Typical Kindergarten Science Curriculum

Kindergarten children learning about plants

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One of the primary purposes of kindergarten is to prepare children to learn to read, write, and understand math concepts. We sometimes forget that kindergarten also prepares children to learn and apply scientific principles.

Although science curriculum can vary by state—and even by school—many kindergartners will learn roughly the same science concepts. Knowing what to expect from kindergarten science curriculum can help you support your child's learning at home or provide some guidance if you are considering homeschooling.

Kindergarten Science Basics

In general, kindergartners will develop an understanding of four areas: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and the engineering, technology, and applications of science. During kindergarten your child's learning will be focused on recognizing patterns and formulating answers to questions about the world around them. 

Through science, your child will be encouraged to develop their curiosity and make observations. And as they are introduced to science, your child will begin to develop organized and analytical thinking as well as problem-solving skills.

You can support this by asking your child questions about what they are learning. Ask them to teach you the concepts they have been exposed to, and ask probing questions that require them to think or solve a problem.

Core Areas of Study

The goal of science instruction is help students (in kindergarten and beyond) become scientifically literate citizens who are able to use science to learn more about the natural and material world. At the kindergarten level, your child will just start learning the basics.

If you feel like your child is struggling with a concept, consider exploring the idea at home. You can read a book, visit a science museum, do an experiment, or watch a video.

Physical Sciences

The physical sciences involve the study of the physical world. This includes chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Sometimes the Earth sciences are included in physical sciences since they are part of the physical world.

In kindergarten, children learn about the properties of certain materials and discover that these properties can be observed, measured, and predicted. They might sort objects by color, shape, size, temperature, odor, texture, or flexibility. They might learn about the different properties of water and how it can change from one to another and back (from liquid to solid back to liquid, for example).

They also might make comparisons of objects such as determining which of two blocks is heavier, or which of a few objects is attracted to magnets or floats in a container of water. These comparisons are a precursor to measurement, which kids will learn as they get older.

Kindergartners also may begin to study the concepts of pushing and pulling. For example, they might be asked to explain why and how things move and identify whether or not an object is being pushed or pulled. They also might be given a worksheet where they circle which pictures show the greatest force. Or, they may even create a project as a class that demonstrates pushing and pulling motions.

Visit your state's department of education website to review the curriculum standards and expectations for kindergarten students. You also can ask your school district where to find this information.

If you are concerned your child's school is not addressing the subjects that your state has outlined, arrange to have a conference with your child's teacher. They can provide insight on your school's approach to kindergarten science and why it is organized the way it is.

Earth and Space Sciences

The Earth sciences involve the study of everything relating to the Earth, except for living things. These sciences include mainly geology and meteorology, and sometimes geography.

As they learn about the earth, children will learn about the characteristics of the earth's environments (mountains, rivers, oceans, valleys, and deserts) and the four seasons. They'll study the weather, daytime, nighttime, the different phases of the moon, and resources and conservation.

A classroom lesson might involve observing, exploring, describing, and comparing weather changes. Students also might chart patterns in the sky and changing seasons. The goal of a lesson like this one is to understand the natural world around them in greater depth by using scientific inquiry.

Life Sciences

The life sciences are the study of living things. That includes biology, botany, zoology, and ecology, among others. As part of their study of the life sciences, children will learn the basic structures of common plants and animals (arms, legs, wings, leaves, stems, roots, etc.). They also may learn about the differences and similarities in plants and animals.

Life science also allows kids to explore how living things adapt to their environment, grow, change, and have certain needs. They may even explore how living things and non-living things differ or how they impact one another.

For instance, they might study the fact that plants and animals have needs that can be satisfied by their environment. The teacher may have them perform a paper-based sorting activity showing the needs of plants and animals. Or, they might sort images based on whether they help or hurt the environment.

Engineering and Technology

Although kindergarten students will not be building many things during their science instruction, the purpose of engineering and technology component of science is to use the knowledge they have gained of how the natural world works to engineer or build useful technologies.

For instance, the Baltimore County Public Schools kindergarten science curriculum has an option to expand what students are learning in the life sciences unit about how different things interact with the world around them. In that project, students are asked to build a way to protect the white turtlehead plant from being eaten by deer or stepped on by people.

Similarly, during the weather section, the students create a severe weather alert for the principal based on the weather data they have been studying. And, in the push-pull study in the physical sciences section, students work together to build a windmill that pulls up a cup of water.

Emerging Science Skills

Children won’t be conducting any complex scientific experiments in kindergarten, but they will learn the basic scientific principles of observing, predicting, and measuring. They may even perform some observations, like tracking the stages that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly, or charting how a seed grows into a plant.

The kindergarten science curriculum helps students learn how to:

  • Ask questions based on prior knowledge and observations
  • Compare common objects using one physical attribute, such as color or shape
  • Describe how objects move (or behave), and the characteristics of common objects in terms of the five senses
  • Observe seasonal changes; the size, shape, texture, and color of common objects; and illustrate observations through drawings
  • Predict what happens when certain materials are subjected to tests (such as placing a piece of wood in water to see what it does)
  • Recognize patterns and describe them

A Word From Verywell

These emerging skills will help kids learn more about the world around them. Try to pay attention to what they are studying. Ask questions. and encourage their budding science skills. Developing a love for science at an early age can help your child hone their critical thinking skills as well as their problem-solving skills.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Next Generation Science Standards. Kindergarten standards.

  2. Ohio Department of Education. Ohio learning standards for science.

  3. Baltimore County Public Schools, Office of Science PreK-12. Kindergarten year at-a-glance.

Additional Reading

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.