Let’s take a look at what physical science is, and how to bring physical science concepts down to a preschool level. I’ll even give you some ideas for fun physical science activities for preschoolers!
Physical science concepts can be a little difficult for preschoolers to understand, but with a little creativity, they can be introduced to these concepts in a way that is both fun and educational!
What is Physical Science?
Physical science is the study of physical properties and changes in the non-living world. In other words, it is the study of matter and energy.
What are Physical Science Topics That are Appropriate for Preschoolers?
The idea of physical science encompasses many topics, and some of them (hello Physics) can get pretty complex. But don’t let this scare you away from teaching science in the preschool classroom. You can easily bring some of the concepts down to their level….and you don’t have to be a science expert to do it.
There are a few physical science topics that are appropriate for preschoolers. These topics include:
- The states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas)
- Changes in matter (melting, freezing, and evaporation)
- The properties of matter (color, texture, density, magnetism)
- Light and sound
- force and motion (ramps, speed, catapults)
How Do You Teach Physical Science Concepts to Preschoolers?
The best way to teach physical science concepts to preschoolers is through hands-on activities, experiments, and play. Kids learn best when they are able to see, touch, and experience things for themselves.
Physical Science Activity Ideas
Here are a few ideas for physical science activities and experiments that you can add to your science center for your preschoolers.
Properties of Matter
Ice Cube Experiment
The classic ice cube experiment is always a hit, and it’s a great physical science activity for preschoolers. You can use it as a way to discuss the states of matter. Feel free to employ the scientific method while conducting this experiment.
- Put an ice cube in a cup and have the kids observe what happens. As the ice cube melts, talk about how it changes from a solid to a liquid.
- Place the melted ice cube (water) in a closed, clear container in a warm window. Observe what happens when the water gets warm and explain that this is an example of evaporation and condensation.
- Finally, open the lid of the container and measure the contents of the water on a daily basis. What happens to the water?
Float or Sink Experiment
This is another great experiment to discuss the properties of matter and density. This one is detailed in my article about water experiments for preschoolers. You can use any type of container for this experiment (a sink, bathtub, or even a large bowl).
- Fill the container with water and have the kids predict whether an object will float or sink.
- Test out their predictions by placing different objects in the water. Does the object float or sink?
- Objects that are denser than water sink and that are less dense than water float. Talk about why the object floated or sank and what physical properties might have influenced this.
If you want some free recording sheets and sorting mats for this experiment, check out water experiments for preschoolers. Do you need some help understanding density? Here is a super simple video that explains it.
Magnetic or Not Magnetic Experiment
This is a great experiment for exploring the physical science concepts of magnets and other materials. Some materials and objects are attracted to magnets and others are not.
You will need:
- a variety of objects (magnetic and non-magnetic)
- a magnet
Have the kids predict whether an object is magnetic or not. Test out their predictions by holding the magnet up to each Were there any surprises?
Physical Properties Sorting and Classification
Kids can classify non-living things by physical properties such as what materials are they made from.
They can also sort objects by other physical properties like texture or mass.
Comparing the Mass of Objects
Get out your balance scale for this fun measurement activity for kids. Fill small containers with a variety of items. Kids can use the scientific method to make predictions and record their results. I also love that you can use this activity over and over again. Just add different materials to the containers for different seasons to make a Christmas weigh station, a winter weigh station, a spring weigh station, and a fall weigh station.
Force and Motion Activities
The study of force and motion includes things like speed, gravity, and friction. Here are a few activity ideas to explore these concepts:
You can use anything for this activity- balls, cars, toys. line the objects up at the starting line and see who makes it to the finish first. Talk about what physical properties might have influenced the outcome of the race. There are lots of ways to explore the physical science concepts of force and motion. Here are a few ideas:
This is a great activity for exploring the physical science concepts of speed, friction, and gravity.
You will need:
- a ramp (you can use anything for this- a piece of cardboard, a book, a plank of wood, or a large empty fabric roll)
- small cars or toys
Place the ramp on a flat surface and have the kids race the cars down it. What happens when you increase the elevation of the ramp? Talk about what physical properties might have influenced the outcome of the race. Was it the ramp, the car, or both?
Marble Run or Pom-pom Drop
Use paper towel rolls and some masking tape to create ramps on the wall
Friction is the force that resists movement between two surfaces that are in contact with each other. You can explore this physical science concept with a few simple experiments.
You will need:
- 2 identical ramps
- a variety of objects (rough rocks, smooth rocks, marbles, hard blocks, soft blocks, etc.)
Have the kids select two objects and predict which one will go down the ramp the fastest. Test out their predictions and talk about what physical properties might have influenced the outcome of the experiment. Was it the ramp, the object, or both?
A catapult is a device that uses a lever and counterweight to launch an object. Here are a few ideas for exploring physical science concepts with catapults.
You will need:
- a catapult (you can use a store-bought one or make your own out of recycled materials)
- a variety of objects to launch ( balls, soft blocks, stuffed animals, etc.)
Have the kids predict how far an object will go when launched from the catapult. Test out their predictions and talk about what physical properties might have influenced the outcome of the experiment. Was it the catapult, the object, or both?
Do you need help making a catapult? Check out this video to learn how. Although, I definitely don’t recommend using marbles with preschoolers!
Straw Rocket Launch
You can use these free printable straw rockets, along with a drinking straw, to have a launch. Your kids can experiment with how to make the rocket faster and the trajectory of the rocket.
Jingle Bell Sticks
Use my free jingle bell recording sheets for a simple science activity. Make these super simple jingle bell sticks to compare the sound of bells.
You can create an easy DIY xylophone by filling glasses with different amounts of water like Beth from Kindergarten Worksheet and Games.
There are lots of ways to explore physical science concepts with your preschoolers. These are just a few ideas to get you started. With a little imagination, you can come up with lots of other great physical science activities for your kids.
Have fun exploring!
Purchase These Physical Science Activities for Preschoolers Today
Are you ready to help your kids learn about physical science concepts? You can purchase the Physical Science Sorting Activity in the store. You can purchase it alone or as part of the Science Sorting Bundle. Click on the pictures below to purchase the printables today.