Winter wonder can bring out the scientist in your child, with your help.

Simple Winter-Themed Science Activities for Preschoolers

by Melissa Gagnon

Is the long, dreary winter making you and your preschooler stir crazy? Or, maybe, the dog days of summer have you dreaming of a white winter. Whatever your situation, winter-themed activities are a fun way to explore some scientific properties with your preschool child. Intrigue your budding mini-scientist with these cool experiments.

1. Measuring Snow

Tired of playing outside in the snow? Keep your toes warm and your preschooler entertained by bringing the snow inside. Go outside with him and have him scoop a bucket full of snow to bring inside. Using a yard stick or tape measure, help him measure the height of the snow he gathered. Place the bucket in a sink or tub that's not being used, as you observe the snow while it melts. As it melts (this will take several hours) measure its height, according to regular intervals. Mark each measurement on a sheet of paper. When the snow has completely melted, measure the height of the water and compare it to the height of the full bucket of snow. Your little scientist will be surprised to note that the water level is much lower than the snow level. He may wonder why this is.

2. Ice Melt Graph

Looking for a way to stay cool and entertain your little one? Freeze four similarly sized ice chunks in plastic food containers, and after they freeze, pop them out of the container. Place each ice "cube" in a clear plastic bin and help your child add salt water to one bin, cold water to another bin and hot water to the third. In the fourth bin, the cube will be left to melt by itself. Record your preschooler's predictions about which cube will melt first. While waiting for the ice to melt, help your preschooler draw each bin along the bottom of a large poster. Add measurements of time in five-minute intervals up the side of the poster. Observe the ice melting and draw a bar graph representing the time it took for each cube to melt. Compare results with your child's predictions.

3. Snow Investigation

Your preschooler never tires of asking questions. How well you know. Channel his inquisitive nature with a sensory activity that's geared toward the winter season. If it's snowed recently, go outside and help him shovel some snow into a shallow plastic bin to bring inside. If not, many school supply stores and craft stores sell an instant snow mixture, which is a powdery substance that looks and feels like real snow when you mix it with water. Allow her to mix, scoop, smell and mold the snow with her hands. Ask her what she smells or feels. Then have fun making indoor snowmen!

4. Create Frost

Introduce Jack Frost to your preschooler. Did you know you can make frost right in your kitchen? Add ice cubes to an old soup can that you've peeled the label off of. Watch for sharp edges! Let your preschooler add salt to the cubes. Then have him stir the cubes, until you start to see frost form on the can. Make silly designs in the frost with your fingers. See how his eyes open wide in amazement. This can be repeated for as long as he's interested or until you run out of ice cubes.

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