Standard: 12D

Explore concepts of force and motion.

lessons

Slide Experiments

In this lesson, children will explore concepts of force and motion while experimenting with slides.

HEXBUG Maze

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

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 […]

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 […]

Frosty the STEM Snowman

“Look! The snow packs!  Let’s make a snowman!” Today’s sunshine and rising temperatures have transformed yesterday’s powdery snow into packable fun—ushering in an afternoon of playful math and science learning. These are the times when I love to pull out my camera to document the many foundation-building moments that find their way into our play. […]

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 […]

The Magical Field of Magnets

  ” Hey guys! Look over here! My magnet sticks to the bike!” On this warm November morning, our magnetic wands have brought STEM learning to our outdoor classroom. By leaving the other magnetic materials behind, I am hoping to encourage the children to harness their curiosity and creativity for other forms of magnetic exploration. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Midline Activities for Brain Development

  Simon says: “Fold your arms!” Simon says: “Touch both elbows at the same time!” Simon says: “Hug yourself!”  Simon says: “Hug yourself and twist! Touch your finger!” Gotcha!  Ah, Simon Says never gets old! This classic game teaches body awareness and listening skills while encouraging children to cross the midline. This short break in the […]

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.

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.

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.

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

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 […]

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 […]