Physical Science for Early Childhood Learners


This webpage provides early childhood educators with information and resources developed by California University of Pennsylvania and partners with grant funding from PNC Financial Services Group. There is more information about the PNC Grow UP Great with Science project at Cal U on this webpage. Follow the links below to access science activities and resources for early childhood science education.

Science Activity Ideas for Early Childhood Learners

These science activity and resource wepages are organized by Pennsylvania's Early Childhood Learning Standards (2009 rev). The activities were developed and presented by Cal U faculty, students, project partner staff and invited experts at the teacher workshops or family field trips. These workshops and field trips covered specific themes so not all EC standards will have activity suggestions. Some activities are ready to use while others will require some adapation in materials or procedures for your specific circumstances.

Life Science

Environment & Ecology Science

Physical Science

Earth Science

Science Inquiry

Designing a Solution to an Everyday Problem (Technology & Engineering Design)

Science Teaching Strategies for Early Childhood Learners

These science teaching strategy wepagse provide research-based, best practice suggestions on how to teach early childhood learners science. They are organized by the science teaching strategy.

What Should Teachers Do When They Teach Science?

What Should Children Do When They "Do Science?"


Grow Up Great with Science Project Vision

Early childhood science learning should: 
  • originate from children’s own explanations and questions.
  • center on authentic, experiential learning within the context of family life.
  • extend from children’s naturalistic play.
  • focus on developing age appropriate science process skills such as observing, exploring and explaining.
  • use local places such as school grounds, forests, fields, wetlands and human communities as locations for learning science and also as the focus of science learning.
  • integrate instruction that blurs the traditional academic boundaries between science, math, literacy, social studies, art and physical wellness.

Physical Science Activities



Structure of Matter







Force and Motion


Air is All Around Us

Air exists everywhere around us, even though it is not visible.

Moving Things with Air

Children observe a variety of objects on a table, noting the difference in mass among them. Each student is then given a straw, and they attempt to move the items around the table by blowing through the straws. Afterward, each student repeats the process with a handheld fan instead of a straw. Children observe how increases wind power helps move the objects more easily.

Steep Water

Children will observe water flowing down the river and experiment with the flow of water as the angle of incline increases or decreases. After making observations of the actual river, students will pour water in a steep and shallow incline rain gutter to observe how it affects the water's ability to move identical objects (In this case, a spider or in the river, a rock) in rain gutters with different inclines.


Energy Storage and Transfer



Electrical and Magnetic Energy



Nature of Waves and Sound



Unifying Themes


Sinking and Floating

Children will have several household objects that they will place in a bucket of water and observe whether those objects sink or float. Then based on their observations they will be presented with new objects out of a mystery prediction box. The children will predict whether the new object will sink or float and then test their prediction by placing it in the water.


Science As Inquiry



Last updated: June 26, 2013

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