A couple weeks ago a grandaughter called Ralph with a request for an idea for a science project. He has had lots of experience with science fairs and scientific experiments so he gave her a good idea.
This has had me thinking about the science we used to do in kindergarten. Many people think of five year olds kind of like Special Ed. and underestimate what they can do. When I went to college we learned about Bloom's Taxonomy. Benjamin Bloom was an educational psychologist in the '50s who headed a group who classified intellectual behavior important in learning. It represented by a pyramid with words describing a hierarchy of learning. Words were changed in the 1990's to verbs from the nouns Bloom used.
In my experience with children, they are perfeectly capable of examining scientific principles starting at the bottom of the triangle and working their way up. In fact, the higher level thinking skills cannot be applied unless an individual has some experience at the lower level. As teachers and moms it is our responsibiliy to give children much experience at the level at which they currently are.
Starting at the bottom of the tianngle, the attributes Bloom lists are: Knowledge (define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce, state), Comprehension (classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase), Application (choose,demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write), Analysis (choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write), Analysis ( appraise, compare, contrast, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test) Synthesis (appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, evaluate), Evaluate (assemble,construct, create, design, develop, formulate, write ).
As you would expect, in kindergarten we spent most of our time in the first two levels. It was good preparation for later school years and hopefully, gave them confidence and curiosity to learn more.
Here are some of the activities we did: In the fall we studied plants. I dug up one of my Marigold plants. Students had to observe, identify and draw the five parts all plants have. (roots, stem, leaves, flowers, and seeds.) Marigold seeds are long and narrow and look like pieces of grass so we had to plant them to see if they would really grow.
I read them the book "A Tiny Seed" by Eric Carl about a tiny seed that blows in the wind and lands on good soil where it grows taller than a house. When I ask if they think a plant can grow taller than aa house I bring in one of my giant Sunflowers from my garden. It is so tall it almost touches the ceiling. We eat the seeds from the giant flower and again identify the five parts of a plant.
We talk about eating all five parts of certain plants. Some students don't think we eat all five parts. I bring in a variety of vegetables which I have students classify. ( leaves - lettuce, roots - carrots and radishes, stems - celery, flowers - broccoli and cauliflower, seeds - peas and corn) When students don't think corn kernals are seeds, I bring in an ear of corn from my garden. We put the corn, cob and attached kernals in a shallow pan of water and watch green sprouts grow from each kernal. We conclude this activity by making and eating a delicious salad with these and other vegetables we have classified.
In addition, we had a science table where students could bring plants from home for observation. I thoroughly enjoyed studying science with my kindergarten students and my own children. Whether it was designing a path for a marble,using all simple machines or making salt dough to put on a relief map of Idaho science can be interesting and fun no matter what level students are at.
What I learned: Children can study science and the world around them no matter what age they are.