Making a Difference:
Everyday Science for Preschoolers

The group I have this year really enjoys hands-on activities, and the science curriculum that I got from the KET book has a lot of hands-on things in it.

Melinda White

Small Wonders preschool teacher

With a name like "Small Wonders," it's not surprising that this Greenup County day care center and preschool has embraced Everyday Science for Preschoolers, KET's early childhood science and learning program. Small wonders are what it's all about.

The program was created by KET in response to new state regulations that require licensed day care centers to provide science instruction as part of Kentucky's STEM Initiative for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Teachers try to find other ways to teach science in other books that we have, or in the current curriculum that we use," said Nancy Redden, a 22-year veteran of caring for young children and currently the director of the Raceland center, which is licensed for 170 children.

"But with KET providing these materials that are just focused on science, it is just amazing. Now it's in a book and we can go straight to what we're working on, insects or birds, for example. The way that it's set up is very nice."

Founded on the premise that young children learn best about science by living it every day, the lesson plans in KET's Everyday Science for Preschoolers—a toolkit of lesson plans, videos, and online activities—help early childhood professionals incorporate fun, hands-on science activities into their daily preschool curriculum. Engaging video segments created at KET support the learning styles of all children, including those with special needs.

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KET's Everyday Science for Preschoolers was initially funded through a $100,000 grant from Kentucky Power/American Electric Power Foundation. This fall, the program's reach was extended through an additional $150,000 grant from the PNC Foundation of PNC Bank, which will permit KET to reach more children in areas of Central and Western Kentucky.

In addition to formulating the curriculum, the grant money allows KET to provide training directly to child-care providers and center directors on how to use Everyday Science for Preschoolers and to assess its impact.

"The instruction I received was excellent, and right away I found things that I could use," said Small Wonders teacher Melinda White. "The video that came with it was good as well."

The first lesson, "backyard science," was recently enthusiastically embraced by the 4-year-olds in White's classroom.

"The group I have this year really enjoys hands-on activities, and the science curriculum that I got from the KET book has a lot of hands-on things in it," said White, who has a degree in elementary education from Morehead State University.

"These kids don't want to have to just sit and listen, so it really helps me get it into my curriculum."

With the materials KET provided, Melinda and her 4-year-olds constructed "explorer" hats and, with their collector's cups, headed outdoors for a nature walk on the grounds adjacent to the center. Soon they had secured a bounty of fall leaves, as well as acorns from the nearby oak trees, which they carried back to the classroom to examine with magnifying glasses.

The activities are built on young children's natural sense of curiosity, wonder, and discovery, creating an interest in science that will build a foundation for school success and encourage young scientists of tomorrow. Other topics addressed by the curriculum include the human body, water, weather, color, life cycles, simple machines, and chemical reactions.

"The regulations requiring us to do science and math are kind of hard things to do with young preschoolers," Redden noted.

"But having the materials provided by KET in a book right in front of us has allowed us both to realize that there are a lot of things we do already that can be considered science—and to give teachers new ideas that they can incorporate into their curriculum."