One of my most often asked questions during back to school time is, “When do we start science?”. I’ve never met a child who didn’t love science and especially science experiments. These teaching ideas and beginning of the year science activities will help you introduce science in your classroom and lay a foundation for future science studies.
Discuss & determine what scientists do
Most students arrive in my classroom knowing what a scientist is and have an idea of what a scientist does. Expand on that knowledge by reading books about scientists and the process they use. Take the opportunity to discuss science as knowledge and understanding about our natural world that is based on facts that scientists learn through observation, experimenting, collaboration, and problem solving.
I like to center my lessons around questions I pose to students. Each day we have a mini lessons to ask and answer a new question. Students are paired for partner talks to discuss them further before coming back to the group and sharing their thoughts. Some of the questions they discuss are, “What jobs do scientists do?” and “What skills do scientists use to do their jobs?”. Build on this throughout the year as you introduce technology, engineering, and math into your science lessons.
Identify ways we use science
Students are always amazed by all of the ways they use science in their daily lives. Most have been taught in prior grades that science is all around them but when they think about the daily impact and get specific, the list is pretty impressive. Have your students write their ideas on sticky notes and add them to a class chart.
Familiarize students with science tools and their purpose
In addition to learning the names of science tools it is important to teach students their purpose. Many tools can be used for more than one task while some are used specifically for one job.
Use picture cards to introduce science tools and explain their purpose. Help students categorize the tools by asking, “Which tools are used to measure?” and “Which are used to magnify?”.
Teach science safety rules at the beginning of the year
At the beginning of the year, and definitely before conducting experiments in your classroom, introduce science safety rules and teach the routines, and procedures you will use. Setting expectations at the start and reviewing them before each class activity and experiment will help avoid accidents, keep behavior in check, and keep things running smoothly.
Use practice activities to reinforce the rules and give students situations to consider.
Set up a science journal routine
As you plan science at the beginning of the year set up a journal routine. Whether you use blank composition books or make lesson response journals for each science unit you teach, have your students keep a science journal. Students can use these to record new vocabulary, write to explain procedures, take notes, record data, and plan experiments.
Introduce the steps of the scientific method
There are many processes scientists use to test ideas and and answer questions. One process is the scientific method. Teach students the steps to this method that scientists use to guide them while experimenting and testing hypotheses. Help students to understand that all scientists use this method as an organized and formal way to answer questions and prove or disprove a theory.
While there are many other processes scientist use that include math, engineering, and technology, teaching the scientific method is a good place to start and solid first step in laying a foundation that you can build on throughout the year.
Conduct an experiment to practice
Conduct a simple science experiment for students to practice the steps and apply what they have learned. always a favorite is this experiment using milk and cookies to explore buoyancy.
Mini cookies and small cups of milk work great for 2-4 students to share and the results are not what kids expect! See more of our milk and cookies buoyancy experiment in action in my classroom.
Where can I get these teaching materials?
All of the resources pictured in this post are part of my introduction to science unit, Scientists & The Scientific Method. The unit also includes 11 days of detailed lesson plans, a 10-lesson teaching Power Point, student journal activities, science extension centers, plus 3 science experiments. It has everything you need to get started in science. Click HERE to read more about it.
Beginning with the basics is beneficial to all students and a great way to begin the year in science. I hope these teaching ideas help you introduce science in your classroom and begin building a foundation for all of your future science units.
See more of our milk and cookies buoyancy experiment and practicing the steps of the scientific method in action in my classroom!