Submitted by Julie Pugkhem
Science in early childhood offers an opportunity to focus and build on the children’s awareness of the environment around them and the compassion that they can show to one another, to animals, and to our community. When children arrive in science, their first questions are always about the animals in our room. They care so deeply about the fish, the rabbits, “Katherine” and “Rube”, and our hamster, Einstein.
They always ask, “Did the fish eat today?” “Are the bunnies cold in the winter?” “Where is Einstein? Is he still sleeping?” They make observations about the rabbits and show an understanding that they must be careful, calm, and quiet when they enter the room so that we do what is best for the animals.
As well as caring for the animals in our classroom, the children have been making beautiful ice ornaments that also serve to provide food for the birds outside during the winter. The children have been enjoying watching water freeze into ice and they very carefully choose branches on which to hang each ice ornament.
On days when it is far too cold to be outdoors, the children have been exploring magnets and their properties. Inquiry guides their experiences as they wonder and ask many questions. “Which materials stick to the magnets?” “Do magnets stick to all metals – even aluminum foil and coins?” “Are there materials in nature that have magnetic properties?”
The children have experimented and learned that magnets stick to paper clips, the doors around the lower school, chair legs, and even some rocks! They also learned that magnets do not stick to wood, plastic, or coins. They discovered that magnets have two poles, North and South, and that opposite poles attract one another and like poles repel one another.
Having some fun with magnets, the children in preschool “painted” beautiful pictures using magnet wands and magnetic items such as disc magnets, ball bearings, and latch magnets. They were very successful and were able to be creative without getting paint on their hands or on the magnet wands! The kindergarten children carefully illustrated and created their own magical magnetic flying kites!
As the school year continues, we look forward to welcoming warmer weather and the beginning of spring where we can notice all the magic of that season — flower buds sprouting out from the ground and trees beginning to grow new foliage. The spring at D-E offers more than just a time for the children to observe growth in nature, it is also a time for the children to grow cognitively and physically, to make connections with nature and their environment, and to look forward to the prospect of new beginnings.