Typical Kindergarten Science Curriculum

Kindergarten children learning about plants

stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo

Nearly everyone knows that one of the primary purposes of kindergarten is to prepare children for reading, writing, and math. Fewer people, however, realize that kindergarten also prepares children for understanding scientific principles.

What can you expect your child to learn about science by the end of kindergarten? In general, they will learn some basics of the physical sciences, Earth sciences, life sciences, and scientific principles of investigation and experimentation.

Children are encouraged to develop their curiosity about the world around them and to make observations. As they are introduced to science, children develop organized and analytical thinking as well as problem-solving skills. Here, in general, is what most kindergarten children will learn.

Physical Sciences

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

Generally speaking, though, in studying the physical sciences in kindergarten, children learn about the properties of certain materials and discover that these properties can be observed, measured, and predicted. They will:

  • Describe the materials that make different objects (cloth, paper, wood, etc.)
  • Describe the physical properties of objects (color, shape, texture, etc.)
  • Learn the properties of water — it can be a liquid or solid and can change back and from one to the other, and it can evaporate when left in an open container
  • Recognize that light and heat are both sources of energy
  • Understand whether objects float, sink, are attracted to magnets, etc.

Earth Sciences

The Earth sciences involve the study of everything relating to the Earth, except for living things. These sciences include mainly geology and meteorology, although for some it would also include 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 understand the weather, daytime vs. nighttime, the different phases of the moon, and resources and conservation.

Life Sciences

The life sciences are those which study living things. Those sciences would include biology, botany, zoology, and ecology among others. As part of their study of the life sciences, children will learn:

  • Basic structures of common plants and animals (arms, legs, wings, leaves, stems, roots, etc.)
  • Living things adapt to the environment, grow and change, and have certain needs
  • Living vs. non-living things
  • The similarities and differences in plants vs. animals
  • A wide variety of living things exists and that they are interdependent

Scientific Investigation and Experimentation

Children won’t be conducting any complex scientific experiments, but they will learn the basic scientific principles of observing, predicting, and measuring. It is through these activities that children will learn about the physical, earth, and life sciences. They will learn to:

  • Ask: Questions based on prior knowledge and observations
  • Compare: Common objects using one physical attribute, such as color, shape, size, etc., structures and behaviors of different animals
  • Describe: How objects move (or behave), the characteristics of common objects in terms of the five senses,
  • Observe: Seasonal changes, the size, shape, texture, and color of common objects such as tree leaves, illustrate observations through drawings
  • Predict: What happens when certain materials are subjected to tests (i.e. place a piece of wood in water to see what it does)
  • Recognize: Patterns and describe them, sort objects

Gifted Children

If your child has mastered these tasks, or most of them, before she's scheduled to start kindergarten, you might want to see about getting her started in school in first grade. A grade skip can work well at this stage because no one knows how old your child really is (except the school officials). She isn't going to leave her classmates behind when she moves up a grade because she doesn't yet have any classmates.

Many schools resist starting kids early in kindergarten or letting them skip kindergarten altogether.

Of course, it's also not always the best solution for every child. You know your child best, though, and if you believe your child is ready to be with older children (most gifted kids are), then you might want to work for that option.

Was this page helpful?