Expanding “Good Start” Science Activities: How to Get More Out of Typical Preschool Science Experiences

In this 2016 NAEYC Annual Conference presentation, Alissa A. Lange, Ph.D. and Kimberly Brenneman, Ph.D. discussed how to build on popular preschool science activities (e.g., making playdough) so children develop key science inquiry skills and have the opportunity to truly be the naturally curious scientists they already are.

Using a variety of “good start” activities that can be transformed into better ones, they engaged in active, classroom-friendly activities and viewed videos that illustrate strategies for ensuring that all children, including dual language learners (DLLs), benefit from powerful science learning experiences. They highlighted the research that illustrates the value of early science knowledge and skills to later academic success, even beyond science achievement. Participants engaged with materials and activities in whole group and small groups that demonstrate that science lessons can be richer, deeper learning experiences when we, 1) slow down the process and provide repeated experience over time with key concepts (e.g., observing and exploring ingredients one day; making play dough another day), 2) incorporate language and literacy into science explorations intentionally (e.g., using informational texts; using visual aids and key words in DLL children’s home language), and 3) connect science to other content areas and provide extension activities that continue conceptual learning across time and across the classroom (e.g., measurement with ingredients; discussing other types of mixtures during snack time).

The approach used in this presentation is part of SciMathDLL, a professional development model created with funding from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1019576 & DRL-1417040) to provide supports in math and science for teachers of all preschoolers, including DLLs. Click here to view slides

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