Science with Infants
Science is an intimidating subject for many people. Throw that subject in with the word “infants” and people run screaming. Many believe that science is something that can only be taught by highly trained and certified teachers. Those same people believe that science is something that cannot be taught to an infant. Science, however, can be taught to infants and it doesn’t require a degree in the field. Science with infants can be exciting and a lot of fun… not only for the infant but also the teacher.
I had the pleasure of observing Ms. Elizabeth Anne Cabell, Curriculum Specialist at Kidz World, teaching science with infants. Ms. Anne has over 35 years of experience in the field of education and she has a great passion for teaching in the field of Early Childhood Education. I know from personal experience, that when she walks into a classroom the eyes of the children light up because they know something exciting is about to happen. It was no different with the infants on this day of science education.
Science with Infants – The Activity: Introduction of Water
Ms. Anne walked into the room with a cup of water, a dropper, books, and puppets. The theme of the week was turtles, frogs, and tadpoles. She gathered the infants, ranging in age from 3 months to 13 months, into the large group area in the center of the infant room. The mobile and immobile infants came together to conduct the activity. All eyes were on Ms. Anne as she proceeded to take a seat on the floor among them. She started calling the children by name to say hello and get the activity started.
Ms. Anne started talking about science which included the week’s theme topics and told how the critters live in the water. She filled the dropper and removed it from the cup. While holding it slightly above the cup, she released the water back into the cup. She completed this same action several times. Repetition in learning is an important component of the educational process.
The next step in the process was Ms. Anne turning to the child closest to her, taking the infant’s hand, telling them what she was going to do, and then releasing the dropper of water onto the infant’s hand. With the expression of surprise on her face, her first reaction was to close her hand. The process was completed a couple more times when the oldest in the room decided she really wanted to get in on the action. She toddled around the group and stuck her hand out. Again, the dropper was placed over her hand and the water released. She shrieked with excitement and shook the water off. Her reaction caused laughter to erupt in the classroom.
Ms. Anne proceeded around the room, so every child would get to experience the feel of water being dropped on their hand. Teaching through the five senses is a fundamental approach to Early Childhood Education. It is a proven technique that is used in early education. At Kidz World, we are always implementing activities that reach as many of the five senses as possible. This science activity focused on sight, touch, and sound.
The next step in the process was Ms. Anne bringing out the books, reading them, interacting with the infants, and pointing out colors, shapes, and characters on the pages of the book. As I gazed around the room, I was once again taken aback by how intently focused on Ms. Anne’s activity all the infants were. If you’ve ever worked with a group of children all in the same age range, you understand how remarkable it is to see them all focused on one thing at the same time. It’s just amazing.
What is Science
Now, that you’ve read the details of the science with infants activity, has this changed your perspective on teaching it to your child(ren)? What is science? “Science is not just a body of knowledge—it’s “a way of thinking and acting … a way of trying to discover the nature of things.” Rosalind Charlesworth and Karen Lind, Math and Science for Young Children (Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2010), 76. Is that not a powerful definition? To paraphrase… it’s a way of thinking and acting to discover the nature of things. It’s introducing new things and reintroducing them in a new way. Yes, we have all touched water… but, what happened the first time you touched water? You probably don’t remember, however, as a parent, you will remember that first bath you gave your newborn infant. You will remember the sight and sound of it… the smell of the soap/lotion… the touch of it as you pulled the infant, swaddled in a towel, close to you to comfort them. Yet, the infant will not remember that first bath… this is the reason for re-introduction and repetition in learning.
Science at Home
Allowing a small dropper of water to fall upon a child’s hand may not seem like an impactful lesson. However, you can bet the next time that child sees a dropper, they will expect some type of liquid to come out. Droppers, as every parent knows, is usually related to the delivery of medicine. Why not introduce it as a delivery method for fun and learning? Here’s a link to get you started teaching science with infants at home, PBS Parents.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2018