Toddlers and pre-schoolers can learn about the four elements in nature by engaging in some fun activities that are easy to put together. Also referred to as the four states of matter, the Greeks believed that these four elements made up all matter. You can help children explore and experience these elements with simple and safe activities. Children this age learn better with their senses, so activities designed to engage their senses rather than facts can help them get started.
Start by showing young kids dragon images where the dragons are breathing fire. They will be mighty impressed. You can light a birthday candle and for added effect place it atop a cupcake. Ask your child to blow it off. That’s air extinguishing fire!
Kids can explore the element earth with this sensory activity. Ask your child to fill a box with loose sand, a few rocks, flowers and leaves. They can make patterns with the rocks and leaves, or simply trace designs on the sand. Children can also create sand art. You can draw an outline for them. Using a paint brush, apply glue across an area. Ask your child to pour sand on to it. Let it sit for a while and then shake off the extra sand!
Show how air works by buying a bunch of helium balloons and asking your child to release them in the open one after the other. Kids can also blow bubbles! These soapy mixtures are easy to make. Mix water, dish soap, glycerine and a pinch of sugar. Plastic straws can be used and by blowing into the straw, kids can release bubbles into the air.
A fun way to get children to use water is to get them to have a water balloon fight or jump in puddles. Too messy? Then try encouraging them to water plants regularly and help with chores like washing dishes or the car as it can show them how water is used.
Once kids are familiar with these four elements, you can start them on experiments where they will learn how earth, water, fire and air react with each other.