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Science Essentials

The Building Blocks


Science, Math & Art


Young Explorers

Developing A

Science Story

Building Process And

Problem-Solving Skills

Developing Context-

Based Content

Creating Embedded

Opportunities For

Further Learning

Science Essentials: The Building Blocks

Teaching science to young children is not rocket science, though it may seem that way at times. The volume and scope of material can be overwhelming to many educators. As such, many teachers will stay within their comfort zone, relying heavily on cookbook science experiments, and reusing the same lessons year after year never venturing far from familiar content.


Science Essentials empowers educators in approaching any science topic with confidence by providing educators with a framework for developing engaging science stories and dynamic learning experiences. Science Essentials provides young children with foundational knowledge and skills that can be applied to future learning.

What are the Science Essentials?

Three Fundamental Process Skills. Observe. Evaluate. Communicate.

Objects, materials and organisms (OMOs) can be described by identifying same, but different features: sorting, matching and grouping; comparing and contrasting; and, sequencing and seriating based on a variety of attributes, including: color, size, shape, habitat, or some other characterstic that can be used to describe the object, material or organism. These observations can be communicated in a variety of ways using verbal, graphical, dramatic or artistic tools. Honing these skills provides young children with a basis for relating to the world around them and for applying what they have learned to new experiences.

Four Basic Questions. What is X... How can we describe X? Why is X important? What if we didn't have X?

There are many questions that you will include as part of your science explorations. These four questions, however, are designed to: 1) define big picture connections and concepts for young children; 2) develop basic process skills through direct observation or by communicating previous experiences; and, 3) promote reasoning, critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Five Senses. Create sensory-rich science experiences.

Our five senses are the tools we use for learning. As such, every experience, science or otherwise, should be filled with multi-sensory opportunities. The memories and experiences of our life are based on the sensory input from our five senses and which become part of a reference database of information we use and apply to future experiences.

For example, the sensory experiences related to exploring butterflies can take many forms. Many classrooms invest in caterpillar/butterfly kits; others may venture to the local museum to view mounted butterfly collections or, if available, to a zoo or exhibit with live butterfly specimens. Sensory-based experiences, however, are not limited to direct observation or contact with butterflies, children can re-enact the lifecycle of the butterfly, crawling on the floor like caterpillars and flapping their arms to simulate the wings of the butterfly. As such, the science experience becomes expressive and dynamic, and the processes involved in the transformation of the caterpillar to a butterfly more memorable!

Six Essential Threads. Change. Growth. Cycles. Energy Transformations. Diversity. Patterns.

The six "threads" listed above can be viewed as approaches or perspectives you can take for developing content. These threads are not only used to build-out your science story, but represent some of the foundational threads that connect all science content.

For example, the subject of water can be approached by exploring: the different states of water (diversity); the processes of evaporation, condensation and precipitation (water cycle); how water changes through the water cycle; and, how water has a very specific structure, a molecular pattern consisting of two hydrogens and one oxygen. Similiarly, the subject of butterflies can be approached through explorations of one or more of the following: diversity, cycles, growth, change, and patterns.

Below is an abbreviated science story that incorporates these themes as well as the other Science Essentials with just the facts. The elaborations and storytelling aspects are left to each teacher's particular communication style.

There are more than 150,000 different kinds of moths and butterflies in the world. Some butterflies are big; others are small. Most butterflies are very colorful and have patterns on their wings. The pattern on a butterfly's wings is always symmetrical, though the pattern on the wings' underside may not be the same as the pattern on top. Many butterflies have eyespots on their wings. Other insects and animals also have eyespots. Eyespots help to protect the animal from predators. Butterflies, like many other insects and other organisms, play an important role in nature... butterflies, for example, help pollinate plants. Butterflies sometimes become food for other animals, such as birds. Butterflies change dramatically during their lifecycle. Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis in becoming adults. They not only change in appearance, but also in what they eat and the role they play in nature. Butterfly larvae (caterpillars) eat mostly leaves, growing bigger and bigger. The adult butterfly doesn't eat leaves like the caterpillar does; adult butteflies don't eat at all, they can only drink a flower's nectar! All insects undergo some form of metamorphosis. Some experience complete metamorphosis like buterflies and moths in that the larval stage looks completely from the adult form; others undergo incomplete metamorphosis where the larval stages look like miniatures of the adult form, growing bigger and bigger with successive molts.

For more information, please see:
how2BUTTERFLIES and The Science Experience

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