Scientists in the Making

Scientists in the Making

Thinking scientifically is a skill that will benefit children in all areas of life – not only science lessons.  Scientists observe, compare, and classify.  Scientists measure with accuracy and communicate with clarity.  Scientists make hypotheses, inferences, and predictions. Most of all, scientists ask questions and then seek answers.  In our Casa environments, we provide the children with many opportunities to acquire these skills and develop their scientific minds. 

Building Vocabulary

While it may seem that early childhood is a time spent mostly in imaginative play, Montessori noticed that this is actually a period when children can easily acquire a great deal of factual knowledge with relative ease.  The ‘absorbent mind’ which characterizes this stage of development can memorize facts and vocabulary with little effort. It is a disservice to children, then, if we do not make the most of this amazing capacity. My Montessori trainer suggested this assessment: Can a child more easily name five local trees, or five Disney princesses – five local birds, or five Marvel superheroes? In our Casa environment, there are many materials that directly teach facts and vocabulary.  The three-part cards are a classic Montessori activity, where children match pictures and learn related vocabulary and facts.  There are three-part cards – sometimes several different sets – for every theme we explore. From tropical fruits to Asian animals, the children will build the vocabulary which will enable them to be clear communicators.

Sharpening Observations

Our senses naturally provide us with a great deal of information about the world around us.  However, refining those senses takes direct practice.  Our Sensorial Materials do just that, training children to observe closely, and not only with their eyes.  We provide them with opportunities to experience things directly – sticking their hands in a pumpkin, cleaning the leaves of a plant, or even handling live animals.  All of these experiences will encourage their interest in the natural world, and encourage them to ask lots of questions.

Experiences and Experiments

One of the sweetest things about working with young children is watching the wonder and delight with which they experience things for the first time.  We experience the sudden changes in our tropical weather, the different stages of blooming and growth of our playground plants, and even the life cycles of different creatures.  Then, we take our science skills to the next level – making predictions about what will occur if we actively manipulate some variables.  Our experiments of magnetism and buoyancy are always favourites.  This last term, we enjoyed a Sink & Float Mystery demonstration that really had the children thinking: Why does an unpeeled tangerine float while a peeled one sinks?  Like many questions in life, this one remains a mystery for our young team of scientists.  But, armed with scientifically-trained minds, we know they will keep on searching out the answers!

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