At Sleepy Hollow Preschool, we teach Science everyday. Direct instruction is also provided by a visiting Science Enrichment teacher who visits each class once a month. Learning through play affords children the opportunity to engage in science topics in a very organic way. Many of our play activities allow open-ended exploration and discovery of basic scientific principles. For example, playing outside in all weather as we do at SHPS, teaches us how mud, water, sand and plants may be different when they are wet or dry, frozen, or baked by the sun. These ideas are extended in cooking activities, when we see how ingredients can look or feel different when they are mixed together, heated or cooled! Children learn the basic properties of materials through their own hands- on activity.
The use of an emergent curriculum allows us to follow and develop additional areas of scientific investigation depending on the children’s interest and at their direction. For instance, children at SHPS might be found weighing, sorting, categorizing and labeling rocks. There may be a group splitting rocks to see what is inside them; followed by information about how rocks are made. Depending on the maturity and cognitive level of the group, this could lead to a study of dinosaurs and fossils and from there, to a study of skeletons and bones!
Animals are also a very important part of school at Sleepy Hollow Preschool. Several of our classrooms are also home to guinea pigs, mealworms, fish and other small animals. Insects on the playground are a frequent discovery of Sleepy Hollow Friends, who later in their day may be creating an insect habitat for insects they have collected. This activity often sparks an interest in insect life cycles and habitats. Discussions often include how choices people make affect the environment these animals live in.
Oftentimes, our play activities allow open-ended exploration and discovery of basic scientific principles. Children may be exploring basic physical laws while building wooden ramps for rolling toy cars or marbles. Teachers provide additional materials as the children learn more about he basics of physics, even learning about simple machines.
Throughout all of these activities, teachers are encouraging careful observations, providing strategies for recording observations, directing activities for evaluating data that has been collected and helping to state and evaluate predictions. Although the teachers take their cues from the interests of the children, they continually provide resources for more information as the children’s abilities and understanding grow.