Science builds investigation and observation skills.
Most children love science because it's fun for them to look at the world differently.
There are many activities you can do at home to utilise and develop your child's curiosity.
Children are born scientists
Children are naturally curious. They look at the world around them and develop their own ideas based on what they see and hear every day.
Keeping that sense of amazement, curiosity and discovery is what we want every child – and every adult – to experience throughout their life.
What’s happening at school
Encouraging your child to come up with ideas about why things happen, testing these ideas and looking for answers to questions from a variety of sources – experts, teachers, other adults, books or online – is what this first year of school is all about.
And that curiosity is essential when it comes to science.
It also helps your child in many other areas – it gives them skills in observation, problem solving, and independent research. All of these skills go hand in hand with other subjects, like maths, English, art, and helps your child to learn.
Your child’s teacher will assist your child to observe, identify and describe things that are similar using things like size, shape, colour and weight. They’ll ask them to sort things into categories.
Your child’s teacher will also explain that things don’t always work out the way we expect them to and that often science generates even more questions than it answers. Conducting simple experiments to test theories also forms part of the learning your child will do in school.
So what more can you do?
Most children embrace science because it’s practical and it’s fun. You don’t need to know a lot about science to help your child discover, explore and expand their imagination.
Here are some tips and activities you can do with your child at home:
Science investigates the world around us. With all the autumn leaves lying on the ground, now is a good time to discuss the seasons. Who doesn’t love collecting different coloured leaves or romping through huge piles of leaves scattering them everywhere!
- Ask your child to collect different types of leaves and then sort them according to their shape. Are they all the same? What is different? How are they the same? Are they all the same colour? Are they the same size?
- While your child is having fun sorting and describing what they’ve found you can explain that we have four seasons during the year – autumn, winter, spring and summer. Talk about the changes that happen during each season – winter is usually cold, summer is warm and when we swim, spring has lots of rain and that’s when flowers grow.
What’s alive? What’s not?
Science divides the world into living and the non-living things.
- Ask your child to collect three living things and three non-living things from your backyard or nearby park.
- Your child may not immediately recognise the difference between a living and a non-living thing. Some characteristics of living things are growth, movement, the need for air, food and water, reproduction. But what about talking and breathing? It might seem they are essential for living things, but are they?
- Ask your child questions about the things around them. Are rocks alive? Do pebbles live? What about shells? Pots? Bricks? How about the family pet?
- Reward your child for their collecting efforts. Help them to sort their stash into either category ‘living’ or ‘non-living’. Be warned, your child may come back with insects or even spiders, so depending on your ability to cope with these you may need to give this activity some thought.
Sorting and classifying:
Science builds up knowledge of the world by classifying things.
- Ask your child to help you sort your groceries into things that are the same colour, size, shape or weight. Make this fun and discuss how things can be described differently depending on the category you choose. Items that are the same weight may have different colours, size and or shape. Items that are the same size may have different shapes or weight.
- Ask your child to collect five soft or five hard things from around your home. Encourage them to use all their senses to find these –to see, hear and feel them to work out if they are soft or hard. Once they’ve collected their five things get them to sort them according to size, colour or weight. Talk to them about how the things they collected were in one category – hard or soft – but also belong in other categories like their size or colour or weight. Then help them to stick their objects onto a large card or draw the objects according to how they have ‘classified’ them.
Science is based on careful and accurate measurement.
- Make a space in your home where your child can make as much mess as they like.
- Using things like sand, rice, pebbles, pegs, sugar, water – anything really – ask your child to measure quantities into different shaped containers.
- Help them observe how the same amount looks different in a variety of shapes and sizes. This activity goes hand in hand with their developing mathematical skills.
Science is based on observing things and making guesses about what is happening. This also develops your child’s patience as they’ll have to wait for things to happen – sometimes for a long time.
- Ask your child to sit quietly, to look around them, to listen and observe where they are.
- Talk about the number of things you can see or hear. Can you hear many different bird calls? Can you see different trees, leaves or plants? Does one tree trunk or leaf feel the same as the other?
- You could even conduct a light-hearted competition that your whole family enters, awarding prizes for the most items heard or seen.
- You can also contribute your discoveries to the knowledge bank of things in our environment by recording what you’ve found in the Atlas of Living Australia. This allows you to see the plants and animals that are in your area; it also allows you to record your own sightings and this adds to Australia’s biodiversity knowledge.
- CSIRO’s Do-it-yourself science – Mix some slime, build a rocket, make sultanas dance and more, using everyday equipment from around the house in these exciting experiments and activities from CSIRO's Double Helix Science Club
- Kid’s Spot’s Fun Zone Experiments to Do At Home - Science experiments that you can do at home are a fun way of introducing your kids to the world they live in. Wow them with easy science experiments they can learn from
Scienceworks – virtual visit to Victoria's interactive museum of science and technology
Melbourne Museum – Museum Victoria cares for the state's scientific and cultural collection
Melbourne Zoo – See our animals and find out more about them
Playschool - The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's playschool is full of games, films and things your child can make and do
ABC Science – ask an expert, kids science, photos, star stuff podcasts and the latest science news
Cool science – sharing the facts and fun about science for all ages
How stuff works – the award-winning source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world actually works
- BBC’s KS2 Bitesize – science activities, tests and notes for primary school children studying living things, materials and physical processes.