The science center should include developmentally appropriate games and materials from the categories of collections of natural objects, living things, nature/science books, games or toys, and nature/science activities. The ECERS-R also encourages teachers to use simple cooking and experiments at least once every two weeks.
Childrens’ innate curiosity makes them the ideal ‘scientist’. Science is about discovery and through the use of a nature/science center teachers can support children in learning many concepts. Literacy, math, social studies, the arts, and technology are all encompassed in a well-stocked, well-designed science center. The Creative Curriculum (2002) suggests a Discovery Center that is stocked with open-ended materials that children can explore. Tools such as magnifying glasses, magnets, flashlights, prisms, plants, and collections of natural items such as seashells, leaves, feathers, and rocks should be included. Locate the center near a window if possible.
In the activities section of The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised Edition (1998) (ECERS-R) a number of centers are included. Besides a nature/science center, other centers include fine motor, art, music/movement, blocks, sand/water, dramatic play, and math/numbers. The science center should include developmentally appropriate games and materials from the categories of collections of natural objects, living things, nature/science books, games or toys, and nature/science activities. The ECERS-R also encourages teachers to use simple cooking and experiments at least once every two weeks. Although a discovery/nature/ science center is part of an early childhood classroom, teachers also use every day events as a basis for learning about nature/science.
Dodge, D.T., Colker, L.J., & Heroman, C. (2002). The creative curriculum for preschool. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.
Harms,T., Clifford, R.M., & Cryer, D. (1998). Early childhood environment rating scale revised edition. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Use digital cameras to capture changes in plants, weather,and animals.
- Support hypothesis building when performing experiments with young children.
- Provide writing materials for children to record their observations.
- Sensory tubs can be included in the science area.
Resources: Explore the following web resources for science related ideas:
The National Science Teachers Association
Find Ways to Play Public Broadcasting System
Check out the resources below from the T-TAC ODU library from the AIMS Education Foundation:
- Primarily Weather (material #549), Primarily Magnet (material #532),
- Primarily Plants (material #528)
- Step by Step Science: Science Made Simple for Young Children (material #200378
- The Creative Curriculum for Preschool (material #4304)
- Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised Edition (material #4417)