There’s no better time to get your tots interested in science than the preschool years. Natural explorers and thinkers, preschoolers enjoy getting their hands on science experiments to learn how the world works. (Especially if they get messy in the process!)
Finding activities with science that your young nerd can understand at this age can be tricky, but here are four proven experiments that your preschooler will love.
1. Wildlife Journal
If your child is a fan of the wildlife show Wild Kratts on PBS Kids, this creature journal is a no-brainer. Simply follow the instructions on Education.com to make a simple book with paper and string or staples.
After your little explorer designs and decorates the journal, it’s time to go outside! No matter where you live – in the city or suburbs – there are always creatures to discover. Keep an eye out for bugs and animals, and talk about them with your preschooler: their habitat, what food they eat to survive, and more.
Make a few stops to draw what you see. Together you will explore nature as your child learns about the critters around you, and you’ll enjoy stopping to smell the roses for the first time in a long time.
2. Play-Doh Volcano
Ah, the vinegar and baking soda volcano. A nerd classic, and the perfect science experiment for preschoolers.
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view) you don’t have to make the world’s largest baking soda volcano to make an impression on your budding scientist. At this age, just a little bit of the explosive combo goes a long way.
Gather up all that old Play-Doh in the toy bin to squish together into one colorful mountain. Your child can build it up around a Dixie cup or even the empty Play-Doh canister placed on a paper plate. Toss in the baking soda and then pour in the vinegar – and if your preschool scientists are like mine, they will insist on doing it themselves.
During this experiment, my mini-scientist daughter and I talked about what chemicals are and how they can interact. You can get into more details than that if you’d like, but a small fizzing volcano on the counter can be a little distracting.
3. Balloon Blowing Up By Itself
When I came across an experiment with air that I’d never seen before, I had to try it with my preschooler immediately. A balloon that blows up by itself? She was sold before I finished explaining it.
The materials are only a balloon, an empty water bottle, and a cup of hot (almost boiling) water. With the balloon stretched across the opening of the bottle, submerge the bottom half of the bottle into the hot water. As the air inside warms up, the bouncing molecules inside cause the bottle to expand and inflate the balloon.
Place it in cold water, and watch the balloon – and bottle! – contract.
Thanks to this fun experiment, my daughter occasionally pretends to be a heated air molecule and bounce around the room. Or restaurant. Or library. For science!
4. Color Changing Carnation
Sure, the carnation in food coloring is a classic science experiment for kids. But have you ever seen it like this?
This one requires a lot of grown-up setup and a little bit of patience (at least 2-3 hours to see the effect), but the effect is undeniably cool. The color changing carnations experiment makes it plain to see how a flower takes in water.
My daughter and I started this experiment by asking questions to form a hypothesis. (She is a fan of simply saying the word “hypothesis.”) Does she think the entire flower changes color, or just part of it? Will one color soak up faster than the others?
All of these science experiments for preschoolers are not only a fun way to pry them away from the TV, but are also great for parents, too. Take a moment to explore the world like you’re a kid again!