by Emily McGowan | Lakeshore Early Childhood Product Development Manager
Children are natural investigators. Send them outside, and they’ll soon be following a bug across the sidewalk just to see where it’s going. Hand them a magnifying glass, and watch as they zoom in on everything—and everyone—in the room. Children have lots of questions about their world, and they can’t wait to discover the answers!
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By tapping into children’s natural curiosity, parents and teachers can provide focused and meaningful experiences that build fundamental science skills and encourage children to think like scientists. This is important because inquiry-based learning—the ability to ask questions about the world and then go about finding the answers—is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. In response to a need in the modern workforce for critical thinkers and problem solvers, a new focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has emerged in the classroom. So, in order for children to succeed in school and beyond, it is important to get them interested in science at an early age.
When our Research & Development team began brainstorming new ways to captivate young children’s interest in science, we knew it was important for children to experience the thrill of discovery. Kids’ first science experiences should be joyful and magical—which keeps them coming back for more. At the same time, our team wanted to address the core science topics that are included in most early childhood curriculums—introducing fundamental concepts that children will encounter again in the elementary grades.
These ideas led us to create our Shake & Reveal Science Cards. These fascinating cards use the magic of magnetism to introduce concepts—like weather and the parts of a plant—in a super-engaging way.
Each activity card has a question at the top for children to investigate, such as What happens when a volcano erupts? To answer the question, children just slide the card into the included window box, give the box a shake—and presto! Magnetic shavings inside the box stick to the card in just the right way—creating a fun picture that reveals the answer!
Because the product works through the power of magnetism, the cards can be used again and again. Kids just pull the cards out to “erase” the picture and try a brand-new one. Plus, the magnetic filings are fully contained inside the box—for safe, mess-free exploration.
While children will be delighted to reveal one picture after another, the activity can also provide a springboard for additional learning:
- On the backs of the cards, children will find the answers written in word form to help boost early reading skills and science vocabulary, along with intriguing facts about each topic. In this way, the cards provide a great way to introduce a topic and then launch into a deeper investigation. Adults can ask guided questions to extend learning, such as, What time of year do you usually see snow? Besides snow, what else can fall from the clouds? Can you describe any other types of weather?
- The window box can also be used alone—without the cards—to explore the concept of magnetism. Glide a small magnet over the box to show how the magnet attracts the shavings inside the box.
- Encourage children to use the window box and a magnet to explore the power of magnetism on their own. Then challenge children to create an artistic design using the magnet and shavings!
By providing opportunities like these for young children to investigate scientific concepts in an exciting, hands-on way, they will gain an early interest in scientific investigation—and explore foundational science concepts they will build on in the future.