Keeping young children engaged with science learning at home

Cello David

Senior Account Executive

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Although edtech has been a vital part of keeping essential learning going throughout this pandemic, the constant use of screens can get a bit much, especially for very young children. This makes it all the more important to have some lessons where kids can get their hands dirty and step away from their screens. There are several wonderful, curriculum aligned lesson plans that you can access from the British Science Association’s CREST Awards library, most of which do not require access to devices.

The activities are designed to provide children with real world challenges which are relevant to their lives. They are presented with a problem and a range of resources to help them solve it, but they decide how they will carry out the investigation.

Here is an example of a lesson plan you can try, which requires very few resources but is also great fun for Primary aged children:

The problem:

We want to create more habitats (natural homes) for minibeasts in our garden or local area. In this challenge you need to investigate what kinds of habitats minibeasts like to live in.

The real-world context:

It is important to protect our local environment and its biodiversity. There are wildlife habitats all around us. We can help to protect these habitats and create more of them if we know about the kinds of places minibeasts like to live.

The materials and resources for the investigators:

  • Magnifying glasses
  • Paper, pencils and clipboards for recording
  • Camera to take photos of different habitats (optional)
  • Pictures of minibeasts to help identify them
  • Container to collect minibeasts (optional)
  • Safe access to the outdoors

What to do:

  1. Begin by introducing the activity and the problem they need to solve, perhaps beginning with a story to set the scene.
  2. Discuss the areas they might look and the minibeasts they might find when they are outside.
  3. Give out the resources and discuss how they can use them to help their investigation. Discuss how they will keep themselves and any minibeasts safe.
  4. Before they begin, ask your child/children to think about how they will record their results – this could be via note taking, drawing or photographs. Results might include what they have found as well as where they found it and a description of the habitat.
  5. Back at home, ask the children to present their findings to you; they can be as creative as they like with their presentations. Throughout the activity use the facilitation questions below to help them think through the problem.

Some questions to ask:

  • Where could you look for mini beasts?
  • What types of minibeasts do you expect to find there?
  • How will you make sure you don’t harm them?
  • Can you describe the places you found the most mini beasts?
  • What kinds of habitats do mini beasts like to live in?
  • Why do you think this is?
  • How could you create more habitats for minibeasts?

Watch out! (Health + safety)

  • Ensure your child/children are supervised
  • They should wash their hands thoroughly after exploring outside and handling minibeasts
  • Ensure any minibeasts collected are returned back where they were found.

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