Parents and caregivers often ask what young children need to know before kindergarten; this is the 19th in a series of blog posts on kindergarten readiness and early learning basics. No matter the age of your little one, this will give you a general picture of what to do as your child’s very first teacher.
No, kindergarten readiness isn’t rocket science, but kids should have some basic science before they go to school. Most children will know that leaves grow on trees and that birds have feathers. Kids can tell us that the sun shines during the day and we can see the moon at night. When asked, most kids answer that fish swim in water and birds fly in the air. The names of obvious body parts and parts for the 5 senses are easy for most kids to name.
This information seems so general, that you may wonder why it would be included. If a child does not have this basic science knowledge, it may indicate a lack of experience or learning challenge and should be checked.
How do children learn early science? Often, by asking questions that seem to be endless, especially ones that start with why. Also, by observing and exploring the world around them. As kids turn over rocks, tap on the ground with sticks, and jump in piles of leaves, they are learning and developing their understanding of themselves and nature.This time of year, are there some seasonal changes to notice? What are the plants doing? What’s the weather like where your family lives? Over the weekend, if possible can you include some time for your child to question, observe, discover and wonder about science?
Kids love to explore and discover and we can use that enjoyment to build one of the very most important kindergarten readiness factors–being excited to learn. For the whole month of October kids have been seeing pumpkins all over. Now, it’s time for some hands-on science. More accurately, that would be hands-in.
Grown-ups need to do the careful cutting of a lid in the pumpkin. But kids can help do the scooping out of the seeds and the strings. Some kids dislike the slippery feel and do not want to touch “that yucky stuff.” A big spoon can help them scoop without touching. Save the pumpkin seeds to roast and eat. To lock in the learning, talk with your child about the discovery. Is the pumpkin the same inside as outside? What’s different about the inside? What kind of seeds are these? Remember, little ones don’t know that pumpkin seeds will grow only pumpkins. Some discoveries take only minutes, some take a very long time but readiness for kindergarten can happen anytime. What kind of discoveries and science learning happened with this pumpkin activity?
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’–cause it’s round, the hockey puck that is.
Hockey pucks only come in a thick circle shape. That makes them great for sliding, rolling and for an easy science activity. Using a short board or even a long cookie sheet, place one end down on the floor and the other up on a few books or the lower rung on a chair to make a ramp. Find some different items for your child to send down the ramp, such as: a little Soft ball, a small block, a few plastic containers that are different shapes, a toy car, small stuffies, etc. Kids notice very soon that some things roll and go down faster than others. Littler ones will be content to just try things. Older ones can be challenged by putting the items into groups. Some groups might be things that roll, things that slide, or things that stick.
This play activity can be very exciting as the child tries over and over to check out what objects will do. It’s not just play time, it’s learning time. These kinds of play/learning activities lead right to readiness for kindergarten.
Kids are practicing observing and testing. They are surprised when some things roll that they didn’t expect; that’s predicting using their own level of knowledge. When something rolls that they think should roll, they are confirming what they know. That can give quite a feeling of excitement at being able to figure things out. You may hear some squeals and cheers, mixed in with some groans and sighs, much like adults watching the score. Kindergarten readiness with a hockey puck. Does this hockey science activity score for your child?
Spring is the season for new growth. What kinds of things grow? When my daughter was quite young, she noticed that some of her clothes didn’t fit her anymore. She thought that her clothes were somehow alive and that they were growing smaller. Kids have lots of things to figure out, especially when so many words … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Spring and Growing
Faith and begorra, you didna need 3 guesses to know that today’s color magic would be mixing blue and yellow. As in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts, cover the work surface to protect it from leprechauns. Use paints, food coloring, crayons or felt markers. Give your child either a small brush or q-tip and a clean … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – St. Patrick’s Day Science
Yesterday, we added another kind of enchantment, the magic of colors. The secret formula we tried was red and yellow. Today, blue and red have a turn. Food coloring or paints work best, but felts and crayons can also be used. Cover the work surface with newspaper because some colors will not magically disappear. Using a clean … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Magic Comes In All Colors
March posts at the start of the month talked about the magic and learning in fairy tales. Later this month, we’ll do a few more but with what’s happening on Thursday (St. Patrick’s Day) we’ll change to another kind of magic–colors! Where do colors come from? How do we get so many of them? Here’s … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Color Magic
Books, drawing, math, reading, cooking, and other skills have all been part of the moose on the loose series. Another simple activity that you can do in minutes at home is basic science. Given the likelihood that your child has not yet seen a live moose, use an animal that is familiar, such as a … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Moose #9