When you think of science, you might picture lab tables, beakers and test tubes. But science is so much more than the classic experiments you did in high school. It’s a process of exploring, observing, thinking, and testing – things toddlers do all day long as they play! Toddlerhood is a perfect time to nurture a love for scientific thinking through scientific play.
Encouraging Scientific Play
Through simple experiments, planned activities, and free play, there are virtually endless ways to spark your toddler’s interest in science.
Conduct Simple Experiments
Experiments don’t need to be complex. They can be as simple as mixing paint colors or transferring water between containers. Cooking with your toddler is also an exciting way to introduce your little one to science.
If you’re using BabySparks, you’ll see plenty of fun scientific activities in your child’s daily program.
Unstructured Play is Scientific Play!
When your toddler has access to a variety of toys and materials during unstructured play, they’ll decide what and how to play, which often leads to experimenting and figuring out solutions on their own.
Unstructured play can be solo play, or with you or others close to your child. Let your toddler lead the way, and you might be surprised by what they come up with!
Offer Plenty of Different Toys and Materials
Science involves working with various objects and materials — using them in different ways or creating something new. Offering your toddler a range of toys (blocks, vehicles, puzzles, etc.), materials (paper, beads, water, etc.) and everyday objects (food storage containers, cardboard boxes, flashlights, etc.) encourages them to experiment, observe, and problem solve.
You can switch out toys and materials periodically to keep your toddler’s play fresh.
Don’t Shy Away from Messiness
Many toddlers love getting messy, and messiness often leads to some fun scientific exploration. Don’t be afraid to invite the messiness, allowing your toddler to finger paint with non-toxic paint, play with water, or dig in the dirt. Getting your child involved in gardening, even if it’s just a simple plant, it a great scientific activity!
Messy play not only targets exploration, it also builds tolerance for different sensations and textures.
Join In Your Toddler’s Play
Joining your toddler during play makes it more interactive, boosts communication skills, and can get them thinking in ways they might not on their own. You can ask questions as you play together, for example, to encourage deeper thinking and a scientific thought process.
Visit New Places
The more experiences a toddler has, the more they’ll see, hear, taste, feel, and smell. A walk around the neighborhood, a library visit, or a trip to the park each offer varied experiences.
By incorporating these tips, you can expand on your little one’s natural scientific curiosity, laying the groundwork for increasingly complex exploring and experimenting as they grow!