Note: Blue links connect
to places you can buy the resource
The goals of Front Porch
To get kids to love science. This is done with
experiments and by following THEIR
interests, adults answering THEIR
questions and helping them explore the environment they
To finish their science homework and science fair projects for school.
- A recent
college biology text book. Why? Because children ask more
questions than most college kids ask about science. You have to be
say, "I don't know, let's find out together". Most kids' science books
are weak and provide unsatisfying answers to brilliant young minds.
Even kids who are low level readers may have a high level of scientific
thinking. Never underestimate them.
Don't use a book that is too old because science changes so quickly.
Visual Dictionary of Science Don't get
the kids version of this book.
Again, kids need real, in depth explanations. This book is not
for them to read. It is for you to show them the picture, read it
aloud, and explain it. See if they can explain it back to know
if they really understood.
- madsci.org What
would we do without this website? Why is the sky blue? All
the answers are here. Its like having
scientist with a ginormous brain at your fingertips. Real scientists
answer people's questions in their spare time. A priceless resource.
what the universe is: This little
movie from Florida State University
takes the viewer on a ride from quarks, to atoms, to molecules, to
trees, to the sky and outward toward the planets, stars etc.
great way to explain a whole lot in 5 minutes. Be ready to answer
questions and explain the
whole universe! Don't worry, even if you can't explain it, you have
cultivated curiosity, the foundation of science.
website for high schoolers. Great animations of chemistry, biology,
science, general science etc.
Little Giant Book: Science Experiments from
HJ Press. We LOVE
this book for science fair time. Over 300 cute
little 5 minute experiments. It has all the classics simply
explained. You may need to research a little to get the real
reason why on madsci.org.
- madsci.org : This website has
experiments on it and explanations for all things scientific. Fabulous!
Experiments and Amusements for Childrenbook by
simple experiments to teach basic science
watch your pulse work by putting a match on a thumbtack on your wrist
to see it move
Stones to Science: True Tales and Awesome Activities book by
Haven. A little schoolish, but really does
explain where basic scientific principles came from. It is in
a story form,
with little easy experiments and answers to the questions kids will ask.
Spooky Science book by
Markle. A great little book for
science to do near Halloween or with kids who like creepy things. It
has very thorough explanations written clearly.
Wacky Science book by
Markle. A short little book with quick
experiments that kids will be interested in like dusting for
fingerprints or can you keep from blinking? Put in a "challenge" format
that kids like.
Science: Fun and Easy Projects for Making Practical Things book by Shar
Levine and Leslie Johnstone. A book with great
explanations that uses big words and explains them directly after using
them. Good experiments that are short.
Magical Science: Magic Tricks for Young Scientists book by Eric
Ladizinsky. This book explains how the magic trick when you lift
someone up with just 4 fingers works! Explains terms clearly. A good
quick book with thorough, easy to read explanations.
Building and Experimenting With Inflatable Toys book by
Zubriwski. The explanations are not so thorough in this book but
experiments are lots of fun. It allows for a lot of trial and
Experiments for the Young Scientist by
Robert Wood. A
great series of books that explain the history of the discovery, an
Experiments for the Young Scientist book
by Robert Wood.
Experiments for the Young Scientist book
VanCleave's A+ Science Fair Projects book by
Cleve. A great science fair book
with all the basics of doing the project. Also for group leaders who
to step up their play-science projects a notch. Well explained.
Science Explorer: Family Experiments from the World's Favorite Hands-On
Science Museum book. These are
fun experiments with
Science Explorer Out and About: Fantastic Science Experiments Your
Family Can Do Anywhere!book. Great
experiments with great explanations.
Science book by Shar
Levine and Leslie Johnstone. This book is not
just for the bathtub. It is great for the tiny swimming pool or just a
of water. It is science for hot days. It is aimed at the under 5th
grade crowd, but the experiments could be for all ages. The
explanations could be better, but with great photos and experiments,
it is still a good book.
More Experiments for the Young Scientist
book by Dave Prochnow and Kathy Prochnow. This book gives answers to
questions like: how do
computers solve problems? Great experiments and explanations.
Cool Science Experiments with Glen Singleton The
how this book is set up. Large
print, pictures, and science that isn't
of Wonderscience: Elementary Science Activities, Volume I This
a great book set up for teachers, but still lots of great, classic
experiments, illustrated with cartoons and good explanations.
Projects from the Exploratorium Great online experiments and
explanations from this science museum in San Francisco.
Spangler Science. Nice pictures with these online
Garden Dig: Before we would plant the garden
in a vacant city lot, adults would bury a themed set of objects. The
would rope off the area with string and Popsicle sticks in a grid, get
gridded piece of paper, divide up into a team of who were diggers,
recorders etc. and then dig up the objects, draw on the grid where they
think they found it, and finally think about how the objects
are related to each other to tell a story from the past. (a
burial, a house etc). To
see a real dig, visit this website.
Rummy game middle
school and up. This
is a hard game for some kids to get. It is a card game where kids have
to match three pieces of ancient objects to make a whole, but there are
three puzzle pieces on each card so they have to figure out a lot. This
hate or love game
- Telescope - In
the city we can't really see anything but the moon. Its an expensive
piece of equipment. We have an old globe of the moon and the
match the seas on the globe with the ones on the real moon.
Glimpsing the moon close up is awe inspiring to every kid. If you can,
- Visit your
local observatory. This is a hard trip to plan because its all about
a sky with no clouds, but its a trip every kid should make at least
on the Beach
is an event local to Metro Detroit, but maybe they know where other
like this GEM
is. In September, there are kids' activities and about 30
telescopes set up aimed at different sky objects. There is also a
playground and food at the beautiful Kensington
Metro Park. Great for
kids and for parents. Its free
with park admission, cheaper than buying your own telescope, and their
giant telescopes let you see more than a telescope most people would
buy for kids.
at home Simple and good online activities.
At A Glance. Find out online what is in the sky tonight.
- Photos from the Hubble.
Keep kids up on the latest finds in the universe with these fabulous
alive has great pictures explaining about cells and
everything they do.
Super Structures to Design & Build book by
skyscrapers from materials at home to understand how they are built.
Make a great crane.
(Make It Work!) book by Wendy
and Andrew Haslam.
Excellent projects. Time consuming. More for the middle schooler.
Your Own Clock kit
school and up - it is harder than it looks. Kids have to know how to
read an exploded view to be able to put it together.
Ultimate Building Set 1st
grade and up. Classic.
Don't get the sets that make something particular. Just get the pieces.
This will encourage their creativity, even though they will not thank
you at first.
- Motors. 3rd
grade and up. We've
had mixed results with these. Some kids don't build anything and just
want to put the motor on anything, and some kids have been brilliant.
Its a toss up. And the motors are not remote - they are attached, so
its like walking a dog. Lego makes some and K'nex does too.
Value Tub 400 pieces 2nd
grade and up. Never
as popular as Lego. Its a good idea to sit down and show them how all
the pieces fit together.
Way Things Work Game middle
school and up. This
game is your basic - pull a card and answer a question. It has a few
gizmos with it, but overall the kids weren't fond of it. However, they
were more fond of this than a science worksheet.
Table/Candy Molecules: Jelly beans and
toothpicks are great tools
to teach kids about how to read molecular formulas.
color jellybean a particular atom. They will
learn the difference between 2 molecules of something and 2 atoms of
something because there is significantly more candy in
molecule than doubling an atom. So get out those chemical
formulas, the periodic table and
the candy and get to building. This site
has some simple formulas to use. Or you can just make up stuff - you
are just going for the concept here, really, you are using
jelly beans - the kids won't care what they are making, its just to
understand atoms vs. molecules and how to read the formulas.
Let them eat them when they are done.
vinegar, baking soda and food coloring in a cup at the top of the
snow/pile of dirt that makes the volcano. Be sure they don't think that
is how volcanoes really work - that its an exchange of ions
that makes the reaction. (Keep a book on volcanoes nearby and plan for
another day to make a model of the earth's layers with cake
layers.) It can also be done with pop or lemon juice as
the acid. Also, PH
Paper Testing Strips add to the experiment because
they will change color and tell kids what number it is on pH
scale. This website
will explain what is going on on a molecular
level to high schoolers or the adults who are are making the volcano
with younger kids.
Explorer Rocket Car Kit the reaction of acid and
base powers this rocket car. You need to have a long smooth strip of
sidewalk/asphalt to get the most out of this one.
Cosmetics it is difficult to get the kids to focus on the
science when there is lip gloss involved, so read the booklet ahead of
time and pick which part you think your kids will listen to and want to
know. An excellent kit.
Science Perfume Science
it is difficult to get the kids to focus on the science when there is
perfume involved, so read the booklet ahead of time and pick which part
you think your kids will listen to and want to know. An
Chemistry Explanation website explaining atoms,
finding how many of each are in each atom.
Chemistry Explanations - Atom Basics website with
all the basic info on chemistry written very simply.
table of elements website where you can click on
any element and it gives
lots of information about each one like # of protons, neutrons,
Table This one is great for printing.
- Build an atom
online game. Great way for kids to learn about atoms.
science of candy and lots of delicious things on
the Exploratorium website.
experiments from madsci.org.
in a bag or can. Here is a quick explanation of why
- Kids can
isolate DNA at home. Its quite easy. We used the "DNA I Can
Do That" kit but can't find it again for sale. This one is
similar and we
have bought this brand of other kits and loved them. Genetics
and DNA kit
grade and up.
This shows kids how to take fingerprints and observe them. A great kit.
Turn it into a game by having them figure out whose fingerprint is on
Explorer's Mystery Detective CSI for Kids Science Kit4th
grade and up. This
game is GREAT. It includes science experiments to do to find out who
did it. Kids learn about DNA matching, fingerprints, and acids/bases.
to Talk to Your Dog This book is
the first glimpse at animal
behavior for kids. It teaches kids about reading a dog's tail
to understand them.
Society Community Service: At our local humane society,
volunteer with the dogs, but they can make them little scarves to look
more attractive to potential owners, bake them biscuits, and make them
toys. Kids love this, along with a trip to visit the shelter. The local
shelter has even brought a dog out for the kids to pet and learn about
First Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North Amer
ica You find the
flower by looking at the color index
and then finding the picture of it.
Fun : Plants as Play book by
Gjersvik. A great book full of traditional things kids do with plants
like the grass whistle, snap dragon puppets, and daisy chains. Well
illustrated. A must read for people who work outdoors with children.
Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children book by Carol
Petrash. Lots of
projects you can find better illustrated somewhere else, but can be a
supplement to Green Plants as Play because
it shows leaf crowns, nature people,
wind wands-an easy alternative to kites, dish gardens, flower
necklaces, making butter, bark boats, a cloth house using
the clothesline and some sheets.
- The sensitive plant (mimosa). Kids love
this plant because when you touch it, it moves. Here is a movie
where you can watch it move, but it is better to buy one.
Beware of its little thorns.
- Build a model airplane wing
Reader's Digest How
Math Works , blow it with a
hair dryer and kids
will understand lift in how airplanes fly because they will see it in
- Young Eagles this
is a national program where they take children for free airplane rides.
Detroit at City Airport, it is especially good because there are often
Tuskegee Airmen there for the kids to meet.
Wings : Planes, Rockets, and Spacecraft to Build and Fly!
This book is the next step after the basic airplane kids fold
school. You just need paper, scissors, ruler, and paper
clips. Around Detroit, Book
Beat bookstore has a great collection of
paper folding books with more complicated airplane books.
- The best, easiest kite
ever is in the Usborne
Rainy Day Book by Alastair Smith page
It takes about 15 minutes to make, leaves room for loads of creativity
(we use streamers for tails and we never paint - this makes it too
heavy to fly - always use markers), and ALWAYS goes up.
- General Helpful Hints
- Gardening is
to teach science. Here is the skinny on
gardening with children (Ages 4 to 13. It is a rare few kids
who want to garden as teens.)
children follows a very different set of rules than gardening
most adults. The goal of a children’s garden is not to have high
production or tidy rows, but rather a love of the natural world and
knowledge of the origin of the food we eat. For children, gardening
should be play.
garden, ask the children what they want to plant, what types of fruits
and vegetables they like, and what flowers they think are
through a colorful seed catalog with them for ideas. From this list,
choose the items that can really grow in your climate (Kids in the
North will almost always list oranges and lemons etc. Take the
kids to a conservatory and then you can explain why they
cannot grow here and you can also explain about the importance of
buying local). If you are unsure what will grow in your area, consult
your local extension office.
the list, it is best to buy seedlings for many of the
fruits/vegetables. Here is a list of recommended plants to grow from
seed/bulb: Watermelon, beans, sunflowers, marigolds, tulips, lettuce,
tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, peas, carrots. Most other fruits/vegetables
are easier to buy seedlings and plant with the kids. For the first time
children’s gardener, using less seeds and more seedlings is more
rewarding for the children. As the years go by and you are more
comfortable gardening, you can use more and more seeds.
for the garden. Most vegetable plants need full sun. A raised bed (four
sides of wood with soil/compost inside) is best for the city. If you
know for a fact that your soil has never been contaminated, then you
can dig in the ground. But otherwise a raised bed is better.
you buy the
plants, teach the children how to correctly put them in the ground. Use
a ruler for correct seed depth. Foster independence and reading skills
by reading the seed package or seedling’s tag to know how deep to
plant, spacing and sun exposure.
kids prefer fruit to vegetables, so just go with it. It might mean all
they want is a strawberry patch. That is just fine.
the fruits and vegetables, get the ones that come in the "normal"
Many adults have the mistaken idea that children like to EAT yellow
tomatoes and red green peppers. While they may be interested to take a
look at these oddities, only adventurous children will eat
them. The battle to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables is hard
enough as it is – don’t make it more difficult for yourself.
herbs or things that smell, don’t assume children will like new smells.
Again, most children like the familiar. Mint is the only common herb
that almost all children like. Go to someone else's herb garden and let
them smell theirs to see which ones the child/children you
work with like. For example: many articles about children's gardens
suggest the pizza garden. This includes oregano. Don't set yourself up:
most kids hate the smell of oregano and if you tell them that its in
pizza, they begin to reevaluate their love of one of the
easiest and cheapest foods parents/caregivers can provide.
in the Closet Game
school and up. Kids
spin a spinner and answer questions about the bones in the body then
they get little plastic bones until someone completes their skeleton
the most fun game (kids never pick this for free time), but the least
painful way to learn the bones of the body. They really do learn them
after playing it a couple times.
Clinical Atlas of Human Anatomy with DVD So they say
they want to be a doctor? See if they
(middle school and up) can
handle looking at this book of the real preserved human body. If they
can't you may want to suggest
Torso Model This is a
model of human insides that is challenging (in a good way) to put
Anything - Lots of kids love to look inside animals. Even a fish from
the grocery store can be something to explore. Of course this is only
with adult assistance, but get some gloves and let kids hold onto that
little fish brain. They are curious. There are also
dead animals which fascinate them. Be sure to have a
(guts seem to get everywhere when we do this) explaining what
each part looks like and what it does. This is best as
a copy from a college biology textbook.
- Grossology- This
book is a dream come true for kids interested in boogers, farting and
everything that kids are told to not talk about. It gives the
scientific explanation of these physical phenomenon.
- This site
is for high school kids and older. It shows parts of the body from
different views and explains what each part does.
are one of the few butterflies kids can touch and not disable. The
group Monarchwatch will
send you tags to put on their wings and your butterflies are tracked.
They will also send you eggs you can grow. Few things are as
as this project.
Bugs: Save those pickle jars, let the kids use a hammer and
put holes in the lid and keep it near the front door at all times.
Remember to teach the kids that catch and release is the best
- Dead Bugs: Dead bugs are incredible finds. Put
them in glass jars. Kids love, love, love to look at them.
Bug game for 3rd
grade and up. Maximum
learning happens when the caller reads the back of the card explaining
about the bugs and what the kids know about the bugs.
a Guide to Familiar American Insects (225 Species in Full Color, a
Golden Nature Guide)
and Moths: A Guide to the More Common American Species (Golden Guides)
Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and
Throughout History by James
Solheim. A book about how
different cultures eat different animals and insects. A fascinating
book more about cultural difference, but a good companion book for bug
study. A good extra is Scorpion
Amber Candy this
website with bug recipes: Insect
recipes from Iowa State. Yup. Includes "chocolate chirpie
by Michael Elsohn Ross. Everything you want to know about
rolypolys and experiments to do with them.
(Bugs) book by Janet
Halfmann. A very pretty book answering
most questions kids would have about dragonflies. This whole series is
Bees book by Linda
Glaser This book will answer most questions
kids have about bees.
- Images of bugs up close. This link
goes to the search page where you can find a close ups of
things like butterfly wings, fleas etc.
- online information all about bees.
Hunt (Katydids) - These are the bugs that leave a big crusty
shell on trees and make that loud evening noise in summer (around
Detroit). This webpage answers all the questions kids have about
- An online guide
to most bugs from Iowa State Extension
kid should have some magnets to experiment with. Here are some good
Real Magnet Book by Mae
Freeman. A simple, great book about magnets. Great to put with a
child's first magnets
as a gift. Use magnets to make a bottle-cork boat move, magnet
in a Nutshell for Kids: Over 100 Activities You Can Do in Ten Minutes
or Less book by Jean
Potter. Great Experiments that are quick and
one page each with a great explanation.
Crafts for Kids: 50 Great Ways to Make Friends With Planet Earth by Bobbe
Needha. Using clay from nature, make a kiln in a garbage can, a hat
a brown bag that is stiff, making a tiny pond, bat house, decorating
pots with old plate pieces, using sand as the mold for candle making,
decorating glass bottles with collage, making jewelry with glass from
the beach, bottle garden, tiny houses from painted rocks, bath salts,
lemonade lip gloss, tin can marionette. For over 3rd graders.
- Identify leaves easily with this website.
page is dedicated to Jean's many favorite science teachers who inspired
a love of science so strong that it has been passed down to
hundreds of children: Mrs.Ospalski, Gerald Hairston, Dr. Hezy Shoshani,
Dr. Marsha Richmond, and Dr. Gangwere.
- Rocks - collect them.
Playing Cards 5th
grade and up. This
takes some prep work, but we take these to the local natural history
museum, break up into teams and treasure hunt for the gems on the
cards. A riot and the kids read every display card this way.
- Local geology - visit your
local natural history museum to learn about the geology of your area.
Ask around and find out what used to be where your house is now. Kids
are interested to know that there may have been mastodons in their
backyard or a canal where the basement is.