Preschool science experiment: Using ice to teach kids about scientific concepts (with crucial safety tips)

© 2008 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A preschool science experiment is an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of observation, prediction, and testing (Gelman and Brenneman 2004). Exciting? Yes. But it’s also tricky. On the one hand, research suggests that young children don’t think as creatively or as critically when Read More »

Tangrams for kids: Educational tips and a printable template

child's hands manipulating tangrams - by G. Dewar 2018

© 2009 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Tangrams for kids: A learning tool for building STEM skills Like building blocks, tangrams can teach kids about spatial relationships. They may help kids learn geometric terms, and develop stronger problem solving abilities. They might even help children perform better on tests of basic arithmetic. Read More »

Cooperative board games for kids

© 2017-2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Cooperative board games have a lot in common with competitive board games. There’s a board. There are game pieces. Individual players take turns. But cooperative games differ in one key respect: Everyone is on the same team, working toward the same goal. What’s the point of this? Read More »

Preschool number activities: How do you introduce numbers to preschoolers?

© 2008 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Preschool number activities often involve counting, but merely reciting the number words isn’t enough. Children also need to develop “number sense,” an intuitive feeling for the actual amount associated with a given number. Where does number sense come from? Experiments suggest that even 6-month-old infants Read More »

How to prevent summer learning loss (and still have fun)

Summer learning - boys on digging on the beach, by Sherif Salama

© 2017 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Studies suggest we can prevent summer learning loss by engaging kids in summertime reading, math games, and hands-on STEM activities. But the benefits depend on making sure kids are truly stimulated — and having fun! Here are the details, and tips for creating a rewarding, Read More »

Why toy blocks rock: The science of construction play

Scene built from toy blocks: Lego house by minecraft_2115

© 2008-2018 Gwen Dewar, PH.D., all rights reserved Toy blocks, also called “building blocks,” are solid shapes used for construction play. Some are simple planks made of wood. Others are fancy, like the interlocking bricks of plastic made by Lego and MegaBlox. But whatever form they take, blocks can function as powerful learning tools. Studies Read More »

Preschool science activities: How to nurture your child’s interest in the natural world

© 2008 – 2012 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Can we design better preschool science activities? Activities that stimulate curiosity, teach science concepts, and avoid overwhelming or boring children with lessons that are developmentally inappropriate? In the article below, I review the advice of educational and cognitive psychologists about preschool science education. But if Read More »

Preschool science activities: Encouraging the use of science tools

© 2008 – 2011 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some preschool science activities are designed to foster scientific thinking. They ask kids to consider how we can use observations to test our ideas about how things work. Other activities may address practical, hands-on skills. How do you use a magnifying glass? A pair of Read More »

Preschool science experiment: Making mud bricks

This preschool science experiment is designed for kids who have already had experience playing with mud — both mixing mud and drying out mud. For best results, try this experiment after your child has explored the properties of dirt and mud. Materials Multiple dirt samples (sand, topsoil, dirt-and-gravel, etc.) Dried leaves or grass Sticks Buckets Read More »

Digital cameras for kids: Cool tools and windows into your child’s mind

© 2010 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Digital cameras for kids have many uses. They give us the opportunity to see the world from our kids’ perspectives. They are also useful learning tools–helping kids expand their vocabularies, hone their story-telling skills, and enrich their scientific investigations. Here I review some of the research about Read More »

Preschool science project: Floating and boating

© 2009 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved These activities allow kids to explore the concept of buoyancy. The first preschool project is that old standby — “floaters and sinkers.” The two that follow introduce children to the more complex activity of boat-building. To help kids develop a deeper understanding on the subject, tackle these activities in Read More »