At the end of this chapter, you will be able to:
Recognise the areas of science that can be explored by young children in the inside and outside environments.
Describe how language supports science learning.
Recognise how educators can support young children's explorations.
Describe how digital technologies can be used to enhance and support young children's explorations.
This chapter focuses on the ways in which educators promote science learning in play based contexts, in settings within and outside learning centres. Cases of interactions between children and educators are provided to highlight the ways in which language can enhance learning. These cases encompass the inside, natural and built environment and show how educators can use unplanned events to immediately scaffold learning as well as to inform their planning for teacher-led explorations to follow up on these occurrences.
Regardless of how learning experiences are presented to children (unstructured, child-instigated, teacher-instigated) or are used in centres (free play, small group, whole group) it is imperative that materials are provided for children to explore (Lind, 2005). Harlan and Rivkin (2008) observed that making available exploration time for young children was important in ensuring that children had sufficient time to investigate and solve problems. This links directly with the EYLF, whereby one of the key components of Learning Outcome 4 is: ‘Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigation’ (DEEWR, 2009, p. 34).