By Paula Dugger, M. Ed., Guest Blogger
Whether or not parents are ready for their child to start kindergarten, it is important to prepare children for a successful start. Continue reading to learn about ways to use science nonfiction books as a part of early childhood learning to help young students find the fun in science while developing reading skills and improving vocabulary!
We can all agree that language and vocabulary development are crucial to success when entering school. Once leveled readers become a part of your plans for early childhood education to prepare for early learners for kindergarten science, you will notice a direct effect on building language, vocabulary, and thinking skills. These skills will help young students tap into background information on a wide variety of subjects. As a result, kids will be able to link new information to prior knowledge they already possess.
Young children are curious about everything, so we should expect and welcome their questions. Books about things in motion and things that grow, as well as weather and animal books, are highly beneficial. Not only do science-related texts help develop a scientific approach to questioning and answering, they can even increase a student's capacity for reasoning and logic.
Wordless books are great tools for learners in early childhood education because the children can talk about what they know and ask questions about what is shown on each page. You can gradually move toward picture books containing labels or very simple sentence structure. The progression to leveled guided reading books will help build new information with content-specific vocabulary.
You can make science fun with nonfiction books that cover familiar modes of transportation, such as trains, planes, and vehicles. This can be fun because students may recognize the different forms of transportation and will be ready to explore themes of motion and speed. Go Fast! Go Slow! and Inside a Truck, found in the My World Collection, are wonderful science books for your early learners. Go Fast! Go Slow! uses pictures and labels to show your kids vibrant examples of objects that move fast and slow. For ideas on closing the word gap before kindergarten, you'll find the list of content-specific words at the end of the book extremely valuable. If you're in need of ways to involve families in content-area literacy, the suggested questions for parents to ask before and after reading are great for continued practice at home.
Children can show their comprehension of specific concepts, such as “fast” and “slow” while doing routine things like walking, running, dancing, riding in a vehicle, etc. Research indicates that children need over twenty-five exposures to a new word to make it a part of their vocabulary. By introducing and repeating new vocabulary in everyday activities, you will help make new words part of a child’s everyday language.
Another science-related topic that is prevalent in early childhood education is animal life. There are many narrative animal stories for kids, but there are numerous informational texts that support early childhood education’s demand for science-related books about animals. Using nonfiction books about animals, such as Jaguar from the rainforest habitat of Zoozoo Animal World, gives many opportunities to help students link new information to prior knowledge about their favorite creatures.
These books are also helpful for encouraging students to draw pictures and participate in shared writing activities. You can combine the concepts of speed, motion, and animals by having students put animals into categories that “move fast” and “move slow”—activities like this help students have fun while developing real world connections and improving vocabulary.
Reading science books aloud and talking about the weather and seasons during your morning meetings is another easy and natural way to consistently expose students to science vocabulary. Content-area literacy gets a boost by talking about how our daily routines and clothing can be influenced by seasons. This builds oral language and helps students acquire new background knowledge.
You may also consider Four Seasons from the Kaleidoscope Collection to expose readers to simple sentence structure about weather patterns during every season of the year. This book also comes as a big book, which your kids will find really exciting during shared reading.
Using time in daily classroom conversations to discuss how things grow is a great way to excite students about science. Planting a vegetable or flower garden and planning a field trip to a local farm are simple ways to combine learning in the classroom with meaningful experiences in the real world. While these activities are underway, you can reinforce and show students the relationship between two themes by talking about how the weather affects plant growth.With early exposure to informational texts about science themes, the curiosity of your young students will flourish. You can create fun while helping your students develop a large vocabulary, building reading comprehension skills, and fostering higher-level questioning and thinking. Keeping a range of nonfiction books for kids will help make science fun and encourage student explorations.
Be sure to continue checking this blog for more lesson ideas and teaching tips!
Paula is an educational consultant who has previously served as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, and a Reading Coordinator. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more from Paula on our blog.