this time, I really mean it

Okay, so two years ago at this time I promised I would teach more science in my preschool.  And it didn’t really happen.  I went to a science workshop for early childhood teachers this week and thought back to figure out where I went wrong.

  • I just haven’t felt comfortable or knowledgeable enough to do it.  It’s not that I don’t like science or find it interesting; I just couldn’t figure out how to add it to my classroom in a thoughtful, thorough way.
  • Last year I focused my energies on learning how to do writer’s workshop in preschool.  It was a great, intellectually stimulating challenge, and it turned out, I was good at teaching writing.  My kids all started to write, and a lot of my teaching energy went to writing and reading.
  • Actually, a lot of my teaching TIME went to writing and reading.  It’s really hard to fit everything into two and a half hours.  I didn’t have the time or the energy to figure out where science was going to go.
  • My classroom is so tiny I couldn’t figure out where to put a science center.  Then I finally figured out a space, and couldn’t figure out what to put there!

But THIS year, I really will do it.  Our workshop, mostly based on the book Exploring Water with Young Children, with some time spent on Exploring Nature with Young Children, was pretty terrific.  (I went home and said to my husband, “so that was not a waste of my time,” which is a huge compliment when it comes to our school district and staff development.)

Miss Mellow was at the workshop, also, and we thought that maybe this year we would do a long exploration of water in the fall, and of nature in the spring.  We have a sand table which we can empty and turn into a water table, and we have ideas about where to go to get funnels, tubes, eye droppers, and turkey basters.

So we’ll see how it goes.  I look forward to launching science exploration this fall — I want my students to have a sense of wonder about the world around them, to have the opportunities to become absorbed in exploring, wondering, testing, and talking about science.

9 thoughts on “this time, I really mean it

  1. I have run into the same problem in my daycare. Finding a way to let science flow into our day can be hard. I found even when putting the science center together, it was still hard to get the kids to go in there. It seemed everything needed to be done with an adult. I finally found some easy water transferring activities, nature objects with magnifing glasses, bugs (alive & dead) in containers, a container of magnets, and a small nature table to put “found” items. The kids can use it more independantly now and they love it. We also use our sensory table for lots of “sciencey” type of activities. Good luck!!!

    • Michelle, you should check out the books. I’m not doing a very good job of explaining the main ideas, but it’s a great way to make science exploration and inquiry a natural part of the day. If I can pull it off, we’ll be learning and thinking about water for 4-6 weeks. Maybe you and I can both make this a ‘new year’s resolution,’ and share ideas.

  2. If they don’t get enough science and social studies type curriculum they won’t understand what they are reading later on! We need fewer writers’ workshops and more meaningful science activities, field trips, dramatic play activities beyond a kitchen center etc. . But those kinds of knowledge don’t lend themselves to testing , thank goodness.

    • You’re right that a wide variety of academic and other experiences are important, to enrich the children’s lives, their vocabularies (which will make a huge difference in kindergarten and beyond), their understanding of the world, and their content knowledge. I’m going to stand behind writer’s workshop — but will try to make my curriculum rich and balanced.

      Sometimes it’s just so hard to fit everything into a half-day program!

    • Oh, and I meant to add that we didn’t JUST do writer’s workshop. We did a lot of learning and playing and exploring in different ways.

  3. I also went to a training on this topic over the summer. I am so excited! I plan to do a long-term study of water this fall. I have so many fun, hands-on learning experiences planned for the children! I can’t wait for school to start! 🙂 I am looking forward to reading about your study of water!

  4. When working with a larger group (currently I work with a group of 5 preschoolers ages 3 and 4), I found it not only meaningful to the curriculum, but a great tool with children who have sensory issues or behavioral issues. Warm water can be very soothing to a child. Several of my students used to the water table to help them regulate their behavior – just a minute or two of water exploration was what they needed. It was truly amazing to me. I’ve had water available throughout my program ever since. I often add other sensory materials, but water is available every day. Good luck!

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