I hope you enjoy! This has also been posted over at Teaching My 3.
If there were two words that belong together, it's definitely: children and curious. Children are curious about everything around them in the world. It doesn't matter what age or size, they are always observing and noticing. Plus, they typically are asking questions too. We all know (as teachers or parents) about the infamous 'why' phase that kids go through. I love watching my students and my own kids being curious.
Mariah Bruehl says that there are three stages of children developing as scientific observers.
Stage 1: Typically young children are found in this stage. They are very curious about everything! Mariah recommends lots of hands-on activities and explorations. This could be anything from letting them go outside with a magnifying glass to actually taking apart found objects like a flower or acorn. I love to point out different insects to my kids (except for ants... I'm allergic and keep my distance :) )! This summer, we have followed praying mantises, cicadas, and a walking stick. My son thought that they were so awesome! Taking your child to the library to "research" their newest interests. It's important for their discoveries to be linked to the real world. Children in the stage benefit the most when they are learning how their discoveries apply to them.
Stage 2: According to Mariah, stage 2 "is marked by a child's ability to notice, talk about, and document the finer points of the natural world." Depending on which scale you use, this would be Application/Applying on Bloom's or a Level 2 for DOK. (Check out the difference here.) Children in this stage take their observations and collections to new levels by beginning to classify, question, and draw conclusions. You can begin having your child or students form hypothesises and go through the general steps of the scientific method (question, hypothesis, experiment, draw conclusion).
Stage 3: Children at this stage are very comfortable with the process of exploring their environment as creating self-initiated experiments or discoveries. Mariah explains that two of the main characteristics of this stage are the students wanting to name objects and record discoveries. When Mariah's two children reached this stage, she introduced science notebooks to her girls. She made sure that they were accessible at all times but never, ever forced the girls to use them. To encourage them to name the objects, she showed them how to use field guides and made sure that they were always around for her girls to use as well.
How does this work in my classroom?
I love that I do many of these things in my own classroom as well. Kindergarteners are in stage 2 at the beginning of the year and slowly progress into stage 3 as the year goes on. Mariah Bruehl includes some awesome ideas for activities to encourage science investigations. I especially love the terrarium idea! I will definitely be doing something similar to this this year!
Here is another great idea for you to use this year!
While discussing living and non-living, take the students outside with hula hoops (either enough for each student or split them into groups to share. Provide the students with magnifying glasses, recording sheets, pencils/markers/crayons/etc., clip boards, and let them dive in!
I have the students observe and draw what they see in the circle. Then they can discuss what is living and what is non-living. I've created several sheets that you can pick and choose from. They can be put into a science notebook, projected, etc... However best fits your class/kids and your needs!
Living Nonliving Packet
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