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Your kindergartner and science

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By GreatSchools Staff

Getting acquainted with the physical world

Children should be encouraged to notice what they experience with their senses. A kindergartner would not be expected to read a thermometer to learn the temperature outside. Instead, your child might be asked whether it is hot or cold and which seasons typically have hot or cold weather. Likewise, teachers might discuss the food and water needs of a plant, and ask your child to compare them to their own nutritional needs.

A teacher who encourages your child to interact with materials and communicate observations plays a large role in helping her become a successful explorer.

The environment should encourage children to do the following:

  • Look closely at living and nonliving objects and describe what they notice
  • Ask questions about nature and seek answers
  • Collect rocks, leaves, or sticks
  • Count and measure items, making observations
  • Organize their collections and observations, while discussing findings
  • Prioritize acquiring skills over facts at this stage

Above and beyond any scientific facts, at this stage the focus should be on developing broad skills, including making observations and recording them, often through drawings. For example, teachers might ask their students to bite into an apple, taste it, then talk about their observations while referencing each of the five senses.

What to look for when you visit

  • Books about the seasons, plants and animals, and the earth as well as the human body
  • Hands-on areas that encourage experimentation and might include water tables, models, and skeletons
  • Safety glasses, thermometers, magnifying glasses, mirrors, bar magnets, and rulers
  • An aquarium for studying the life cycles of plants and animals
  • Guest experts from museums, zoos, and botanical gardens

Updated April 2010

Comments from readers

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"Don't forget about farmers - they're some of the best science teachers!"
"This is really wonderful for us parents."