Disclaimer: Discount School Supply provided many of the materials in this post for me to review. I only post reviews for the items we love, and am happy to say that we loved everything they sent. That I was given free product did not sway me - it never does, though it is cool to get free stuff. :)
S's kindergarten teacher is SUPER awesome and thought of adding some discovery bins to their class as part of their science curriculum. Since much of science is actually based on exploring and observing, I was totally on board with this and excited when she asked for my help putting the bins together! I was extra psyched when I found out Discount School Supply was willing to send us some of the materials to test out and review.
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There are really an endless number of things you could put together for science discovery bins; here are some of the first bins we put together for the kindergarteners to explore in teams. I think these would work really well as rotating bins in a preschool or homeschool group as well. And even if it's just your child/children, these could be fun to put together with a group of friends and trade them amongst houses every week or so. Oh, the possibilities! :)
1. Magnetic Translucent Building Blocks
We got a set of 48 Building Brilliance Magnetic Shapes and we are hooked. Both kiddos love these things. It's a great way to incorporate some math (shapes/patterns) in with science (magnets, color mixing, engineering) all while exploring and building neat things. S immediately noticed that she could combine primary colored blocks and look through them at a light source to see the secondary colors.
She also learned through trial and error how to create a stable structure given the shapes and magnet placements on each block.
I have never tried Magnatiles, so I'm not sure how these compare, but they were a blast!
2. Exploring Light and Color
S's teacher had some flashlights and other various odds and ends that we figured would go well with some light and color-mixing exploration; I added a few fun items, such as these color mixing glasses.
Both kids had fun exploring the different colored lenses (there are two slots so you can add one or two lenses per side) and they were really surprised by what happened when they added two different primary colors - one to each lens).
The complete bin also included color paddles (a fun way to explore color mixing) and a prism set. I didn't have a chance to add these yet, but I also think some printed sheets with afterimage optical illusions and some red/yellow/blue reveal messages.
3. Water Exploration
Water is such an easy medium for exploration. I was excited when I saw this giant ready-made Water Exploration Kit from Discount School Supply and it did not disappoint. Though it actually comes with some great lesson ideas, I think it's so great to just let kids explore and talk about what they notice. This kit seriously has everything: 1 water wheel, 2 pieces, plastic tubing, 2 funnel, 3 pitchers, 3 boats, 5 measuring cups, 6 pipette droppers, 20 foam cubes, 20 rubber aquatic animals. S had so much fun sinking the boats, making the wheel stop and go, experimenting with sinking and floating with the foam cubes and animals (and noticing how the animals floated at different water depths), pouring and measuring, and using the giant pipettes to transfer water between two containers. X was also a BIG fan of this kit. He loooooves water play.
4. Magnet Exploration
For this kit I put together the Maximum Value Magnet set (261 pieces!!!) and Iron Filing Cases along with some blank bingo chips from my own collection (to prompt students to question why some bingo chips "stick" to magnets while others don't) and we made one of Preschool Inspirations' Magnetic Discovery Bottles (not pictured below). We also added some different materials (like cardboard and paper) to prompt further investigation.
S was first drawn to the floating magnet set. When you position the magnetic O's just so, they repel and appear to "float" on the peg!
She also had a lot of fun using the various magnets to create patterns with the iron filing cases.
And challenged herself to see how many different pieces she could fit onto the biggest magnet.
5. Exploring volumes with water beads
The 19 piece Classroom Measurement Set has so many fun cups, spoons, and jars - all with detailed measurements marked clearly on the sides. It would work well with water, sand, or just about any material, but I thought water beads would be fun. S enjoyed chasing the bouncy balls around the container and seeing how the height of 1 cup of them changed in different shaped containers.
6. Kinetic Sand
Not pictured, but also included in the bins for the classroom were:
7. Ramps, cars, and balls
I used some pieces of wood trim in various lengths and widths for the ramps I donated to her class, but you could use cardboard or plastic gutters, etc.
8. Natural materials
Various natural items (like pinecones, moss, sticks, seed pods, etc) that either the children bring in from home, that you find around your house, or that you buy at a craft store for children to investigate and explore.
Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for putting together some science bins of your own!
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children. As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family. I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.