Title: Explo-Discovery

Share your nuggets of wisdom

in ESTEEM* on our blog

Subject: ESTEEM

School level:

Preschool , Primary, Public

Age group: 3-12 y.o.

Type: Experiments, teaching strategy

Language: English (some attachments in french)


Given the fact that science teaching/learning in the formal school system is, to put it mildly, deficient and/or inconsistent, a different approach can be implemented in communities. At Science on Stage Canada, many of us have observed that parents take little ‘space’ in their children’s science learning. However, many are very active for sports such as hockey, soccer, football, etc.

The goal of this project is to reach out to learners from 3 to 12 y.o. and their family. We have partnered with La maison de la famille (The Family House) to offer workshops during which a parent and his/her child perform science and technology experiments/projects. This is a not-for-profit organization catering to families in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges county in the province of Québec.

Our intent is rather to complement the formal education system. Indeed, a lot of energy is expanded to encourage those who are gifted in sports, music, the arts and crafts. Not much for those who are interested in the science. For most parents, science centers are out of physical reach because of costs and/or distance.

During workshops, parents must be there to support and accompany their child in the ‘playing science’. The objective is to strengthened the emotional link between parent and child. Also, as a spin off, the parent gets to learn as well. Themes are selected to fuel their innate curiosity such as odors, light, rocks, minerals, farming. Mahigan (Algonquin), the wolf puppet, is the mascot for our workshops. He instills the scientific enquiry method, getting more complex as the child grows older.

Children are classified per age group.

Age group Catchy name General theme Workshop duration
3-5 y.o. Les Cromignons

(from Cro-magnon, The Cromicron)

Our 5 senses 1,5 hours
6-8 y.o. Les Fins Sapiens

(The Savvy Sapiens)

Nature around us 2 hours
9-12 y.o. Les Habilis Futés

(The Sharp Habilis)

Designs and Experiments in Science and Technology 3 hours

(for 2017-2018)


Once a month, a typical workshop is made up of a series of hands-on/minds-on activities related to a theme. In the last 10-15 minutes, the children and their parents are invited to read books we have selected for them. The books come from an intensive research on the web and in surrounding municipal libraries which can be borrowed. At the first workshop, they receive an explorer booklet in which they record their findings, take notes, glue pictures, stickers, list books and resources.

La maison de la famille has allotted roughly 1 500-2 000$ to equip their center with the necessary equipment. To encourage perenity, we are putting together kits which contain what they need to perform experiments and activities. The experiment must be reproducible at home. Material for the kits must be inexpensive, usable at home, available in local stores (Dollar stores, Canadian Tire, Micheals, etc.). Home Depot has given us little aprons for the children. The kids love it. They feel sooo important. Plus everyone has a nametag so that we can recognize each other.

Céline Campeau supervises the registration, marketing, follow-up with the parents, and the rooms needed. Véronique Mailly coordinates the activities of La maison de la famille. If need be, a special day-care is put together for those parents whose other children are too young to participate.

Our approach is one, which is inspired by a neurolinguistic programming tool, VAKOT (Visual, Auditive, Kinesthetic, Olfactive and Taste). Throughout the workshop, these must be applied one way or another. For the olfactive and taste one, we often have a snack which is related to the project. For example, when we talk about mixtures, the participants make themselves a dried fruit mix. When it’s about soil, they eat Mud Pudding.

To ensure the transferability of knowledge, for each workshop an object is produced such as a fantasy tree, a painted pet-rock, or a drawing related to the theme. This way, when the child returns home he will have the ability to explain his creation to others thus consolidating his newly acquired knowledge and skills.

Therefore, we strive to enrich the different activities with playing, role-playing, plastic animals they can examine. Different environments. We go outside and examine snowflakes, trees, and leaves. The child is involved as well as the parent in an affective situation which, we hope, strengthens their bond and propels the child into wanting to learn more.

Such a project can be applied in any community if brains and brawns are present. As for transferring to schools, a special parent/child day could be organized to give everyone the chance to participate.



Dr. Johanne Patry, Ph.D., President of Science of Stage Canada and JP Instructional Leadership Pédagogique

Johane Séguin-Poirier, assistant director, Pointe-des-Cascades Librairy

Céline Mercier, special education technician, La maison de la famille

Véronique Mailly, coordinator La maison de la famille


Contact Information:

Johanne Patry patryjolucy@gmail.com

Johane Séguin-Poirier jseguinpoirier@gmail.com

Céline Mercier celine.mercier@mfvs.ca

Véronique Mailly veronique@mfvs.ca

Maison de la famille : http://www.maisondelafamillevs.ca/



Affiche Mahigan 3-5 y.o.   Affiche Mahigan 3-6 ans – Copy

Affiche Mahigan 6-8 y.o.   Affiche Mahigan 6-8 ans

Typical planning for a 3-5 and 6-8 y.o. workshop   Example of a workshop 3-5 y.o.

Typical planning for an activity: Happy Feet  Happy Feet En


Send posts to: Michelle Olschowski at: michelle.olchowski@usask.ca

*ESTEEM: Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, Environment, and Mathematics

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