Planning a Successful Sand and Water Center

Girl playing at water table

The sand and water center, sometimes known as the sensory center, is a great place for young children to explore, experiment, and practice fine motor skills. Playing with sand, water, and other sensory materials helps promote development and teach math and science skills. This center provides the opportunity for children to explore with all their senses.

Setting Up a Sand and Water Center in Your Classroom

  • Location: The sand and water center, or sensory center, can be set up

The Sand and Water Center in Child Care

Child playing at water table

Sand and Water Play Supports Children’s Development

Sensory play – including play with sand, water, Styrofoam peanuts, bubbles, beans, dirt, and other materials – can be an important part of the child care classroom or family child care home. Children exploring in the sensory center are learning some important skills.

  • Math and science skills: Sand and water play introduces scientific concepts such as sinking, floating, and changes of state (e.g., dry to wet). Exploring sand, water, and other sensory

Planning a Successful Science and Nature Center in Child Care

Science center in child care program

Science in early childhood is all about prediction, exploring, and discovering answers to questions. Children learn scientific investigation skills through hands-on exploration and play. An effective science center should be a place where children can use their curiosity to manipulate and investigate objects from the world around them. They should have opportunities to explore “what if?” questions, to make guesses about what is going to happen, and to test out those guesses.

Setting Up a Science and Nature Center in

The Science and Nature Center in Child Care

Children looking at bug

Science and Nature Support Children’s Development

Exploring the natural world through hands-on science is an important way that children learn. Hands-on science activities encourage children to observe and manipulate items from the environment, while making predictions about what will happen and then testing those predictions. Science allows children to explore, experiment, question, discover, and understand natural and human-made objects and forces. Experiments and activities with science and nature also stimulate children’s curiosity, encourage use of all five senses, and help …

How can I plan good woodworking activities for 3- to 5-year-olds in a child care program? How can I be sure woodworking is safe for young children?

By age three, most children can learn how to use some basic hand tools, such as hammers, saws, and hand drills. Most young children can understand safety rules, but they need close adult supervision to help them remember to follow them.
Good woodworking activities for 3- to 5-year-olds involve using woodworking tools to cut, hammer, and drill wood. Try giving the children short roofing nails with large heads to hammer into an old tree stump. Children also enjoy sanding wood. …

Science in Child Care

Girl blowing bubbles

Science can be a fun part of everyday learning in child care. Science is a process of exploration and discovery. Young children learn the skills of asking questions, testing hypotheses, and reporting their results using simple, hands-on materials. Science is not limited to the “science table.” A child mixing flour, sugar, and butter to make cookies is learning that mixing and baking will change substances into something new and delightful. Children putting objects in water are learning which objects float

Helping Young Children Practice Science Skills By Planting a Garden

Boy planting flower

Gardening can be a great science activity in the child care setting. Whether you create gardens for food or beauty, children can interact with the dirt to learn so much about the earth. Encourage toddlers to use their senses to smell the soil, feel the warmth of the sun and the wetness of the water, watch the shoots come through the soil, and enjoy the beauty of the plants.

Indoor Gardens

Place all plants in a sunny, warm area; try …

Using Sensory Activities to Teach Wonder, Investigation, and Discovery

Girl playing in mud puddle

Beginning in infancy, children in child care build their knowledge of the world around them through scientific exploration. “Wonder, investigation and discovery” are three words to describe science in young children. Child care providers can encourage and aid developing science knowledge in many simple ways.

In order to promote sensory awareness in children, child care providers may have to overcome the tendency to think about the world instead of experiencing it. We need to become toddlers again and discover wonder …

Teaching Science through Exploring Smells, Sounds, and Tastes

Sound containers

Young children learn so much by exploring the world using all of their senses. Child care providers can encourage children to explore the world using sensory information. Sensory exploration is also a good way to practice skills of scientific exploration, such as asking questions, testing hypotheses, and evaluating answers. Here are a few activities that encourage children to use senses other than vision to explore the world around them.

Simple Ideas for Exploring Smells, Sounds and Tastes

One of the …