Standard: 12C

Explore the physical properties of objects.

lessons

Who Sank the Boat?

In this lesson, children will be introduced to weight and buoyancy experiences and apply these experiences at the water table.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In this lesson, children will graph the different vehicles that they scoop out of a bucket and then analyze their collected data, creating rules for why a vehicle is similar or different than other vehicles.

Guess the Weight Scavenger Hunt

In this lesson, children will start with one object and decide which objects in the room are heavier or lighter than that object.

Squash and Pumpkins

In this lesson, children will gather observational data about a variety of squash and pumpkins and explore what is inside of these vegetables.

HEXBUG Maze

In this lesson, the children will observe different HEXBUGS to predict how they might move through a block maze.

Pancakes!

In this lesson, the children will explore changes in matter as they mix and cook pancakes.

posts

The Magic of Magnetism

  “Look!” squeals three-year-old Eleanor.  “I can pick up these two balls! It’s magic!” Have you ever seen young children playing with magnets? The “magical” properties of magnets never fail to captivate early learners and spark a play buzz! Children learn by investigating, observing and figuring out how things work. Magnets fuel that curiosity in […]

Rocking through Early Learning Standards

  Rock balancing or CAIRNS has found its way into our play again this week! Stacking and balancing rocks encourages math and science investigations that are always developmentally appropriate. My adrenaline starts flowing and a smile grows on my face when a two-year-old child exhibits an innate sense of how to balance many more rocks […]

Playing with Sticks

  If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, or driven by the Arboretum on Interstate 88, you may have spotted Joe the Guardian, a 20-foot-tall, spear-wielding troll peering down at the passing cars from atop his grassy berm. Joe is just one of six towering troll statues created by […]

Fort Building 101

  “LOOK!” screams a four-year-old with such joy that we know this isn’t a garden-variety “I want to share something with you” moment. As the gang rushes to her side, they come to a complete standstill, frozen in awe. Oh happy day! Some kind souls have shared a fort with the community! There before us […]

Flower Power in the Outdoor Classroom

  “Look, look! Come and see what is inside this flower!”  It’s a warm, late-spring day and our friends are scattered around the yard, discovering the new surprises that have popped up overnight. The flowers are finally showing their beautiful blooms! “Is it a bumblebee?” I ask. They look at me—their eyes big with wonder. […]

Nest Building is STEM Building

“I found an empty nest! Can we keep it?” Owen’s joyful discovery captures everyone’s attention. Three-year-old Avery comes running. “Are there eggs?” she asks her older and wiser five-year-old friend. “Can I see?” she begs. “Please let me see?” “There are no eggs, just an old nest. Can we please keep it?” pleads Owen. After […]

Water Play!

  “It works! The water is coming out!” Rokia cannot contain her excitement as the discovery of a full rain barrel adds a new avenue of discovery and learning for our week. “How did you do that? Can I have a turn? Get a bucket!” The excitement builds as so many little brains begin to […]

Return of the Sand Gardens

  “I found GOLD!” squeals Laura. Four little friends are quick to join her in the latest gold rush in the sandbox. In the wee hours of the morning, often when the sun is barely above the horizon and the coffee is still being brewed, gold will magically appear in our sandbox. Spray-painted rocks that […]

Chalk Magic

“Vera, Vera!  Come see how bright the colors are in my rainbow!” Four-year-old Owen is ecstatic about his discovery of a colorful collection of wet chalk after a summer shower in our outdoor classroom. This happy accident has paved the way for a sensory adventure as we meet our math and science early learning standards […]

May the Force be With You

    “Look! The people blocks are in a line and they crash at the bottom,  just like when we play on the slide!” This is a lightbulb moment as Evelyn transfers knowledge gleaned from a previous play experience into her current hands-on learning. A chain-reaction domino fall during today’s block play reminds Evelyn of […]

Squirrely STEAM Learning

“If the squirrel comes down from this direction, we can trap him under here!” yells Elliot. The playground equipment sits empty as Elliott, Harper and their fellow “squirrel trappers” congregate at the base of a towering oak tree in our neighborhood park.  The children have long been captivated by this venerable old oak, which has […]

Rock and Roll

  One bright fall morning, I notice that the noise level at Under the Gingko Tree is exceptionally low. A quick glance around reassures me that all of my early learners are safe and accounted for. Then I notice a quiet but intense play buzz happening in our rain garden, so I wander over to […]

Finding STEM in Snow Play

  After months of sequestering and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, we could all use some fresh winter air! Nature is just what the doctor ordered to stimulate our senses while we meet our early learning standards. The winter months offer an abundance of STEM learning opportunities, so don’t let the falling […]

Shadow Play

  “Do our shadows look like the monsters in the book?” asks James. I glance over and see James and Noa connecting their shadows by overlapping their arms. When we engage children in outdoor shadow play to support active exploration and discovery, their creativity is endless! James and Noa are playing out their version of […]

STEM Building in the Window Frame

  “AUGGGHHHH!” I hear screams, a crash and giggles galore. The joy of Magna-Tiles® has returned to our ever-popular window-stacking play. When these colorful magnetic tile mosaics come crashing down from the window frame, the children respond with laughter and joy. By contrast, the collapse of three-dimensional block formations often elicits groans and tears. Something […]

STEM in the Bird Feeder

“I see the daddy cardinal, do you know where the mama bird is?” Four-year-old Noah, binoculars in hand, is busy counting birds in our outdoor classroom. Are you aware that the annual Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up later this week? This is a great opportunity to create a bird-watching station and knock out […]

Finding STEM in Squirming Worms

  “AAAAUUUUGHHHHHHH! Worms! Look, look! They are everywhere!” Eleanor is jumping up and down hysterically. Nothing will bring our crew running faster than a good worm sighting! Let the earthworm exploration begin. We love worms! Last spring, we witnessed an unusual natural phenomenon as a mass of earthworms wiggled out of their subterranean homes in […]

Rainbows, Sunshine and Superheroes

  “Evie, come look! I’m a superhero! I have superpowers!” calls Jamie from the foyer. Curiosity piqued, Evie leaves her blocks behind to see what her best friend is up to now. “Rainbows!!!” Evie shrieks as she spies the colorful light pattern on Jamie’s wrist. Everyone within earshot dashes over to see the rainbows. And, […]

Ramps, Inclines and STEM in the Great Outdoors

  “Hey, Hudson! How did you do that?” Eleanor is amazed at Hudson’s success as he races a car down the ramp. This is the same car that she couldn’t get to stay on the ramp just minutes earlier. I listen as Hudson turns the car over and explains, “See those wheels? The front ones […]

STEM + Beanbags = F U N!

  I recently grabbed our dusty box of beanbags off of the top shelf of the closet and took the beanbags outside. We rarely played with them indoors, so what was I saving them for?  If a beanbag gets lost or forgotten under the plants and soaked in the rain, who cares? At least it […]

STEM Pinwheel Play

‘Why are they moving so fast?” This windy summer morning has Harper and his fellow STEM explorers racing toward the pinwheels in our outdoor play area. “They are really, really fast today,” Jimmy agrees. “They move faster on windy days!” adds five-year-old Noah. “You can stop them and then watch how fast they start up […]

A Small Whiff of STEM

“I smell cinnamon rolls!” exclaims Henry as he races through the gate towards our outdoor classroom. Everyone stops what they are doing to inhale deeply. “I do too! I want a cinnamon roll!” pleads Noah. My group is quite disappointed to learn that I am not baking cinnamon rolls this morning. The delicious cinnamon-roll smell […]

T is for Teachable Moments

“Hey everybody! Look at all of the tomatoes that are ripe today!” shouts Jacob to the gang. “Can we eat them for lunch? Can we?” asks Lucus. “Can we eat them now?” pleads Elizabeth. It’s early September and preschoolers around the country are learning about apples, but we have tomatoes at our fingertips. The same […]

STEM Play with Dominoes

  “Hey, Evelyn!  Go get your cell phone and meet me at the stumps!” calls Noa. My head whirls around as I check the classroom to see if a cell phone has actually made its way into school today. Then I see Evelyn running to the basket of dominoes to get her “cell phone.” Whew! […]

Exploring Colors on the Light Table

As the days grow shorter and the slanting rays of sun that create our rainbows are replaced by clouds, we shift our energy to other forms of investigative play with light and color. “Saaliha, come play with me at the light table!” Nora calls out. Saaliha joins her friend and the STEM investigations into light, […]

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

“LOOK! We have icicles!” “Can I have one?  I need one!” On this brisk winter morning—much to the children’s delight—nature has given us the gift of icicles. The children’s fascination with these frozen treasures leads to an abundance of “teachable moments” as we engage in some STEM learning while getting some fresh air and exercise. Soon […]

lessons

Not a Box!

To be a child again and rediscover the joy of a simple box? This lesson represents STEM creativity at its finest!

posts

The Wonders of the Winged World: STEM Bird Books

“It’s a murmuration! Hurry everybody, come look!”  Five-year-old Elizabeth is jumping up and down, joyfully shouting for her friends to share in the delight of her discovery. Have you ever seen a “murmuration” of birds? It is such a magical and mesmerizing sight that it will stay in your memory bank forever. “Starling murmurations” are […]

lessons

Painting With Wind

In this lesson, children will blow paint through straws to investigate the relationship between wind force and velocity.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

In this lesson, the children will explore their outdoor environment on a scavenger hunt to find and classify different natural materials.

Magnifying Magic

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

Floating Rocks!

This lesson introduces children to the concept of weight, buoyancy and density as they observe some rocks floating on water and some rocks sinking.

Growing Lettuce From Scraps

In this lesson, you can use scraps from your kitchen to quickly and easily regrow lettuce for your children to observe, investigate and enjoy as a snack.  

Be a Rocket Scientist!

In this lesson, children will learn scientific facts as they follow the book, “If You Decide to Go to the Moon,” which documents a boy’s fascinating excursion to the moon and back. The children will then construct and launch straw rockets to learn about the physics of space.

Salt Painting

Salt painting is a creative way to teach children about absorption. In this lesson, children will learn how the watercolor paint reacts with the salt as the paint “travels” along the glue/salt line.

posts

Scrap Gardening for STEM Learners

  “Did the lettuce sprout today?” asks Jamie as he enters the classroom, heading over to our classroom “scrap garden” to see for himself without stopping to take off his coat. “It has!” squeals Evelyn, her eyes wide with excitement. “You won’t believe how high it has grown!” Our investigation into scrap gardening has clearly […]

lessons

Be a Magnet Detective!

In this lesson, children will be magnet detectives as they investigate and experiment with magnetic forces.

Pinwheel Power in the Wind

Celebrate the warm winds of spring with a colorful, breezy pinwheel investigation! In this lesson, students will learn about wind energy as they use a pinwheel to model a wind turbine.

Force Can Push or Pull

In this lesson, children will explore force and motion concepts as they play with boxes and objects found around the classroom.

I Can Recycle!

In this lesson, students will learn about items that can be recycled and why this is important to protect the earth.

Can Crayons Melt in the Sun?

In this lesson, children will explore the phases of matter as they melt crayons in the sun, turning a solid into a liquid and back to a solid again.

The Science of Root Beer Floats

In this lesson, children will combine two simple ingredients—root beer and vanilla ice cream—to observe a reaction between a liquid and a solid that releases a gas.

Dandelions in the Wind

In this lesson, you will introduce young learners to STEM concepts such as velocity, speed and wind as they blow on dandelion puffs to disperse the seeds.  

posts

A World of STEM in a Dandelion Puff

  “No, Trey!  You have to blow out—like when you blow out the candles on a birthday cake,” Noah counsels. “Don’t suck the seeds in!” I look over to see Trey, our youngest learner, pulling dandelion seeds off of his lips. There are no giggles from his peers, just many suggestions and a short science […]

A Morning in the Science Lab

“Who wants to play chemistry with me?” asks five-year-old Katie. “What is that?” asks Annika as she jumps off of her swing to see what adventures this moment may bring. “You mix things up, like concoctions or recipes,” Katie explains. “Sometimes things change colors or the mixture gets real thick and gooey. It’s an experiment. […]

lessons

Loose Parts Science Lab

In this lesson, children will conduct their own science experiments by mixing loose parts with water.

posts

The Solid State of Crayons

  “It is so hot!” moans five-year-old Manual, who is sweating profusely in the sweltering heat. The temperature—which has soared unexpectedly during this second week of May—is in the high 90s, with a heat index of over 100. “It is so hot!” Can we have a popsicle?” pleads Lauren, who knows that I’m a sucker […]

lessons

Ephemeral Art Play

In this lesson, children will explore their immediate neighborhood and look for natural elements that they can collect to create ephemeral art, which is art that only lasts for a short period of time.

posts

Tinkering With Nature

  Last month, the Early Science Matters team presented at the Midwest Early Childhood Educators Symposium. Sponsored by the Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Association, the symposium took place at a particularly inspiring site for nature lovers: the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Surrounded by nature and in the company of a truly amazing audience of […]

Root Beer Float Investigations

“Can we make a concoction today?” asks Malhar, one of our budding scientists. It’s a hot Thursday afternoon and everyone is a little shagged from the heat—including me. A concoction sounds like a messy, energy-sapping endeavor, but Malhar is insistent. “Do you have any root beer?” he whispers to me after looking around to make […]

Finding STEM in Piles of Dirt

  On a recent walk around the neighborhood, we stumble into a scientific gold mine: piles of sand, silt and clay that have not yet been graded and groomed into a baseball diamond.   “Look! What is that?” asks one child whose curiosity is clearly piqued.  “Can we play on those piles of dirt?” another […]

Finding STEM in a Ball of Clay

  Two-year-old Eleanor squeals with delight: “I did it! I made a ball! Look, I made a ball!” Whether they are using homemade play dough, modeling clay or Play-Doh from a can, children can spend hours learning, playing and collaborating with that little ball of STEM magic. STEM play integrates science, technology, engineering and math […]

Playground Physics

  “Noa, what are you doing?” questions Jose. “I’m giving this rock a swing!” giggles Noa as she embarks on her latest investigation into force and motion. “Are you sure that will work?” James asks. “I think the rock will fall off!” We all stop what we are doing to observe as Noa cautiously pulls […]