A science kit may seem like an idea from days gone by; a curiosity you might buy at a general store or a Woolworths, but that idea could not be further from reality. As a parent (or teacher) you are looking for ways to give your child a head start on learning. A box of open ended science is the way to go. Science kits for kids encourage hands on experimenting and promote neural growth in children as young as one. In the “app for everything” culture we live in, good ol’ fashioned exploration is overlooked in favor of sit on the couch learning (which doesn’t work and may be harmful).
You are not going to be giving your two year old a super collider, but there are science kits available for most age groups. If you are a spend thrift, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. In some cases you can make your own “kit” with stuff you have in the kitchen.
Exploring the wonderful world of science is good for your child at any age, but let’s take a closer look at a specific breakdown by age.
0 to 2 years
At this age any, exploration is good exploration. Experimentation at this age is instinctual and is especially important for brain growth. Unfortunately you will not find any commercial kits available for children in this developmental stage. The brain doubles in size during these years, so it is important to supply learning challenges. Neural activity and neural specialization is occurring on a daily basis, thus it is a perfect time to introduce activities that are both hands on and child safe. Activities that employ the five senses are perfect for this age range. Touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound are all extremely active during this development phase. In addition to being active they are also being wired and manipulated, so varied stimulation is highly desirable.
2 to 4 years
The world is opening up to kids in this age range. They have a firm grasp of how many things work and will start to display natural curiosity about certain elements in the environment. All you have to do as a parent is expand on the areas where your child is already interested. For instance, my three year old son loves digging in the dirt; he also enjoys Dinosaurs, so it was a simple matter to purchase a beginners archaeology kit and a few bonus plastic “fossils” (you can use chicken bones if you want) and put together a fossil hunt outside. The downside is that once again you will find few pre-made kits that are approved for this age range. The good news Educational Toys Planet has quite a few of best science kits for 4 year olds! With good judgment and proper supervision the possibilities are vast and you will find no shortage of science kits to fit your child’s interests. Science Kit Examples: fossil hunts, electromagnetism, squishy circuits, first telescope sets, bug hunting tools, electricity/circuit kits, make-your-own bubble formulas.
4 to 6 years
Oh my, the possibilities. This is a developmental age range where you see a little person emerge more fully. Brain growth has slowed, but neural specialization and pruning are in full swing. More complicated and advanced science kits for 6 year olds can be implemented as children in this age are able to focus for longer periods of time (30 minutes to an hour, maybe more, if the activity is ultra-cool).
A special recommendation is due, if you want to blow your child’s mind and solidify their interest in science then you simply have to get a chemistry set! Don’t worry, there are plenty of safe options available. If you can afford to do so get them a whole setup. Part of the reason science kits can hold the attention of a child is they come with all kinds of gadgets that you simply don’t see anywhere else.
Gadgets have magical powers; they reinforce the idea that it is time to pay attention, provide a realistic environment for your children to experiment in, and most of them can be used for other applications.
The reasoning behind recommending a Chemistry set for this age range is that chemistry is all around them. It is the foundation of cooking. All those ingredients that you are tossing in those cookies have a specific purpose. The cross over may let you expand their interest in to helping out in the kitchen a bit more.
If a chemistry set is too far out of your comfort zone the next best thing is a handheld microscope kit. These can be found for under $20, usually include cool accessories, and are very, very versatile. Your child will be looking at things in a whole new way. One word of caution, be prepared to find out how dirty your house really is!
Examples of science kits for 5 year olds: Chemistry Sets, Snap Circuits, Sticky Circuits, Hand Held Microscope, crystal growing and more!
8 to 10 years
This age range may present the biggest challenge to maintaining scientific interests. In our connected world kids have seen and heard just about everything by this age and it is hard to talk them in to more learning at home.
That said, this is also the area where you can pull out all the stops. Your child’s mind may have its anti-learning force fields up, but there are many science kits for 8 year olds out there that can enthrall even the most resistant child.
This is also an area that may begin to challenge and push parents and teachers skill as well. Via the internet you can literally get your hands on just about anything. SAFETY is paramount and do not purchase or work with a kit that is out of your comfort zone.
A special recommendation to explore rockets!
As a bonus, kits and tools that are purchased for this range will last well in to the teen years and probably beyond. Experiments of this level can be simple or complex and may wow adults as well as children.
Some examples of Science Kits for 10 year olds and science kits for 9 year olds: Electrical generators, advanced circuit kits, lasers (yes, lasers), electroplating, build your own computer, robotics kits, model rockets, atom clouds, Radioactivity/Geiger Counters (your fire alarms is radioactive), metal detecting, magnets/electromagnetism.
Scientific exploration is fun at any age and with the right science kit for your child it can be easy too! Don’t let the opportunity to instill lifelong curiosity in your child pass you by. Curiosity and thinking outside the box is are skills that have to be nurtured and tended in order to grow. They are also skills that are in high demand well in to adulthood.
Don’t just sit there…