Science for the Summer!
Part Three: Explorations
Dr. Rebecca Palacios

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In my most recent blog, you found information regarding summer explorations based on science activities. Those included insects, shadows and light, and sound and vibration.
This blog will offer suggestions on wheels, balls, and motion, as well as seeds and plants.

Wheels, Balls, and Motion

Motion is fascinating for young children. They love to throw, roll, catch, and watch things move. You can either create an indoor space for this exploration or an outdoor space.


Gather all of the wheeled toys you can find around the house and place them in a basket or plastic tub. Then set up ramps so that your child has an opportunity to roll the small cars down the ramps, changing the angle of the ramp as an exploration. Once your child has had a week or two to experiment with the cars, you can place balls, like golf balls or ping pong balls, in the bin to roll. Try including small square blocks for comparison.

You and your child can also gather various things that will roll: a curler, a rolling pin, or different kinds of balls or hoops. You can also create an outdoor exploration area where your child can try rolling, throwing, kicking, and moving things in different ways.


  • Where can you find wheels in the house or outside?
  • How can you make something move faster?
  • How much faster can you make something go?
  • How can you slow something down?
  • What things roll the best?


What Do Wheels Do All Day? by April Jones Prince
Rolling by Sara E. Hoffmann
Wheels on the Go! by La Coccinella
Big Wheels by Anne Rockwell
What is a Wheel and Axel? by Lloyd G. Douglas

Seeds and Plants

Seeds and plants are a favorite exploration of mine because they are everywhere and are easy to obtain. Young children can learn that plants come from seeds, that seeds come in various sizes, shapes, and colors, and that plants need water, soil, air, and light to live.


Create an exploration area in your kitchen where you and your child can look at dry seeds such as pinto beans, lima beans, or navy beans. Your child can sort them by color or size.

When you are cooking, save the seeds inside vegetables or fruits for your child to observe with a hand lens. Compare the size of a strawberry seed (which is one of the few seeds that grows on the OUTSIDE of a fruit) to the size of a watermelon seed.

Help your child plant the seeds in small cups, planters, or other containers that have a small hole in the bottom.

One of my favorite school activities is to place a moistened paper towel in a plastic lunch bag and place four bean seeds in it. Place the baggie in a sunny area and the seeds should germinate in 2-3 days! Experiment with other dry seeds or with those that you found in the fruits and vegetables. Talk about what is happening with the seeds.

If you have space outside, your child can plant seeds in a small area or planter to create an outdoor garden. Explain why it’s important to water the plants and the need that plants have for air and light.


  • What is a seed?
  • How are seeds similar to and different from each other?
  • What seeds do you want to plant? Why?
  • What are some parts of a plant?
  • What do plants need to live?
  • What do leaves do?
  • What do roots do?
  • What do stems do?


Seeds by Vijaya Khisty Bodach
From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
Seed, Soil, Sun by Cris Peterson
Seeds Go, Seeds Grow by Mark Weakland

Whether it’s a museum, the beach, a forest, a park, your backyard, your kitchen, or books from the library, if you think of everything in your environment as an opportunity to teach science to your child, you can create a wonder-filled summer of exploration.

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