Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

10.4: Introducing the Foundations

  • Page ID
    39382
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    The preschool learning foundations for science are organized into four broad categories or strands:

    • Scientific Inquiry
    • Physical Sciences
    • Life Sciences
    • Earth Sciences[1]

    Supporting Scientific Inquiry

    Young children’s experience of science is an interplay between content knowledge (what children learn about) and inquiry skills (the skills and processes they apply to explore and develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas). Children build knowledge and understanding of concepts through active participation in the process of scientific inquiry. Like scientists, children have a natural desire to inquire, but they need guidance in developing the skills of scientific inquiry.

    • Observation and investigation skills involve ways to observe, compare, measure, classify, predict, and to check and investigate objects and events.
    • Documentation and communication skills are employed to record information and to communicate findings and explanations with others.

    Skills of scientific inquiry provide children with the tools for investigating and learning about science topics. Such experiences build habits of questioning, critical thinking, innovative problem solving, communication, collaboration, and decision making.

    Scientific inquiry skills are integral to children’s ongoing play and explorations and are not taught in isolation. Children develop their abilities to make observations, ask questions, and gather information, as part of meaningful exploration and investigation experiences. Teachers can establish an environment with a culture of inquiry and facilitate children’s use of scientific skills and language through everyday explorations and planned experiences of scientific inquiry.

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    1.1 Demonstrate curiosity and raise simple questions about objects and events in their environment.

    1.1 Demonstrate curiosity and an increased ability to raise questions about objects and events in their environment.

    1.2 Observe1 objects and events in the environment and describe them.

    1.2 Observe objects and events in the environment and describe them in greater detail.

    1.3 Begin to identify and use, with adult support, some observation and measurement tools.

    1.3 Identify and use a greater variety of observation and measurement tools. May spontaneously use an appropriate tool, though may still need adult support.

    1.4 Compare and contrast objects and events and begin to describe similarities and differences.

    1.4 Compare and contrast objects and events and describe similarities and differences in greater detail.

    1.5 Make predictions and check them, with adult support, through concrete experiences.

    1.5 Demonstrate an increased ability to make predictions and check them (e.g., may make more complex predictions, offer ways to test predictions, and discuss why predictions were correct or incorrect.

    1.6 Make inferences and form generalizations based on evidence.

    1.6 Demonstrate an increased ability to make inferences and form generalizations based on evidence.

    1. Other related scientific processes, such as classifying, ordering, and measuring, are addressed in the foundations for mathematics.

    clipboard_e7f01b1b0536fa6fcc0de541b0c7b8e7f.png
    Figure 10.2: Image by Ian Joslin is licensed by CC-BY-4.0

    2.0 Documentation and Communication

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    2.1 Record observations or findings in various ways, with adult assistance, including pictures, words, (dictated to adults), charts, journals, models, and photos.

    2.1 Record information more regularly and in greater detail in various ways, with adult assistance, including pictures, words (dictated to adults), charts, journals, models, photos, or by tallying and graphing information.

    2.2 Share findings and explanations which may be correct or incorrect, with or without adult prompting.

    2.2 Share findings and explanations, which may be correct or incorrect, more spontaneously and with greater detail.

    clipboard_e49c799c7d451ace28cc837189a8fb1f1.png
    Figure 10.3: Image by Ian Joslin is licensed by CC-BY-4.0

    Teachers can support children’s development of the scientific inquiry foundations with the following:

    • Facilitate children’s observation skills by using the term “observe” and introduce the process with a familiar item
    • Talk with children and ask questions to guide their observations
    • Invite children to observe objects and phenomena related to the current focus of inquiry
    • Promote the use of scientific tools to extend children’s observations and investigations of objects
    • Introduce children to scientific tools and their function and support their appropriate use
    • Encourage children to make predictions first and then check their predictions
    • Remind children that predictions do not have to be right
    • Record children’s predictions
    • Facilitate children’s ability to make inferences and draw conclusions (when inferring and drawing conclusions, children observe what happened and make an assumption about the cause)
    • Use everyday observations to model inferring
    • Encourage children to explain the reasoning behind their inferences
    • Encourage children to record observations and document investigations and findings
    • Promote the use of different forms to record and document information
    • Consider adaptations for children with special needs
    • Encourage children to describe their representations while you write their words
    • Encourage different means of communication including home language, sign language, and communication devices
    • Invite children to record collaboratively, using charts, graphs, or models
    • Ask open-ended questions to
      • Encourage children to share their observations
      • Facilitate problem-solving and investigations
      • Elicit predictions and explanations
    • Engage children in collaborative discussions[2]

    Vignettes

    While exploring the play yard, children became fascinated with pill bugs (usually called roly polies by children). In the yard, they would look for pill bugs and enjoy watching them curl into balls. One day, Ms. Lopez noticed that a group of children collected pill bugs in a bucket. She invited the children to put the “roly polies” on a tray and observe them closely at the outdoor investigation table. Ms. Lopez said, “Let’s use our tools and look really closely at the pill bugs. What do you notice about their body?” Ms. Lopez assisted Jennifer in holding the magnifier above the pill bug: “Wow, it looks so big,” Jennifer said. Jose observes the pill bug with a magnifier and gets excited: “I can see its head.” Ryan asked, “When is it going to open up again? I want to see how many legs it has.”


    Ms. Brown presented children with a big cube of ice. She asked the children to touch or hold it and tell her what they notice about it: “What does it feel like? What does it look like?” Children shared their observations: “It is cold.” “It is slippery.” “It is very smooth.” “It is wet.” “It is white.” “It is square.” Ms. Brown asked the children, “What do you know about ice?” Some children shared their ideas: “We keep it in the freezer,” “It’s very, very cold.” “If you put it in water, it disappears.” She invited children to draw their observations of the ice cube in their notebooks. The next day, Ms. Brown told the children that together they are going to explore what will happen to ice when it is left outside of the freezer. She has asked children: “What do you think will happen to this ice cube if we leave it in this bowl? What is your prediction?” “Will it stay the same?” “What will be different?” Children made predictions, and she wrote them on a chart (e.g., “It will not be so cold anymore.” “It will turn into water”), “After lunch, we’ll check our ice cube and find out what happened.”


    The children in Ms. Moreno’s group are taking turns bringing home the picture book they created as a group. Today, it is Emilia’s turn to take home this book. This picture book was created to document the growth of their plant. Emilia points to the photos in the book (taken by Ms. Moreno to document the process) and to children’s drawings. She tells the story out loud to her grandmother, who is picking her up, “First we had to buy seeds (points to a photo of the seeds packet on the first page), then we put the soil, and then we put the seeds inside the dirt . . .” Emilia continues with more details while looking at the pictures in the book: how they put the pot in the sun, watered the plant, and measured its growth. “Here it was one inch, and here it was bigger, and here it was very tall, and it has many leaves.” At home, Emilia will share it with her family, and together they will retell the story in her home language.[3]

    Pause to Reflect

    How would you facilitate children’s thinking skills through everyday observations and interactions?

    Supporting Physical Sciences

    Young children’s inquiry in physical science involves the active exploration of nonliving objects and materials and of physical events in their everyday environment. When children build with blocks; play with different balls; push or slide objects of different kinds; play with water, sand, clay, and other objects in the preschool environment; they explore materials in different ways and begin to form ideas about the physical properties. They manipulate objects, act on them, and observe what happens. They may try a certain strategy over and over to see if the same result happens again. Through such exploratory interactions with objects and solid and nonsolid materials, children can learn about cause-and-effect relationships, the physical properties of objects and materials (e.g., size, shape, rigidity, texture), and about changes and transformations of objects and materials. For example, when building with various kinds of blocks, children may learn about the size and shape of the blocks and about the characteristics of the materials used to make the blocks (e.g., wood, foam, plastic). They may discover that the big cardboard blocks should be used at the bottom of a tower and the small unit blocks on top in order to create a strong and stable tower. When playing at the water table, they experience how water flows down and takes the shape of the container.

    clipboard_eea77e0dee14f4576d0001ad19911e578.png
    Figure 10.4: What containers could be added to this water table to expand the children’s exploration?[4]

    With teachers’ guidance, children’s everyday play can become rich, hands-on inquiry experiences of the key concepts in physical sciences. Teachers can provide children with materials to broaden their investigation. They encourage children to try out their ideas, even if the teacher knows the child’s strategy will not create the desired result. Teachers challenge children’s thinking by asking questions that focus attention on key science concepts being investigated: “What can you do to make the bridge higher?” “How can we make mud?” “Why did the ball roll down in this direction?” Interactions of this kind provide children with opportunities to extend their experimentations with objects, to notice patterns of cause-and-effect, to reason and think more deeply about the phenomena they observe, and to use language to describe, explain, and reflect on their work.

    Key Concepts in Physical Sciences

    In exploring objects and materials, children develop understanding of key concepts about the physical world.

    • They learn about the size, shape, weight, texture and other properties of objects and materials.
    • They learn about the form and function of objects and that the form of an object supports its function.
    • They continue to learn about cause and effect—that certain actions lead to certain reactions.
    • They learn about changes in objects and materials. For instance, how mixing, heating, or cutting will produce changes in materials and that some changes are reversible and some are irreversible.
    • They begin to understand that objects not in motion are in a state of balance.

    They learn more about force and motion (inanimate objects are set in motion; pushing and pulling put objects in motion; objects can move in different ways).

    1.0 Properties and Characteristics of Nonliving Objects and Materials

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    1.1 Observe, investigate, and identify the characteristics and physical properties of objects and of solid and nonsolid materials (size, weight, shape, color, texture, and sound).

    1.1 Demonstrate increased ability to observe, investigate, and describe in greater detail the characteristics and physical properties of objects and of solid and nonsolid materials (size, weight, shape, color, texture, and sound).

    2.0 Changes in Nonliving Objects and Materials

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    2.1 Demonstrate awareness that objects and materials can change; explore and describe changes in objects and materials (rearrangement of parts; change in color, shape, texture, temperature).

    2.1 Demonstrate increased awareness that objects and materials can change in various ways. Explore and describe in greater detail changes in objects and materials (rearrangement of parts; change in color, shape, texture, temperature).

    2.2 Observe and describe the motion of objects (in terms of speed, direction, the ways things move), and explore the effect of own actions (e.g., pushing, pulling, rolling, dropping) on making objects move.

    2.2 Demonstrate an increased ability to observe and describe in greater detail the motion of objects (in terms of speed, direction, the ways things move), and to explore the effect of own actions on the motions of objects, including changes in speed and direction.

    Teachers can support children’s development of the physical sciences foundations with the following:

    • Provide children with opportunities to explore a variety of objects and materials in the daily environment.
    • Prepare yourself and be purposeful about the scientific concepts children will investigate while engaged with objects and materials.
    • Engage children in projects that allow them to explore, experiment, and invent with objects and materials for an extended period of time.
    • Experiment with materials and objects before offering them to children.
    • Invite children to observe and describe the characteristics and physical properties of the objects and materials they investigate.
    • Plan opportunities for children to sort and classify objects and materials and reflect on similarities and differences.
    • Provide children with opportunities to build and experiment with simple machines. Simple machines refer to six mechanical devices that make it easier to move or lift something: levers, a wheel on an axle, a pulley, an inclined plane, a wedge, and a screw.
    • Provide children with opportunities to investigate the form and function of different tools and machines.
    • Avoid presenting children with activities of “magical” science (such as chemical “snow” and exploding volcanoes) that are done for entertainment purposes and with the children as observers (not participants).
    • Select activities or projects in which children can vary their actions on objects and observe the immediate reactions to their actions.
    • Use cooking activities as opportunities to reason about transformations in materials.
    • Invite children to set up an experiment and collect and analyze data.
    • Focus children’s attention on the effect of one aspect (variable) at a time.
    • Lead children to make predictions about what they expect to happen.
    • Ask questions to raise children’s awareness of how they produced an effect.
    • Encourage children to record and document investigations with objects and materials.[5]
    clipboard_ecfb58221023f40c115b7d0822f4a6358.png
    Figure 10.3: There is science at play when making tamales.[6]

    Vignettes

    Ms. Yen introduced children to a variety of solid materials, including feathers, wood chips, pennies, foam pieces, marbles, and eggshells. After the materials were introduced, she left them for children’s free exploration in the discovery center. The center also included tools such as magnifiers, trays, cups, and a balance scale to expand their observations of the materials, and the children were familiar with how to use them. Children enjoyed exploring these materials, especially finding out how they are similar or different from each other. One question they investigated was, “Which materials are rigid and which are soft?” Children tried pressing, poking, twisting, tearing, and breaking the different materials and shared their conclusions with their classmates as they worked: “The pennies are hard.” “The feathers are very soft. You can bend them, and they do not break.” “The eggshell breaks when you press on it, and these (points to foam pieces) are soft, and you can break them like this (the child demonstrates how they break easily).” “The wood chips are very hard, too.” With the teacher’s assistance, some children recorded their findings on the chart, by gluing a sample of each material under “Rigid” or “Soft.”


    During the last cooking activity Ms. Moreno noticed that the children were fascinated when they mixed the flour with water. The children’s reactions gave Ms. Moreno an idea for extending the group’s explorations with dry materials and engaging them in exploring mixtures. In small-group time, Ms. Moreno introduced the children to different dry materials, such as salt, flour, cornstarch, and sugar, and invited them to explore them. She then suggested that they mix some of these materials with water. The teacher asked the children questions to invite them to make predictions: “What do you think will happen if we add salt to water . . .” As the children watched the salt crystals disappear, they discovered that when salt is mixed with water, it cannot be seen anymore. The teacher immediately asked questions that encouraged the children to check their predictions. Ms. Moreno asked the children, “What happened when you stirred the salt in water?” Children came up with different answers: “It disappears.” “It is inside the water, but you cannot see it anymore.” Ms. Moreno invited the children to taste plain water and the water stirred with salt, and tell the difference. When the children communicated that they tasted the salt and that it was still in the water, the teacher introduced the word dissolve to the children and explained that the salt dissolved in water to make salt water. The children tried out different materials and discovered that some dissolve in water and others, such as flour or sand, do not. The next day, the children tried mixing other materials such as glue, lemonade powder, tea leaves, and play dough to find out what happens to each of these materials when mixed with water.


    The children were playing at the water table and taking turns tossing an object into the water, to find out which objects sink and which objects float. Ms. Schultz held a plastic cup, and asked, “What do you predict will happen to this cup when you put it in the water? Will it sink or float?” David said, “It will float like the other cup,” referring to the Styrofoam cup they tested earlier. Dana said, “It will sink because it is more hard than the white cup.” Gaby said, “Maybe if we put it in like this (facing up), it will not sink.” Ms. Schultz asked, “Why do you think so?” Gaby said, “Because the water will not go inside.” She put the cup in the water, facing up, and the children observed the cup floating. “You see! It is floating.” David said, “Now, let’s put it in like this (facing down).” Ms. Shultz said, “That’s a great idea. Let’s put the cup in the water facing down and see what happens. What is your prediction? Will the cup sink or float?”

    The children predicted that the plastic cup will float again. Ms. Shultz asked, “Why do you think it will float?” David answered, “Because it was floating before.” She put the cup in the water, facing down, and everyone, including Ms. Schultz, was surprised when they saw the cup sinking in the water. The children were fascinated with what they discovered. They kept putting the cup in the water, one time facing up and one time facing down, watching it turn from a “floater” to a “sinker.”[7]

    Pause to Reflect

    How can different interest areas in the preschool environment (e.g., the block area, the water table, the sensory table, and the playground) be used to enhance children’s explorations of objects and materials?

    Supporting Life Sciences

    Life sciences for young children are about nurturing children’s curiosity and fascination with the natural world and building their understanding and appreciation of living things. Preschool children have various opportunities to engage with living things in their preschool environment. When playing in the yard, they may come across small animals or bugs or notice changes in the trees. They may help take care of the class pet or plants in the room. They participate in different planned activities related to living things, such as going on a neighborhood walk to collect different leaves, search for bugs or other small animals in the yard, sort and classify fruits and vegetables, explore various seeds, plant bulbs, sprout seeds, or grow a garden. Such experiences in the preschool environment can provide the context for rich experiences of scientific inquiry about properties and characteristics of living things.

    The goal is to provide children with opportunities which allow them to closely observe living things, including human beings, and to encourage them to question, explore and investigate physical characteristics, behaviors, habitats, and needs. Through ongoing opportunities to observe and discuss what they have seen, children develop their ideas about living things, how they are the same, and how they differ from one another. They start to sort and classify and look for patterns. They begin to recognize commonalities such as the physical structure and basic needs of different living things, but also the diversity and variation among different organisms.

    clipboard_ee1280b576f284c3fda4f5d7e2b25974c.png
    Figure 10.4: Classrooms can get a butterfly kit to experience the life cycle of butterflies[8]

    The teacher has an important role in guiding children through experiences of exploring and observing animals and plants around them, whether outdoors, as they exist in nature, or indoors in an environment that is as natural as possible. They deepen children’s understanding of living things, including features of their own body parts and processes, by encouraging children to observe closely, raise questions, investigate more about a topic, describe and represent their observations, and by creating opportunities for discussion and reflection. At the same time, they model wonder and excitement of the natural world and an attitude of respect for living things and their habitats.

    Key Concepts in Life Sciences

    In studying animals, plants, and humans, children develop an understanding of key concepts related to living things such as:

    • All living things have basic needs that must be met for them to grow and survive.
    • The body parts of living things are useful for them in meeting their needs.
    • The physical characteristics of living things reflect how they move and behave.
    • Living things have their habitats in different environments.
    • All living things grow over time and go through changes related to the life cycle.

    There is variation and diversity in living things

    1.0 Properties and Characteristics of Living Things

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    1.1 Identify characteristics of a variety of animals and plants, including appearance (inside and outside) and behavior, and begin to categorize them.

    1.1 Identify characteristics of a greater variety of animals and plants and demonstrate an increased ability to categorize them.

    1.2 Begin to indicate knowledge of body parts and process (e.g., eating, sleeping, breathing, walking) in humans and other animals.

    1.2 Indicate greater knowledge of body parts and processes (e.g., eating, sleeping, breathing, walking) in humans and other animals.

    1.3 Identify the habitats of people and familiar animals and plants in the environment and begin to realize that living things have habitats in different environments.

    1.3 Recognize that living things have habitats in different environments suited to their unique needs.

    1.4 Indicate knowledge of the difference between animate objects (animals, people) and inanimate objects. For example, expect animate objects to initiate movement and to have different insides than inanimate objects.

    1.4 Indicate knowledge of the difference between animate and inanimate objects, providing greater detail, and recognizing that only animals and plants undergo biological processes such as growth, illness, healing, and dying.

    2.0 Changes in Living Things

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    2.1 Observe and explore growth and changes in humans, animals, and plants and demonstrate an understanding that living things change over time in size and in other capacities as they grow.

    2.1 Observe and explore growth in humans, animals, and plants and demonstrate an increased understanding that living things change as they grow and go through transformations related to the life cycle (for example, from a caterpillar to butterfly).

    2.2 Recognize that animals and plants require care and begin to associate feeding and watering with the growth of humans, animals, and plants.

    2.2 Develop a greater understanding of the basic needs of humans, animals, and plants (e.g., food, water, sunshine, shelter).

    clipboard_e908b44300afb6b4e1166e424339b2702.png
    Figure 10.5: Children can help plant, maintain, and harvest from a garden.[9]

    Teachers can support children’s development of the life sciences foundations with the following:

    • Focus children’s explorations on key concepts of living things
    • Take children on outdoor explorations of plants and animals.
    • Model curiosity and interest in nature
    • Remind children to be respectful of nature
    • Engage children in conversations about what they notice and point their attention to important aspects of living things
    • Document children’s outdoor explorations
    • Provide children with tools for explorations of living things
    • Include plants and animals indoors
    • Engage children in close observations of living things (animals, plants, and fruits and vegetables)
    • Invite children to share in-home experiences with living things
    • Use books to enrich and extend children’s study of living things
    • Provide children with opportunities to care for plants and animals
    • Provide children with opportunities to observe and monitor plants’ growth and development
    • Engage children in reflective conversations in small or large groups
    • Involve families in children’s planting and gardening experiences
    • Provide children with opportunities to observe changes and transformations in animals passing through stages of the life cycle
    • Provide children with opportunities to observe changes and transformations in animals passing through stages of the life cycle
    • Discuss the death of living things from the scientific perspective of death, and explain to them that all living things die (families should be informed of the discussions to be prepared to answer questions).
    • Invite children to investigate their own growth[10]

    Vignettes

    While playing outdoors, Gregory pointed up to the oak tree and shouted, “Look, a squirrel up in the tree.” Joanna whispered, “Shhh . . . You will scare the squirrel away.” They stood there silently, watching the squirrel. Soon more children joined them. Ms. Leon, watched them observing the squirrel and asked, “What do you think the squirrel is doing?” (Pause) “What do you think he is looking for?” She listened carefully to the children’s ideas and questions while observing the squirrel: “It is climbing up.” “He is looking at us.” “I think he is looking for something to eat.” Joanna asked Ms. Leon, “Is that where he lives?” Ms. Leon turned the question right back to her and asked, “What do you think?” Ms. Leon expected this question to come up because recently they were talking about the habitats of different animals and commented that some animals live in trees. Later, during group time, Ms. Leon invited children to share with the group their observations of the squirrel. She brought up her question again: “What do you think the squirrel was looking for in the tree?” Some children said that squirrels were looking for food. Ms. Leon asked, “What kind of food do you think squirrels may find in the tree?” Joanna suggested, “Maybe they eat leaves.” Miguel said, “Maybe the squirrel was looking for seeds.” Ms. Leon answered, “Oh, so you think that squirrels may eat leaves, nuts, and seeds. Let’s get our small binoculars and journals and observe the squirrels to find out what squirrels are doing in the tree and what they like to eat.


    The teacher cut open the avocado, and Danny got really excited. “I knew there was going to be a big seed inside.” Ms. Wilson replied, “You did predict that there was going to be a big seed inside.” She invited children to observe the inside of the avocado. Rena said, “It has this thing inside.” Sara pointed to the empty half and said, “This is where it was.” The teacher replied, “It is the avocado seed.” She took out the seed and handed it to Rena. “Oh, it is slippery.” Ms. Wilson put it on a tray and said, “It does feel very slimy.” She invited children to observe the seed. “What does it look like? What does it feel like?” After she gave children time to observe the avocado seed, she pointed to the other fruits in the basket and said, “I wonder if these fruits are also going to have seeds inside. What do you think?” Rena said, “Maybe the orange will not have very big seeds.” Danny said, “The avocado has a big seed inside, not the orange.” Ms. Wilson asked, “What do you think is inside the orange?” The teacher invited the children to predict what kind of seeds are inside an orange, a mango, a butternut squash, a papaya, and a plum and wrote down their predictions. She then invited the children to cut open the fruits and check what was inside[11]

    Pause to Reflect

    How can you find out what ideas, interests, cultural beliefs, or fears the children in your group bring to their study of living things?

    Supporting Earth Sciences

    When children play with dirt, jump in puddles, collect rocks, observe the rain, or feel the heat of the sun, they have direct contact with aspects of the earth. Daily interactions and direct contact with objects and earth events provide children with the context to observe and explore properties of earth materials and to identify patterns of change in the world around them (for example, patterns of day and night, and changes in temperature). With teachers’ guidance, children’s everyday interactions and direct contact with objects and earth events can become rich, inquiry based experiences of earth sciences.

    clipboard_ec5a6ec0310bc662cb14343d6ed6e2c51.png
    Figure 10.6: Exploring outdoors helps connect children with nature.[12]

    Teachers can provide children with opportunities to explore the physical properties of earth materials and to observe, record, and track changes in the weather and how it affects the living world. Exploratory interactions with earth materials and ongoing observations of earth phenomena enhance children’s connection to nature and raise their awareness of the importance of caring for and respecting the natural world. The box below summarizes key concepts in earth sciences. The following section provides practical strategies to engage children in rich, focused explorations of earth materials and phenomena.

    Key Concepts in Earth Sciences

    In studying earth materials and phenomena, children become aware of key characteristics of earth:

    • Earth materials (soil, sand, rocks, air, water) are part of the natural environment.
    • Earth materials have different properties.
    • There are patterns of change in earth phenomena (day/night; seasons). Natural objects in the sky (sun, moon) are not always in the same place.
    • Temperature and weather changes can be tracked over time.
    • Weather and seasonal changes affect the environment.

    People should respect and care for the environment.

    1.0 Properties and Characteristics of Earth Materials and Objects

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    1.1 Investigate characteristics (size, weight, shape, color, texture) of earth materials such as sand, rocks, soil, water, and air.

    1.1 Demonstrate increased ability to investigate and compare characteristics (size, weight, shape, color, texture) of earth materials such as sand, rocks, soil, water, and air.

    2.0 Changes in the Earth

    At around 48 months of age

    At around 60 months of age

    2.1 Observe and describe natural objects in the sky (sun, moon, stars, clouds) and how they appear to move and change.

    2.1 Demonstrate an increased ability to observe and describe natural objects in the sky and to notice patterns of movement and apparent changes in the sun and the moon.

    2.2 Notice and describe changes in weather.

    2.2 Demonstrate an increased ability to observe, describe, and discuss changes in weather.

    2.3 Begin to notice the effects of weather and seasonal changes on their own lives and on plants and animals.

    2.3 Demonstrate an increased ability to notice and describe the effects of weather and seasonal changes on their own lives and on plants and animals.

    2.4 Develop awareness of the importance of caring for and respecting the environment and participate in activities related to its care.

    2.4 Demonstrate an increased awareness and the ability to discuss in simple terms how to care for the environment, and participate in activities related to its care.

    Teachers can support children’s development of the earth science foundations with the following:

    • Take children on a search for earth materials in nature
    • Invite children to observe, compare and classify earth materials
    • Invite children to explore and experiment with earth materials
    • Use opportunities to explore earth materials in the context of studying living things or when exploring other solid and nonsolid materials
    • Invite children to share in-home experiences with earth materials
    • Engage children in observing and describing the sun and the moon and other natural objects in the sky
    • Provide children with opportunities to observe, record, and discuss the weather
      • Develop an awareness of the daily weather
      • Invite children to record and discuss changes in the weather
      • Invite children to observe and discuss the effects of weather and seasonal changes on their life and the environment around them
      • Engage families in children’s explorations of weather and seasonal change
    • Model and discuss respect for the environment
    • Engage children in caring for and protecting the environment through everyday routines in the preschool environment
    • Collect and use recycled materials[13]

    Vignettes

    Ms. Tina observes the children playing at the sandbox. Ted fills up the bucket with water and pours it on the sand. Olivia and Ted watch as the water is absorbed by the sand. Next they begin to pile the sand into a mound. Olivia says, “It’s like a mountain. Let’s make it bigger.” They add more sand and compact it together. Their mountain is beginning to take shape and gets bigger and bigger. Olivia says, “I am going to get water.” She gets a small bucket and gently pours it on top of the mountain. She notices how the water creates a depression in the sand and then flows down. Ted says, “Like a river.” He gets more water in the bucket and pours it again in the same place. The depressed part gets bigger. Ms. Tina gets closer and asks, “What happens when the water is flowing down your mountain?” Ted describes, “The water makes a hole in the mountain. Olivia says, “It takes the sand down.” Ms. Tina said, “A little bit of water at the beginning helped to hold the mountain together, but pouring a large amount of water causes the sand to slip and slide away. It can also happen in nature, when water breaks down the land.”


    Today, Rena’s father came to school to share with the group some of his kites and to build a kite with the children. First, he invited the children to observe him flying one of his kites in the air, and then the children took turns flying the kite together with him. After they came inside, Rena’s father asked the children, “So what do you think makes the kite fly up?” Children came up with different answers. “The wind touches the kite all around, and it goes up in the sky. It pushes the kite up, up, up, up in the sky.” Another child said, “The air goes through the holes of the kite, and it moves the kite to the sky.” Rena’s dad invited children to notice the shape of the kite, and together they discovered that the kites he brought have a similar shape, “like a diamond.” He also asked them why they think the kite needs to be light and not heavy, and one of the children said, “Because it needs to fly up.” Rena’s dad told them, “A long time ago, kites were invented in China. People used bamboo sticks and silk to make kites.” He then invited children to build a kite. “Now we are going to build our own kite. What do you think we need to build a kite?


    Every month the children observe the oak tree outdoors and keep records of how it changes from month to month. Ms. B. encourages children to make drawings of the tree, and together with the children, she takes photos of it once a month. While observing the tree, Ms. B invites them to share their observations: “What changes do you see?” “Why do you think the tree changed like that?” Through such discussions, Ms. B helps children to begin to draw the connection between the changes they observe in the tree and the changes in the weather and seasons. In the fall, children collected fallen oak acorns and leaves. They were fascinated with its deeply lobed leaves, and some of them made drawings of the oak leaves in their journals. They also observed the acorns and talked about them as well as other trees around the yard that have dry fruit similar to the acorn. Ms. B creates a class book with the observational drawings, children’s words, and photographs documenting the changes the children observe each month. By the end of the school year, the book will include their documentation of the tree in order of the seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer.[14]

    References

    [1] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [2] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission;

    The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [3] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [4] Image by Staff Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson is in the public domain.

    [5] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission;

    The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [6] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [7] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [8] Image by Stamford Museum & Nature Center is licensed by CC-BY-3.0

    [9] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [10] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission;

    The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [11] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [12] Image by the Preschool at Charles Wright Academy is licensed by CC-BY-3.0

    [13] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission;

    The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 3 by the California Department of Education is used with permission

    [14] The California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 1 by the California Department of Education is used with permission


    This page titled 10.4: Introducing the Foundations is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jennifer Paris, Kristin Beeve, & Clint Springer.