Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exploring Colors in Science Club, Jr.

For the past few months, I've been offering Science Club, Jr. programs here at Skokie. These programs, aimed at children ages 3-5 with an accompanying caregiver, take place in our youth craft room, which boasts laminate floors, counters, and a sink. It's the perfect space to get a little bit messy, y'all!

And that's what we've been doing as families become accustomed to this new program offering: getting hands-on (and a tad bit messy) with some science. Because the room is quite snug with 15 kids and their caregivers, I've reformatted the Preschool Science programs that I used to do in Missouri for a different space. In Science Club, Jr., we focus on a main topic of the day. We first explore that topic with a story, talking about our topic as we go. Then it's time for the hands-on experimentation, which brings the program to 30 minutes.

This month, we explored colors in Science Club, Jr. As we waited for our scientists to trickle into the program space, we all talked about our favorite colors. Then we shared a story: Hervé Tullet's Mix It Up! Have you read it? If not, you're probably familiar with Press Here, the great interactive picture book also by Tullet. Mix It Up! boasts lots of the same interactive aspects while also exploring how colors mix together--specifically, what happens when primary colors combine. One thing I love about the book is that it reinforces the learning about secondary colors by having kids guess what will happen several times. It's not tedious, I promise; rather, it's perfect for a group of kids whose familiarity with colors may vary.

From there, I had the young scientists put on their smocks just in case things got really messy. Then it was experiment time. I had prepped our new indestructible test tubes so that each child would have access to tubes of red, yellow, and blue water (made with liquid food coloring; only 1 drop of blue per tube, please). I had also stocked each workstation with four empty cups for mixing colors, as well as a one-page, both-sides observation sheet on which the kids could record their experiments. There was room for four experiments: mixing red and yellow; mixing yellow and blue; mixing blue and red; and mixing any two (or more!) colors the child might choose. The observation sheet showed two empty tubes and one empty cup for each experiment; kids could use the appropriate colors of crayons to color in the tubes to show what colors they mixed, and then to color in the cup to show what color resulted.

Kids had so much fun getting to mix primary colors to create new colors they also recognized. Many of the kids seemed to enjoy the process of recording their experiments by coloring in the observation sheets, too. I tried to prompt the caregivers, who assisted their young scientists in the experiments, to ask thoughtful questions about "What do you think is going to happen?" and "What do observe from mixing the colors," and I have to say I was satisfied with the interactions happening between children and caregivers throughout. Some kids (and caregivers) needed a bit more step-by-step guidance to proceed through the four experiments, but others were pleased as punch to get down to business and try mixing anything and everything. That's a sign of a great scientific exploration, if you ask me: high engagement and interest in what else might happen.

When all was said and done, this was a simple, straightforward, and engaging edition of Science Club, Jr. It used all items we already had on hand: Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet, plastic test tubes, paper cups, water, liquid food coloring, and crayons. The only thing I needed to make from scratch was the observation sheet, which you're more than welcome to access for yourself here.

If you offer this program, or some other permutation on exploring the science of colors with young children, I'd love to hear how it goes for you. I've also previously offered a Preschool Science program on colors, which you can read about here.

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