I am here to tell you that kindergarteners can learn science, and that many times we are guilty of not giving them credit for just how much science knowledge they can absorb. I witnessed first hand an absolutely wonderful lesson on temperature by a master teacher. This is not meant to be a bragging post on just her, but more an encouragement post that you can teach science well too.
The lesson called "Temperature Told: Hot or Cold?" is an AIMS lesson. The essential question was..."How does a thermometer help us know about temperature?"
Mrs. Gardner at Mary Esther Elementary came in as she always does ahead of time to check out the prepared tub. I can't say enough about being prepared. I have watched her do this every time she visits the lab, and it is a key factor in her success. She knows what is there and what the lesson is about. When you do this, it alleviates "the let me figure something out what is happening here while kids wait on me" factor! There are plenty of unknown things that pop up for us to stay on top of as it is!!!
In the tub, she found that it contained her lesson plan, immersion thermometers for each child, paper thermometers for discussion prior to the cold/hot activity, plastic cups, and a glass jar. She would need ice and hot water. Mrs. Gardner located her cooler and got ice ahead of time. She then located the whereabouts of the hot pot and knew where she would plug it in.
When her students came in, she had them sit with her on the floor. She led them in a question/answer session of items that are hot and cold. She gave the children a chance to come up with a variety of ideas. She was a master at the right amount of praise, leading them to the right ideas when they came up with a wrong choice. Then she asked them what tool temperature was measured with. They talked about where they had seen these....(doctor's office, thermometers to measure weather temperature, etc.) They had to say the big word "thermometer" together.
By now, good teachers know kids are needing to move...attention spans are very short (children need those brain breaks). She had them stand up, and they modeled with their bodies what the red part of the thermometer would look like when something hot or cold was called out. When it was hot, they raised their hands high and reached toward the Sun, which is also hot. That came up that idea in their discussion...that the Sun heats things up. In fact, they talked about several things that could provide heat to a substance, such as stoves or fires. See, I told you they had an incredible science lesson. They went down holding their arms tight like they were freezing when something cold was called out.
Then the students paired up and one held the paper thermometer and modeled to the other one where the red would be when something hot or cold was called out. Then they exchanged the roles. She did several times to make sure they understood what the thermometer would look like.
Excitement built, because now it was time to use the real thermometer. After explaining how to hold it (yes with the red bubble at the bottom:) and carefully since it was "delicate" and would break easily, they spread out on the floor to give them room to do the experiment. If your school doesn't have the floor space, move them out around those tables. She gave them each a cup of ice. They were told to observe what happened to the red in the thermometer. Notice I said observe, not look. She reminded them of the meaning of observe. It is never too early to use vocabulary with little ones. They of course noted that it went down from the room temperature to colder. They discussed where it would be if it were freezing (0 degrees) and where it would be for boiling (100 degrees). Mrs. Gardner added hot water to a glass jar to walk around with. This is a safety tip...not so sure about hot water with kindergarteners. She reminded them just before she got there to pull their thermometer out of the cold to let it adjust before putting in the hot water. IF you didn't know that...it is all in the lesson...remember she read it ahead of time.
They had an orderly clean up, line up, and quick recap of what they learned. Mrs. Gardner then took the work sheet that comes with the lesson back to the room to do. It would be a great evaluation piece for them.
Again, I know Mrs. Gardner is an absolutely awesome teacher, but you can do this too. The purpose here is to let you see a glimpse of how it looks. I am just so sad that I didn't video it. We don't do enough sharing in our profession, and we all work so hard and do so many incredible things that would help someone out.
Thanks Mrs. Gardner, for allowing me to share.