Kindergarten science centers are great to spark interest and curiosity and to develop observation skills. Science centers can be done in any classroom. Despite what you might think, they don’t need a lot of stuff or require a lot of work! I will show you how easy it is to set up a kindergarten science center in your classroom!
How much space do you need?
While I would love to have a whole table designated for kindergarten science and bringing nature into the classroom, it’s not always feasible. In my classroom, I had a tiny bit of open counter space in front of a window. So, that became my science center! You really don’t need much space. You just need a small surface where you can bring in items to observe. If you have more space, a small table or half of a big table would be great to store some of the materials.
What do you need in the kindergarten science center?
You really don’t need much for a kindergarten science center! I like to have observation paper, which you can get here, or even just a blank piece of paper will do! With the paper you’ll need at least a pencil, but some colored pencils or crayons is best so that the children can practice observational drawing accurately. I also like to include magnifying glasses if you have them, so that children can observe up close.
What kindergarten science materials do you need?
I like to try and connect my kindergarten science materials with the kindergarten science units we are learning about, but sometimes I like to just bring in interesting objects. We do a lot of learning about life cycles so I often have insects or plants growing in the science center. I love to bring in fruits and vegetables in the fall, especially unique gourds! If you go to the farmers market and tell them that you are a teacher, they might just give you one or at least give a discount! Lots of things you find in nature can be brought into the science area. Go for a walk, and pick up a few things your students might find interesting! Sticks, rocks, pinecones, leaves, etc! If you’re lucky you might even find an empty bird’s nest!
Another fun thing to bring into the kindergarten science area is magnets and some things that are magnetic and some things that aren’t. The students love experimenting with the magnets to find what will stick. Water is also a really fun material to experiment with. But water is usually best used inside the sensory table instead of the science center.
How do you peak interest?
The best way to peak interest in the kindergarten science center is to change up the display without warning the children. Let the children notice the new material. Then go over to them and ask them what they think it is. Ask them how they know and if they have ever seen it before? Have them make some observational drawings and encourage them to look in books to confirm what the mystery object is. If it’s a fruit or something that can be replaced, maybe you want to open up the object so the children can see inside.
How do you build knowledge?
I love including books in my kindergarten science center. Books are a great way to encourage growing knowledge and integrating science and literacy. You can get books from the library or yard sales or your kindergarten science curriculum might even provide them! Since the science set up is only for a week or a few weeks, it’s a great place for library books. When students ask questions about what they are observing, I always encourage them to look at the book. Even if it’s just the pictures, they can learn so much from the books! I also take the questions the students ask and raise them to the class for a whole class discussion. This gives students the chance to share their thinking and have discussions with their peers.
A kindergarten science center is a really fantastic addition to any early childhood classroom because it sparks interest and engagement with nature and science. Kindergarten science centers are much easier to set up and maintain than you might think! Children are instinctively interested in the natural world so all you really need to do is bring in something from outside and the learning will go from there!