My toddler was born a scientist! Ideas for fostering discovery at home

If you’ve ever watched a young girl engaging with her surroundings spontaneously, you’ve noticed that young children approach daily life activities and objects with the curiosity of a postdoctoral scientist.

Be it in the kitchen or in the playground, they are intuitively observing avidly, testing ideas, asking creative questions and inventing. This is how children boost their cognitive development moving from infancy and into toddlerhood.

What can you do to foster your toddler’s natural inclination towards discovery? Here we propose some easy and fun activities that you can do to encourage her in the quest of exploring the world she is growing in:

• Classify. Sort out day-to-day objects around the house in categories. For example, fruits with edible skins vs those that have to be peeled.
• Explore magnetic forces with a fridge magnet. What is attracted by a magnet and what isn’t?
• Encountering her shadow. You can interact with a shadow in many ways to see what happens, like trying to step on it, noticing its size and shape, and its relationship to the sun or to light.
• Do a night-time puppet-show using your hands to cast shadows.
• Explore motion and gravity. What rolls like a wheel? You can use soda bottles, rocks, apples, books, leaves, etc.
• Look out the window and note the weather. Measure rainfall on a jar outside if it looks like it’s going to rain in the morning. Before breakfast, set a time for “weather-watching” and discuss cause-and-effect between the weather outside and what clothes it might be better to wear that day.
• Explore small things or details using an unbreakable magnifying glass.
• Make a bird feeder by coating a large pine cone with peanut butter mixed with corn meal, and then rolled in birdseed. You can watch the birds fly for a snack.
• Observe an animal going home. For example, watching where birds go, in bushes or in high trees? Or follow an ant when it takes supplies into the anthill. You can then discuss what are some similarities between your home and that of different animals.
• Arrange objects. First from smaller to larger, and then, a more difficult level of doing so, from largest to smaller.
• Watch the clouds. You can both roll back and observe their shapes and the different types of clouds. Are all of them similar in shapes, size or color?
• Press flowers inside books.
• Make leave prints.
• Paint stones as paperweights, emphasizing if there’s a kind of stone that is easier to paint on.

If you’d like to explore some additional resources on this topic, you can check out this link: http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/science/tips/exploring-science/

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