• concept: an idea or understanding about something
  • data: what has been observed or experienced
  • evidence: data that support an explanation or conclusion
  • model: to explicitly demonstrate a process, behavior, or task
  • open-ended questions: questions that require critical thinking, invite opinion or explanation, and result in more than a one-word answer
  • phenomenon(a): an object, material, living thing or event that can be directly observed
  • represent: to make a drawing or model of something that has been observed
  • scaffold: a temporary support that helps children learn; it may include prompts, hints, reminders, or models
  • science talk: words that are commonly used by scientists such as compare, predict, measure, sort


Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

Young children are naturally inquisitive and curious about the world around them. They want to know how things work, what things do, and what will happen next. Educators can build upon children’s natural curiosity by guiding them in hands-on science explorations. When children engage in hands-on science, they acquire scientific knowledge and learn the processes and practices of science. They are introduced to the concepts and big ideas that are central to science.

Educators can make these experiences more meaningful for children by being intentional in their planning so that they understand the science concepts, can guide and support children’s explorations, and can help children make connections and express their thinking in multiple ways.

In this 45-minute, self-paced tutorial, you will explore best practices for leading children in hands-on exploration. Three short videos will show seasoned educators using best practices in action. After watching each video, you’ll review and reflect on what you’ve seen and heard.

During this tutorial, you will:

  • Explore the best practices for leading children in hands-on exploration.
  • Learn how to prepare for leading children in hands-on exploration.
  • Examine how to use open-ended questions to guide children’s thinking.
  • Discover strategies to help children make connections between science concepts and their everyday lives.
  • Apply new knowledge to current practices.

First, do a self-assessment to discover what your strengths are and to identify specific skills you'd like to work on.

  1. Download and print the Self-Assessment (PDF).
  2. Complete the first half now, before you begin the training.
  3. Save the sheet with your answers. At the end of the training, you'll complete the second half, compare your "before" and "after" responses, and find out how far you've progressed.

Watch an overview of Leading Children in Hands-On Exploration featuring Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Associate Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Download and print the Learning Log (PDF). Use it during the tutorial to answer questions, reflect upon the materials presented, and jot down ideas and insights about how to apply what you have learned to your own learning environment.

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