I was really excited to be asked to review a new book about science in Early Years.
Science is an often overlooked part of the early year’s curriculum, but most children are natural scientists. They investigate, try new hypotheses, experiment and are tenacious. They are curious, and not yet biased by what is ‘supposed’ to happen, willing to accept the evidence.
However, very few practitioners seem to plan for or develop science in their setting.
Which is why this beautiful new book edited by Di Stead and Lois Kelly is much needed. Entitled Inspiring Science in the Early Years, it contains nine chapters written by an impressive array of authors, specialists in their own areas.
Lois Kelly starts the book by explaining how and why science is an integral part of the EYFS. Dr Kath Orlandi then takes the theme of exploration and investigation further, explaining how uninterrupted time is an important part of being a scientist.
She highlights how encouraging children to make connections between different experiences are critical to valuing children as scientists.
Babs Anderson examines the role of talk in developing scientific language. She specifically explores the role of the teacher and the use of stories in science.
Linda Atherton examines the starting point and environments that inspire children to be scientists, noting that the ‘wow’ factor may come from resources we already have. She includes some excellent practical ideas which could be implemented immediately.
Faith Fletcher and Di Stead use a number of observations, and images, to illustrate the value and breadth of ‘continuous provision’. They develop these ideas specifically for Early Years science.
Jessica Baines Holmes focuses on one area of children’s play – role play. She investigates this from a number of perspectives, including the role of the adult, provisions and place. This chapter also brings together some points made earlier, such as scientific language and continuous provision.
In chapter 7, Kathy Schofield and Lois Kelly explore the notion of a ‘toy’- is a spoon a toy? (page 101) – and their role in play. This raises some interesting questions and highlights how ‘messing about with …’ is, in fact, a form of scientific investigation, which will be enhanced by skilful practitioners.
Eleanor Hoskin’s chapter has plenty of ideas to extend and use technology in the exploration of science, from microscopes linked to the computer to Skype. For those less confident with technology there are clear, useful explanations of a number of things, including QR codes and 4D immersive spaces.
In the final chapter, Di Stead deconstructs planning for early science, specifically the process and possibilities in your planning. Examples from Rainhill Nursery are used throughout.
The book is illustrated with black and white photos of children being scientists, where you can see their expressions of wonder and involvement with the activity. This really helps to bring the text to life. There are plenty of practical ideas and useful ‘key point’ boxes.
Overall, this book is a comprehensive analysis of young children as scientists, making it an essential text for both practitioners in a setting and those studying for Early Years qualifications.
You can get a copy from Amazon here.
Disclaimer: The kind people at Open University Press provided me with a free review copy of this book.