November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

What About Pre-K and TK?

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Photo by Shannon Brown (photo waiver signed and face isn’t visible)

Photo by Shannon Brown
(photo waiver signed and face isn’t visible)

by Peter A’Hearn

Tiny Kids are natural explorers, conducting experiments, making observations, looking for patterns. So what better time to teach science? The problem is there are no NGSS standards for Pre-K or Transitional Kindergarten (TK). There is a well-written chapter in the California Science Framework that links the NGSS shifts to developmentally appropriate learning in TK. You will also find tables of connections between the California Preschool Learning Foundations (which pre-date NGSS adoption) and the SEPs and CA NGSS Science Domains. With schools in California now offering Transitional Kindergarten to prepare kids for Kindergarten, there is a need for some guidance on what science to teach, but the NGSS don’t provide it. Many TK teachers end up teaching the Kindergarten NGSS with the idea that at a young age repetition is helpful. But we don’t think about any of the other NGSS in this way- that repeating the same learning two years in a row is a good idea. Instead, the standards loop back to the same ideas in a more sophisticated form every two or three years. So I got to thinking, what would a Pre-Kindergarten NGSS look like?

I am by no means an expert on early childhood education, so I’m putting this out as a way to start a conversation and hopefully get some experts to think about this. In putting a set of TK Performance Expectations together, I followed a few principles:

  • Look at the 1st and 2nd-grade Performance Expectations for the Core Ideas to address in TK, this will avoid topics being immediately repeated in Kindergarten.
  • TK standards should fit naturally with what TK kids are doing anyway: exploring, observing, building things, conducting simple experiments, being curious and creative.
  • They should be three dimensional- the kids are engaged in a practice, thinking through the lens of a crosscutting concept, and learning some Core Scientific Ideas about the world.

So here is my first take, I look forward to feedback and discussion:

TK NGSS PEs

Photos by Shannon Brown

Photos by Shannon Brown

Physical Science

  • Use observations to describe patterns of properties of different materials. [Clarification Statement: observations use the 5 senses.]
  • Ask questions and conduct investigations about properties of different materials. [Clarification Statement: investigations might be about sinking and floating, sticking to magnets, poor or not poor.]
  • Construct objects and structures from a small set of pieces that function to solve a problem.*

 

 

Photos by Shannon Brown

Photos by Shannon Brown

Life Science

  • Ask questions based on explorations about living things in ecosystems. [Clarification Statement: Explore outside and ask questions about the living things you find.]
  • Use observations of living things to look for patterns and group them by similarities and differences of structures. [Clarification Statement: examples could be: things that swim, things that have feathers, things that have leaves.]
  • Construct an explanation that baby animals come from parents of the same type of animal.

Earth and Space Sciences

  • Use observations and experiments to look for patterns in Earth materials and group them by similarities and differences. [Clarification Statement: examples could be: sand, gravel, rocks, or sorting by color, texture, shape.]
  • Construct and test models of landforms using a variety of Earth materials.* [Clarification Statement: Play in the sandbox and with water.]

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

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