Adults can offer a wide variety of creative experiences that extend
learning using science. There are many inexpensive activities that children
can do, but keep in mind that it is in the doing that children learn. The
processes involved in these experiences are more important the finished
products! During these experiences children discover their own
independence, as well as the science of combinations, the pleasure of
probing materials, the challenges, delight, and the joy of exploring
scientific problems. All of these processes allow children to manipulate
The adult’s role is to provide interesting materials, prepare the
environment and allow things to happen. Offer help with unruly materials
and cleanup, but don’t make models to copy. This only hinders creativity
and critical thinking skills.
Infants: Ziploc Bag Painting - These can be made by using two different colors of Jell-O or the recipe for Goop if you do not want to use food in art
projects. Spoon each color into a plastic zipper baggie, fill only ¼ full.
Tape the opening to help prevent leaks. Allow children to squeeze and knead
to discover how the colors mix. They can scribble on the bag with their
fingers and then lift the bag up to erase it. Mustard or catsup can be used
for a different thicker feel or the recipe for the squeeze painting.
Toddlers: Goop– This activity is inspired by the Dr. Seuss story about Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Mix 1 part water with food coloring added and 1 part cornstarch in a high sided pan. Let the children mix and play. Allow goop to dry over night and see what happens in the morning. (It turns back to dry cornstarch when the water evaporates.)
Preschoolers: Squeeze Painting – Mix 1½ C. water and ½ C. salt in a large bowl. Add 1½ C. flour and mix well. Divide this mixture into small bowls and add food coloring or tempera paint. Pour into squeeze bottles using a funnel. Squeeze this paint onto heavy construction paper. The salt and/or glitter gives designs a glistening quality when dry.
Creating these mixtures is a spontaneous, open-ended, and often messy
exploration. The discovery of hands-on learning provides opportunities to
integrate science into the child’s world. Science is often taught in
isolation instead of as a means for developing critical thinking skills
where children can combine it into a cohesive base of exploration.
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the
fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true
science. (Albert Einstein)