Learning science early on is very important for the development of your child. Children are naturally inquisitive, but they need stimulation from you to develop their curiosity.
Performing simple science experiments with your child is a way that you can encourage their thinking. Not only will they learn about basic scientific and mathematical concepts, they’ll also learn general patterns of logical thinking.
You should use your creativity to think about simple ways to create scientific experiments. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple science experiments that you can do with your child. Feel free to be creative and modify each experiment in a way that piques the curiosity of your child.
Activity #1: Trees of the Four Seasons
It’s fun and intellectually stimulating for your preschooler to learn about the seasons. In this activity, they’ll see how the leaves on the trees change throughout the year. This hands-on activity illustrates how trees look during each season. When you and your child complete the activity, you'll come out with four beautiful objects, which you can hang on your wall.
- Four toilet paper rolls
- Brown paint
- Four sheets of heavy cardboard
- Construction paper (green, yellow, orange, and red)
- A cup of popcorn
- Brown yarn
- Four pieces of twine (about 8” long)
1. Tape both ends of a piece of twine to the back of each paper.
2. Paint the toilet paper rolls brown.
3. Glue a roll to each of the four pieces of paper.
4. Write the name of a season under each roll.
5. Go outside and observe the trees.
6. Come back inside, and decorate each tree with the materials.
7. Hang the pictures in your house.
Activity #2: Turn Saltwater into Drinking Water
In some places around the world, getting enough freshwater to drink is difficult. In this activity, you'll get to convert saltwater into freshwater.
- Three cups of water
- Two tablespoons of salt
- Plastic wrap
- A cup
- A bowl
- A small rock
1. Pour the water into the bowl. Add the salt, and stir until dissolved.
2. Put the cup into the bowl without letting in any of the saltwater.
3. Place the plastic wrap over the bowl. Put the rock on top of the plastic. Place the whole thing under the sun for one hour. Water drops should start to form under the plastic. These drops should flow into the middle of the bowl and fall into the cup.
4. After a couple of hours, take off the plastic. The cup should have some water in it.
5. Ask your child to taste the water that’s in the cup. There won't be any salty taste to it. The reason is that the water vaporized in the sun, then went into a liquid state. The salt stayed behind, instead of evaporating.
Activity #3: A Toothpaste Experiment
After you eat, a sticky substance called plaque forms on your teeth. If you don't brush it off, then it can turn your teeth yellow. Plaque can also create cavities. This activity uses an egg to show what happens if you don't get rid of plaque.
- A hard-boiled egg
- A glass
- A can of cola
- A toothbrush
1. Put the egg into the glass.
2. Pour the cola over the egg, submerging it.
3. Ask your child what will happen to the egg if it sits in the cola overnight.
4. The next day, remove the egg from the cola. How does it look now?
5. Give your child a toothbrush, and ask them to try to remove the stains from the egg. Explain that the egg is like a tooth. Discuss what will happen to their teeth if they don’t brush them.
Activity #4: Tin Can Phone
Even though your child sees smartphones every day, a tin can phone can teach them a lot about vibration and soundwaves.
- Two tin cans
- Duct tape
- A nail
- A hammer
- Glitter, felt, or other decorative substances
1. If the cans have rough edges when you remove their tops, then tape them so your child won't injure themselves. Give them the decorative materials, and let them decorate the cans however they want to.
2. Turn both cans upside down. Hammer a nail through their bottom, making a hole in the center. Remove the nail.
3. Cut a piece of string that’s up to 10’ long.
4. Thread it through the bottom of one can, and knot it on the inside. Repeat this step with the other can.
5. Tell two children to each take a can, and move apart until the string is tight.
6. One child should put their can to their ear, while the other talks into the other can. The sound will travel over the string.
Explain that when you speak, your voice makes vibrations. When the string is stretched tightly, the vibrations travel across the string and vibrate before travelling to the other person's ear.
Activity #5: Sorting and Ordering Autumn Leaves
Learn to appreciate the outdoors and the fall by taking a nature walk with your child. Collect some leaves, and sort them. This simple project will aid your child in learning useful math and science ideas. They'll also learn to appreciate the beauty of nature through the changing seasons.
- 4 or 5 different-sized leaves
- Construction paper
1. Take a nature walk with your child. Gather four or five of their favorite leaves from your walk. Try to collect leaves of different shapes and sizes.
2. When you get home from the walk, spread the leaves on your table. Ask your child to sort them into piles of similar sizes.
3. Put the construction paper on the table. Have your child put the smallest leaf on the left and the biggest leaf on the right. Then have them line up the other leaves in order of size.
4. Once they’ve line them up correctly, have them put small dots of glue on the backs of the leaves. They can then glue them on the paper in order of their size.
5. Have them write their name on the paper, and set it aside to dry.
Activity #6: Magic Ice
Your preschooler will be fascinated by learning how to mix colors together and make new ones. And this activity combines mixing and melting.
- An eye dropper
- Ice cubes
- A shallow pan
- Three plastic bowls
- Yellow, red, and blue food coloring
1. Put a ½ cup of water into the bowls. Show your child how to use the measuring cup, and let them do it on their own.
2. Put a few drops of each color into each bowl.
3. Put the ice cubes into the pan.
4. Discuss the three primary colors, including that they can be used to make all of the other colors.
5. Use the eyedropper to pick up some of the red water. Dribble it onto an ice cube.
6. Have your child dribble some blue water on the same cube. Discuss how this makes the color purple.
7. Repeat the same thing to have yellow and blue make green. Then use red and yellow to make orange.
8. Let the child experiment with combining the colors in different ways.
9. Ask the child why the ice melts when the water is dribbled on them.
Activity #7: Light and Mirrors
Children are fascinated by mirrors. By playing this game, you can show them how light travels and bounces off mirrors.
- A bright flashlight
- A handheld mirror
- A sheet of black paper
- White crayon
1. Cut some circles from the paper and number them. Place them around the room.
2. Have your child aim the flashlight at the targets. Help them see that the light travels from the flashlight across the room.
3. Turn off the flashlight, and hold up the mirror. Ask the child what will happen when you turn on the light.
4. Turn on the flashlight, and show the child how the light reflects from the mirror to another place in the room.
5. Show the child how the light changes direction when you move the mirror.
6. Have the child use the mirror to shift the light beam to try to hit the targets.
Activity #8: Experiment with Apple Slices
When apples are exposed to the air, they turn brown. However, if you coat them with lemon juice, they stay fresh from the acid. In this activity, your child will experiment with making a happy-face snack that will teach them this lesson.
- An apple peeler
- Lemon juice
1. Peel the apples, and cut them into slices.
2. Give your child one slice, two grapes, and two raisins. Have them make a happy face with the fruit by placing the apple slice so that it looks like a smile.
3. On a second plate, have the child create a sad face.
4. Have the child sprinkle lemon juice on the happy face. Don’t put any juice on the sad face.
5. Wait about 15 minutes. Ask the child what the difference is between the two faces.
6. Have the child eat the apple with the lemon juice on it. Ask them how it tastes.
Activity #9: Make a Marble Run
You probably have some marbles around your house. With a few simple household items, you can teach your child about gravity, speed, weight, and balance.
- Four paper towel rolls
- A pen
- Some small toys that don't roll
1. Cut out a small square on the end of three of the tubes.
2. Let your child decorate the tubes.
3. Lay one roll in front of you, with the cutout end on the right. Turn the tube so that the cutout is on top. Take another tube, and place the end that doesn't have the cutout in the first tube. The tubes should form a 90-degree angle.
4. Take the third tube, and place the end without the cutout into the end of the second tube with the cutout square. Make a U shape with the tubes.
5. Tape the tubes together. Leave a little slack.
6. Place the tubes flat on the ground, and put a marble in an open tube.
7. Experiment with different angles, using the blocks as support. Ask your child why the marble moves in different ways, but sometimes stands still.
Activity #10: Make a Water Well
Give your child a chance to see how a water well works. This activity provides a visual that will help your child understand the process involved.
- A toilet paper tube
- A coffee can
1. Place the tube upright in the coffee can.
2. Pour a layer of gravel around the bottom-outside edge. Make it about 2” deep.
3. Pour sand on top of the gravel.
4. Ask your child what they think will happen when you add water to the sand and gravel.
5. Pour water onto the sand and gravel.
6. Observe the tube. What’s happening?
7. The water should be rising in the tube. Ask your child how this result compares with what happens to a real well after it rains.