Nearly everyone knows that one of the primary purposes of kindergarten is to prepare children for reading, writing, and math. Fewer people realize that kindergarten also prepares children for understanding scientific principles. What can you expect your child to learn about science by the end of kindergarten? In general, they will learn some basics of the physical sciences, Earth sciences, life sciences, and scientific principles of investigation and experimentation.
Children are encouraged to develop their curiosity about the world around them and to make observations. As they are introduced to science, children develop organized and analytical thinking as well as problem-solving skills. Here in general is what most kindergarten children will learn.
The physical sciences involve the study of the physical world. These sciences include chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Sometimes the Earth sciences are included in physical sciences since they are part of the physical world. Generally speaking, though, in studying the physical sciences in kindergarten, children learn about the properties of certain materials and discover that these properties can be observed, measured, and predicted. They will:
- Describe objects in terms of the materials that make them up (cloth, paper, wood, etc.)
- Describe physical properties of objects (color, shape, texture, etc.)
- Describe objects in terms of whether they float, sink, are attracted to magnets, etc.
- Recognize the properties of water – it can be a liquid or solid and can change back and from one to the other, and it can evaporate when left in an open container
- Recognize that light and heat are both sources of energy
The Earth sciences involve the study of everything relating to the Earth, except for living things. These sciences include mainly geology and meteorology, although for some it would also include geography. As they learn about the earth, children will:
- Name the four seasons and identify their characteristics
- Describe daily weather
- Recognize that the earth is constantly changing
- Recognize that weather changes daily
- Recognize the differences and similarities in daytime and nighttime skies
- Observe, describe and record the phases of the Moon
- Identify characteristics of the different environments of the earth: mountains, rivers, oceans, valleys, and deserts.
- Identify the Earth’s resources that are used every day and recognize that many can be conserved
The life sciences are those which study living things. Those sciences would include biology, botany, zoology, and ecology among others. As part of their study of the life sciences, children will:
- Explain the difference between living and non-living things
- Identify the needs of living things
- Recognize that living things grow and change
- Recognize that there is a wide variety of living things and that they are interdependent
- Recognize that living things adapt to the environment
- Describe the similarities and differences in the appearance and behavior of plants versus animals
- Describe the basic structures of common plants and animals (arms, legs, wings, leaves, stems, roots, etc.)
Scientific Investigation and Experimentation
Children won’t be conducting any complex scientific experiments, but they will learn the basic scientific principles of observing, predicting, and measuring. It is through these activities that children will learn about the physical, earth, and life sciences. They will learn to:
- Predict, observe, measure, and describe the way objects move (or behave)
- Observe and describe common objects in terms of the five senses
- Observe the size, shape, texture and color of common objects such as tree leaves
- Observe and describe seasonal changes
- Ask questions based on prior knowledge and observations
- Recognize patterns and describe them
- Compare and sort common objects using one physical attribute, such as color, shape, size, etc.
- Observe and then illustrate those observations through drawings
- Observe and describe what happens when certain materials are subjected to tests (i.e. place a piece of wood in water to see what it does)
- Compare structures and behaviors of different animals