Create an Easy Kindergarten Science Center
Create a kindergarten science center that will inspire you and your students.
Keep it easy to update, use it to reinforce the skills and knowledge that the children need to learn and most importantly, make it child friendly.
The science center displays real objects for the children to touch and explore with tools such as magnifying glasses and tweezers.
Include leaves, seashells, bones, birds' nests, feathers and plants. Introduce tadpoles, pond water, and other living creatures and teach children how to care for them.
Create two zones, an observation zone and and an experimental zone
The observation zone (sometimes called a discovery center) is a place for children to practice the skills of:
- collection, and
- communicating their knowledge.
The experimental zone is a place for children to:
- play with science equipment and materials
- to learn about science phenomena as they play
1. Make a kindergarten science center observation zone...
(See image above) A shelf about 18 - 24 inches wide and 4 feet long and 23 - 26 inches high placed in front of a window works well for the kindergarten science center observation zone as you can grow plants on it in the spring.
A kindergarten science center can be easily made with a tri-folded piece of bright colored plastic corrugated card for a backdrop.
Pictures and words can be clipped to the backdrop quickly using paper clips and/or bull dog clips. The less complicated it is to change the kindergarten science center, the more often you will provide new and interesting things for the children to observe.
Items to put on the observation table:
- interesting items that go with your themes
- containers for pencils, crayons and erasers
- magnifying glasses, and bug bottles
- book making supplies - paper, stapler
- open-ended booklets (see image)
- children also like to place their science and math show and tell items on the table
Label all containers with words and pictures of the items they are to hold to help the children put the items away correctly.
Recording sheets and blank booklets such as "I Spy Book" type books encourage children to draw their observations. A lower shelf is great for storing materials for other science displays.
2. Make an area for the children to experiment with science materials...
Another table or desk large enough for two chairs works well for the kindergarten science center experimental zone. Open containers labeled with both words and pictures of what they should contain store the materials.
To keep it simple:
- add reading materials such as science magazines
- do not put too many things in the center at one time
- rotate materials throughout the year
- whenever possible relate the materials to the kindergarten science center observation area
- remember that the children have to be taught how to correctly use the equipment
and put it away
- the materials need to be fairly tough to withstand constant play
The child who drew the picture on the right observed a bird in a cage on "Pet Day". Collage materials were added later.
Regularly model the skills of observation and recording for your students and their drawings will increase in detail.
Every time you would like your students to complete a new science center activity, be sure to model the process first, before you put the new recording sheets or booklets in the science center.
Sample observation drawing lesson - observing and drawing a leaf
Here is an example of teaching a group of children how to observe and draw a leaf found in the playground.
"When I look through the magnifying glass at the leaf Stephen found in the playground, I can see that most of it has rotted away. There are lots of lines on the leaf. We call these veins. I will open my I Spy recording booklet to the next page and draw the leaf in my booklet."
Draw what you are observing on a larger version of the children's booklets so it is easy for all the students to see.
"First I will draw the biggest line or vein that I see in the middle of the leaf down the center of my page. Next I will draw the smaller lines that I notice are attached to the big vein. I can count the veins on each side. 1, 2, 3, .... There are 7 veins on one side and 7 on the other side."
Give students an opportunity to talk and add a few of their observations.
"Stephen saw what looks like a thin brown covering over the edges of the leaf. I am going to find the same color brown crayon and color over some of the leaf. I'll put the brown crayons next to the leaf to see which one looks the same.
I want to print "Stephen's leaf" beside my picture because he found the leaf. I can copy Stephen's name from the center time name tags. I remember that the word "leaf" is on the picture of the leaf in the science observation center so I will copy the word from there. Can you look at the picture and tell me what letters to print? "
Let the children observe how you plan and think through the process of recording the information you have observed and how you find the words you need to print on the page. They will imitate these behaviors as they create their own observation books.
Repeat this process over with new science discoveries and the children will imitate how you observe and record and will soon be making their own observations in the kindergarten science center.
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