Early Childhood

Kindergarten Science

I have trouble thinking of ideas on how to explain to k-1 kids the idea of clouds and how they form and precipitation. Any ideas on how to relate it to them?

Rachel Strawn
Rachel Strawn
2765 Activity Points

Good evening, Now that is an interesting topic to talk about with a kindergarten student. It seems that if you tell them the basics and they can learn and do the research themselves. In my science education courses we are taught to teach using inquiry. This means you are there to ensure everything goes as plan, but you let the students make their own mistakes and do their own research. Ask them what they think those white things in the sky are.

Hagai Stein
hagai stein
680 Activity Points

Hi Rachel and welcome to the discussion forums!
There is a book chapter that you might find helpful: Moving Masses.
The NSTA Learning Center also has several other resources. I did an advanced search using "cloud" for the key word and narrowing the search to elementary level. I got 18 hits. One that you might be particularly interested in is:
Look! It is Going to Rain.
and
Teaching Through Trade Books: Cloud Watchers
I hope this will get you started.
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
80623 Activity Points

Thanks for the book titles. I am always looking for books to use with my kindergarten students.

Darlene Petranick
Darlene Petranick
5765 Activity Points

This is a great book that can beneficial in the classroom. I am a pre-k teacher and really enjoy doing science activities with my students in class. These kindergarten level books you have suggests are great, I can't wait to use them in my class. Where there is a will, there is a way. Teaching students about clouds and how they form is not impossible, it just requires imagination and enthusisam.

Onedy Saavedra
Onedy Saavedra
1490 Activity Points

Thank you for the book titles. It is great to teach students about clouds along side the water cycle. I am a student teacher in a kindergarten class. I can not wait to use these resources in my class.

Kiren Ahmed
Kiren Ahmed
4840 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing these resources! I am excited to use them in my future classroom.

Olga Ortiz
Olga Ortiz
1715 Activity Points

Thank you for these books, I am always looking for fresh and new ideas in how to introduce weather, clouds, etc... I can't wait to use them!

Briana Olivo
Briana Olivo
2755 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing these book titles. As a student teacher and soon to be teacher, I need all the help that I can get.

Cindy Rivera
Cindy Rivera
3210 Activity Points

I am going to have to check out these book titles. I am in my first semester of student teaching so i think this will be very helpful for my kids!

Manelle El-Negery
Manelle El-Negery
1095 Activity Points

I do not have a classroom of my own yet, but your book suggestions are great! If I don't get a kindergarten class I can still read them them to my own child. :]

Mary Gonzalez
Mary Gonzalez
555 Activity Points

I really like the activity that has students make their own cloud in a jar in the "Look! It's going to rain article" I think that would be engaging for the students. It requires lighting a match though so it would have to be done by the teacher only and hopefully not set off the fire alarm. Maybe doing it outside would be the best idea.

Claire Ainsworth
Claire Ainsworth
705 Activity Points

Thanks for these book titles! it will be such a helpful resource for future use!

Vivian Vega
Vivian Vega
1215 Activity Points

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld is a really cute book about clouds, and could even be used for toddlers and pre-k, along with kindergarten.

A couple other ones are Little Cloud by Eric Carle and Shapes in the Sky: A Book About Clouds by Josepha Sherman.

Mikaela Bahlmann
Mikaela Bahlmann
3195 Activity Points

Try the archived seminar about clouds here in the learning center.

Daniel Carroll
Dan Carroll
18550 Activity Points

There are some related activities that may help children understand the relationship between clouds and rain. Children can see that moisture can come from a gas (the air they breathe out) by breathing on cold windows or on small Plexiglas mirrors. They can touch the condensation, feel it's "wetness" and then wipe it off. Sanitizing wipes are handy for preparing the mirrors for the next time. Children can observe the drying through evaporation of water from a water "painted" sidewalk, or a wet bandana hung on the playground fence to dry. Ask the children where they think the water went, look on the ground and ask, where could it have gone? Some children told me they thought the water from our breath went into the mirror. When a little puddle of water on the mirror did not sink, or absorb, into the mirror, the children could see that another mechanism for drying must be at work. A daily observation of clouds, and recording the observation through drawing, will help children recognize that certain kinds of clouds are more likely to be associated with rain or other precipitation than others (if your area gets rain often enough). The mechanism by which clouds form will still be difficult to understand but the relationship between darker clouds and rain will be recognized. The observation doesn't have to be time consuming. The children may recognize a pattern more readily if you post their drawings. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I think the wet bandanna is such a fun and creative idea. I think asking students to search for where the water went by observing is such a cool lesson. Thanks for sharing!

Uroosa Hussain
Uroosa Hussain
1750 Activity Points

Children can observe the drying through evaporation of water from a water "painted" sidewalk, or a wet bandana hung on the playground fence to dry. Ask the children where they think the water went, look on the ground and ask, where could it have gone? Some children told me they thought the water from our breath went into the mirror. When a little puddle of water on the mirror did not sink, or absorb, into the mirror, the children could see that another mechanism for drying must be at work. A daily observation of clouds, and recording the observation through drawing, will help children recognize that certain kinds of clouds are more likely to be associated with rain or other precipitation than others (if your area gets rain often enough). Peggy thank you for these great ideas. I love them. I was looking for something similar to do with students who have disabilities and I think these are great. Glad I looked at this post. Thanks again ..... Naomi :)

Naomi Samole-Prager
Naomi Samole-Prager
5110 Activity Points

Thanks Naomi, I think these activities are appropriate for all children and can become part of an on-going investigation, linking activities that explore the same concept. My preschool students often do the activity over and over before they are ready to think and talk about what they are observing. One way to document the original size of the water-painted area is to draw the outline with chalk so there is a reference point. Let us know how it goes and how to adapt it! Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I'm wondering if it's even possible for K-1 students to comprehend the process of cloud formation. It's a rather abstract process and I can't imagine a K-1 student being capable of understanding it on a cognitive level. As a geoscience major, I would much prefer students at this age learn to observe clouds. At best, they can learn a few types of clouds (cumulus, cirrus, stratus) and begin to question why and how clouds move and their relationship to weather. I understand state standards are what they are, but this one really left me scratching my head a little. Your thoughts?

Kendra Young
Kendra Young
17120 Activity Points

I agree with you Kendra, that cloud formation is a complicated process to understand. Since young children may notice clouds, and because, as you said, clouds are an important part of becoming aware of patterns in weather events, I think it is appropriate to discuss the process of how they form. In the same way that we teach children the difference between "wet" and "dry" without expecting them to understand why that is on a molecular level, we can say that clouds form when tiny pieces of water in the air group together to form drops.
And we need to provide many, many experiences for children to build their understanding, and opportunities to talk about what they think. I would say that understanding that air is a substance, that is it not "nothing" is part of understanding cloud formation.
It's tricky to not underestimate children's ability to understand scientific concepts while not pushing them past their point of developmental readiness.
Project 2061 doesn't include water vapor in the "by the end of 2nd grade" standards but does include observation of evaporation. The National Science Education Standards say, " K-4 students do not understand that water exists as a gas when it boils or evaporates; they are more likely to think that water disappears or goes into the sky. Despite that limitation, students can conduct simple investigations with heating and evaporation that develop inquiry skills and familiarize them with the phenomena." (pg 126)
But a few children will want a detailed explanation and I think it's not bad to tell them or read about it as long as it's optional. What have your experiences been?
Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Peggy and all, I read through this great dialogue and decided I needed to see what I could understand from the K-12 Conceptual Science Framework , so I went and did some reading. While clouds are not mentioned specifically for students in grade K-2, there are some expectations around weather and climate. Grade Band Endpoints for ESS2.D By the end of grade 2. Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time. WHen I read through this I think that both of you are right on in your thinking about young children and clouds. Now, I am wondering about how this expectation for the end of grade will work itself out in the new standards. We don't have long to wait. Word is that the standards will be out for public review at NSTA in Indianapolis. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

Hi Kathy, Thank you for posting the standard. I can honestly see both sides of the debate (if anyone had ever told me that I would ever be advocating for "less science" at the elementary level I would have openly laughed at them) but in this case the standard reinforces my position. However, my concern is less with standards and more with cognitive development in children. I am not advocating for less science at the elementary level, but I am advocating for [i]developmentally appropriate[/i] content at the elementary level. Evaporation and condensation are both abstract concepts. So are molecules of any kind. Children in the K-1 band are not capable of this type of cognition (Piaget and many more). Introducing concepts that children cannot truly understand causes misconceptions and misunderstandings down the road. In addition, cloud formation is much, much more complicated that simple evaporation and condensation. In this case, I fear that oversimplification itself leads to misconceptions and my concerns are not unfounded. I've taught middle school science for years and every year it takes me longer to correct misunderstandings than it does to teach the actual content. Even the children's book, "Cirrus Clouds are Serious" causes me a headache every year. The book does [i]not[/i] state that cirrus clouds are associated with strong weather patterns, but children remember the title and then I have to let them "discover" it on their own in order to correct the misconception. The last thing I want to do is discourage elementary teachers from teaching science. What I do want to do though is encourage elementary science teachers to make sure what they're teaching is developmentally appropriate [i]and[/i] scientifically accurate. I would much rather students come to me with a thirst and appreciation for science than a slew of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and the idea that science is a waste of time because no one ever gets it right anyway (which is what I've seen from year to year). Wow - what an amazing discussion. I'm looking forward to reading more opinions. What are appropriate investigations for [color=blue]early elementary children[/color]? Should we focus on science [color=blue]content[/color] at that level or [color=blue]observation[/color]?

Kendra Young
Kendra Young
17120 Activity Points

Kendra, I so agree with you. I do not think students are ready cognitively for evaporation until grades 4-5 and condensation until grade 5-6 because of the reason you so nicely put forth. I am going to do a bit more research and try to respond in a responsible manner. Sometimes I can be impulsive so that is why I decided to check the Science Conceptual Framework to make sure I knew what I was talking about. It will be awesome when the new NGSS science standards are out. BTW, I do think you are advocating for elementary teachers teaching less science but for science that is cognitively appropriate and using best practices. Ssometimes this is so hard to do because of the pressure "for Coverage over depth" I will be back soon to this discussion. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

Hi Margaret, I really liked the activities that you listed to help explain big ideas in science to a younger age. I think some of these activities would even be useful for older students who still do not fully understand some of the concepts. I especially like your ideas for evaporation, because when I was just learning this idea, I had no idea what it meant and didn’t understand where the water went, or how it disappeared. Your ideas will definitely be put to good use when I get a classroom of my own and start teaching science.

Kaitlin MacMillin
Kaitlin MacMillin
1560 Activity Points

Thanks for this meaty discussion. Preventing misconceptions and not simplifying concepts too much should be central to all early childhood science teaching. This reminds me of my early thinking on parenting: “I am not going to make the parenting mistakes that my parents made!” Yet I’m sure I’m making my own, different, mistakes. We teachers just have to learn much and do our best. Consulting the national standards and reading about child development and other teachers’ experiences are good starting points. The Young Scientist Series, Exploring Water with Young Children, by Ingrid Chalufour and Karen Worth, does not extend the exploration into exploring water as a gas.

What do you think about exploring evaporation as an activity, not a concept, so when the children are older they will have had many experiences to draw on to understand the concept?
Here are some more tough questions:
How exactly are we to avoid children forming misconceptions about states of matter? In what way(s) is the concept of ‘gas’ more difficult to understand than the concepts of ‘solid’ or ‘liquid’? Young children do understand that water “goes away” as a wet material dries.

Evaporation is a difficult concept to explain using scientific understanding even for high school students and adults. I often use the phrase “It’s the nature of the material” to explain, without any detail, concepts such as the wetness of a liquid, or attributes of other materials that young children notice and wonder about which involve molecular behavior.
This dialogue helps me examine my practice.
Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Peggy,

You ask some tough questions. I struggle with these questions regularly. i will take a stab at some of them
How exactly are we to avoid children forming misconceptions about states of matter? I don't know but I know we all do our best to prevent this from happening.

In what way(s) is the concept of ‘gas’ more difficult to understand than the concepts of ‘solid’ or ‘liquid’? I think that the fact that a "gas" is not visible ot them makes it a more difficult concept to understand. THey can hold and/or touch solids and liquids but that is not true with a gas.
Young children do understand that water “goes away” as a wet material dries. But where do they think it goes?

Evaporation is a difficult concept to explain using scientific understanding even for high school students and adults.
I agree this is a very difficult concept and only conversations like this will help us get closer to understandings.

Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

I agree that not being able to see a gas makes it less "real" and harder to think about. Here are a few ways for young children to explore air as something, not nothing.

They can blow on their palms and feel their breath even though they can not see it.

Using empty, clean and dry dish detergent bottles they can move feathers around with the air that comes of out the bottle when they squeeze it quickly. They understand that something is pushing the feathers.

After these experiences I ask 4-year-olds if air can hold up something heavy, such as a book. We try it and the book always falls to the table. Then we put our breath into zip-closing plastic bags and put the book on top of them. It doesn't fall. Some children believe the bags alone can hold the book up and we try that. Then we try the inflated bags again and ponder why this way works. Not all of the children are interested or are able to put into words what they think but a few say, "The bags keep the air there so it can't go away when the book is on it."

Because air is part of so many early childhood experiences--blowing bubbles, pumping up the deflated soccer ball, feeling a breeze and learning to whistle--I think it's okay to use the word 'gas' when we talk about air. But I welcome the greater community's ideas and experiences. Will the experiences I mention lead to misconceptions?
Yours in struggle,
Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I think that it is ok to refer to the air as a gas and actually important. I have too many students respond that what we put in our cars to make them run is a gas. This simple opportunity to use the word in context will really help,later on when teaching the states of matter.

Darlene Petranick
Darlene Petranick
5765 Activity Points

I remember having a mini "environment" in my classroom when I was that age. It looked like a piece of an island where it had mountains and valleys and it was slanted and it had its own ocean. There was a lamp that acted as the sun and you could observe the steam and the steam turning in drops of water and dropping down and sliding into the ocean. I thought it was pretty cool at that age and still think so. I haven't really seen anything like it since I started teaching which makes me think my teacher made it on his own. But now I have a terrarium that was made on one of our field trips to the Hawaii Nature center and since it is enclosed the water that was used put in there gets heated up and becomes steam then turns in to water droplets and re-waters the plants. I am not too sure if this helped but I hope it gave you ideas =)

Rachel Nieto
Rachel Nieto
530 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing your early science memory Rachel.
Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears has this useful article:
Common Misconceptions About States and Changes of Matter and the Water Cycle
Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Peggy, Thank you for sharing that information from Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. I did skim the info but now I am planning on digging a bit deeper. What I read made me wonder if sometimes it is ok to introduce or discuss questions like "where did the water in the puddle go?" It said that some misconceptions are more like preconceptions or "naive conceptions" that are part of the learning process. if that is correct then I think it becomes a matter of degree or the specifics of how the topic is discussed would determine the appropriateness of a concept with young children?? Does this make sense? Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

You do make sense Kathy. It seems that young children often notice things that they are not yet ready to understand fully—like yesterday’s snail pairing in the fish tank. Two snails were behaving in a different way than the children had previously observed. They were holding onto each other for most of the day. Ideas discussed among the students included that they might be making a baby. Since the teacher didn’t know either, she was able to say, hmm, maybe so, to all ideas. (All concern about the appropriateness of understanding sexual behavior in any living thing aside, kindergarteners are not able or really interested in understanding the details of exchanging genetic material.) Should we say, “You’ll learn about where the water in the puddle goes later when you’re older”? We can ask for their evidence for their ideas, and then try to design activities to extend their thinking. It is very helpful to have specific examples of misconceptions such as Kendra’s of a particular book cover, and the Beyond Penguins and Polarbears’ of the water cycle posters which show evaporation only happening from open bodies of water, not from the land or vegetation cover. Can you tell that I'm working with teachers on their water unit right now? This discussion is very helpful. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Should we say, “You’ll learn about where the water in the puddle goes later when you’re older”? We can ask for their evidence for their ideas, and then try to design activities to extend their thinking. No I do not believe that is what we should say. I think we should ask them their and ask them for evidence of their thinking. I begin to flounder a bit on the designing on the activities...how far do we go in trying to help them understand the concept if they have a developmentally appropriate preconception? Peggy, you have much more experience than I do with very young children, although my work is all about K-4. I am learning so much from all these discussions. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

I often tell Kindergarten students who are not developmentally ready to understand a particular science topic fully "You are at the start of understanding things in a grown up way. Keep up the good work." This prevents them from becoming discouraged or frustrated because a topic is currently beyond them

Christy Curran
Christy Curran
2065 Activity Points

I'm going to quote educator and researcher Jeff Winokur, who cautioned workshop participants that, “Just because they see it doesn’t mean they understand it”. He was discussing teaching the difficult-to-teach concepts of water evaporation and condensation but I will keep it in mind for teaching about every topic or concept. So many times I think I have the perfect materials set-up to create an "ah-ha" moment of understanding for most of my students but in later conversations and discussions realize that they were engaged, but thinking about something else! This is why researchers promote developing inquiry over time with many opportunities for students to use the materials, talk about their observations and reflect on what it means.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I agree with this. We have to make sure that we are using the Right is Right technique, especially with students of this age. For many kindergarten students, this is their first year of school. We are building the foundation of learning for them and we must make sure to not mislead them and let them get away with half true answers. We need to hold high expectations for each and everyone of our students in order to work towards learning achievement.

Iman Gressier
Iman Gressier
1500 Activity Points

Hello, I found a few neat websites that have a number of lessons/ activities to do with k-2. I think it really depends on what trigger the children's interest. http://www.education.com/activity/kindergarten/science/ http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/LPview.cgi?core=1209 http://www.teachervision.fen.com/science/printable/53844.html Hope you find something enjoy these sites. Good luck.

Jillian Rose
Jillian Rose
3585 Activity Points

I really like the first website. It is useful to me because I work in a deparmentalized kindergarten class and we teach math. I would like to use the games as a center for math or as a good review that will engage students for the coming lesson.

Iman Gressier
Iman Gressier
1500 Activity Points

I recently did a workshop that was targeted towards first and second graders. Here is one of the activities that I did to illustrate how clouds produce precipitation. • Each student gets a mason jar filled 2/3 the way with very warm water and several small cups of colored cold water with an eyedropper in each. • Each student will create their own cumulus cloud out of shaving cream on top of the water. • Students will add drops of the colored water to the top of their cumulus clouds. • Students will observe what is happening and make notes on their worksheet. • Students will explain what is happening in the jar and what type of weather tool would be used. (Weather Tools Station) • The teacher will explain that there is no wind present in the jar and ask students what the rain would look like if there was wind. (Air Station) • Students will identify the different parts of the experiment on their worksheet.

Kaitlin MacMillin
Kaitlin MacMillin
1560 Activity Points

These activities are definitely fun and engaged learning with the students, especially when teaching Kindergarten. Thank you for sharing these wonderful activities, they are definitely help for people who are future elementary educators such as myself.

Thanh Nguyen
Thanh Nguyen
1185 Activity Points

Here is a great way to illustrate the water cycle for any age group The teacher will begin the lesson by having the students gather around the front table and putting on safety goggles. The teacher will have already set up for the experiment by plugging in a hot plate and boiling a small pot of water on it. There will also be a metal 9 x 13 baking pan that has already been filled with ice on the table. The teacher will ask the class if they have ever heard of the water cycle and what they think it might be about. The teacher will accept all answers at this time, to get an idea of how much knowledge students have about the subject. The teacher will ask the students what they see above the pot of water (steam). The teacher will ask the students if they know what steam is (water). The teacher will then hold the 9 x13 pan that is filled with ice above the pot and ask students to observe it for a minute and think about what they see. The teacher will have the students turn to a partner and describe what they see (water collecting on the pan). The teacher will call on a few students to share their observations with the class. The teacher will continue to hold the pan above the pot and wait a few minutes. Once water starts to drop from pan, the teacher will call the students attention to it and have them look very closely.

Kaitlin MacMillin
Kaitlin MacMillin
1560 Activity Points

The magic school bus has an episode about the water cycle and clouds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdBG21XbxXk Here's a video that shows the process of clouds forming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHHHRSBvo9o This third link is an experiment making clouds. You would probably have to do this, the children are too young. http://www.teachpreschool.org/2012/03/clouds-in-jars-and-on-the-table-top-too/ This last link is great. I think the best way to teach the little ones is by having them involved in something rather than explain the concept you want them to learn.

Melissa Bravo
Melissa Bravo
3905 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing the activities Kaitlin and Melissa, I agree that being involved with an activity can give young children a lot of information about natural phenomena. Then it’s up to us teachers to help them reflect on it, to find out what they think is happening and help them connect the experience to others. When my children were young they used to build a tiny landscape in the sandbox. We would make a “volcano” with a small cup as the crater, and put baking soda and vinegar in it together to make a pretend eruption. This did not model how a volcano erupts (molten rock from within the earth moving up and out) but it was fun pretending. Because we emphasized the pretend part, I don’t think they think volcanic eruptions occur when pockets of baking soda and vinegar deep in the earth combine (I’ll ask them later tonight). When teaching about a phenomenon by using a model we have to be careful that children don’t think the pretend volcano or cloud is really like a natural one. What do you think I should say to children as we do the exploration of adding colored water to shaving cream floating on water? (I love the way the children progressed to an art activity, continuing to explore the materials.) Peggy PS—The dense bubbles of the shaving cream feel so good to the touch. Young children might also like to whip some dairy cream with a spring whisk or an electric mixer and compare the texture with that of shaving cream.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Those are some great ideas on how to teach students about the water cycle! Perhaps by including activities on weather instruments (such as an anemometer) and activities on wind/air, a workshop could be developed to teach students how all three relate to one another. Perhaps the end of the workshop could lead into teaching electricity? Students could learn at the wind/air station that wind causes windmill farms generate electricity. Using real world connections with students is a great way to engage them into learning about content.

Jacob Germain
Jacob Germain
495 Activity Points

Jacob you have ome excellent idea. I want to caution us to remember we are talking about 4 and 5 year olds. While we want them to explore many different ideas in science...we do not want to push them to a level of abstraction that they cannot handle and/or understand. I think the challenge for us as teachers is to provide opportunities for students that are appropriate for their age. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

Hi Rachel, I found a cool video on Youtube geared towards younger students that explains the cloud formation and rain processes in a fairly simple form. It's also just over a minute long and could easily be used as a hook to get students interested in the day's lesson. Multimedia is an excellent way to engage students on a new topic, and it can often help students grasp a difficult concept like those found in Science. Consider including it in your lessons, but make sure you preview the video yourself first before presenting it to your students. Sometimes there is incorrect information within them and having to correct misconceptions is a very difficult process. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MH4zBDjhUk Hope this helps! Good luck. Matt

Matt Sandine
Matt Sandine
665 Activity Points

I wonder if you could just have the kids look at the states of matter by getting an ice cube and talk about how the solid ice turns into liquid water and the liquid water disappears after a while (where does it go?) by talking about how the changes have to do with temperature and how warming things up makes the parts of the atoms move faster and get farther apart. Just one ice cube and a dixie cup would be a good start. I think the tactile-kinesthetic experience of the cold ice and the adventure of each student having their own little iceburg to observe would kindle some wonder and excitement. I know my kids (Grades 6-12) love the hands on stuff and, as I've told them many time, the only difference between them and Kindergarten kids is SIZE!

James Johnson
James Johnson
94868 Activity Points

Hi James,

I agree that many times the best way to teach my students scientific concepts is to let them experience the concepts using hands-on activities. One of the things that I struggle with when writing hands-on or inquiry lessons for young learners (K-2) is how to present the activity so that I don't encourage or create misconceptions. I have an excellent book called A Year of Hands-on Science (Lynne Kepler, Scholastic, ISBN: 978-0=545-07475-9). This book is full of standards based ideas to teach young students about science. This book has a lesson on the water cycle called, "Rain Comes and Goes". In this lesson, students explore rain, the water cycle (by creating a model using a metal can filled with ice cubes on top of a glass jar, with a metal lid, filled with hot water), build a rain gauge, learn about clouds, and learn about where puddles go. I normally teach this unit in the Spring and pair with idioms such as April Showers bring may flowers and weather journals (LA), measuring (math), drawing pictures of clouds and making rain sticks (art), and weather maps (SS).

Does anyone else have any suggestions for ways to help young students learn science concepts without creating misconceptions?

Thanks! Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
40810 Activity Points

I just found a post in the Earth and Space Science forum about a new USGS resource for teaching young students about the water cycle. It looks perfect for the participants in this forum!

Thanks,
Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
40810 Activity Points

As Maureen says, USGS has just put up the new Water Cycle diagram for kids. I think Kindergarteners would understand most of it. We at USGS do not have a lot of early childhood educational tools. I have a Water Science School site (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/), but not age pertinent, I think. One area is the Activity Center: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/msac.html Here are polls where you respond to a survey and then see how everyone else answered. One that might work is "Vote for your favorite water body": http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sos4.html The kids might not know what each water body is, but you could explain them all. Then they vote for their favorite and you see how people in each State and other countries voted. Maybe "How much water does a leaking faucet waste?" http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sc4.html Just to introduce the idea that water can be wasted down the drain. Maybe (?), "How much water does it take to grow a hamburger?" http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sc1.html Which introduces how water is used in many parts of a production cycle of a product. Okay, hope these things might be useful. Howard Perlman, USGS hperlman@usgs.gov

Howard Perlman
Howard Perlman
70 Activity Points

Howard, how wonderful to have someone working at USGS a part of the discussion thread! Thank you for the information and welcome to the forums. I LOVE the USGS resources!!! Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
80623 Activity Points

Exploring Water with Young Children by Karen Worth is a resource I would recommend for using with young children. Exploring Water with Young Children focuses children’s explorations to help deepen their understanding of water and its properties—including concepts related to water’s flow, appearance and effect on objects. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
33495 Activity Points

Hmmm, as I was reading through this thread...I was wondering what is USGS. I kept reading through and realized that it must be a school. I am eager to make time and visit the links you provided, specifically about the different bodies of water. Being that my students already understand that we live on an island, they know we are surrounded by water. I will look into the information you provided to see how I can incorporate it into a lesson for science.

Sandra Naihe
Sandra Naihe
605 Activity Points

Hmmm, as I was reading through this thread...I was wondering what is USGS. I kept reading through and realized that it must be a school. I am eager to make time and visit the links you provided, specifically about the different bodies of water. Being that my students already understand that we live on an island, they know we are surrounded by water. I will look into the information you provided to see how I can incorporate it into a lesson for science.

Sandra Naihe
Sandra Naihe
605 Activity Points

Thanks for asking Sandra. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has many programs.
You can download for free or buy topographic maps, and get other resources to learn about the rock cycle, climate, flooding, volcanoes, earthquakes....And it looks like the language selection will translate the education pages into 66 languages!
The Education page might be a good place to begin. There are choices of frequently visited pages to select from, or a more advanced search.
Howard may have more advice about what the USGS provides.
Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

“Rain, rain, go away”… but not yet! Help your budding scientist observe one of nature’s most intriguing phenomena. This experiment lets young learners explore the water cycle long before they can define the words precipitation, evaporation, and condensation. They’ll delight in watching the “clouds” form and “rain” fall in the bag. Be sure to connect what they see in the bag with what they see in nature! What You Need: •Zippered sandwich bag •Half cup of dirt (potting soil, backyard dirt, etc.) •Plant mister •Tape •Window What You Do: Note: Plan to work on a tray, newspaper, or a plastic liner since the assembly can get messy! 1.Ask your child to spoon the dirt into the sandwich bag. 2.Let your child generously “mist” the dirt inside the bag. The dirt needs to be moist, but not muddy. 3.Help your youngster zip the bag tightly shut. 4.Tape the bag in a sunny window. 5.Observe! What's Going On? Watch the bag! It will become cloudy as the moisture evaporates and forms a foggy cloud inside the bag. Depending upon your specific conditions (where the window is, how much sunlight is available, outside temperature at the window) this could take two to three hours, or could take overnight. Once the “cloud” inside the bag can hold no more moisture, your child will notice “rain” coming down the inside walls of the bag. Open and gently mist the bag again, re-tape to the window, and watch the whole cycle repeat itself. Observing and predicting are two key skills that help your child become a more focused thinker. Extend his or her thinking by preparing several bags and taping to windows on opposite sides of the house. Also, let your child predict and then observe what happens when more or less moisture is misted into the bag. By Cindy Middendorf

Attachments

rain_in_a_bag.jpg (0.07 Mb)

Sandra Naihe
Sandra Naihe
605 Activity Points

“Rain, rain, go away”… but not yet! Help your budding scientist observe one of nature’s most intriguing phenomena. This experiment lets young learners explore the water cycle long before they can define the words precipitation, evaporation, and condensation. They’ll delight in watching the “clouds” form and “rain” fall in the bag. Be sure to connect what they see in the bag with what they see in nature! What You Need: •Zippered sandwich bag •Half cup of dirt (potting soil, backyard dirt, etc.) •Plant mister •Tape •Window What You Do: Note: Plan to work on a tray, newspaper, or a plastic liner since the assembly can get messy! 1.Ask your child to spoon the dirt into the sandwich bag. 2.Let your child generously “mist” the dirt inside the bag. The dirt needs to be moist, but not muddy. 3.Help your youngster zip the bag tightly shut. 4.Tape the bag in a sunny window. 5.Observe! What's Going On? Watch the bag! It will become cloudy as the moisture evaporates and forms a foggy cloud inside the bag. Depending upon your specific conditions (where the window is, how much sunlight is available, outside temperature at the window) this could take two to three hours, or could take overnight. Once the “cloud” inside the bag can hold no more moisture, your child will notice “rain” coming down the inside walls of the bag. Open and gently mist the bag again, re-tape to the window, and watch the whole cycle repeat itself. Observing and predicting are two key skills that help your child become a more focused thinker. Extend his or her thinking by preparing several bags and taping to windows on opposite sides of the house. Also, let your child predict and then observe what happens when more or less moisture is misted into the bag. By Cindy Middendorf

Sandra Naihe
Sandra Naihe
605 Activity Points

I really liked these ideas for teaching kindergarten science. I am thinking about a unit on weather for my kindergarten class and these ideas will really come in handy. There are also great website resources!

Arielle Conger
Arielle Conger
510 Activity Points

Peggy: I am attaching my collection of articles about weather. There should be one or two that address Kindergarten. What I think is cool is taking the kids outside each day and making a journal of the clouds they see in the sky by drawing what they see. This can then be used to discuss types of clouds and what they might mean. Adah


Weather Collection
(25 items)
Teaching through Trade Books: Weather Watchers
     -Journal Article
Getting into ENSO
     -Journal Article
On Observing the Weather
     -Journal Article

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

Wow Adah, 12,240 items in your collection! Do you have anything on reducing the number of snow days? We just had our 10th one on March 3rd! I remember a deep snow when I was in third grade in northern Ohio. We children waited at the bus stop at the end of the long drive for what seemed like an eternity and finally decided to go back to the house (none of us had a watch). Our mother was very surprised to see us, having assumed that the bus came an hour ago! Weather conditions vary by region but the science concepts are the same. A teacher I work with had her children bring a container filled with packed snow. The children were expecting the snow to melt into water but they were surprised that the melted snow no longer filled the container. Hopefully the children who couldn't go to school because of the snow day were able to get outside and experience the medium. A playground that is too wet or too slippery for children to use is a waste of money. It's important for playground designers to plan for playground use in all kinds of weather.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I took a look at the collection and see that it is a very useful size of just 25 items! The article, “Fabulous Weather Day: A do-it-yourself, in-school Field trip for First graders brings weather education to life” by Candice Marshall and H. Michael Mogil looks especially helpful.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I remember when I took an Earth and Science course in high school we would have to keep a diary of how the clouds looked everyday.

Emily Carlson
Emily Carlson
1570 Activity Points

Beginning the lesson/unit with literature is a great way to relate the topic to them. Two books you could use are It Looked Like Spilt Milk and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. These could begin a discussion that would determine their ideas, thought and conceptions of clouds and weather. From this discussion, you could go outside to observe and draw the clouds and/or perform a hand on activity to demonstrate precipitation: http://makedoandfriend.blogspot.com/2012/03/learning-about-clouds-sensory-style.html Hope this is fun. :)

Magaly Perez
Magaly Perez
1105 Activity Points

How do you suggest teaching students in 1st grade about clouds seeing that the name of clouds are so difficult to understand?? Alexa

Alexa Lagrotteria
Alexa Lagrotteria
1565 Activity Points

Hi Alexa, I'm currently an Elementary Education student in Florida International University. I find that pinterest.com has amazing suggestions in how to teach different science projects. There are even lab ideas that you could do with children, such as adding water and shaving cream or whip cream (clouds) to a clear container and adding blue food coloring to the clear container for children to see rain fall from the clouds. There are also many strategies you can use to teach names of clouds such as having cut outs of clouds and hanging them in the classroom and writing their names for the students to see them, or have the students help you, and it can be a classroom project. Or the use of mnemonics is also a good strategy for remembering names of things. I hope this helps. Thanks, Elianne

Elianne Rojas
Elianne Rojas
1270 Activity Points

I found one on Pinterest that you fill a clear glass with water and top it with a shaving cream cloud. Then we dropped food coloring on the top until it started to rain. Another activity we tried to do another cloud experiment. We put warm water in the bottom of a jar with ice cubes on the top. It was supposed to form a "cloud" and the condensation would "rain", but this required more patience.

Vanessa Fonte
Vanessa Fonte
625 Activity Points

The Next Generation Science Standards don’t call for using a model to describe any weather conditions until grade 5 although observing weather conditions to notice patterns over time is part of the Kindergarten performance expectations. Do kindergartners or first grade students have to learn the names of different types of clouds to observe and draw them, and notice patterns in weather? I’m going to quote Jeff Winokur again, “Just because they see it doesn’t mean they can understand it,” as a reminder that models (although fun) may not be teaching the concepts we hope to teach. I agree with Kendra about the possibility of introducing misconceptions—we need to be aware that children may not understand what we are trying to teach! Check the Pinterest posts for links to science standards for the appropriate age range or other description of the concepts being taught. 5-ESS2 Earth’s Systems Students who demonstrate understanding can: 5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.] K-ESS2 Earth’s Systems Students who demonstrate understanding can: K-ESS2-1. Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time. [Clarification Statement: Examples of qualitative observations could include descriptions of the weather (such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, and warm); examples of quantitative observations could include numbers of sunny, windy, and rainy days in a month. Examples of patterns could include that it is usually cooler in the morning than in the afternoon and the number of sunny days versus cloudy days in different months.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative observations limited to whole numbers and relative measures such as warmer/cooler.]

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

An activity that is really useful for students to understand the water cycle is the paper plate activity. You divide the paper plate equally into four sections and write precipitation, condensation, evaporation, and collection. In each flap you could write about, or draw a picture if it is a younger grade, the phase within the water cycle.

Christina Gomez
Christina Gomez
1900 Activity Points

Thank you Christina, where has it been an effective teaching tool for you, in what position in the inquiry? What grade level would this be appropriate for, and what is the concept that this teaches?

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

I did some pre-student teaching this past semester in a transitional kindergarten class, so I understand that it is hard to find ways to relate the material to the students in a way they can understand and explore on their own.

Arielle Cortes
Arielle Cortes
175 Activity Points

I was a student teacher these past few months. In my class, they covered the water cycle very thoroughly. Then the students began a log on daily weather patterns. I think observing the changes helped them relate and observe more closely. It might be worth a shot. Good luckQ@

Melissa Gucwa
Melissa Gucwa
795 Activity Points

Hi: At that age I would start with reading a book such as "Little Cloud" by Eric Carle. The following website provides suggestions about how to move into a lesson from that" http://www.eric-carle.com/bb-cloud.html You have to grasp their attention and go from there. Kids any age love a story. Good luck. Adah

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

Great suggestion to use "Little Cloud," by Eric Carle and thank you for providing the link to his web site for more information. I always forget about this book and it would be a perfect addition to our science unit on weather.

Amber K Stout
Amber K Stout
1925 Activity Points

Christy Curran
Christy Curran
2065 Activity Points

I was trying to think of a way to remember what each of the stages do, then I went to my children and asked them. My children started singing a song with hand movement: Precipitation (hand going down) Condensation (hands going up) Evaporation (hands waving side to side) This is kind of hard to demonstrate with out you seeing it but just make up a song with movements explaining the different steps and it will catch on.

Tiffany Williams
Tiffany Williams
1665 Activity Points

http://www.thekindergartensmorgasboard.com/2013_03_01_archive.html Look at this blog, I did this experiment for an afterschool program and it went fabulous! The kids were able to understand how clouds are and learn on their own but doing the experiment.

Samira Parhizkar
Samira Parhizkar
1930 Activity Points

As far as precipitation goes, I saw a teacher once clump a napkin up and put it on a ruler. She put the ruler over a bucket and slowly started to drip water on to the napkin. Once the napkin got saturated enough, it started to "rain". This visual might help you explain the concept of precipitation to children.

Zeinab Kobeissi
Zeinab Kobeissi
1185 Activity Points

To help students understand clouds within the classroom I am working in the classroom teacher brought in a humidifier. She then put the humidifier on high and out came what looked like a cloud to her kindergarten students. Students were asked to observe what they saw and then talk about what they thought clouds were made of. Each student was asked to come up and place their hand in front of the humidifier. Students observed through this that clouds are made up of water by feeling how damp their hands had become. The teacher then took her students outside and observed different formations of clouds outside.

Christopher Fiscus
Christopher Fiscus
17525 Activity Points

Hello!

Little Cloud, by Eric Carle, is a great literary connection. This links to a site dedicated to teachers and how they've used the story in cloud lessons.

All the best,
Naomi Beverly

Naomi Beverly
Naomi Beverly
19130 Activity Points

Hi Rachel, I saw this cool project where you take liter soda bottles fill them with water about halfway, then squirt shaving cream into the bottle, you then use food dye and drop it into the shaving cream, it will come out into the water. This is a good visual representation of how when clouds get "full of water" they will drain and create rainfall. Hope this helps! Jaclyn

Jaclyn St. Armand
Jaclyn St. Armand
2840 Activity Points

Jaclyn- We are doing weather in 4th grade now. I am going to try this at home, and see if I can make it work for the kids and "wow" them! Naomi Beverly

Naomi Beverly
Naomi Beverly
19130 Activity Points

I went to teachers pay teachers and found several things on their about cloud precipitation and forms. Here is a link:

Katelyn Pages
Katelyn Pages
795 Activity Points

You can keep it simple and direct by making it into a creative dramatic piece. I found this especially helpful for teaching my ELL students with tons of arm movements moving the water up and down. We also made a book of clouds where each child told something about the water cycle. Emphasize the cycling of the water and the repetition of it supports the language and content objectives. Be dramatic about how heavy the clouds are becoming as the water evaporates up to them. Change the season in the story so the water freezes on its way down. Make the water into fog or low lying clouds and then torrential downpours into a jungle. The kids love it and hold on to the information. Months later my ELLs could recite the water cycle. (They always use their arms to explain it. :D)

Gail Poulin
Gail Poulin
1420 Activity Points

I think the most important thing to do is to use kinder friendly language. They can definitely learn the concept; however, you need to make sure you are not using vocabulary that is too technical. Using language that they can understand is very important, in all subjects.

Iman Gressier
Iman Gressier
1500 Activity Points

Great conversation on clouds. I am working on an SEI endorsement course and need to submit a lesson plan for the capstone project using a specific template. I am offering it here as another view of clouds. In my case, I am teaching the water cycle to kindergarten kids with special attention to the needs of English language learners. We all know that the early years students need this approach and not just the ELLs. An important thing I need to point out! The attachment is still being edited and I can't get to it today (no MSOffice at home) so listen to my changes. I need to add in the vocabulary "precipitation." I am also adding some Xs in the boxes of the steps. Please view this plan as a work in progress and not the final edit. Sorry for the sideways view. I don't know how to edit that.

Gail Poulin
Gail Poulin
1420 Activity Points

Great ideas! My students had a hard time grasping this idea because its hard to observe.

Brooke Raney
Brooke Raney
1485 Activity Points

I did sinking and floating, also having them do different swatches of solids. As well as stations for habitats. stations for rocks. have plan seeds lot sod things for first graders//kindergarden

Susan Caceres
Susan Caceres
1660 Activity Points

Wow! I will definitely be using these resources next year.They look like they will make the first three years of teaching science a little easier.

Idara Atai
Idara Atai
1285 Activity Points

Hello, Creating a cloud in the classroom could help in conceptually understanding. Pintrest is probably not the most educational resource but if you look up creating a cloud you can find how to make a cloud using a bottle and other simple items. I tried it and my niece and nephew loved it. This can help them have some type of visual they can build on with information later.

Kiara Garcia
Kiara Garcia
1170 Activity Points

What I have done in the past to show young students about clouds is making a cloud inside a glass. Take a clear glass or cup, fill it 2/3 full. Then place some shaving cream on top of the water, you only need a small layer. If you add too much, it will not work. Then take some food coloring and add about 2-3 drops and students will observe the cloud precipitate. Once they have made the observation, I allow them to do it themselves in groups. Of course, I Engage the students first about explaining the water cycle and clouds, then I Elaborate on how there are so many different types of clouds, even young little ones understand. I allow them to Explore with the cloud in a glass. I Evaluate to check for understanding- can they retell information on how clouds are formed. Try it, your students will love it!

Carmen Cruz
Carmen Cruz
2125 Activity Points

The lesson plans to have young children observe actual clouds and notice how they change from minute-to-minute and day-to-day sound like a great way for children to begin understanding that clouds are not solids. The art activities where children document their observations or use their imaginations to create cloud images will give them time to reflect on their observations. The water-shaving cream-blue food coloring activity does not represent cloud formation by condensation of water vapor on dust particles. But it is interesting to see which liquids will sink through the foam and float above water and which ones will sink through it! The USGS has information on precipitation at: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleprecipitation.html

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

You can also extend your learning by creating a weather window and going on a scavenger hunt trying to see what clouds they observe! I would narrow it down to the most common ones.

Carmen Cruz
Carmen Cruz
2125 Activity Points

I just downloaded a chapter from NSTA Science and Children... "Why is the Sky Blue?" This would be a nice addition with inquiry.

Susan O'Brien
Susan O'Brien
1870 Activity Points

There are a lot of great picture books that work with introducing this topic to young students. You can even create your own display to help them understand this even more.

Tiffany Smith
Tiffany Smith
1350 Activity Points

Wow! This has been a great discussion, who knew so many thought provoking questions would come up? I just wanted to offer a resource I've used with elementary that might be helpful for cloud observation, I'm sorry if someone already suggested it and I missed it. It's a link to the .pdf version of the book "Take a Cloud Walk" from the Take a Walk book series. http://www.takeawalk.com/take-a-cloud-walk.html Thanks for the great discussion everyone!

Sarah Benton Feitlinger
Sarah Benton
1740 Activity Points

Thanks for the resource link, Sarah. I love that the Take a Walk books provide science content background knowledge for teachers, can be adapted for different learners, engage learners of all ages with the photos, and provide prompts for drawing and writing about observations.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

Rachel Kindergarten can be a hard grade to teach as far as getting them interested. Try drawing on their own experience about what they already know about clouds and the sky.

Alicia Taylor
Alicia Taylor
1430 Activity Points

Rachel Kindergarten can be a hard grade to teach as far as getting them interested. Try drawing on their own experience about what they already know about clouds and the sky.

Alicia Taylor
Alicia Taylor
1430 Activity Points

I've seen Kindergarten mostly watches the brain pop jr that talks about the cloud and precipitation. You can look it up there.

Linda Ngo
Linda Ngo
2735 Activity Points

As the previous person stated, brain pop jr. is a great site with interactive resources on various subjects. I have found that my students love watching video, as do most children. This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZHymnnrSzc is advanced for kindergarten because of the vocabulary used, but I think the illustrations are good to help show them how clouds are formed.

KIm Nguyen
Kim Nguyen
1005 Activity Points

One of the difficulties in teaching a complex topic to young children is that simplification may introduce misconceptions. At 0:23, the video discusses water vapor as only coming from the surfaces of bodies of water. Evaporation also happens from land surfaces and it is important to include this in any video or graphic depicting the water cycle. Does anyone have a water cycle or cloud formation resource that includes water evaporation from the land?

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
7040 Activity Points

One of my favorite things to do is to use a fiction book that's related to the topic in order to introduce it to my students. Not only does it grab their attention but its an easy way to get them thinking about whatever topic it is that you want to teach them. I also like to do simulations in the classroom so the students can get that first hand experience.

Jennifer Arbaiza
Jennifer Arbaiza
1625 Activity Points

Here are some ideas http://nothingbutmonkeybusiness.blogspot.com/2013/04/clouds-incredible-weather-april-15-19.html

Madeleine Moses
Madeleine Moses
960 Activity Points

http://scienceillustrated.com.au/blog/technology/do-it-yourself-science-projects-storm-clouds-in-a-bottle/

This "storm clouds in a bottle" might be a fun experiment to model for your students where they can actually watch them form!

Jessica Hill
Jessica Hill
965 Activity Points

Hello Rachel, Children at young age, they need instructions from adults, while parents and teachers are supposed to teach their children to observe nature phenomenons, make inferences, and try to explain why this phenomenons happened, rather than just show and tell the sciences facts directly to their children. So you can give them some interesting things to observe and ask them the questions. So that students may have interest in finding the reasons and answers step by step.

Jie Li
Jie Li
2075 Activity Points

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