Aren't preschoolers the sweetest little things? When they aren't too tired or
too cranky they are truly delightful. The way they soak up knowledge just amazes
me. Their ability to comprehend and use complex words is astounding.
My preschooler is very imaginative. I'm sure yours is too. I hope
this never stops being true.
Late last summer we started playing photosynthesis. I exposed her to
the proper terms by using them in context and THEN describing the concepts in
Here's what happened. I noticed her playing garden using a penny for a
seed. She invited me to play so I jumped in and followed her lead.
At this point she is both star and director of the show :-) We had a lot
of fun and I did what she told me to do. We watered the flowers and they
grew quickly. We picked the flowers and put them in our hair and in vases to
adorn the living room. We were just having fun.
The next time she began this creative play and handed me the penny I asked her
if I could plant it here -pointing to the couch - and she said "that's a
good place". So I put the penny between 2 cushions and covered it
with "dirt". She asked me to water the seed because plants need
water to grow. I went into the kitchen and grabbed an empty water bottle
so I could pantomime watering the plants. This gave me the idea to use
I went into my craft cabinet and found several silk flowers. I brought
them out and added them to the game. She just LOVED this - all of the
different colors and variaties. We had a lot of work to do at this point
because we had an entire flower garden at the loveseat to plan and maintain :-)
I asked her what else plants need to grow. She remembered the sun and I
added air and good soil. She told me about how plants make their own
food. [I'm certain she got this from the Magic School Bus book and the
show based on Jack and the Beanstalk] Then she told me that plants don't
have mouths and they have nothing to eat anyway so they have to get their food
somewhere. At this point all I could do was just smile at her. Her
big brother is studying Food Webs and ecosystems. He chimed in and said
"almost all food chains start with the Sun". My daughter said very
seriously "yes, the Sun is VERY important".
We planted seeds and "watered" them and we sent them sun rays.
My daughter wanted to do this by shining a flashlight on them. When she
determined that the plants have had enough water and sun she placed a flower in
the couch - all the way down between the cushions. Every few minutes we
would pretend it was night time and after we "slept" the sun would
rise again and the flowers grew an inch.
Of course... we had the fastest growing flowers in all of the USA, but I don't
mind. She was hearing real science terms and using them in ways that were
meaningful. I'm a big believer in fun, gentle exposure.
As new games and adventures popped up this game went a bit to the wayside and I
thought she had forgotten it. Turns out that she is missing the colors of
spring and summer with so many barren trees around us.
This morning as we spoke of spring being a long way off she said she missed the
flowers most of all. She asked me "Mom, what's that word for plants
making food from the sun? The really big one" with a very serious look on
her face. I answered "Do you mean photosynthesis? Like in Magic School
Bus?" She said "YEP! That's it. You get the water bottle
from the shelf and I will find the pretty flowers."
I'm so happy to play and think of spring. But I'm MOST happy to see her
learning naturally and seeing the knowledge stick!