From short experiments to probing questions, parents can help kids develop important kindergarten science skills right at home.

By Fiona Tapp
July 02, 2020
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You already know your child is a natural-born scientist. Kids are curious by nature, love to test things out, experiment, and learn by doing. By the time they start kindergarten, it's safe to say they've mastered the basics of testing out a hypothesis and investigating it for themselves, but there's so much more to learn.

Although curriculum expectations differ from state to state, you can expect your kindergarten age child to learn about the basics of scientific experimentation, plus these key science concepts:

  • The Physical Sciences (chemistry, physics, astronomy)
  • The Earth Sciences (weather, seasons, our planet, the solar system)
  • Life Sciences (ourselves, plant, animal life)

Here, we breakdown a few specific lessons they'll be learning and suggest simple ways you can support your child's new science skills at home. Before you know it, your budding scientist will be the one teaching you a thing or two!

Weather and Seasons

Kindergarten children begin their exploration of the earth sciences by observing the natural phenomenon they experience every day. They'll discuss the changing seasons and read stories about weather and different times of the day. They may also begin to look at extreme weather and earth features like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk about the movement of the sun throughout the day, daily weather conditions, and the seasons in your normal daily lives.
  • Teach your child about rain with this simple experiment. Fill a clear container with water and then spray shaving cream onto the top. Let your child drop food coloring onto the top of the rain clouds (shaving cream) watch carefully as the color falls through as rain!

Ourselves

Small children love to learn more about themselves so "Ourselves" is a popular kindergarten topic across subject areas. As part of life sciences, they'll observe how living things grow and develop.

How you can help at home:

  • Measure your child using different units of measure like blocks or toys and talk about the differences they have experienced as they have grown up. Show them baby pictures and talk about their early development.
  • Help them to learn about one of their amazing senses with this simple experiment. Prepare small containers with different smells including cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, almond, ginger, curry, lemon, etc.
  • See if they can guess each smell, which ones do they like/dislike the most?
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Animals and Plants

Continuing their education in the life sciences children in kindergarten will also learn about animal and plant life on Earth. They'll compare and sort different animals based on their classification such as mammal, reptile, bird.

How you can help at home:

  • Grow a plant from seed and show your child how to care for it each day. Talk about its needs including sunlight and water.
  • If you have a pet, get your child to notice its features and needs. Give them an animal care chore-like feeding the fish or brushing the dog to learn more about animals.

Materials and Their Properties

As part of learning about the physical world, children will be expected to explore and describe their environment. They will use their senses to identify different materials and describe them using words like shiny, bumpy, soft, hard, etc.

How you can help at home:

  • Read the "Three Little Pigs" and ask your child to describe the different materials the pigs used to construct their homes. Discuss their properties and why some were better than others.
  • Play with a feely bag, place different household objects inside, and have your child feel and describe them without looking.

Experimentation Skills

Kindergarten science introduces children to the basic scientific skills they will utilize throughout their school life. These essential scientific skills include:

  • Observing
  • Predicting
  • Testing
  • Evaluating

Children will have the opportunity to develop these scientific skills through basic experiments and observations. They'll be asked to look closely, to use their best guesses to predict what will happen next, to test and experiment, and to carefully think about the results.

How you can help at home:

Frequently ask your kindergartner lots of questions to develop their natural curiosity. Say:

  • What do you think will happen?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • What would happen if….?

It's also important to show your child that even adults don't know all the answers and to model how to look for reliable information.

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