Elementary school science curriculum varies throughout the school
districts, but educators everywhere agree that a hands-on approach
to learning which allows a child's natural curiosity to bloom
is the best way to teach science. The National Curriculum suggests
and supports the idea that science, which invites curiosity and
inquisitiveness, should be in the daily curriculum of every student
in every elementary school.
Science in kindergarten classes is as basic as helping the children to understand
that things are either living or non-living. A lesson for the
class can be as simple as observing and identifying an object
and having the children decided whether it is living or non-living
by asking a few questions about it. The lesson could be planned
for inside or outside and any number of objects can be chosen.
As long as the children are involved first-hand and they can participate
in the investigation, it is science for them. It facilitates the
learning process when a lesson starts out broadly and is based
on something the children are familiar with, such as a bug or
a rock. Does it grow? Does it eat or absorb nutrients in some
manner? Does it move? These questions are all part of classifying
an object as living or non-living. Remembering that the students
here are very young, the lessons should remain simple. They can
make some simple observations, identify the object and classify
it. By recording the data, the teacher has added another scientific
process called sequencing or ordering.
The lessons for first graders can take things a few steps further.
The science processes that are to be incorporated into lessons
include: observing and identifying, classifying, measuring, sequencing
or ordering, inferring, predicting and communicating. These processes
are common to all science disciplines, an element which experts
say help students learn science best.
First grade science projects can be built around earth science,
life science and physical science. The children can study objects
and use the scientific processes to classify whether they are
plant or animal, living or non-living and can answer scientific
questions posed by the teacher. They can take measurements, make
charts or graphs and through inference, does it have offspring
that resembles it?, can make decisions about classification. The
students can communicate through drawings or verbally their results.
A possible project in life science for first graders can be the
study of mammals and learning what it takes to classify an animal
as a mammal. Second graders can take the processes to the next
level and study vertebrates.
An Earth Science project for the same class may be to study the
weather. Seasons, clouds, the sun and even the water cycle can
all be elements of the lesson. Students can use thermometers to
test the temperature inside the classroom and outside. An earth
science lesson for second graders may include the basic elements
of the solar system: the sun, moon, earth, stars and the planets.
Modeling, manipulatives and reading materials bring other disciplines
on board this lesson.
Simple machines may be studied for the physical science lesson
for the younger children. The forces of friction and gravity can
be exemplified in any number of ways and language arts can be
part of the lesson with the introduction of a story about Johnny
Appleseed or a book about Isaac Newton. Adding diagrams or trying
an experiment with gravity x number of times also includes mathematics.
Tying all of these disciplines into one lesson is a great way
to make it memorable. Second graders are ready for more information
and more scientific processes, so they may study matter and its
At first glance, science in kindergarten or first grade may seem
so simple as to be non-essential, but exactly the opposite is
true. It gives the children an opportunity to begin to function
as problem solvers, a necessity in every discipline across the