Summer is a time to slow down, spend time outdoors and have some fun! While this change of pace is an opportunity for families to get more rest and relaxation, it’s important that children still engage in activities that encourage learning.

Fortunately, the summer season provides plenty of ways for children to explore nature and discover science, so “find learning opportunities” does not have to be another addition to your to-do list. The outdoors provides the perfect setting for young children to experience physics, chemistry and biology in ways that they can relate to and understand.

Swinging, sliding and swimming are great examples of activities that your little one is likely already doing that also introduce him or her to the fascinating world of science.

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• Swinging: Swinging back and forth on a swing set allows children to experience the effects of motion and gravity. Children realize that as the swing comes to a stop, they must push off the ground to set the swing back in motion.

• Sliding: Slides allow children to experience the effects of gravity and friction. Children realize they can slow down by pressing on the soles of their shoes, or go faster by lifting their feet.

• Swimming: Children experiment with the scientific principle of buoyancy while learning to swim, asking questions like, “Why do I float sometimes and other times I sink?”

It’s not necessary for you to explain the science behind each activity—the experiences alone build a foundation for learning and help children grasp scientific principles later in life. But, to build on your child’s learning and encourage their natural curiosity, consider explaining the science in a hands-on way by setting up simple experiments.

For example, if your child asks what she needs to do to float, try this interactive game to help teach them why some objects sink and others float:

1. Help your child fill a bucket with water and gather miscellaneous items that will not be harmed if they get wet.

2. Ask your child to predict if items will float or sink and ask for the reasoning behind each prediction.

3. Allow your child to place the items in the water, one at a time. As each item is tested, let them change their prediction — it shows they are thinking critically and refining their thoughts based on evidence. Listen to their observations each time.

4. After your child has tested each item, ask them how the items that float or sink are similar to one another.

Finding ways to play with science this summer doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow your child and listen to her questions — science is everywhere!

To learn about Primrose School at Mountainside, visit www.primrosemountainside.com or call 908-228-5589. For more helpful parenting tips and information, visit our blog at www.PrimroseSchools.com/blog.