Bring science to life in everyday, see-it, touch-it, explore-it ways

The best, most effective learning usually happens by seeing, hearing, and doing. With the change in seasons, get kids outside exploring. Or on a rainy day, hunker down inside and do some “research.” Here are 5 starter ideas:

Safe Colors – Discuss the concept of camouflage with your child. Explain how color protects some animals because they match the background and their enemies cannot see them. Look for insects, birds, lizards, snakes, and toads hiding in the vegetation of early fall: in the grass, among  late-blooming flowers, on branches, in leaves, or tree trunks. Some butterflies, for example, have underwings that look like bark. Up in the treetops, squirrels are hard to see.
Leaf Collection– Your child might enjoy collecting leaves from various trees in your neighborhood. Help  identify the trees and put together a book or collection. Discuss the different kinds of leaves, simple leaf and compound leaf, and have him or her arrange the leaves according to type. In many parts of the country, fall colors are starting. Talk about which leaves turn which colors. If possible, include seedpods (fruit) in the book as well.
Seed Collection - Children enjoy collecting seeds. The seeds can be from produce, such as watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, and peaches. Talk about the giant “seed” (pit) of an avocado. You may also explore your backyard or the local park to find seeds. Your child may want to let the seeds dry, glue them to cardboard, and label them, or he or she may decide to germinate and plant some of the seeds—even the large avocado pit--to see what kind of plant grow.
Earthquake! – Study the effects of an earthquake on a city. Help your child fill a large food storage container or washtub halfway with sand. Pour in water until the water level is just below the surface of the sand. Mix together the sand and water. Encourage your child to make a “city” with action figures, blocks, toy cars, and other objects that don’t float. Have your child strike both sides of the container with his or her fists. Your child has just created an earthquake! Talk about how different objects are moved by the event.
Texture Collage – Collect a variety of textures, such as sandpaper, corduroy, fake fur, and aluminum foil. Ask your child to describe the different textures. Encourage selecting his or her favorite textures and glue them to a sheet of paper to make a collage.