We decided to put our little one into a Montessori School last year, and while we love some of their approaches to education and learning, we soon learned that not all of them aligned with our theory of learning. (Post on this coming soon). While Montessori schools provide an open structure for children to learn, they don't necessarily put a focus on science, technology or math, and believe that there is time for this in a child's later stage education. The first 5 years of brain development is crucial, and I want to be sure that I'm exposing and giving our son access to all the fundamentals. We wanted to supplement some of the areas that we didn't feel our son was receiving in school, so we started to look for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) kits that are geared towards preschoolers.
We found this kit from Thames & Kosmos, and it's geared to ages 3 and up. This is a great little kit that comes with test tubes, funnels, measuring cups, and a list of activities to do together. The activities are all very manageable for your preschooler to do with your guidance, but just be prepared to do a bit of clean up afterwards. We like to use vinyl tablecloths that are easy to spread out and wipe down, and saves your table surface from damage.
While the activities are beginner activities, I realized how much I lost the vocabulary to explain some of these concepts. I found myself wondering whether the light was refracting or reflecting, or thinking about how to describe the concepts of why magnets attract in a manner that a 3 year old could understand. I wanted to be sure I was using the correct terminology, and some of these things I haven't thought of in years. It's worth reading through the activities fully before introducing it to your preschooler (something I neglected to do). The kit comes with basic guidelines to help you explain the theories behind each experiment, but it would be helpful if they gave a bit more background on concepts for parents to use as a refresher. This set may be better suited for a preschooler who is nearing 4, or a 3 year old who is open to receiving instructions and can pour from one object to the next. Our son loved the experiements involving magnets, and we had a great afternoon going through these activities.
What are some of your favorite educational kits? Share in the comments below.