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Science Transportation Activities for Preschoolers

by Rosenya Faith

The science behind transportation may seem rather mundane to an adult, but it is full of fascinating lessons for your preschooler. Once she starts down this road of science, there’ll be no stopping her curiosity. Buoyancy, gravity, wind power and polarity -- each of these will fill her curious little mind with a world full of new knowledge.

Wind Power

Teach your preschooler about the power of the wind when it comes to boat transportation. Start with a plain paper plate and make a tiny slit in the center. You can let your little artist decorate the paper plate to add her own creative touch to the activity. Next, inflate a balloon and poke the end through the slit in the paper plate. You can let her creativity loose again here to decorate the balloon with markers if you like. Now, place the balloon boat in a tub of water or a small wading pool and have your preschooler blow on the balloon to make her new boat move across the water.

Buoyant Predictions

Help your curious little guy find out what will sink or swim with a simple water activity. Start by having him drop a few random items in a big basin of water. Try things like feathers, pebbles, straws and spoons. After you’ve showed him a few, have him find some things to drop in the water and predict whether they will sink or float on top of the water. Next, make a boat from an empty plastic bottle by cutting a 2-inch by 4-inch section off one side of the bottle. Place it in the water and start to fill the tub. Encourage him to find some things he thinks won’t affect the boat and others that will make the boat sink; then see how each prediction turns out.

Ramp Speed

Gravity may seem like a cruel thing as people age, but it can be a fascinating lesson for a preschooler. Set up two ramps using two boards and some blocks to elevate one end. Elevate one ramp more than the other but make sure both ramps are the same length. Have your little scientist set up one of her cars at the top of each ramp. Now it’s time to let go and see what happens As the cars race down the ramp, the one on the steeper incline will accelerate at a greater rate because of gravity, making it reach the end of the ramp first. Try out the activity by rolling two balls down the ramps and any other object she wants to try.

Magnetic Locomotion

Your preschooler will never look at a boring magnet the same way again when he uses it to move his car across his very own handmade race track. Start with a large piece of cardboard and draw two long, winding parallel lines down the length of the board. You now have a road for your car. Attach a strong magnet to the bottom of one of his cars with a bit of strong glue and let it dry. Have him hold the car at one end of the road and hold the attracting side of another magnet beneath the cardboard. Now he can drive his car along the road by moving the magnet underneath along the board. Flip over the magnet underneath to let him see what happens when the polarity is changed.

References

  • Science is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers; Peggy Ashbrook
  • The Giant Encyclopedia of Circle Time and Group Activities for Children 3 to 6; Kathy Charner

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images