Preschool "experiments" are not as complicated and threatening as you imagine. They are activities involving the five senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste.
"Everything in the mind comes through the senses." This is the rationale behind the exercise.
Some examples are:
- Painting with water: Materials are plastic pails or tin cans, and paint brushes. Children can "paint" cement walls, metal chairs, benches, stools and others, outdoors.
- Playing with soap and water: On hot, sunny days, get a basin half-filled with water and some powdered soap. Children use egg beaters, ladles, spoons to whip up a froth. Water color will add interesting variations. Making soap bubbles can be done with a piece of straw. The soap solution should be more concentrated.
- Pouring and measuring water: Materials are water, clear containers, pitchers, funnels, and tumblers. Water color may be used to tint the water. Children pour water into various shaped containers, mark the water level with rubber bands, compare volumes and shapes of containers.
- Texture: Different textures materials such as sand paper, fur, cellophane, Styrofoam, flannel, velvet, leather, satin, cotton, feather, sponge, cork, and paper are touched and felt with the palms. Describe them as rough, smooth, pleasant, or unpleasant to touch. The samples may be grouped into soft, hard, smooth and rough.
- Sandpaper: Pieces of sandpaper in varying degrees of roughness. Children feel which is roughest, smoothest, in-between. They must be arranged from finest to roughest. Pieces of wood may be sanded. This is an excellent exercise to develop fine finger muscles.
- Identifying objects by touch: Collect four or five familiar objects into a box or bag - a pencil, toy car, airplane, soldier, and small ball. Each child takes turns by putting his hand inside the box without looking in and identifies the object.
- Identifying flavors: Blindfold the children. Let each one sample candy, lemon, fish, meat, ginger, and others.
- Identifying objects by sound: Collect a drum, harmonica, jingle bells, coconut shells and other objects that produce sounds. Produce the sound in front of them, naming each object. Hide the objects behind a screen. Play each one and make them identity. Children may take turns being "leader."
- Identifying objects by their odor: Blindfold the children. Produce perfume, onion, medicine, coffee, chocolate, and others and let each child smell to identify the material.
- Cooking experiences: Popping corn, preparing jello, making mashed potatoes, making fruit salad, cooking oatmeal, frosting cookies - these and a few other recipes can be fun to prepare.
- Mixing colors: Use water and food color. Primary colors are: red, yellow, and blue. In a clear container, mix yellow and blue = green; red + blue = violet; red + yellow = orange; red + blue + yellow = brown. Try producing pink, gray, black, aqua, etc.
- Magnets: Collect materials which show how magnets work.
There are a hundred experiences which you can plan for your children at home without the need of expensive materials.
The freezer and the refrigerator are a wealthy source of learning experiences. Freezing water into ice, making popsicles, ice cream, and other frozen goodies, chilling jello, freezing fresh juices into ice cube trays - these and many more can make your home a learning institution. All you need is imagination.