Children are natural scientists. They love to observe and should be encouraged to talk about their observations. We can help guide them to “discover” many key concepts. Asking questions and having children sort objects into categories helps in science learning. This has the added benefit of helping develop oral vocabulary and even pre-reading skills.
Go for a walk around the school neighborhood or playground. Ask children to find the living things. When you go back into the room, ask children to draw one of the living things they saw. Have children show their work and verbalize why this is a living thing. Responses such as these are age-appropriate observations:
- It moves.
- It grows.
- It needs food.
- It breathes (actually exchanges gases like in the case of plants)
Have children look around the room for representations of living things. Examples include stuffed or plastic animals, plants, the children, pictures in books of fish, etc. Children can bring their items to circle time and verbalize their reasoning for why the item represents a living thing. This helps develop new vocabulary.
We also like to incorporate movement and have children show how a plant moves or talk about the needs of animals for food and air. Some concepts are likely to be beyond what a preschooler can easily understand but we think it is helpful to introduce vocabulary such as a plant gives off oxygen, the air we need. It takes in carbon dioxide.
Children can then circle items on a worksheet such as the one below to identify living things:
For more on a unique living things, see our Weekly Activity, "Sand Dollars." It is a good way to integrate literacy skills with an unusual living thing. Sign up in the white box with your email.
Head Start: IV. C; VI. B.; VIII. B.; XI. A & B.
NAEYC: 2.B.04; 2.D.04; 2.D.07; 2.G.02; 2.G.08.