Children show they are natural scientists through their curiosity. They ask questions and constantly observe what happens in their world. This is how they learn about their environment.
From the time children are born, they absorb everything that is happening around them, like giant sponges.
By the age of two, they will already know about gravity from their experimentation by dropping things from a highchair or simply just falling over. They will be able to tell the difference between hot and cold or light and dark, by using their powers of prediction. Science is what children do every day – Investigating their environment. Encouraging your child to develop their curisoty will enable them to learn about their world using the following skills:
Observing: Children will notice most things that adults don't see or simply take for granted. They love to get down and dirty, for example by looking at the insects in the natural environment. This is done through all their senses. All you need to do is provide them with a bug catcher (glass jar) and a magnifying glass to observe what they catch.
Measuring: Children learn simple maths by measuring and comparing things to themselves. They will tell you that the slide is high because it is above their head or a box is heavy because they can't lift it up by themselves. Measuring doesn’t have to be in centimetres or metres, so make sure you provide a ruler; a tape measure; measuring cups; a set of kitchen scales for them to use in their exploration.
Classifying: Classification by sorting, putting objects into groups, organising and learning about similarities, is a great fun way for children to learn.
Predicting: Children are able to make predictions from daily experiences or routines. They are able to predict outcomes from what they have observed and what they think might happen next. A good question to ask your child while they explore their environment might be, "What do you think might happen next if you do this"? It doesn't matter if they don't know the correct answer, as all you are trying to do is help them think about the outcome and make a prediction based on their accumulated knowledge.
Experimenting: The next logical step after prediction is experimentation. Involving your child in lots of experiments will give them the opportunity to make an educated guess through learning, as experimentation is one of the biggest parts of learning in the early years. For example, by asking your child "What do you think will float, a piece of tissue paper or a rock"? This will make them think and make a prediction. Finally, experimenting with the weight of the tissue and the rock by placing both items in a bowl of water, will provide the answer. This could then be followed by a discussion as to why the tissue floated and the rock sunk. Your child will then store the information away for future reference and be able to make further predictions the next time he/she experiments with floating/sinking or light/heavy objects.