The science center in my classroom is always a busy place. Students can observe, experiment, create, construct, classify, compare, and question. Students are natural born scientists. They are curious and eager to explore the world and everything in it! As teachers it is out job to nurture their scientific spirit and help students form questions, investigations, collect data, and share their conclusions. Make your science center amazing! Plus I have a few freebies for your center too!
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Just so you know, in my classroom, I combine my math and science centers together aka the Discovery Center. I believe math and science overlap in SO many areas it is natural for me to combine them together.
Now let’s start setting up the center! First things first, labeling! Label everything you can in the center. Labels show students (and teachers) where the items belong. It makes clean up easier and helps students be independent in your classroom. They won’t have to ask you for what they need. They will be able to find it themselves in the center. Don’t forget to have words paired with a picture on your labels!
Tools! Every scientist needs tools. Two tools that are always in the center are magnifying glasses and goggles. All my other materials and tools are rotated throughout the year based on what we are investigating, our theme, and students’ interests.
Put out balance scales, rulers, connecting cubes, and other measurement tools in the center for students to use when they are investigating and experimenting. Learn how to make your own bean and rainbow rulers HERE.
Little scientists LOVE using pipettes and pie plates to explore and investigate. Yes more fine motor work too! Other science tools you can add to your center are test tubes, mirrors, prisms, discovery bottles (sensory bottles), microscopes, and binoculars.
Natural materials are easy to find and provide students with endless hours of investigating! Try adding shells, rocks, leaves, fruits, vegetables, seeds, feathers, sticks, pine cones, seedpods, flowers, and any other item you can find outside in nature to your science center. The Dollar Tree has shells, rocks, sometimes tree rings, and other seasonal nature items in their craft section. Remember to rotate the items based on the season or theme in your classroom.
You want to have something living in your science center. It could be a plant or a class pet. Something students can take care of and observe over time. Add a book about the pet or plant to spark students’ interest in the plant or pet.
STEM and STEAM are huge right now in education. An easy way to add a STEM activity into your science center is put a tub of wooden blocks on the shelf. I created these “I Can Build…” Cards to spark students engineering excitement! The cards challenge and inspire students to create something amazing. You can grab the cards from my TPT store HERE.
The sensory table and a light table can be a part of your science center too! I could talk for days about everything students can learn when they play in the sensory table. There are endless items and tools you can put in your sensory table for students to explore and investigate.
Magnets are a staple in an early childhood science center. For one thing students LOVE magnets! Students can explore, text their ideas, observe the results, ask new questions to investigate, notice patterns in their experiments, and draw conclusions with magnets. You can also add items to the tub that are NOT magnetic!
Just like any other center in your classroom, you want to have writing and drawing materials. Try putting out journals, discovery pages, and/or clipboards with blank paper in your center. Your little scientists will be drawing, charting, recording data, and writing about their discoveries in their preschool way! Grab your discovery page freebie at the bottom of this post.
Books! When you add books to the science center it gives students another the opportunity to research and investigate a topic. These are some of my favorite science books. Dianna Hutts Aston books are just amazing! She wrote A Rock is Lively, A Butterfly is Patient, A Seed is Sleepy, A Beetle is Shy, and An Egg is Quiet.
Try to pair a non-fiction book with a fiction book when you are investigating a topic. Hooray for Fish is one of my all time favorite children’s books! Andrea Beaty wrote an amazing series all about STEM! The books include Iggy Peck Architect, Rosie Revere Engineer, and Ada Twist Scientist.
When you are planning for your science center, remember to create investigations in across all science contents (Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science). Early childhood teachers are amazing at teaching life science and earth science but often forget to teach about physical science.
I have a science table in my classroom where I set up various science investigations based on our theme and student interest. Each investigation last about a month. These are my students favorite science investigations from the past few years.
Color investigations are AMAZING! Put out red, blue, and yellow colored water and let the experimenting begin. Grab some paint samples, create a color wheel, create a color chart using paint samples, color books, color investigation pages, and chart the colors students make to take the color investigation to the next level! Get a small chalkboard easel and pose questions for students to investigate (STEM)!
Set up a building investigation for students to explore motion, balance, and force. Just add blocks, photos of tall buildings, blue print paper, and post a challenge.
Some other fun physical science investigations are ramps/inclines, tops, pendulums, how objects move (pushing, pulling, blowing), magnets, and bubbles.
Life science plant investigation. I think most of us have planted seeds and watched them grow. Add a sorting tray with seeds, plant books, journals, magnifying glass, tweezers, and chart the growth to your science table. Oh and that box thing is my greenhouse for our plants. I don’t have ANY windows, yuck!
If you have a class pet, set up an science investigation to learn more about it. Pets move which means students can observe them! Add some books, charts, vote on the name, and journals to the science table to take your pet investigation to the next level!
Butterflies oh how we LOVE you! Let students help you create the anchor charts in your science center. Student created charts are POWERFUL! Grab my Life Cycle of a Butterfly HERE.
A few other possible life science topics are worms, ladybugs, crickets, insects, spiders, hermit crab, ants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and trees.
Earth and Environmental Science! Almost every year the first science investigation on rocks. Rocks are like magical gems to students! It is an fun way to teach students how to be a scientist and how to use science tools. The second week of school I read, What is a Scientist? at circle and we create the “Parts of a Scientist” anchor chart you see in the picture (it’s a freebie at the end of this post).
Other possible earth and environment topics are shells, sand, dirt, water, seeds, space, weather, sky, clouds, seasons, and recycling.
You can also do a theme related science investigations based on what you are learning about. Students love learning about the ocean! Add some shells, sponges, shark teeth, ocean books, magnifying glass discover pages, rulers, magnifying glasses, sorting trays, and a scale! This picture was taken the first week of our investigation. I added shark teeth, sponges, and coral later to keep students interested all month long!
Fall! There is so much to investigate. My favorite thing to do is to cut open a pumpkin, plant the seeds, and watch them grow.
Phew! That was a long one. Thanks so much for reading until the end! Go grab your science center freebies HERE or by clicking on the picture above.
Add some STEM to your science center! Grab my I Can Build Chart and Books from mt TPT store HERE.
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