Science takes on many forms in first and second grade and is an important way for young children to explore the world, nurture their curiosity and develop skills of observation, investigation, and thinking.
A child catches a spider in the classroom and releases it outdoors. The whole class makes parachutes from napkins and string. We take a walk to notice the changes that fall brings about. Natural objects are described, sketched and sorted into piles. Small sprouts come up from the paper cups under the grow light.
At Friends School of Minnesota we combine our goals in science and environmental education to give children many experiences both indoors and outdoors that lead to science learning. Here is some information about our first and second grade science program.
Full Option Science System (FOSS)
Friends School uses a science curriculum called FOSS, or Full Option Science System, as a basis for K-4 science study. The FOSS modules cover the range of science topics including Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science. In the first and second grades we use two modules from each area over the course of two years; using three modules each year.
This year we have worked with New Plants and have begun to use the kits for Solids and Liquids (Prairie), and Balance and Motion (Jungle).
These FOSS kits provide a multi-sensory, hands-on approach to science that teaches both skills and content. Hands-on activities are motivating and they stimulate curiosity.
Activities often start with free exploration of materials, followed by a discussion of discoveries in which vocabulary is developed and ideas are clarified for students, followed by additional experiences with materials to reinforce concepts.
The focus is not on acquiring bits and pieces of facts, but on building competence with thinking processes such as organizing, comparing, communicating, and observing. FOSS activities guide students through a number of simple experiences and the power of the work comes from the accumulation of these experiences over time. This approach helps to develop a deeper understanding of the natural world.
Of course, as with any program used at Friends School, we adapt and expand the basic activities by bringing in literature, adding field trips and pursuing additional activities that spark the kids’ interests. As thorough as the FOSS system is in its scope, we also include science in our classrooms in many other ways.
We follow students’ particular interests to go further in some areas and branch off into specific areas of study. Sometimes a unique classroom experience (a field trip, something brought to share, a favorite book, a class pet, a tree cut down, etc.) will lead us to explore a topic.
We also combine health with science to learn more about the human body. Sometimes science is a full-blown theme for our classrooms and sometimes it is merely a moment of observing and being awed by our world.
For first and second graders the world is full of interesting things to explore. Young children are eager science students!
– Janet and Sally, First & Second Grade Teachers