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By Diana Townsend-Butterworth
Relativity in the block corner: Children build towers and balance blocks of different sizes and shapes to construct bridges, exploring concepts of spatial relations, gravity, and balance. Sprung finds that preschoolers learn basic principles of physics by building ramps of different heights and racing cars down them, predicting which car will finish first.
Meteorology at circle time: The preschool day often begins with a discussion of the weather. Is the sun out today? How does the sun feel on our skin? Why is sun important? Is it raining? How does rain feel? Why is rain important? Some classes may keep a container to measure and compare rainfall. Is it colder or warmer than it was yesterday? How do we know? Is it cold enough for snow? Children record their observations in diagrams and charts.
Horticulture on the windowsills: The class might grow beans. Each child has a tiny clay pot. He plants a seed in the pot, filling it with soil and patting the dirt down around the seed. Every day he will water the plant and record its growth on a chart. He will learn what seeds require to sprout, and, later, what they need in order to grow.
Biology in the fish tank: Some classrooms have rabbits, gerbils, or guinea pigs; others have fish or earthworms. These creatures teach children how living beings interact with their environment and react to different stimuli, says Tokieda. Preschoolers take responsibility for caring for the animals: recording the temperature in the fish tank, learning about the earthworm's habitat, finding out what the rabbit and gerbils and guinea pig eat and measuring out their food. Children observe the animals' habits, measure and weigh them, and record their growth in pictures and charts.
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