Sure, I could have read her something out of a science-for-kids book. We could have talked about the angle of the sun. But I’ve found that, whenever possible, it’s better to show than to tell. So we set up an experiment. We placed a doll in the center of a long piece of paper. Then I used a bright flashlight to simulate the sun, first shining from one side of the table, then slowly moving upwards until it was shining directly down on the doll (apparently she was standing on the equator, but nevermind that), and then gradually moving to the far side of the table. We traced the shadow of the doll at five different places. And sure enough, she concluded that shadows will be long at the very beginning and end of the day, and smallest exactly at noon. Question answered, and the best part? She answered it herself, from her very own observations. There’s no better feeling for a budding scientist.
Next week? I can’t decide between using a ball and flashlight to demonstrate the phases of the moon, or how the angle of the sun affects the seasons. What do you think? Any favorite science experiments to do with preschoolers? What are your budding scientists studying right now?