Magnifying Magic

In this lesson, children will use magnifying glasses to explore the world around them.

Content Area:

Beginning Skills and Processes

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Demonstrate curiosity about the world and begin to use the practices of science and engineering to answer questions and solve problems
  • Explore concepts and information about the physical, earth and life sciences
  • Understand important connections and concepts in science and engineering

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Developing beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices such as observing, asking questions, solving problems and drawing conclusions
  • Observing, investigating, describing and categorizing living things
  • Using nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation
  • Identifying, describing and comparing the physical properties of objects
toddler in garden

Magnifying Magic

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Magnifying glass
  • Natural materials (bugs, sticks, stones, grass, leaves, seeds, etc.)
  • Clipboard
  • Journal or paper
  • Writing utensil
  • Outdoor space or area set up with natural materials

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Before taking the children outdoors, pass out the magnifying glass and ask the children if they know the name of this scientific tool and how to use it. Discuss and model the appropriate way to use the magnifying glass.
  2. Explain that a magnifying glass is an amazing tool that scientists use to see things at a smaller level.
  3. Encourage the children to experiment with distance.
  4. Say: “Try moving the magnifying glass close and then farther away from the object while you are looking through it. Not too close! Look at your hands through the magnifying glass. What do you observe? Do they look bigger?”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Take the children outdoors. Point out something interesting outside such as a pine cone. Encourage the children to observe the pine cone without the magnifying glass and draw or talk about what they see.
  2. Ask: “Is the pine cone big or small? Can you see every part of the pine cone? What characteristics make this pine cone special?  What other findings can you share with me?”
  3. Direct the children to observe the pine cone with the magnifying glass. Encourage them to compare and contrast their experiences with and without the magnifying glass.
  4. Continue your investigation into the natural world with your magnifying glasses. Point out small bugs, the vein on a leaf or the different parts of a flower.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Analyze: To examine information in order to make conclusions
  • Characteristic: A feature or an attribute of an object
  • Findings: New information that is gained after an investigation
  • Investigate: To seek out information by observing, experimenting or testing
  • Magnifying glass: A lens that enlarges the view of an object to enable the viewer to see smaller details of the object
  • Observe: To watch and document something to gather information

Early Science Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Enjoy just being in nature and viewing grass or rocks through their magnifying glasses
Child care providers may:
  • Point out objects that may be of interest to the child
  • Consider this just an introduction to observation
  • Give the children time and space to explore
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Want to extend the observation by drawing or sculpting their findings
  • Want to explore with magnifying glasses during free play
Child care providers may:
  • Allow as much time as possible for investigation and collaboration

Suggested Books

  • Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? by Editors of Storey Publishing
  • I Use Science Tools by Carson Dellosa Education
  • What Is a Scientist? by Barbara Lehn

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • This is a great outdoor activity to get children moving and investigating while learning how to use scientific tools
  • Take the books and magnifying glasses outdoors during free play

Web Resources

Sid the Science Kid and his friends learn how to observe, compare and contrast in the Magnification Observation Super Fab Lab.

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