Science in Pre-K Session 6 November 13, 2010

Ann Caspari,
Early Childhood Education Specialist
Lizzie Cammarata
Early Childhood Education Program Specialist
How do 3-5 year-olds
learn best?
 Children are active,
concrete thinkers, and
they are curious
 Children ask
questions, use their
imaginations, and
listen to and tell
Science in Your Classroom
What is inquiry?
Focus Observations
Clarify Questions
Share, Discuss, and Reflect
Draw Conclusions,
Formulate Ideas and Theories
All children participate
in different ways.
2. Science connects to
real life.
3. Expectations are
tailored to individuals.
4. Children work
5. The teacher is focused.
All Children Participate
• Activities can be
•Science is for
everyone, not
just a few groups
of students
Science from Real Life
 Draws from children’s
 Explored directly by
children .
 Explored deeply
over time.
Tailored Expectations
 All children learn at
different speeds.
 Realistic
expectations for 3 to
 Made
appropriate for each
Children Work Together
 Children learn
from each other.
 Children help
explain and teach
at times.
 Children observe
each other.
Focused Teacher Roles
Teachers take on specific
roles including:
• observing
• parallel play
• facilitating learning from
each other
Teachers take active and supportive roles, but help
students learn from each other instead of telling kids how
to do it.
Elements of Inquiry
Inquiry-Rich Environment
Open Exploration
Focused Exploration
Science Talks and Reflection
More Exploration and Reflection!
The Difference Between
Play and Inquiry
Play and Inquiry start with exploration, but
inquiry follows exploration with
documentation and reflection.
The Difference Between
Play and Inquiry
Steps of inquiry:
 What do children know about the topic?
 What are they interested in?
 How can this be used to meet curricular goals?
The Difference Between Play
and Inquiry
Science talks are a crucial part of inquiry
science. Students need the lifelong skill of
documenting what they have done and
reflecting upon their work.
Appropriate Inquiry Science
Topics for Young Children
 Light and Shadows
 Water
 Air
 Building Structures
 Ramps and Motion
 Nature
Exploring Light and Shadows
 What do we know about shadows?
 How can we make shadows?
 Moonbear’s Shadow, by Frank Asch
Exploring Light and Shadows
 Think about:
 How you can change your shadows
 How can shadows move?
 What different types of shadows can
you make?
 Create artwork to document your
 After, share an observation using
the artwork a group member
created. What did you notice?
What questions about light and
shadows do you still have? How
was the documentation process
The Science of
Light and Shadows
 Three main science goals:
1. Most objects don’t make their own light. The
sun, lamps, flashlights and fires are all
sources of light.
2. Shadows need a light source and an object.
The object can block all or part of the light.
3. Shadows show the shape of an object.
Shadows change size based on how close
they are to the light source.
What is Light?
 Light is a form of energy and travels as a particle
and a wave.
 Humans see light in 7 different colors: Red,
Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet
 Almost all objects reflect or absorb the 7 different
colors of light. Objects appear to be different
colors based on what colors they reflect.
What is a Shadow?
 A Shadow is light blocked by
an object
 The object can block all or
part of the light
 Shadows change size based
on how close they are to the
light source
Creating Shadows
 Opaque objects block all the
 Some objects don’t block any
light – like windows. These are
called transparent objects.
 When an object blocks part of
the light, but lets part of the
light through, it is called
translucent. Some
translucent objects act as
filters, and only let certain
colors of light through. These
objects create colored
The Properties of Shadows
 The shadow the object creates will
be the shape of the object.
 Most features of an object are
lost in the appearance of the
object’s shadow.
 The shadow can only change
shape if the object changes shape
or position, or if another shadow
intersects with it.
 If the object is close to the light
source, it casts a bigger shadow
than when the object is far away
from the light source.
Open Exploration with Light and Shadows
 What do your students know about shadows?
 How can they make shadows?
 What ways might you expand their interests to help
students understand the science goals of light and
Getting ready for
Open Exploration
 Week 1: Observing everyday shadows and light.
 Point out sources of light and shadows around the
classroom, playground, and school
 Read a book about shadows and light and discuss what
students already know about shadows and light (i.e.,
Moonbear’s Shadow, by Frank Asch)
 Week 2: Intentionally observing shadows
 Take students outside and document shadows over the
course of the day, then discuss as a class
 Let students explore indoor shadows with flashlights
and paper, then discuss as a class
Focused Exploration
• Children
explore/investigate certain
questions in depth
provider develops
environment, materials
and science talk to support
children in exploring a
particular topic or
challenge to deepen their
Science Talks
 Before you begin a science
talk, observe students as they
explore – what are they
 During a science talk, allow
students to explain their
 Challenge them to investigate
their discoveries even further
Science Talk Ideas
 Encourage students to draw pictures
of the stories they are telling and of
the shadows they are creating.
 Take digital photographs of shadow
puppet theater, shadows outside, or
“Shadow Dancing” in the classroom.
Use these to reflect during a science
 Use your SMART board or over-head
projector to create a “shadow
matching” science talk
 Don’t forget the science goals!
Involving Families:
 Use children’s reflections,
documents and art work to
create an exhibit for families
about Light and Shadow
 Put children’s documents on
display in your “museum”!
Focused Exploration:
Light and Shadows
 Two challenges for Focused Exploration:
 Shadow Puppet Theater
 Classroom Sundial
Make your own Shadow
 Science, Dramatic Play,
Narrative, Literacy
 Some children may be
able to make their own
shadow puppets; others
may have more success
exploring the shadow
Making Shadow Puppets
 Give students opportunities to experiment and
create their own shadow puppets.
 Consider providing:
 Pre-cut shapes to glue together
 Simple shapes on cardstock for students to cut out
and decorate.
 You can have puppet-making materials out as a
center or make puppets as a whole-group
Focused Exploration:
Shadow Puppet Theatre
 Shadow Puppet Theatre
provides ways to link
literacy and science
 Science Goals:
 Shadows show the shape or
outline of an object.
 Shadows can change size.
 A shadow moves when its
object moves.
Choosing a story
 Choose a familiar and simple story for students to retell. Consider:
 Nursery rhymes
 Fairy tales or folk tales
 A story used for literacy instruction
 Share the story as a read-aloud and also as a shadow puppet story.
 After students have created the puppets, place them in the
shadow puppet center.
 Encourage re-telling the story, but students may want to make up
new stories as well.
Focused Exploration:
Shadow Puppet Theatre
Let your students explore
different options!
 Stuffed animals or
bought puppets
 Child-made puppets
 Body/hand shadows
 2D and 3D shadow
Focused Exploration: Outdoor Sundial
 Helps students understand how shadows can
change in nature.
 Science goals:
 Shadows change in a regular pattern over the day.
 The sun is a light source.
 One object can have different sizes of shadows.
Classroom Sundial
 Start with shadow time outside in the
morning, at noon, and in the afternoon.
Use a camera, chalk, stones, butcher
paper, etc., to help students see how
shadows are changing.
 Chart questions, ideas, and observations
students have.
 Set aside 30-45 minutes each day to
observe outside, replicate inside, and
discuss with a small group science talk
each day.
Hands-on: Using Sundials
 Key word: a gnomon is the part of
the sundial that casts the shadow.
 Make a gnomon with clay and a
marker or pencil. Can you make
short and long shadows?
 Do you think these shadows are
similar to or different from the
shadows you and your students will
explore outside?
 Shadows can change not only over
the day, but over the year as well.
How do you think shadows change
from summer to winter?
Lise the Sundial Gnomon
 Check out these different shadows Lise casts
over the course of one day.
 With your children, you probably will not do all your
observations on the same day!
 Notice how Lise’s shadow changes in size and
 Also notice the length of her shadow at 11:45am and
at 12:15pm. Is it what you expected? What shadows
do you expect in the morning, at noon, and in the
9:45 a.m.
10:15 a.m.
10:45 a.m.
11:15 a.m.
11:45 a.m.
12:15 p.m.
12:45 p.m.
1:15 p.m.
1:45 p.m.
3:15 p.m.
 What did you notice about Lise’s shadow?
 Did the shadows at 11:45a.m. and 12:15p.m.
look the way you thought they would?
 Why do you think Lise’s shadow looked the
way it did in the morning, noon, and
Sundials and the Seasons
The earth’s axis is tilted, so the
Southern and Northern hemispheres
don’t get the same amount of
sunshine at the same time.
When the tilt leans us away from the
sun, we get fewer hours of sunlight.
Shadows are longer because the sun
never appears directly overhead
When the tilt leans us closer to the
sun, we get more sunlight. The sun
appears to be directly overhead and
shadows are shorter (June).
The Earth continues to
rotate on its axis as it
orbits the sun.
Notice how the tilt stays
constant as the Earth
Things to keep in mind…
 The activity requires
outdoor space that can
keep a semi-permanent
record of shadow length
and position.
 Document the shadow
position so that the
children can see the
 Use a camera if possible to
display the images inside
the classroom
Using the Sundial
 Take a picture of the sundial’s shadow, or draw
 Be sure to mark where you are taking the picture! This
way you can have a reliable record.
 Get the whole shadow in the picture.
 Encourage students to observe their own shadows.
Compare and contrast their shadows with the
sundial shadow.
Before Heading Back
 Look at the photographs from previous days and
make a prediction about what they will see today.
 Add the most recent photograph and discuss
what patterns they see.
Reflecting on the Sundial
 After coming inside…
 Discuss what your students
observed outside.
 Let students recreate the
shadows with flashlights.
 Encourage students to
draw what they observed.
 Ann Caspari – [email protected]
 Lizzie Cammarata – [email protected]
Stay tuned for the Science in Pre-K website!

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