The standards-based Kindergarten Investigation Program is designed around grade level theme topics that allow students to develop an awareness of the world around them and their place in it, using real-life science connections. The program is designed using a Student Investigation Center approach based on the research that states centers are the most appropriate method for kindergarten students to be engaged in science, explore topics using the tools of science, and explain the science they have discovered. Everything needed for Student Investigation Centers, including well-designed hands-on activities with corresponding objects to examine, is provided for the ease of the teacher. The Kindergarten Investigation Program creates an active learning environment that brings the natural and physical world to life in the kindergarten classroom.

Student Investigation Centers engage students in real science processes and help teachers manage small-group structured learning, with rotations where students apply what they have learned with developmentally appropriate activities both independently and with partners.  Investigation centers, and their “hands-on” approach helps students master meaningful concepts and connections across the content of reading, math, science and language arts with activities that are interesting and challenging. Teachers assess students through consistent observation and interactions as they facilitate center activities.

Think Like a Scientist

In the first investigation, students learn the names of the five senses and begin to understand that observations can be categorized according to sensory input. The next investigation has students exploring the roles and limitations of the senses in scientific observation. The third investigation builds the students’ toolbox by introducing them to tools and equipment that scientists use to describe and document their observations more accurately. In the fourth investigation center, students add more tools to the toolbox to make accurate observations. In the fifth and final investigation of this unit, students will be introduced to the notion of an experiment and conducting a fair test. They will work together to create an experiment that is fair and predictable.

Weather and Seasons

In the first investigation, students use descriptive words to identify daily weather. Students will begin to understand weather changes and that those changes can be observed, recorded, and analyzed. The second investigation has students expand their knowledge of the four seasons to include the typical weather conditions associated with each of the seasons. In the third investigation, students discover how the seasons impact the daily existence of humans, animals, and plants. In the fourth investigation, students explore characteristics of the sun, moon, and stars. The final investigation has students discern the differences between day and night.

Motion and Energy

In the first investigation, students explore objects moving in various directions including up and down, back and forth, zigzag, and being still. The vocabulary developed in the first investigation is built upon throughout the unit. In the second investigation, students identify the effect of gentle force and greater force on objects and they use force to make things move and to stop them from moving; gravity is introduced in this investigation. In the third investigation, students use various shaped magnets to make things move. Students use a poem to reinforce position words. In the fourth and fifth investigations, students explore light, heat, and sound energy with activities that involve vibration, hot and cold, and light.

Traits of Living Things

In the first investigation, students are introduced to the concept of living and nonliving things. Kindergarten students are developing an understanding of the differences between living and nonliving things and this unit helps them define the traits and explore the characteristics of living things. The second investigation allows students to explore ways in which plants are alike and different. The third investigation explores animals and their similarities and differences; both investigations (two and three) help students identify the characteristics of plants and animals. In the fourth investigation, students discover that the offspring of living things resemble the parents; students also have an opportunity to determine how these animals resemble members of their family. The fifth and final investigation directs students to determine the reasons why plants and animals live in different places so they can continue to live and grow.