Adding to the science and nature center in preschool

Lately, I have been trying to find items to add to our science centers. Filling baskets in the science center is an ongoing effort. I am trying to use items that I find already available in our school and so I have been searching through the old materials in the school storage area…

As you can see, there is room for a few more baskets so I keep working on it a little each week. Last week I added these fun little bottles of sand…

I found a basket of small left over bottles of sand art that were probably used in our summer program some time ago. I happened by this class to see the two year olds exploring the sand play items. In the basket I put the little bottles, the colored sand, little funnels, spoons, and cups…

The two year olds were scooping sand in the cups then pouring the sand into the funnels and then watching, with the most adorable expressions, as the sand flowed down into the bottles….

One goal I have for each basket I put on a shelf is to add tools for play. For example, if I add seashells, I also want to add other items that can be used with the seashells. I have a basket on the science center that is filled with science “tools” such as magnifying glasses, measuring cups, scales, spoons, sorting trays, and other items I pick up around the school…

After the twos fill up their plastic bottles, they dump the sand out into the plastic cups and start all over again. I like to add only clear cups where possible so the children can see the sand or other materials all the time from all angles.

When I initially put the sand out – it was separated into different colors. I knew it would only stay that way for about 10 minutes and then be all mixed together. My goal was to provide sand play not sand art so I didn’t worry about the sand mixing together…

But since I put this basket of sand materials together, I have been learning new ideas about how to make your own colored sand like this post from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning.  So I think I will share this idea with the teachers and see if we can get the kids involved in making some more colored sand to add to our science center…

Even though I know it is just going to get all mixed up again – but that is part of the fun!

By |2011-04-01T23:35:02+00:00April 1st, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Sarah April 2, 2011 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I love that idea about putting a tool with each material. I recently made smelly bottles for my science center and they have been a hit. A lot of the other things have not been. My kids this year were not interested in magnets, for example, but they like binoculars. It is a struggle for me to find interesting things to put in that center, as well.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 2, 2011 at 11:03 am - Reply

      It is all about trial and error and finding what your preschoolers will really be interested in. I made a sunshine game last week that was a huge flop. I will still blog about it but it just sat their totally ignored! LOL!

  2. Susan Finklestein April 3, 2011 at 10:47 am - Reply

    When I did this during “Ff” week for funnels…I had found some strange shaped plastic bottles in the sandart department of A.C. Moore.

    There were also shapes of footballs and stars and flowers.

    They loved this as I see your kids do too.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 3, 2011 at 11:08 am - Reply

      I hadn’t thought about looking for bottles of different shapes – this is an excellent idea!

  3. Darcey April 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    You never know what the kids will find interesting. It makes it that much more rewarding when you find something that they love! The different colored sand is a great idea. Last year, we bought these little candy containers at the dollar store that looked like little beach buckets and had different colored sand to do sand art with. They came out really cute and the kids loved them. they were so patient and careful when scooping the sand and putting it into layers. We used food coloring for that one, but chalk is an even better idea. It probably wouldn’t work with the toddlers, but it worked well with preschoolers.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      I think these bottles started off as sand art too but there must have been some children who never took one home so I used the leftovers for this:) It is amazing how patient these preschoolers can really be – they just have to have the right tools that interest them!

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