Science standards are even in place for our littlest learners as they set out on their academic journey! You are thier first introduction to the wonderful world of science and STEM. How do you get your littlest students learning science and meeting the kindergarten science standards? Read on to see how this important foundation of STEM mixed with the science standards plus a dash of play makes it easy to set up in your classroom.
KINDERGARTEN SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS SERIES)
Don’t miss the first two installments of the NGSS science standards series..
LITTLE KIDS LOVE STEM!
Kindergarten is actually the craziest thing! If you take a minute to stop and think about it. It’s wild to me that we ask 4, 5 and 6-year-olds to come to school, sit quietly, and learn things like foundational science concepts.
This is coming from me, a former K teacher/non-parent! I can’t imagine how parents feel sending their kiddos off and having them come home talking about the STEAM design process, ecosystems, and weather patterns. Kids understand it, and even more, they LOVE it!
These little ones are sponges. Things like STEAM or STEM and the NGSS standards actually help us as teachers tap into how they learn best – by doing and being hands-on with their learning.
Our kinders are also playful, curious and inquisitive. This is like the perfect storm for learning and meeting what NGSS sets out for our K students.
So if we have little vessels sitting in front of us, waiting to be filled with knowledge, why does it seem so daunting of a task to get started teaching the NGSS standards to them? It doesn’t have to feel this way and I’m here to offer you some advice: KEEP IT SIMPLE!
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KINDERGARTEN SCIENCE STANDARDS SIMPLIFIED
The first thing a K teacher should do to get their students into NGSS is to start with toys and play! Gather yo-yos, toy cars and ramps/tracks, blocks, a wagon, marbles, etc and get the students playing.
PLAY WITH TOYS!
We know young children learn best through play, so let’s use that to our advantage. How will playing help them learn science concepts?
Well the specific toys suggested above will all help students learn about forces and motion, pushes and pulls. This is a specific set of standards NGSS includes for the grade!
Now that your students are playing, talk to them about what is happening with the toys. Ask them questions like “what might happen if I push this faster?” “What about if I pull it slower?” You can foster conversation surrounding the play and the concepts! Then check those standards off your list! Easy enough right?!
HANDS-ON LEARNING SCIENCE STANDARDS FOR KINDERGARTEN
Something else you can do to get your students prepped for NGSS learning is tap into their hands-on learning desires. You can get the students familiar with the materials they will be using during the year during experiments or problem-solving projects.
Complete guided explorations in whole-group and small-group settings. Kids can check out the materials that you will be using, like tin foil, straws, clay, etc.
Discuss with your students what they know about the materials…
How they have used them?
What ways can they envision using them in the future to solve problems?
Tap into their background knowledge, raise their schema and get them imagining! Familiarity with the materials will also take the mystique out of them and will reduce the need for redirection and reminders later on when it comes times to use them in a science project.
“These are tools not toys” – my famous last words! This will come in handy when you have your students design a structure to reduce the warming effect of the sun on the earth’s surface. This comes later on in the year in the “Energy” set of K standards.
MEETING KINDERGARTEN SCIENCE STANDARDS IN FUN WAYS!
Much of what surrounds your kids every day is what makes up a good portion of the kindergarten science standards.
PLANTS AND ANIMALS SCIENCE STANDARDS
Another suggestion I can make for K teachers diving into the world of NGSS with their students is to use little kids’ love of animals to your advantage too! I have yet to meet a little one who doesn’t have a favorite animal! They can spout endless facts about on-demand. Kids LOVE animals!
And lucky for us, you need to talk about animals in order to meet the NGSS standards for the “From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes” bundle. It’s really just a fancy way of saying we need to teach our kinders about what plants and animals need to survive.
Ask each student what his/her favorite animal is and what it eats, and you’re halfway there. You can talk about plants getting food from the soil, sun and water!
EARTH’S SYSTEMS SCIENCE STANDARDS
You’re thinking, “ok, so far so good, but now I see that the NGSS standards want me to teach ‘Earth’s Systems’ to 5 year-olds and we’re not even sure that meteorologists understand ‘Earth’s systems’”. Have no fear!
All this means is we need to talk to our students about and make observations about the weather where we live. We can tie this into graphing and math, as many of us already do in our morning meetings, and we’re meeting some of the standards.
You can ask the students to have a dress-up day (who doesn’t love a good theme day!) and represent clothing needed for certain kinds of weather. Guess what? You’re meeting some of the standards!
Talk about the number of sunny days, cloudy days, rainy days in a month and compare the temperatures (warm/cool) from that length of time. You’re now meeting NGSS standards!
These activities aren’t too far from what so many K teachers are already doing with their students. This group of standards will likely be one of the easiest and most embedded set for the grade level!
NGSS SCIENCE STANDARDS ACTIVITIES
The final bundled of NGSS standards created for K is the group called “Earth and Human Activity”. This unit is going to bring your plant/animal learning and your weather discussions together!
To meet these standards you can begin to introduce the concept of food chains to the kids. You can talk more about what animals eat, what they need to survive, and how that changes or effects where the animals live.
This includes humans too! You can also discuss more why we have forecasters and why predicting the weather is important. (Take it back to your dress-up day and you’re set!)
Lastly, you can talk to students about conservation, recycling and protecting the earth to meet the final standard in this bundle. I have yet to meet a teacher that doesn’t do something with their students for Earth Day, be it a read-aloud, craft or picking up trash from the playground.
Take this conversation a tad deeper than you normally would and realize that not only did you just do some awesome hands-on teaching and integration, but you also just nailed the NGSS standards!
It is my hope that you have begun to notice that for our littlest learners, the kindergarten science standards is going to feel very natural.
Many of the things that you already do and discuss with your K students are going to meet the necessary NGSS standards and won’t feel “lecture-y” or over their heads/overwhelming.
If you get the kids playing, talking and exploring in hands-on and role-playing situations you are doing an awesome job! Know that you’re already doing a lot of these things with your students.
You can pinpoint the areas or standards that you will need to enhance a bit and then jump in! Be fearless and in no time your students will be the little NGSS science experts we know they can be!
Keep a lookout for a fun list of kindergarten science standards activities you can try out in your classroom!
KINDERGARTEN SCIENCE STANDARDS MADE EASY!
Looking for easy to print activities, and inexpensive problem-based challenges?
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Click below to get your quick and easy STEM challenges.