In a Montessori education, nature plays a key role in inspiring wonder in children. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes forming a strong bond between children and their environment. By getting your child to play and learn through outdoor science activities, you can begin a lifelong appreciation for nature.
Here are a few fun and engaging science experiments that you can do with your child to help them connect to the environment around them.
Worm Observation Tower
Little animals like worms are often fascinating for children. If you find that your child is captivated by these little critters too, they will love creating a worm observation tower. This is also a great opportunity to teach your child to be kind to animals by handling them gently.
To make the worm observation tower, choose a glass vase or bin that you don’t mind getting dirty and have your child fill it up with sand and dirt. Pour a small amount of water into the container to make the soil damp and easier for the worms to crawl through.
After the container is prepared, help your child go worm digging in your garden or lifting rocks and seeing if there’s anything wriggling around underneath. Then you can fill your container with any worms you that you find and let your child watch as they crawl around. Your child will enjoy observing their new worm friends as they poke around through their temporary home!
The Science of Sinking and Floating
This fun and easy activity is appropriate for children of all ages. Start off by going on a nature walk with your child and allowing them to collect any objects that they find interesting, such as leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, and acorns.
After they collect their treasures, have them sort them into two piles: one for objects that they think will sink and another for objects that they think will float. Then you can fill a bowl with water to test out their theories. Allow them to experiment and see if they can make a floating object sink by putting other objects on top of it. This is a great chance for you to teach your children about weight and density.
What Type of Rock is This?
The fossil layers give us clues about how the environment has changed over time. Limestone is a unique rock because it is made up of these layers. Because limestone forms through evaporation, it can be found in a variety of environments.
Children are usually impressed by limestone rocks because they can also be used as chalk. Encourage your child to look around damp environments, such as creeks or lakes, for brownish-yellow and grey colored rocks. After your child collects a few rocks, put each rock into a separate bowl outside.
To identify limestone rock, pour vinegar on each rock and wait a few seconds to see what happens. Little bubbles will form all over the rock in less than a minute if it is a limestone, while nothing will happen to other rocks. This is the perfect opportunity to tell your child that a chemical reaction is going on because the vinegar is an acid and limestone is a base. Explain to your child that when an acid and a base mix, they create heat, which is the reason the bubbles formed.
Solar s’mores are a creative and delicious way for children to learn about how strong the sun is! You can create a solar oven by grabbing a leftover pizza box, covering the top of the flap with aluminum foil, and covering the bottom of the flap with plastic wrap. Place black construction paper on the bottom of the box and line the sides of the box with additional aluminum foil.
While you create your makeshift oven, you can explain the function of each step to your child. For example, you can explain how the aluminum foil works to reflect the rays of the sun and how the black construction paper is used to absorb heat.
When your oven is ready, your child can fill it with all of the necessary ingredients for s’mores – graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. The s’mores will usually take around an hour to cook like this. While you wait, you can explain the virtue of patience to your child. When you see that the chocolate and marshmallows have melted into something gooey, you and your child are free to enjoy your delicious solar s’mores!