Helping Your Child Learn Science
With activities for children in preschool through age 5

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    Federal Sources of Information
    Publications for Parents
    Books for Children  
    Magazines for Children
    Science Toys
    Science on TV
    Science on the Internet
    Web Sites
    Science Camps

Federal Sources of Information

U.S. Department of Education
Mathematics and Science Initiative

Toll Free: 800-USA-LEARN

No Child Left Behind
Parents Tool Box

Toll Free: 888-814-NCLB

National Science Foundation

National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)

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Publications for Parents

American Association for the Advancement of Science. A Family Guide to Science. Washington, DC, 2003. (Available online at

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ten Questions to Ask Your Neighborhood School about Local Science Education. Washington, DC, 1998. (Available online at

Barber, Jacqueline, Parizeau, Nicole, Bergman, Lincoln and Lima, Patricia. Spark Your Child's Success in Math and Science: Practical Advice for Parents. Berkeley, CA: Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS), 2002.

Barry, Dana M. Science Fair Projects: Helping Your Child Create a Super Science Fair Project. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2001.

Children's Partnership. Parent's Guide to the Information Superhighway: Rules and Tools for Families Online, 2nd ed.. Washington, DC, 1998. (Available online at

Milbourne, Linda A. and Haury, David L. Helping Students With Homework in Science and Math. ERIC Digest, 2003.

National Research Council. Every Child a Scientist. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997. (Available online at

National Science Foundation. New Formulas for America's Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering. Washington, DC, 2003.

National Science Teachers Association. Help Your Child Explore Science. Washington, DC, 2000. (Available online at

National Urban League. Science and Math at Home for Young Children. New York, 1994. (Available online at

Pearce, Querida L. How to Talk Dinosaur With Your Child. Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1991.

SciMathMN. What Should I Look for in the Science Program in My Child's School? Minneapolis, MN: SciMathMN, 2000. (Available online at

Sherwood, Elizabeth A., et. al. More Mudpies to Magnets: Science for Young Children. Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House, 1991.

U.S. Department of Education. Helping Your Child With Homework. Washington, DC, 2002. (Available online at

U.S. Department of Education. Parents Guide to the Internet. Washington, DC, 1997. (Available online at

Walthall, Barbara (Ed.). IDEAAAS: Sourcebook for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1995.

Zeman, Anne. Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework. New York: Irving Place Press, 1994.

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Books for Children

Libraries and bookstores now have available an enormous number of excellent science-related books for children. When making selections, you may want to consider questions that the National Science Teachers Association uses in evaluating books. For instance:

  • Does the author have a good science background and reputation?
  • Is the content interesting to children?
  • Is the sequence of events logical?
  • Is the format (the placement of pictures, photographs and text) pleasant and easy to follow?
  • Are the pictures, photographs and illustrations accurate, and do they match the text?
  • Is the vocabulary appropriate? (Big words are OK if they are explained and used in context.)
  • Are controversies handled fairly?
  • Are the suggested activities safe? Practical?

When selecting books, also keep in mind:

  • Children can learn science from "non-science" books too, such as fictional stories, biographies and historical accounts.
  • Recommended age or grade levels are usually printed on a book's back cover, but they are recommendations only. You're the best judge of which books are appropriate for your child, regardless of age. Just take special care with age-level recommendations for those books that could pose potential safety hazards, such as the use of certain equipment or chemicals.

The following list is only a small sample of the many excellent science-related books that your child might enjoy. Many of the books listed here appear on the recommended lists prepared jointly by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council and the lists prepared the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For additional titles or for titles about specific science-related topics, go to the Web sites of these organizations or ask your local or school librarian for recommendations. Many of the following books also are available in languages other than English, and your librarian can help you locate them.

The books are arranged according to subject. For each book, you'll see a suggested age range: P indicates books that are most appropriate to read with preschoolers and children in grades K through 2; E indicates those books that will appeal to children in grades 3 and up, who read independently.

Anatomy and Medicine

Baeuerle, Patrick and Landa, Norbert. The Cell Works: Microexplorers: An Expedition Into the Fantastic World of Cells. New York: Barrons Juveniles, 1997. (E)

Balestrino. Philip. The Skeleton Inside You. New York: Harper Trophy, 1991. (P)

Balkwill, Frances R. and Rolph, Mic. Enjoy Your Cells. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2002. (E)

Berger, Melvin. Why I Sneeze, Shiver, Hiccup, and Yawn. New York: HarperCollins Juvenile Books, 2000. (P)

Cobb, Vicki. Feeling Your Way: Discover Your Sense of Touch. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 2001. (P)

Davidson, Sue and Morgan, Ben. Human Body Revealed. New York: DK Publishing, 2002. (E)

DeGezelle, Terri with Hogan, Marjorie. Your Bones. Mankato, MN: Bridgestone Books, 2002. (E)

Farndon, John. The Human Body. Tarrytown, NY: Benchmark Books, 2002. (E)

Gordon, Sharon. Bruises. Danbury, CT: Children's Press, 2002. (P)

Manning, Mick. Wash, Scrub, Brush! Morton Grove, IL: Whitma, 2001. (P)

Romanek,Trudee. ZZZ!: The Most Interesting Book You'll Ever Read About Sleep. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2002. (E)

Showers, Paul. Hear Your Heart. New York: Harper Trophy, 2001. (P)

Archaeology, Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Times

Aliki. Digging Up Dinosaurs. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1981. (P)

Baquebado, Elizabeth. Aztec, Inca & Maya. New York: Knopf, 1993. (E)

Barrett, Paul. National Geographic Dinosaurs. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2001. (E)

Beshore, George W. Science in Ancient China. London: Orchard Books, 1998. (E)

Bishop, Nic. Digging for Bird Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. (E)

Camper, Cathy. Bugs Before Time: Prehistoric Insects and Their Relatives. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. (P)

Cork, Barbara, Reid, Struan and McEwan, Joe. The Usborne Young Scientist: Archaeology. New York: EDC Publications, 1985. (E)

Duke, Kate. Archaeologists Dig for Clues. New York: Harper Trophy, 1997. (P)

Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Great Wall of China. New York: Aladdin Library, 1995. (E)

Kerley, Barbara. The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. New York: Scholastic Press, 2001. (P)

Lauber, Patricia. Dinosaurs Walked Here and Other Stories Fossils Tell. New York: Bradbury Press, 1987. (P)

Miller, Debbie S. A Woolly Mammoth Journey. Boston: Little, Brown, 2001. (E)

Pemberton, Delia. Egyptian Mummies: People From the Past. New York: Harcourt Children's Books, 2001. (E)

Sattler, Helen. Dinosaurs of North America. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1981. (E)

Slone, Christopher. SuperCroc and the Origin of Crocodiles. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002. (E)

Taylor, Barbara. Oxford First Book of Dinosaurs. New York: Oxford, 2001. (E)

Walker, Sally M. Fossil Fish Found Alive: Discovering the Coelacanth. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 2002. (E)

Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner. Dinosaur Parents, Dinosaur Young: Uncovering the Mystery of Dinosaur Families. New York: Clarion Books, 2001. (P)

Astronomy and Space Science

Allan, Jerry and Allan, Georgiana. The Horse and the Iron Ball: A Journey Through Time, Space, and Technology. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2000. (E)

Asimov, Isaac. The Birth and Death of Stars. New York: Dell, 1989. (E)

Challoner, Jack with Muirden, James. The Atlas of Space. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 2001. (E)

Cole, Michael D. The Moon: Earth's Companion in Space. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 2001. (P)

Farndon, John. The Giant Book of Space. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 2000. (E)

Jackson, Ellen. Looking for Life in the Universe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. (E)

Kerrod, Robin. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2000. (E)

Krupp, E. C. The Big Dipper and You. New York: William Morrow, 1989. (P)

Nicolson, Cynthia Pratt. Exploring Space. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2000. (P)

Simon, Seymour. Destination: Jupiter. New York: William Morrow, 1998. (P)

Wunsch, Susi T. The Adventures of Sojourner: The Mission to Mars That Thrilled the World. New York: Mikaya Press, 1998. (E)

Nicolson, Cynthia Pratt. Exploring Space. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2000. (E)

Earth Science

Aulenbach, Nancy Holler and Barton, Hazel A., with Delano, Marfé Ferguson. Exploring Caves: Journeys Into the Earth. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2001. (E)

Dewey, Jennifer O. Antarctic Journal: Four Months at the Bottom of the World. New York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2001. (E)

De Paola, Tomie. The Cloud Book. New York: Holiday House, 1975. (P)

DeWitt, Lynda. What Will the Weather Be? Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1991. (P)

Gentle, Victor and Perry, Janet. Earthquakes. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 2001. (P)

Graf, Mike. Lightning and Thunderstorms. New York: Simon Spotlight, 1998. (E)

Gray, Susan H. Coral Reefs. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2001. (P)

Kahl, Jonathan D. National Audubon Society First Field Guide: Weather. Washington, DC: National Audubon Society, 1998. (E)

Kramer, Stephen. Hidden Worlds: Looking Through a Scientist's Microscope. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. (E)

Levinson, Nancy S. Death Valley: A Day in the Desert. New York: Holiday House, 2001. (P)

Lingelbach, Jenepher and Purcell, Lisa (Eds.). Hands-On Nature. Woodstock, VT: Vermont Institute of Natural Science, 2000. (E)

Markle, Sandra. A Rainy Day. London: Orchard Books, 1993. (P)

Morrison, Gordon. Pond. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. (P)

Ricciuti, Edward R. Rocks and Minerals. New York: Scholastic, 2001. (E)

Robson, Pam. Maps and Plans. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 2001. (P)

Ryon-Quiri, Patricia. Seasons. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2001. (P)

Silver, Donald. M. Backyard. New York: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 1997. (P)

Tagliaferro, Linda. Galápagos Islands: Nature's Delicate Balance at Risk. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2001. (E)

Weidner, Kathleen. What Is the World Made of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases. New York: Harper Trophy, 1998. (P)

The History and Nature of Science

January, Brendan. Science in the Renaissance. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts/Grolier, 1999. (E)

Jones, Lynda. Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists. New York: Scholastic, 2000. (E)

Lehn, Barbara. What Is a Scientist? Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1998. (P)

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. (P)

Ripley, Catherine. Why? The Best Ever Question and Answer Book About Nature, Science and the World Around You. New York: Firefly Books, 2001. (E)

Life Science

Arnold, Caroline. Animals That Migrate. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1982. (P)

Brown, Ruth. Ten Seeds. New York: Knopf/Random House Children's Books, 2001. (P)

Dewey, Jennifer O. Paisano, the Roadrunner. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 2002. (P)

DuQuette, Keith. They Call Me Woolly: What Animal Names Can Tell Us. New York: Sterling, 2002. (P)

George, Jean Craighead. The Tarantula in My Purse: And 172 Other Wild Pets. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1996. (E)

Gibbons, Gail. Giant Pandas. New York: Holiday House, 2002. (P)

Glover, David. How Do Things Grow? New York: DK Publishing, 2001. (E)

Goodman, Susan. E. Claws, Coats and Camouflage: The Ways Animals Fit Into Their World. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 2001. (E)

Lerner, Carol. Butterflies in the Garden. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. (P)

Llewellyn, Claire and Watts, Barrie. Earthworms. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 2002. (P)

Montgomery, Sy. Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. (E)

Powzyk, Joyce. Tracking Wild Chimpanzees. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shephard, 1998. (E)

Rockwell, Anne. Bugs Are Insects. New York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2001. (P)

Simon, Seymour. Animals Nobody Loves. New York: North-South Books, 2001. (P)

Stonehouse, Bernard. The Poles. New York: Crabtree, 2001. (E)

Walker, Sally M. Fireflies. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2001. (P)

Winer, Yvonne. Birds Build Nests. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2002. (P)

Yolen, Jane. Welcome to the River of Grass. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2001. (P)

Physical Science, Engineering and Technology

Adler, David A. How Tall, How Short, How Far Away. New York: Holiday House, 1999. (P)

Barr, George. Sports Science for Young People. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1990. (E)

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. Pop! A Book About Bubbles. New York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2001. (P)

Curlee, Lynn. Brooklyn Bridge. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001. (E)

Farndon, John. Flight. Tarrytown, NY: Benchmark Books, 2002. (P)

Fredericks, Anthony D. Science Discoveries on the Net: An Integrated Approach. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. (E)

Graham, Ian. Going Digital. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2001. (P)

Hooker, Saralinda, Ragus, Christopher and Salvidori, Mario G. The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1990. (E)

Old, Wendie. To Fly: The Story of the Wright Brothers. New York: Clarion, 2002. (E)

Pipe, Jim. What Does a Wheel Do? Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books/Millbrook, 2002. (P)

Shapiro, Mary J. How They Built the Statue of Liberty. New York: Random House, 1985. (E)

Vanderwarker, Peter. The Big Dig: Reshaping an American City. Boston: Little, Brown, 2001. (E)

Welsbacher, Anne. Inclined Planes. Mankato, MN: Bridgestone Books, 2001. (E)

Young, Ruth M. Matter. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2002. (E)

Science Activities and Experiments and Science Fair Projects

Cobb, Vicky. Don't Try This at Home! Science Fun for Kids on the Go. New York: Harper Trophy, 1998. (P)

Cook, James G. The Thomas Edison Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments. New York: Dodd Meade, 1988. (E)

DiSpezio, Michael. Flying Things: Simple Experiments in the Science of Flight. Parsippany, NJ: Dale Seymour Publications, 2000. (P)

Franklin Institute Science Museum. The Ben Franklin Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995. (E)

Fredericks, Anthony D. Exploring the Universe: Science Activities for Kids. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2000. (E)

Mebane, Robert C. and Rybolt, Thomas R. Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1995. (E)

Nankivell-Aston, Sally and Jackson, Dorothy. Science Experiments With Color. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 2000. (P)

Potter, Jean. Science in Seconds for Kids: Over 100 Experiments You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995. (E)

Rhatigan, Joe and Smith, Heather. Sure-To-Win Science Fair Projects. New York: Sterling, 2002. (E)

Robinson, Tom Mark. The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity—Challenge the World Around You. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media Corp, 2001. (E)

Rybolt, Thomas R. and Rybolt, Leah M. Science Fair Success with Scents, Aromas, and Smells. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 2002. (E)

Toney, Sara D. Smithsonian Surprises: An Educational Activity Book. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1985. (E)

Wiese, Jim. Sports Science: 40 Great Goal-Scoring, High-Flying, Medal-Winning Experiments for Kids. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. (E)

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Magazines for Children

Ask. Cobblestone Publishing Company. Toll-free: (800) 821-0115. (grades 2-4)

ChickaDEE. Bayard Canada. Toll-free: (800) 551-6957. (preschool-grade 4)

Click. Cricket Magazine Group. Toll-free: (800) 821-0115. (grades 1-3)

Dig. Cobblestone Publishing Company. Toll-free: (800) 821-0115. (grades 4 and up)

Dolphin Log. Cousteau Society. Toll-free: (800) 441-4395. (grades 2 and up)

Kids Discover. (212)-677-4457. (grades K and up)

Muse. Cricket Magazine Group. Toll-free: (800) 821-0115. (grades 3 and up)

National Geographic Kids. National Geographic Society. Toll-free: (800) 647-5463. (grades 3-5)

Odyssey. Cobblestone Publishing Company. Toll-free: (800) 821-0115. (grades 4 and up)

OWL. Bayard Canada. Toll-free: (800) 551-6957. (grades 3-5)

Ranger Rick. National Wildlife Federation. Toll-free: (800) 611-1599. (grades 1-5)

Your Big Backyard. National Wildlife Federation. Toll-free: (800) 611-1599. (preschool-grade 1)

WonderScience. American Chemical Society. Toll-free: (800) 227-5558. (grades 4 and up)

Zoobooks. Wildlife Education. Toll-free (800) 992-5034. (grades K and up)

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Science Toys

Children don't need fancy science toys or kits to learn science. However, if you want to buy them for your child, you'll find that toy stores, hobby shops and science specialty shops have a large selection of kits and toys to choose from. It's beyond the scope of this booklet to recommend specific toys. However, the following tips can guide you in making good choices:

  • Make sure that the toy you choose matches your child's interests. If she's interested in animals and how they live, she may not benefit from—or use—a chemistry kit.
  • Learn what the toy can and cannot do before you buy it. If your child is interested in astronomy, he may be disappointed if he looks through the toy telescope you gave him and finds out he can't see bumps and craters on the moon.
  • Make sure the toy is appropriate for your child's age group. Toys that are too complicated—or too simple—can frustrate or bore children.
  • Read the instructions that come with the toy carefully so you understand how it works and how it should be used.
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Science on TV

Even though the quality of the science programming seen on TV varies a lot, some programs are able to provide accurate science information in a way that both informs children and captures and holds their interest.

Good science programs can be found on broadcast networks, on cable or satellite channels (such as the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel), as well as on public television stations. To find the best programs for your child, ask her science teacher to make recommendations or check your local listings.

Children can learn science from other TV programs as well. For example, as you watch TV with your child, call her attention to news stories that involve scientific discoveries or scientists. Have her identify characters on favorite TV shows who have science-related jobs, such as emergency medical personnel, pharmacists or engineers. If you watch science-fiction programs, talk with her about the science involved—Is it accurate? What different kinds of science can she identify? If you watch sports events, ask her how science plays a part in the things athletes do—throwing a football, hitting a baseball or tennis ball, kicking a soccer ball. For cooking shows, talk with her about the changes and chemical reactions that take place as part of preparing a meal. The possibilities are endless! If possible, record some of your own favorite science programs so that you and your child can watch them together. Stop—or replay—parts of the program that are particularly interesting or hard to understand and talk with her about what is happening.

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Science on the Internet

Through the Internet, your child can have access to a vast array of science resources. Many of these resources are both educational and entertaining. Others, however, are inappropriate for children or provide inaccurate information. Here are some suggestions for helping your child use Internet resources appropriately.

  • Monitor your child's use of the Internet by visiting Web sites with her Check the kinds of information available to see if it is age-appropriate and the activities to see if they are dangerous or inaccurate.
  • Look into software or online services that filter out offensive materials and sites. Options include stand-alone software that can be installed on your computer and devices that label or filter content directly on the Web. In addition, many Internet Service Providers and commercial online services offer site blocking, restrictions on incoming e-mail and children's accounts that access specific services. Many of these can be obtained for free or for modest costs at your local electronics store.
  • Make sure that your child knows not to give out personal information over the computer, such as his real name, phone number, address or computer password.
  • Help your child to tell the difference between "real" science activities and information and advertisements for toys, kits and games.
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Web Sites

The following Web sites are some of the many that contain great links for both you and your child, in addition to the federal Web sites. Most of these listings provide information about how to search for specific information and links to other age-appropriate sites for children.

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Science Camps

Camps that focus on many different fields of science and technology are available across the country for children of elementary school age and up. Some of the organizations listed in the section above may provide information. In addition, check the following:

  • Audubon ( runs ecology camps in various locations.

  • The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, runs the U.S. Space Camp (

  • The National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ( holds science summer camps across the city each summer.

  • The YMCA and YWCA (check for local addresses) hold a variety of camps, including computer camps, for both boys and girls.

Your child's science teacher, school counselor or the children's librarian at your local public library may be able to help you locate the names and contact information for both local and national science camps.

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Last Modified: 03/01/2023