With activities for children in preschool through age 5
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Why is the sky blue?
Why do things fall to the ground?
How do seeds grow?
What makes the sound and music?
Where do mountains come from?
Young children ask their parents hundreds of questions like these. In search of answers, we use science to both enlighten and delight. Being "scientific" involves being curious, observing, asking how things happen and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see and to relate their observations to their existing ideas and understandings. This is why parental involvement is so important in children's science education. When we encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, offer explanations and explore in a safe environment, we lend them the kind of support that they need to become successful science students and scientific thinkers.
As a parent, you don't have to be a scientist or have a college degree to help your child learn science. What's far more important than being able to give a technical explanation of how a telescope works is your willingness to nurture your child's natural curiosity by taking the time to observe and learn together.
Science "happens" all around us every day, and you have endless opportunities to invite your child into the wonders of science. Without expensive chemistry sets, equipment or kits, a child can be introduced easily to the natural world and encouraged to observe what goes on in that world. When you least expect it, a moment for learning will occur: A bit of ice cream drops on the sidewalk and ants appear; some cups float and some sink when you're washing dishes; static electricity makes your hair stand on end when you put on a sweater.
Through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, President George W. Bush has made clear his commitment to the goals of raising standards of achievement for all children and of providing all children with highly qualified teachers and with instruction that is based on scientific research. Helping Your Child Learn Science is part of the president's efforts to provide parents with the latest research and practical information designed to support children's learning at home, at school and in the community. It reflects the importance of inquiry processes and content in science achievement as described in the National Science Education Standards, released in 1996 by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.
This booklet includes a range of activities for families with children from preschool age through grade 5. The activities use materials found in your home and make learning experiences out of everyday routines. The activities are designed for you to have fun with your child while developing and reinforcing science skills. We hope you and your child will enjoy the activities suggested in this booklet and develop many more of your own.