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Life Science for Early Childhood Learners

Introduction

This webpage provides early childhood educators with information and resources developed by California University of Pennsylvania and partners with grant funding from PNC Financial Services Group. There is more information about the PNC Grow UP Great with Science project at Cal U on this webpage. Follow the links below to access science activities and resources for early childhood science education.

Science Activity Ideas for Early Childhood Learners

These science activity and resource wepages are organized by Pennsylvania's Early Childhood Learning Standards (2009 rev). The activities were developed and presented by Cal U faculty, students, project partner staff and invited experts at the teacher workshops or family field trips. These workshops and field trips covered specific themes so not all EC standards will have activity suggestions. Some activities are ready to use while others will require some adapation in materials or procedures for your specific circumstances.

Life Science

Environment & Ecology Science

Physical Science

Earth Science

Science Inquiry

Designing a Solution to an Everyday Problem (Technology & Engineering Design)

Science Teaching Strategies for Early Childhood Learners

These science teaching strategy wepagse provide research-based, best practice suggestions on how to teach early childhood learners science. They are organized by the science teaching strategy.

What Should Teachers Do When They Teach Science?

What Should Children Do When They "Do Science?"

 

Grow Up Great with Science Project Vision

Early childhood science learning should: 
  • originate from children’s own explanations and questions.
  • center on authentic, experiential learning within the context of family life.
  • extend from children’s naturalistic play.
  • focus on developing age appropriate science process skills such as observing, exploring and explaining.
  • use local places such as school grounds, forests, fields, wetlands and human communities as locations for learning science and also as the focus of science learning.
  • integrate instruction that blurs the traditional academic boundaries between science, math, literacy, social studies, art and physical wellness.

Characteristics of Life

 

Living or Nonliving
The children will learn the difference between living and nonliving things. Living things grow, breathe, reproduce, and respond to stimuli while nonliving thing cannot.  After learning the differences between living and nonliving things, the students will be presented with a variety of objects and asked to sort them into the appropriate category.

All About Goats
Students will learn what goats eat and what they can get from goats.  They will also have the opportunity to milk a goat.

Matching Leaves
Children will try to match their leaf to the leaf on the board.  They will then be able to see a picture of the tree and seed/nut corresponding to their leaf.

All About Cattle
Children will have the opportunity to see beef cattle and learn how they use plants.

 

Life Cycles

Garlic Planting

Children will plant garlic in a milk carton. At home, they can watch it grow and then can help use it in a recipe.

Johnny Appleseed

Children will listen to “Johnny Appleseed” and learn about his life.

Matching Leaves

Children will try to match their leaf to the leaf on the board. They will then be able to see a picture of the tree and seed/nut corresponding to their leaf.

Plant or Animal

Children will sort various objects into plant or animal categories. Most plants make their food using sunlight energy. Animals get their food energy from other living things.

Preservation of Fruit

Children will see the different stages of decay. They will also observe and taste canned peaches. The children will also learn where pickles come from.

 

 

Form and Function of Living Things

Birds

Birds use their beaks for feeding, and you can learn what a bird eats by looking at its beak. The shapes and sizes of beaks are physical adaptations that allow them to eat particular kinds of food. The children will pretend to eat with “beaks” and decide which foods are easiest to eat.

How Old is a Tree

Children will learn what annual rings are and practice their counting skills by counting the rings to see how old the tree was. They will then use paper and a pencil to draw their own life rings.

 

 

Unifying Themes

Goats

Children will observe goats and learn about the plants they eat. They will also sample some food goats provide to people. Goats eat a wide variety of plants and are especially fond of briars and brush. Dairy goats produce milk just like cows. This milk can be used for drinking and making cheese. Other kinds of goats can be raised for their meat. Many people around the world raise goats.

Sheep and Wool

Children will observe sheep and learn about the plants they eat. They will also sample meat and feel wool. Sheep use their wool to stay warm in the winter. We also use their wool for yarn to make sweaters and blankets to help keep us warm. Their wool also protects them from the rain, like a raincoat does for people.

What Makes a Duck a Duck

Children will observe young ducklings and learn how a duck’s body makes it suited to live near the water. They will learn that a duck’s feet are webbed. Children will be able to try on flippers and experiment with walking and paddling water. They will compare chicken feathers with duck feathers and place drops of water on each to learn how ducks repel water. They will also learn how a duck’s bill is suitable for scooping up food.

 

 

Life Science Inquiry

All About Apples

Children can use many of their senses to observe the differences of apples. They will feel, see, smell and taste the different apples.

All About Grain

Children will have the opportunity to use their senses to observe a variety of different grains, weat, barley, oats, shelled corn and ear corn.

Birds and Binoculars

Children will have the opportunity to listen to unique songs of many different birds including robins, blue jays, junco, chickadees, and cardinals. After listening to the sound of the birds students will have a chance to play a game and try to guess which bird they are listening to. The teacher will hide one of the plush birds behind their back and make the bird call. The children will try to guess which bird is making the noise based on the sound it is making. They will also have the opportunity to use and explore binoculars and birdcalls to try to observe birds in nature.

Cows

Children will be able to look and feel the textures of the different types of food that cows eat. Different types of cows provide us with meat to eat and milk to drink. The children will be able to see how many gallons of milk one cow produce a day. They will also have the chance to ask questions and learn some facts about cows.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Children will see both fresh fruit and also the dried version of the same fruit. They can taste each kind. They will also see and taste different nuts.

How Old is a Tree

Children will learn what annual rings are, and practice their counting skills by counting the rings to see how old the tree was. They will then use paper and a pencil to draw their own life rings.

Preservation of Fruit

Children can see the different stages of decay. They can also observe and taste canned peaches and they will learn where pickles come from.

Under One Log

Children are asked to look under a log for animals. Logs provide a safe home and food for many things that live there. The children will use magnifying glasses to get a closer look of each animal.

Wooden Instruments

Children will use visual and listening skills to see and listen to various wooden instruments.

 

 

Genetics

Snakes

Children will observe snakes and learn about their characteristics. Children will learn about animals that snakes eat (rodents, fish). They will sort through pictures of food and determine if a snake eats it or doesn’t eat it. They will also have the chance to observe a real snake and describe how it looks and moves.

 

Reproduction

Chickens

Children will have the opportunity to observe the various stages of a chicken’s life cycle including eggs and live chickens. There will be a bin of dried corn for students to touch and explore. Students will learn that chickens provide eggs and meat for people to eat.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Children will see both fresh fruit and also the dried version of the same fruit. They can taste each kind. They will also see and taste different nuts.

From Seed to Bread

The teacher will explain how Native Americans used corn, the children will get to grind corn and also sample homemade cornbread.

Johnny Appleseed

Children will listen to “Johnny Appleseed” and learn about his life.

 

Observable Patterns in Life Science

Animal Tracking

An animal track is a mark left by animal's feet. You can find the path, or which way the animal went, by observing its tracks. At this station, children will practice following animal tracks and learn about the animals that made them. They will also learn how tracks are made by making their own with play-dough.

Art with Grain and Beans

Children will use grain and beans to make a picture.

Building Blocks

At this station, children can use wooden blocks to build different things.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Children will see both fresh fruit and also the dried version of the same fruit. They can taste each kind. They will also see and taste different nuts.

How Old is a Tree

Children will learn what annual rings are, and practice their counting skills by counting the rings to see how old the tree was. They will then use paper and a pencil to draw their own life rings.

Matching Leaves

Children will try to match their leaf to the leaf on the board. They will then be able to see a picture of the tree and seed/nut corresponding to their leaf.

Wooden Instruments

At this station, children will use visual and listening skills to see and listen to various wooden instruments.

 

 

Adaptations

Bird Nests

Birds live in nests for shelter like we live in our houses. They build their nests as a home for their eggs. Birds build their nests in trees, bushes, and on the ground. Children will have the opportunity to observe different birds’ nests and build one of their own using the materials provided.

Blue Bird Houses

Children will have the opportunity to learn about the Eastern Bluebird as they construct a blue bird house. They will be able to listen to the sounds the blue bird makes, learn the type of environment a blue bird lives in, and learn examples of foods a blue bird may eat. After constructing the bird house, students will be able to take them home.

Camouflage

The children will learn about camouflage and how animals use it for protection by blending into their environment. The students will use observation to figure out which background camouflages the animal best. The children will also have the opportunity to stand next to a colored background that they think will best camouflage them based on their clothing.

Pigs

Pigs are very clean and intelligent animals that use mud to stay cool. At this station children will explore why mud feels cooler on a hot day. People stay cool by sweating, but pigs only have sweat glands in their noses In order for pigs to stay cool, they roll in the mud. Children wil alsol get to see the difference in temperatures between the air and mud. 

 

Inquiry

Deer

Children will observe deer jaws, fur, and antlers for clues about how they survive in the wild. Using binoculars the students will look for deer, follow their tracks, and construct a deer picture.

Going Camping

Camping provides a wonderful learning experience for children to connect with nature. Children will have the opportunity to explore various pieces of camping equipment such as a tent, sleeping bag, and more. They will learn basic safety rules of camping and learn the best way to set up camp.

Insects

All insects are made up of 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and 6 legss. They also all have an exoskeleton to protect the insides of their body, compound eyes to see all around, and two antennae to sense their surroundings. Insects can also have wings like a butterfly or none at all like an ant. At this station, children will observe live insects thinking about how their body parts help them survive. They will then use their observations to make an insect of their own.

Nature Craft

Children will create nature bookmarks using items found in nature. Children will have the opportunity to use dried flowers, twigs, and leaves to decorate their bookmark made out of clear contact paper.

Teeth

Children will examine the model teeth to see the differences between the carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore teeth. They will have the opportunity to examine and touch the different kinds of animal teeth. They will make predictions about what kinds of food the animal eats by investigating the teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: June 26, 2013

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