting the seeds”. On accident, we left the beans in there over spring break, and in our covered sensory table, they sprouted! We are now watching them every day to see their progress and doing daily journal drawings about it. The kids are so protective of their plants, they show any visitors and firmly warn them not to touch!
When we are studying plants, in the sensory table I place dirt with gardening tools, plastic of course. I also include gardening aprons and gloves. I also put dried beans from the grocery store. The large ones are the best. They sprout overnight. And if you leave the lid off over the weekend, on Monday the plants are up to 5″ tall. The kids love it.
I made Solar Ovens with my preschool class. We each took a shoe box and lined the inside with foil (shiny side showing). Then we took a kabob skewer and put it through long ways. Put plastic wrap over the top and you have an oven. The most successful things we found to cook were marshmallows and hot dogs. Just set outside on a sunny afternoon. The kids were amazed! Plus, you get a science and snack all in one.
Cut some small branches from apple trees. Put them in water and set on a sunny windowsill. They will be forced to leaf out, I even had one bloom one year! You could use forsythia, peaches, pears or any bush or tree that goes dormant during winter. This could be done as early as Feb or as late as April.
Read “The Tiny Seed” to the class, discussing what they think will happen if we plant a seed. Have available several sandwich size zip-lock bags. Fold paper towels so they fit inside and wet them. Place several sunflower seeds in each bag. zip up the bags and use a stick pin to post on the wall in the Science area. After several days the seeds will start growing and the children will be able to observe the growth of the root and also the stems. After they have grown a bit the can be planted in soil. Chart the progress and send home the plants to be transplanted.My class always loves to watch the growth of each seed.
During my spring unit, I have placed mud in the sensory table. After a few days of mud play, I add a couple dozen live earthworms. The children love it! To keep them alive and well I cover the table when not in use and add water nightly.
Let the children decorate a face onto a Styrofoam cup (except hair). Fill a knee-hi with potting soil and then with grass seeds on top of the soil. Tie a know in the knee hi and turn upside down…with the knot in the cup. Water and watch the “grass hair” grow. Once at the desired length, let the children give their happy face its first haircut.
Here is a recipe for making rainbow stew! Get a small pot and mix about 1 cup of cornstarch with some water. Heat the mixture up until very thick. Remove the “stew” from the heat and place in a sturdy Ziploc bag. Add several drops of different colored food coloring and duct tape the top to help prevent inquisitive fingers. Place on science table and allow children to manipulate the stew and observe the changes in color.
For an activity to go with spring and birds returning, try this. Make bird nesting balls. Collect mesh vegetable bags, such as what grapes, oranges, potatoes come in. You may cut them to the size you need. Also collect such items as the following: leftover thread (I sew and save all my thread clippings), yarn pieces, tiny fabric scraps or strips. Also, you can add Kleenex, cotton balls. Have the children take a bit of each of the materials and place them in the mesh. Pull the mesh together around the items they have placed in the mesh. Take a rubber band and secure the ends together. Using a yarn needle, thread in a piece of yarn and tie ends together to make a hanger. Place these nesting balls outside in trees or areas high enough that the birds feel safe. They will come and pull these materials out thru the mess and take them to make their nests. Have the children observe every so often to see if any of the materials have been removed from the nesting balls or if they see any nests with familiar materials in them.
This idea is great for both art and science. Start by talking to the children about the caterpillars they are finding this time of year. Talk to them about the metamorphism that the caterpillars will undergo soon to beautiful butterflies. The project is to show the different phases the caterpillar will undergo.
Supplies: Pudding Cup (or clear plastic cup), 2 pipe cleaners, play-dough, yarn, construction paper for each child.
In pudding cup have the kids put a small piece of play-dough in the bottom to anchor a green or brown pipe cleaner. After helping them anchor the pipe cleaner, fill the cup with green Easter grass. Have the children make caterpillars using play-dough to place on top of the grass. Cut the other pipe cleaner into three pieces, 1/2 & 2 quarters. Wind the half around the larger pipe cleaner “tree” with some sticking out to create a small branch. Wind the yarn around the end of the “branch” to create a cocoon. Have the kids create a construction paper butterfly by folding the paper in half and cutting a butterfly shape. Have them decorate the butterfly using dots and the other 2 pipe cleaner pieces for antennas and attach at the top of the tree.
This craft can be expanded by showing the butterfly emerging from the cocoon using tissue paper for the rolled shape they have when they first emerge.
P.S. My kids also love to make the Play-Dough. So if you have time and the inclination let them have 2 science experiments that day and let them make dough.
SNAILS….. Collect live snails that have not been treated with snail bait in any way…..Put the snails on your science table in a large see-through bowl with rocks, shells, and greenery. Observe….. Next day…..Keep the container there with the magnifying glasses…but place butcher block paper under the container and cover the table…..Children can eye dropper a drop of food colored water onto the paper and place a snail on top of the drop…stand back and watch the snail make a trail. It’s also fun to pretend that 3 or 4 snails are having a race on the paper. Put the paper up on the board and label it The Snails Did This!
We have started one of the butterfly Gardens that you can buy in the science store or some preschool catalogs. It is a HUGE hit. We have only had them for two weeks, and they have tripled in size, they are spinning all kinds of “silk’ that the kids like to call cobwebs. It is amazing! I highly recommend it as a science activity!
Take a large sponge…get wet and squeeze out excess water. Cover with grass seed and then water. The kids will have fun doing this. I take photos of the children preparing and keep camera on hand to “watch” progress w/ children looking on. Put sponge on a plate (or similar) for water leakage.
Although this idea is not originally mine, I actually borrowed it from the April issue of Parent Life magazine, my children enjoy this greatly!! You cut several small butterfly shapes from various colors of construction paper. You then slip paper clips onto the “butterflies”, and tie strings of various sizes onto the paper clip. Affix the “butterfly to the wall in your classroom, and have available magnets for play. You can make the butterflies fly with magnetism. If you get the right pull, you can make them fly without having the magnet touching. I created a spring wall adding grass, flowers, caterpillars & completed with flying bees( made in the same fashion). It has been hours of fun!!! “Everything God made is beautiful” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
We ordered caterpillars from Insect Lore online store and are eagerly awaiting the metamorphosis that will soon take place.
Find three branches from a blooming shrub or bush. A branch that has not done any budding or blooming, a branch that has buds just beginning to appear and a branch with full blooms. Compare the three. If you keep them in water they will last a bit longer!
To show the rain cycle to my pre-k’rs, I put 1/2 cup water in a sandwich size plastic bag. I explain to the children that this is a pretend puddle that will help us to find out where water goes. I hang it with some tape on a window in the sunlight. Now we will wait and see what the sun does to puddles. After the bag has hung for a few hours, we look on the sides of the bag for condensation. I will tell the children that clouds are made of little drops of water like those on the bag. After condensation has occurred, I will hold some ice against the top of the bag and then additional water should condense. Some water will drop from the top of the bag while the children watch. The cool air high in the sky does the job of the ice and makes rainfall out of the real clouds like we can make “rain” fall from our pretend clouds.
Go on a signs of spring walk. In some areas of the country you may do this as early as mid February. What do you see? Are there any sprouts coming up? Flowers blooming? Bugs flying/crawling? Do you hear birds singing? Do you smell the freshness in the air and in the earth? Use all your senses and ask open-ended questions. I guarantee that you and the children will become quite excited as you discover the earth’s awakening when spring is in the air!
Every year we plant pumpkins in the spring. The children make a pumpkin shaped journal to record our progress. We germinate the seeds inside, track the weather and when the time is right (we look for signs of spring) we plant, recording by hand-drawn pictures and “new” words what we are doing. While they are growing we weed, measure the vines, plant flowers around our pumpkins and add compost. Everything we do is in our journals. We also talk about roots, stems, leaves, vines, flowers etc. Each child waters their own plant. During the summer we also build a scarecrow for our patch. In our journals we record any bugs in our patch. I take photos during the growing season for each child’s journal. During October we cut our pumpkins in time for a pumpkin theme but we always “clean up” our pumpkin bed.. by digging in the leftover vines for next year.
I got an incubator from 4-H. My second graders have had lots of science, art, cooking, and writing activities from this. The best thing is they are very excited as they watch our graph when we turn the eggs and water the incubator. We will candle the eggs this week on the tenth day and see if our hypothesis of how many eggs will develop was correct. This project takes only 21 days for the eggs to develop plus a week before and a week + after. It is great for these difficult days after Groundhog Day and before spring.
My class was learning about Spring and how flowers grow. I added potting soil and flower seeds to the sand and water table. I watered the seeds. After a couple of days the class was when we took the lid off and the seeds had sprouted. The children play in the dirt with any items you want to add and the seeds will still sprout.
Spring Science activities for preschoolers through second grade.