Science preschool lesson plans

Simple science ideas for use with preschool children or toddlers.
  1. Make bubbles: Mix one gallon of water with one cup liquid detergent and 50 drops of glycerin.
  2. Blow bubbles and have the children pop them.
  3. Make Goop: Mix 2 cups water with a little food coloring, add 6 cups of cornflour/cornstarch to make goop. A great outdoor summer activity.
  4. Bake cookies. The easiest way to do this is to buy the already made cookie mix and have the children help place the dough onto the sheet. But for older children, have them start from scratch with a simple recipe.
  5. Bake cupcakes. Buy a cake mix and have the children help mix the ingredients as instructed and have older children pour the cupcake mix into the containers.
  6. Make Ice Cream! I love to do this one, and so do my kids. I have done this with toddlers and school agers...
    You will need:
    - 2 bags of party ice
    - 1 gallon whole milk (or chocolate milk for chocolate ice cream)
    - Ice chest
    - 1 box of kosher salt
    - Paper cups (a least one for each student, and 1 for each teacher in the building who wants to try it)
    - 1 lb. Sugar
    - 1 gal. Ziplock bags (2 for each pair of students)
    - vanilla extract
    - Plastic spoons
    - 1 quart ziplock bags (1 for each pair of students)
    - paper towels
    - Measuring cups, teaspoons and tablespoons
    Directions:
    - Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with a few drops of extract and 1 cup (8 oz) of milk in a small ziplock bag (quart size) and zip it up. This is the small bag!!!
    - Add 2 cups of ice and 1/2 cup of rock salt in a gallon ziplock bag. Place this bag into another ziplock bag to reduce leakage. This is the large bag!!!!
    - Place the sealed small bag into the large bag and seal the large bag.
    - Have the children pair off, and have each partner hold one end of the large bag and shake it until the ice cream is firm.
    - After the ice cream is firm, supply the children with cups and spoons so they may pour the ice cream into the cups and try it.
  7. Really any cooking is science!!! So try your favorite recipe.
  8. Ramp it!!! Provide the children with an inclined plane. (Can be made with a propped up board.) Have each child pick an item from the class room and sit down, before you explain what you are going to do. Show the children a few basic items, like a car with wheels, a marble and a book. Ask the children if the item will roll down or slide down the ramp, or if it will not move. Then try it with each item. Have each child guess what the item that they picked out will do.
  9. Jet balloons. Fill a balloon with air and let it go. What makes the balloon go?
  10. Singing balloons. Fill a balloon with air and pull the neck of the balloon tight so that the balloon sings. What is making the noise?
  11. Nature Walk: Take a plastic bag with you on your next nature walk. Encourage your child to collect leaves and small sticks, and acorns, and put them in the bag. (You can go on a nature walk in you back yard too.) Ask your child about each item they choose to put in the bag.
  12. Evaporation: Set out three cups, half filled with water. Add food coloring to the water. Have your child use an eye dropped to drop the colored water onto a piece of paper towel. Notice how the water evaporates, leaving the color behind.
  13. Play with magnets. Supply your children with magnets and various items. Have the children guess which things will stick to the magnet.
  14. When it is raining, watch the rain. Talk about the sounds that you hear during a rain storm. What are the signs that a storm is coming. Talk about storm safety!!!
  15. Painting with water: You just need a paint brush, and water in a bucket, oh yeah, and a nice warm summer day. Let your child "paint" with the water, and watch how the water evaporates in the warm sun. Paint rocks, trees, the sidewalk anything!!!
  16. Will it dissolve? Fill five clear jars with water. Take five different substances, like sugar, cereal, salt, paper, things that will dissolve, and some that won't. Ask your child which will dissolve, and which will not. Test each item in the water.
  17. Plant a seed. Watch it grow.
  18. Balance play. Part of science is weighing items. Provide your children with a scale or balance for them to experiment with, and plenty of various items. This can usually be tied in with your theme. If you are doing winter, let them weigh snow vs water. Which weighs more? If you are doing valentines day have them weigh heart shaped beads.
  19. Measure it. Another part of science is measuring. Provide the chidlren with plenty of opportunities to measure things. Provide measuring cups in your sand and water table, and containers of various sizes.
  20. Dish pan measuring. Place something to be measured in a dish pan, ie beads, rice, water, sand etc. and supply the children with measuring cups and various sized containers to experiment with.
  21. Rubber band music: Place a rubber band on your index finger and thumb and pluck it to make a twang sound. Supply the children with rubber bands so they can try it. Can the sound change? How can you change it? How does it change?
  22. Stages of Growth Explain the stages of growth of a bean. If you can draw, or find pictures of the stages, laminate them, and ask your child to arrange the picture from first to last.
  23. What scent is this? Gather four or different objects with different scents. Blindfold the child, then place the object close the the child's nose, and ask the child to smell it and try to identify what it is.
  24. Adopt a tree: Pick a tree outside. At Various times of the year, spring, fall winter, and summer, take a picture of you and the children outside by the tree. Talk with your children about the differences in the tree, and the clothing that we wear in the different times of the year.
  25. Paint on Wet Paper: Explain diffusion, the spreading of the paint on the paper, through the water.
  26. Salt Art: Saturate hot water with salt. Let the water cool, and have the child use the salt water to paint on black paper. Then after it dries, have the child look at the crystals of salt on the paper.
  27. Sensory fun: Supply the children with many different items to feel, smell and touch. Like pine tree branches, leaves, dirt, rice... you can find many items for any theme.
  28. Play with a kaleidoscope.
  29. Look at a mirror.
  30. Watch a feather fall to the ground.. then watch a ball.
  31. Cut an apple in half and watch it rust.
  32. Have an ant farm. A fun Ant Farm Village is available through Amazon.com.
  33. Go outside and watch the ants.
  34. What do ants like to eat? Set out a paper plate outside with different items on it. See which ones the ants take away first.
  35. Bug Hunt : Go for a bug hunt outside. Provide a box or plastic jar to collect them, and magnifying glasses to allow the children a better view.
  36. Bug Jar: Collect bugs in a jar, and let the children examine them with a magnifying glass. Return the bugs to their homes so they do not die.
  37. Watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. Amazon.com offers a great butterfly garden for this, including the live caterpillars.
  38. Compare animal parts with human parts of the body. Ie paws with hands and feet, arms to feet.
  39. Examine feathers! If you can obtain some feathers, allow your child to examine the feathers with a magnifying glass. Do feathers float in water?
  40. Plants We Eat: Show the children some common plants we eat. Name the different parts of the plants, while you show the plants to the children. Help the children sort the plants. By types of fruit, and veggies. Sort again by the part of the plant we feats, like we eat the roots of carrots and potatoes, and we eat the leaves of lettuce, and spinach.
  41. Chick Sequence Cards: Make simple sequence cards for your child. Draw the different stages of a chick hatching from an egg. Draw an egg in its' nest, an egg cracking, a chick partly out of the egg, and a chick that is completely hatched.
  42. Cheese Taste: Allow your child to taste many different types of cheeses.
  43. Float or sink? Have several different items on a tray, and a dish pan of water. Ask the children if they think an item will sink or float. Try it!
  44. Have tadpoles in your class and watch them turn into frogs.
  45. Have a fish tank in your class.
  46. Observing shells and such: Obtain many different kinds of shells and rocks. Allow the children to feel them, and look at them with a magnifying glass.
  47. Ocean Bottle: Clean out an empty plastic pop bottle. Add water, blue food coloring, and glitter, and maybe a few pebbles. Seal the bottle closed using a little hot glue, allow to completely dry before the children can play with it. Tip the bottle back and forth. roll the bottle on the floor.
  48. Sensory Fish:
    You need:
    Blue Hair Gel
    Ziploc Bag small
    Plastic fish
    Glitter
    Place the fish, glitter and gel into the baggie. Seal the bag, and then tape it shut. Let the children feel and play with the bag at a table. Observe closely so the bag is not punctured.
  49. Examine starfish and seahorses: Explain to your child that starfish and seahorses have an exoskeleton, or their bones are on the outside. Let them examine dried, dead seahorses and starfish.
  50. Leg Count: Show pictures of a crab, octopus, starfish, and frog. How many legs do each of the animals have?
  51. What do fish need to live? Discuss a fishes need in the sea, or lake. Where do fish live? What do fish eat? Etc.
  52. Octopus Color Changes: Discuss with your child how an octopus will change colors to blend with it's surroundings. Cut four or five different colored octopus from construction paper. Set out four or five of matching sheets of construction paper. Ask your child to match the octopus with it's background.
  53. Watching fish: Go to an aquarium, point out the parts of a fish, (body, fins, eyes, gills, tail etc..) Ask your child which is the biggest, smallest? How do the fish swim? Etc..
  54. More Watching Fish: Visit a pond, lake, or fish store to observe fish
  55. Balloon Power
    Materials needed:
    20 to 30 small balloons
    A Large garbage bag
    Fully inflate a small balloon. Ask your child what will happen if he/she sits on it. Let your child try it. If it doesn't pop have your child jump on the balloon to pop it. Inflate enough of the small balloons to fill the garbage bag. Seal the bag and have your child sit or even jump on the bag.
  56. Static Balloons: Learn about static electricity by rubbing a balloons on a child's head, then stick it onto th
  57. Square Balloons: Fill a balloon half full with water. Place the balloon in a square container, then place in the freezer. When frozen take out of the freezer. Show the children what you have done. Ask them what will happen when the ice melts. Find out.
  58. Make a Telephone: Poke a hole in the bottom of two Styrofoam cups. Place a piece of string in the bottom of one cup and tie a knot at the end of the string to prevent the string from coming completely out of the bottom of the cup. Then thread the string through the bottom of the other cup and tie another knot. The } is a cup on it's side and the **** represents the string. It should look like this: }****-{ Have one child talk in one cup while another listens with the other cup. How long can the string be before the phone won't work?
  59. Play with a parachute.
  60. Sun Prints: Supply the child with a dark piece of paper. In the morning, on a very sunny day, with little or no wind, have the children find items to place on their paper. Every child should receive one rock, to keep the paper from blowing away. Have the children arrange sticks, grass, acorns and such on the paper. At the end of the day see how the sun made a picture for them.
  61. Make a feelie box or bag. Place items in the box and see if the children can guess what they are.
  62. Play with a pinwheel.
  63. Build with dry sand, then build with wet sand.
  64. Play with a prism.
  65. Use a magnifying glass.
  66. Crunch dry and green leaves.
  67. Measuring rainfall: On a rainy day, set out a container to measure the rainfall. Measure how much rain fell that day. Continue to measure the rain each day, and record for a few weeks. Ask your child to predict how much water will be collected. Ask at the beginning of the day and ask when it is raining. Did their answer change?
  68. Egg Carton Fun: Use a plastic egg carton for this activity. Fill each hole 3/4 full with water. Add red food coloring to one hole, blue to another, and yellow to another. Give your child an eye dropper, show them how to use the eye dropper to move the colored water to clear water, notice how the color changes. Let them experiment. For older children, ask them how to make green, purple, brown, and aqua colors.
  69. Rainbow in a jar: Take a large glass jar, fill it 3/4 with water. Drop a single drop of food coloring into the jar from about a foot above the jar, so the coloring makes it's way almost to the bottom. Try different colors.
  70. Will it Absorb water? Supply the children with pieces of material to test like pieces of cotton, plastic, wool, tin foil, etc. Supply the children with eye droppers and a cup of water. Which materials absorb water and which do not?
  71. Celery Dye:Place a stalk of celery in a cup with water and blue food coloring (about 10 drops in 1/4 cup water should do). Wait a day or two, and see what happens.
  72. Condensation: Obtain two jars and their lids. Fill one jar with ice cold water and the other with room temperature water. Observe the results. Condensation occurs when the vapors in the air become cool enough to condense and form water droplets.
  73. Evaporation: Obtain two clear plastic glasses of the same size. Measure one cup of water and place in each cup. Mark the water leave of each cup with a permanent marker. Place one in a sunny window and the other somewhere else in the room. Observe the glasses of water over the nest couple of days. Ask the children where the water is going. Which is evaporating more quickly? Evaporation occurs when the particles of water become warm enough that they turn into vapors and leave the cup and escape into the air. Why did the water in the sun evaporate faster?
  74. Measuring water: Provide the children with a balance and containers that can hold water.
  75. Creating Ice: Place water in a plastic ice tray and place it in the freezer. Every half hour take it out to inspect the ice. Ask the children why it is changing? Then after it is frozen, set it in a cup and allow it to melt again.
  76. Glass and Water Music: Fill a couple of identical glass cups, at least four, with varying amounts of water. Tap the side of each glass with a metal spoon. Which is the highest sound and the lowest? How could we change the sound?
  77. Make a paper airplane.
  78. Blow paper across a table with your breath. Try it with blowing with a straw. Have a race.
  79. Use a microscope.
  80. Examine worms.
  81. Examine snow.
  82. Watch snow melt.
  83. Make a map of your classroom or school.
  84. Examine different types of rocks.
  85. The Sun is Hot: Have your children stand in the sun on a hot day for a few minutes. Then have them stand under a tree or in the shade of a building. Ask your child which is warmer, in the sun or in the shade? Ask your child "What warms the earth?"
  86. Hot or Cold Weather: Cut out many articles from magazines that represent hot, or cold weather. Ask your child to tell you which pictures are hot weather, and which are cold weather.
  87. Rain Catcher: Obtain a flat bottomed jar with straight sides. Tape a ruler to the side, so that the number 1 is 1 inch from the bottom. Set out the jar on a rainy day, and later that day see how much rain was collected. Obtain a newspaper to check the forecast to see whether they match your results.
  88. Summer or Winter Clothes: Gather an assortment of clothes for summer and winter seasons. Show your child each piece of clothes, and ask your child if the clothing is winter or summer clothing.
  89. Winter Activities: Ask your child what activities can be done in the summer, but not the winter. And vice versa.
  90. Predict the Weather: Have your child go outside in the morning, ask them what they think the weather will be like. Will it rain, snow, be sunny? What will the temperature be like? Recored your child's answers and compare them to the weather.
  91. Make a star viewer: Wrap a black piece of paper on the end of a paper towel tube. Seal it with tape. Poke pin hole in the paper, then look into the tube at a bright light, to see the stars.
  92. Have taste trials. Blindfold the children and have them try different types of juice or kool aid. Can they tell you what it is by just the taste?
  93. Buy a tape of animal sounds, can the children name the animals that make the sounds?
  94. Make a tape of sounds around the school.. water dripping, the door opening, the phone ringing, children drawing with markers.. etc. Play the tape back and see if the children can guess what the sounds are.
  95. Who is it? Make a tape of each child saying, "Hello! Can you guess who I am?" See if the children can tell who's voice is whose.
  96. Visit a nature center or zoo.
  97. Discuss and point out the different kinds of trees on your next walk.
  98. Measuring distance. Have children use a ruler to measure different items and distances.
  99. Graph it. Show the children how to make a simple graph. Graph anything!!!
  100. Make your own musical instruments, clap your hands, tap your belly!!! Use a coffee can with lid for a drum. Make maracas with two plate and beans.
  101. Rhythm sticks: Supply the children with rhythm stick to experiment with. Play soft and loud. Can the noise change? What different sounds are made when you hit the table different ways. Try hitting them together, and rubbing them together. Try hitting the floor.
  102. Bounce a ball.
  103. Is it alive? Show pictures of objects and ask "Is it alive?"
  104. Is it a plant or animal? Show pictures of plants and animals and ask "Is it a plant or animal?"
  105. Cause and effect: Try different cause and effect experiments.. light switch, if you jump up, the earth pulls you down etc.
  106. Play with dominoes: have a domino rally.
  107. Have the children run as fast as they can a measured distance out side. Record the time. Have them run the distance every day at least a few times. Then at the end of the week, have them run again and time them. Compare the individuals time with their first time.
  108. Discuss the parts of a flower.
  109. Have a professional bring in some unique animals.
  110. Have a class pet.
111. Ask "What will happen if...." record the children's answers then try it and see. Some examples: What will happen if I flip this light switch? What will happen if I put oil in water? What will happen if I drop this ball?
112. Compare/contrast: Find two things in the class. Ask the children how they are the same. Ask the children how they are different.
113. Use a thermometer to read the temperature.
114. Show the children how a weather vane works.
115. Provide the children with plenty of measuring experiences, using both English and Metric units.
116. Collect data, and construct a chart or graph with the children. Ask them questions about the graph... which was more or less or the same?
117. Talk about or observe an animal. What unique body parts does this animal have? What are the functions of those parts? I.e. claws for protection, big ears to hear better.
118. Sort animals or plants on a basis of observable physical characteristics.
119. What does a plant need to grow? You can ask the children, do a few experiments to see what plants need to grow.. sunlight, water, air...
120. Have the children name parts of a flower.
121. Have the children think of some edible plants.
122. Talk about dinosaurs, discuss that they are extinct and ancient. Explain the term fossil.
123. Talk a little about what we eat. What do bears eat? What do lions eat?
124. RECYCLE!!!!
125. Texture: Supply the children with different textured items to feel. Is the item rough, smooth, bumpy?
126. Flexibility: Supply the children with different items that range in flexibility. Rubber band, pencil, string, a stick. Which is the most flexible? the least?
127. Hardness: Supply the children with different items that range in hardness. Which is the hardest? The softest?
128. Have the children sort items by size.
129. Have the children sort items by color.
130. Have the children sort items by shape.
131. Have the children sort various items, and tell you why they sorted them that way.
132. Have the children sort items by weight.
133. Play with a wind up toy. How does it work?
134. Talk about directions, north, south, east and west. Post these labels on the walls in your class and play "Simon Says" using the directions.. Ie. "Simon Says face North"
135. Faster and Slower. Talk about faster and slower. Roll a ball on the floor slowly, then faster. Ask the children how to get the ball to roll faster. 
136. Inclined plane.. slower and faster... do above.. except roll the ball down an inclined plane that is very steep vs almost parallel to the floor.. which ball rolls faster?
137. Play with silly putty.
138. Wagon fun... Have something really heavy in your class that is not bulky. Ask the children if they can move it. Then place it in a wagon and have them pull it... which way is it easier to move? 
139. Provide older children (over 6) with the opportunity to use tools such as screwdrivers, small hammers with wood.
140. Play with color filters or "gels" to change the color of light.
141. Play shadow tag.
142. Set a rock on a piece of dark paper on a very sunny morning and let the children set other objects on the paper. At the end of the day, inspect the paper. What happened?
143. Play with a flashlight in the dark.
144. Play with shadows, make shadow animals.
145. What is it? See if children can guess an object my the shadow it makes.
146. Examine dirt with a microscope or magnifying lens.
147. Collect and sort rocks.
148. Talk about bodies of water. Lake, river, ocean etc. Pretend using your sand and water table.
149. Provide your children with rocks, minerals, sand, soil etc for them to feel and inspect. 
150. Provide the children with fossils to inspect.