Science experiments have always been a huge hit in our house! Science experiments spark curiosity which helps keep children engaged. If children are engaged and interested, we can capture their attention for longer stretches. Science experiments are also super fun! Another reason why I love science experiments is because they provide countless opportunities to boost a child’s language development. For example:
- Sequencing: All science experiments require completing various steps. Read the instructions together, and talk about what happens first, second, etc. If the instructions come with pictures, you may even cut out the steps and see if your child can put the steps in order. This is also a great opportunity to talk about why sequencing is so important. Following the steps in order will ensure that the experiment works!
- Retell: After completing an experiment, ask your child to explain what he/she did. You can ask questions if your child gets stuck or forgets a step (e.g. “What did we do first?” “What did we do after…?” What happened at the end?”). If your child struggles with retelling events (sequencing), try taking pictures during the experiment. Your child can use the pictures to support her recall.
- Making predictions: If you are using a science experiment kit, present the box and ask your child what he thinks is going to happen. If the box doesn’t have pictures (or if it’s unclear what the experiment is), show your child the materials and tools, and see if he can guess what you are going to make. If you are using household items to conduct an experiment, ask your child “what-if” questions (e.g. “What do you think will happen if we put Skittles in a bowl of water?”). For both types of experiments, you can also work on making predictions during the experiment.
- Problem Solving: Often times, science experiments don’t work! Just the other day, my daughter was making slimy bugs, and we couldn’t take them out of the mold. It turns out, she poured the solution into the mold before stirring the ingredients together. Work together and talk about ways to fix the problem for next time. If you have enough ingredients, you may even want to repeat the experiment and try implementing your child’s problem-solving strategy. Alternatively, there are some science experiments that you can present as a problem. For example, we love this Lego Science Ice Excavation Experiment.
- Describing: All sorts of cool things happen when you are experimenting! Volcanoes explode, Skittles turn white, Peeps grow, and crayons melt! Encourage your child to describe what they are seeing, hearing and smelling. You can also ask your child to talk about the way materials/items feel. Talk about a sensory experience!