“What is a scientist?… We give the name scientist to the type of man who has felt experiment to be a means guiding him to search out the deep truth of life...”
There are tons of benefits to engaging in science exploration with young children.
It's a great way to teach young children a concept. Science teaches through an immersive, sensorial experience. The easiest way for young children to learn is to engage and use as many of their senses as possible.
Most of all, experimentation fosters and supports a child's natural sense of curiosity. Have you ever gone on a walk with a toddler and realized you’re not going anywhere fast? A toddler will literally “stop to smell the roses” …stare at an ant …pick up a rock …notice the rust on a car.
The list of things that fascinate them is endless.
What are the benefits of science education?
As children explore objects or concepts, they are forced to ask questions to make sense of what they are observing.
This helps to nurture their intellectual curiosity - “what is this?” “what is this called?” “how does this feel/taste/smell/sound?” “how does this work?” etc.
Kids Learn By Doing
Engaging in science activities has tremendous benefits for the child’s development. It helps to enhance:
Problem solving skills
Creative and critical thinking skills
Creates a lifelong love for science and the scientific process that comes so naturally to every child.
Where to start...
Here are a few easy and fun science experiments for you to try with your toddler.
Science Experiment #1: Magic Milk
Dish soap in a small bowl
Purpose: To develop fine motor skills, concentration and focus while exploring the chemical reaction between milk and dish soap.
Adult Preparation: Gather the materials and prepare this activity in an area of the home where the child can focus and explore this experiment.
Presentation: Sit or stand to the right of your child. Pour whole milk into a baking dish, or encourage your child to do so, until the bottom is fully covered. Slowly add some drops of food colouring into the milk. Add as much and as many colours as you’d like. Pick up a q-tip with your dominant hand and dip it into the bowl with the dish soap. Carefully move the q-tip onto the surface of the coloured milk and explore the reaction. Encourage your child to repeat.
Notes: This activity can go really quickly. I encourage you to take your time with the demonstration and use a pan that has a large enough surface for your child to explore for a longer period of time. They may enjoy swirling the coloured milk around with the q-tip once the experiment is over, which is excellent for fine motor skills, so make sure they are finished exploring before tidying up.
How this experiment works: The interaction between the milk and the dish soap cause the fat particles in the milk to move.
To further develop fine motor skills, place the food colouring into little bowls and encourage your child to transfer it to the milk using a small eye-dropper.
Science Experiment #2: Make a Lava Lamp
Vegetable oil (enough to fill ⅔ of the bottle)
3 tbsp. of baking soda
½ cup of white vinegar
Purpose: To explore cause and effect while developing fine motor skills and concentration
Adult Preparation: Gather the materials and prepare them in an area of the home where your child can comfortably explore. Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the small bowl. Ask your child what colour they’d like to use and add food colouring to the vinegar.
Presentation: Sit or stand with your child. Encourage your child to use the spoon to scoop 3 tbsp. of baking soda into the bottle/jar. Encourage your child to pour vegetable oil into the bottle/jar so that it is ⅔ of the way full. Please note: Do not mix the oil and baking soda. Place the bowl of coloured vinegar and eye-dropper to the left of the bottle/jar. Demonstrate how to squeeze the bulb of the dropper and transfer the coloured vinegar to the bottle/jar. Slowly add more drops of vinegar to the baking soda and vegetable oil and watch the reaction occur. Repeat and enjoy the exploration!
Notes: This is a great activity to develop observation skills, focus and concentration. Talk with your child about what’s happening in the bottle/jar. Move through each step slowly so that you can see the chemical reaction occurring.
Science Experiment #3: Will it Roll?
Ramp (wood or cardboard)
5 items that will roll
5 items that will not roll
Purpose: To explore and discover the differences between items that roll vs. slide.
Adult Preparation: Place the ramp in an area of the home where there is room for the items to roll freely and your child to move around. Place the 10 items near the ramp.
Presentation: Pick an item and ask “Do you think this will roll down the ramp?” Place the item at the top of the ramp and let go. Talk about whether the item rolled, slid or stayed in place. Encourage your child to select an item and explore what occurs when it’s placed at the top of the ramp. Follow their lead and experiment with all items.
Notes: This is a great activity to do when your child is in need of some movement. As your child moves around the room to retrieve the items that have rolled down the ramp, they will develop gross motor skills.
To develop classification skills, provide your child with 2 baskets. Encourage your child to place all the items that roll into one basket and the items that do not in the other.
Encourage your child to select items that they’d like to explore on the ramp.
Set up more than one ramp and explore the differences. For example, you could have one that has a very steep slope vs. one where the slope is more gradual. Experiment with how far the items will roll when the ramp is placed at different degrees.
Science Experiment #4: Baking Soda & Vinegar
Eye-dropper or baster
Purpose: To explore cause and effect while developing fine motor skills and concentration
Adult Preparation: Gather the materials and prepare them in an area of the home where your child can comfortably explore. Cover the bottom of the baking tray with baking soda. Fill the 3 cups with white vinegar. Ask your child what colours they’d like to use and add food colouring to the cups of vinegar. Place the cups to the left of the baking tray.
Presentation: Pick up the eye-dropper/baster with your dominant hand and place it in one of the cups of vinegar. Demonstrate how to squeeze to suck up the liquid and let go to lock it in. You may want to do this a couple of times. Once you have some vinegar in your eye-dropper/baster move it over the baking tray and squeeze. Watch the baking soda fizz and comment on what you’re seeing. Repeat. Encourage your child to fill the eye-dropper/baster with vinegar and squeeze it over the baking soda. Enjoy the exploration of this colourful chemical reaction.
***Encourage your child to clean up their work space when finished.
Notes: You may need to demonstrate hand-over-hand how the eye-dropper/baster works. It can take time for children to figure out how it works but the effect of this experiment acts as a great motivator to learn.
Colour Mixing: Use the 3 primary colours - red, blue and yellow. Talk about the different colours you make when combining these colours in different combinations on the tray of baking soda.
Volcanic Eruption: You could do this on a larger scale and erupt a “volcano” using a large jar filled with baking soda and pouring the vinegar into it. Be prepared because the eruption happens really quickly!
Purpose: To explore the chromatic sense through science.
Adult Preparation: Gather all the materials and place them in an area of the home where you can set up this experiment with your child.
Presentation: Preparing for the experiment is half the fun so involve your child as much as possible. Arrange the 5 glasses/jars in a line. Fill the 1st, 3rd and 5th glasses/jars with water. Add red food colouring to the first jar, add yellow food colouring to the 3rd jar and blue to the 5th. Roll or fold a piece of paper towel length wise. Put one end of the paper towel into the red water and the other end of the paper towel into the empty jar. Roll or fold a second piece of paper towel length wise. Put one end in the empty jar and the other end in the yellow water. Roll or fold a third piece of paper towel and place one end in the yellow water and the other in the empty jar. Finally, roll or fold a fourth piece of paper towel and place one end in the empty jar and the other in the blue water. Sit back and observe the coloured water “creeping” into the empty jars.
Notes: It will take a little while before the water moves into the empty jars. Leave this in an area of the home where your child can check back often and see what changes have occurred. While you wait, set up a little colour mixing activity with coloured water and an eye dropper. Mix the primary colours and hypothesize about what will happen in the experiment.
Further explore the chromatic sense by adding more glasses/jars and experimenting with other colour combinations.
Science is everywhere
There is no limit to what you can do with science. In addition to trying out these experiments, you can naturally explore and discuss how our bodies work, the process of cooking or baking, or observing how plants grow in the garden.
Science is literally everywhere and children absolutely love it.
Little Scientist Kit
If you’re interested in engaging in more science-based exploration in your home, we created a special science kit for young children that includes some amazing tools!
We also welcome you to join our Montessori At Home program by clicking here: Montessori At Home Program and joining our waitlist. This program makes implementing Montessori activities in your home easy, cost-effective and stress-free!
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