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.