Spring is here, and as we get ready to celebrate Earth Day, what better time to engage students of all ages in science activities? The benefits of science experiments go far beyond introducing students to science concepts. Science experiments are a fun, hands-on way to promote curiosity and critical thinking, to develop language skills and to teach students about their environment.
Simple Sensational Science is a book written by CID preschool teachers. The book can be used by both parents and educators to teach students with hearing loss about science while also developing their language skills. Although Simple Sensational Science was initially meant to be used with students who are deaf and hard of hearing, the activities in this book can be done with any student, not just those with hearing loss.
Below is a science experiment from Simple Sensational Science. While the “Suggested Language” in the book is intended for preschool-level students, it can be modified to meet the language goals of any student.
What Do Plants Need to Live?
This experiment is a fun way to discover that a plant needs sun, light and water to stay alive. Your child has the opportunity to use the Scientific Method as he learns that living things need care. You will need a few weeks to see the results of this experiment, so be sure to start early!
What do plants need to live?
- three small plants/flowers
- dark closet/cabinet
- sunny window
- watering can/cup
I Think ../Hypothesis
Ask your child to guess what he thinks plants might need to live. If your child cannot think of sun and/or water, then explain that plants indeed need sun and water to live. Ask your child what he thinks might happen without sun or without water. Ask him to draw a picture of what he thinks will happen to the plant. This is his hypothesis.
Now comes the fun part! You may want to take pictures throughout the experiment so you and your child can display them later.
- Take your child to the store to purchase three of the same type of plant or flower
- When you get home, explain to your child that one plant gets “no water.” Help your child say what will happen: “The flower will grow.” or “The flower will die.” Draw this picture and place it near the plant that gets “no water.”
- Put the second plant in a very dark closet or cabinet that will not be opened. Tell your child this plant gets “no sun.” Assist your child in his prediction about what will happen to the plant or flower. Again, place a drawing by the plant.
- Now for the plant that gets all the good stuff! Put this plant in a sunny place and be sure to have your child water it regularly. Point out that this plant gets “water and sun” and have your child draw what will happen. Note: If you’re taking pictures for your experiment, be sure to take one of each plant.
- Check each plant every other day or so with your child and talk about what’s happening to each. Be sure to water the plant in the closet/cabinet and the one getting all of the care as needed.
This activity is a great way to learn lots of language. Talk about what you’re doing as you do it. See if your child can imitate some of the things you say. Listen to what your child says spontaneously. Encourage him when he attempts to use new language. Here’s some language you can use and prompt your child to use.
- watering can
- This one gets no water.
- This one doesn’t get any water.
- This one gets no sun.
- This one doesn’t get any sun.
- The flower will grow.
- The flower will die.
- The flower is getting bigger!
- The flower is not growing.
Conclusion (I Know …/What I learned)
If you’re taking pictures, take one of each of the plants to use in your display. When the experiment is complete and the results are in, compare the results with your child’s hypothesis. Were his guesses correct?
Now you and your child can make a creative display or book using photos, your child’s illustrations and the materials you used. Write the questions and answers your child gave during the experiment and post them on the display or book. Don’t forget to include the actual plants or flowers!
For more science ideas, be sure to check out Simple Sensational Science: Science Projects for Preschoolers.