7 Ideas for Making Science Fun for Kids with Special Needs
Science is everywhere in the world around us, and it’s important to help all children find joy in science. It can be tricky finding ways to help kids with special needs engage in learning about science. However, there are easy ways to work around accessibility and sensory challenges to make science activities fun for every child.
Thinking outside the box and tailoring science activities to fit children’s specific needs are key ways to ensure that everyone will have fun. Read more below on ways to help children with special needs engage in science-related learning and activities.
1. Modify experiments to fit sensory needs
Performing science experiments is a fun way to explore science, but children won’t enjoy the experiments if they feel discomfort doing them. The good news is, many experiments can easily be modified to fit sensory needs.
Teach your child about our individual uniqueness with this experiment. Color your child’s finger (or your own) with a marker and press it down on a balloon. After you blow the balloon up, your child will be able to see an enlarged fingerprint which is a great introduction to fingerprints and DNA.
Help your child learn about capillary action. Fill cups with water and use food coloring to make each cup a different color. Next, place folded paper towels into each so each cup is connected to another color. As time passes, the colored water will travel up each paper towel and into the next cup.
2. Learn about scientists who overcame obstacles
Help your child learn about scientists who overcame obstacles to change the world with their scientific discoveries. Alexander Graham Bell had dyslexia, Thomas Edison had hearing loss and Nikola Tesla had OCD. Show your child that everyone has something to offer to the scientific community and can make a difference.
3. Experiment with seasons
During the spring, you can plant flowers with your child and watch them grow. In the summer, you can use the hot temperatures to monitor how quickly water evaporates or try the popular trick of frying an egg on the sidewalk.
In the fall, experiment with pumpkins. During the winter months, melt snow to see how much water is actually in snow or chart the weather to study trends.
4. Build with building blocks
Not only do building blocks help with counting, sorting, and motor skills, but this STEM activity is a fun way for children to learn about engineering and architecture. As you help your child build different creations, you can talk about the importance of having structural support.
5. Spend time exploring nature
Exploring nature is a wonderful way for your children to learn more about science. Many parks have paved walking trails to make nature more accessible for everyone, and this is a great way for children to learn more about the plants, trees, and wildlife local to your area.
If your child loves animals, you could visit a local farm. Many stables offer programs that allow everyone to participate in riding horses.
6. Tailor your activities to their interests
One of the easiest ways to make science fun is to tailor your activities to your child’s interests. If your child enjoys playing with cars, you could build a racetrack to learn about physics. If your child likes learning about space, you could build a rocket or learn about key figures in space exploration.
Once you find a scientific aspect that your child enjoys, you can visit the library to find books on the topic or see if any local museums have exhibits or programs.
7. Allow your child to help you in the kitchen
From mixing ingredients to understanding the states of matter to learning about the importance of using the correct measurements, so many science lessons can be learned in the kitchen. Even simple tasks like preheating the oven, stirring ingredients, and rinsing items provide the opportunity to learn more about science.
Valerie Cox is a contributing writer for LOC Scientific.