Sub-domain: Science

The Science sub-domain covers goals forty-two and forty-three of the Idaho Early Learning Guidelines. 

Using this guide

Scroll down to see the age group you are most interested in. Click on the goal to learn more about the goal's:

  • developmental growth
  • child indicators
  • caregiver strategies

There is an option to download the information at the end of each goal. When you click the link you will be brought to a new page where you can download the goal as a PDF.  

An adult sits in a chair reading to a baby

0 - 8 Months

Goal 42: Children observe, describe, and collect information by exploring the world around them.

Developmental Growth: Show interest in familiar people, objects, and events in their immediate environment.

Child Indicators: Observes physical relationships using the senses (turns head toward sounds, mouthing, grasping, reaching). Shows interest in surroundings by focusing on familiar faces, objects in close proximity (including plants and animals), and events. Demonstrates/indicates individual needs (hunger, thirst). Begins to demonstrate an awareness that people or objects exist after they are no longer present (beginning of object permanence).

Caregiver Strategies: Provide appropriate space, time, and materials for child to explore (play on the floor with babies and get face-to-face with them; provide easy to grasp objects for them to hold). Safeguard the environment; maximizing freedom for exploration. Describe observable natural events (raindrops forming puddles or a squirrel climbing up a tree). Support and encourage child’s exploration by smiling, nodding, and talking with interest. Provide a variety of familiar and new materials that can be used in different ways (containers for scooping, putting objects into, and for banging). Read a variety of picture books with real-life photos and drawn/painted illustrations of familiar living and nonliving things. Provide opportunities to play jointly with caregivers and objects (hiding games). Respect child’s explorations without predetermined outcomes or expectations.

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Goal 43: Children further engage in exploring and making sense of the natural world by asking questions and making predictions about cause and effect relations that can lead to generalizations.

Developmental Growth: Sensory awareness.

Child Indicators: Uses senses to begin understanding cause and effect during daily experiences and routines. Shows surprise when events occur that do not follow expected sequences (shows surprise when a ball rolls into a tube and does not roll out at the opposite end) that may suggest the beginning of object permanence. Begins to observe and predict the people, objects, and events in the world around them.

Caregiver Strategies: Create an environment that inspires child to have ideas and figure out how to do something. Encourage child to try out ideas, make mistakes, and develop contradictions. Describe safe natural materials (leaves, shells, snow, and food items) and allow for free exploration. Provide safe environments and responsive materials to explore. Offer opportunities for infants to use two or more senses simultaneously (hiding a rattle under a blanket or in a box). Provide toys and materials that can be used in different ways (balls bounce, roll, catch, and can be tossed through hoops and into containers). Refrain from intervening too quickly as child explores sensory experiences.  Verbally describe the results of child’s actions. Caregivers wait for child to gesture or motion a signal for help or assistance. Smile, nod, and verbally acknowledge the child’s observations and explorations. Allow and encourage repetitive activities such as “peek-a-boo.” Talk with child about objects and events (e.g., “Is that soft, warm?”).

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6 - 18 Months

Goal 42: Children observe, describe, and collect information by exploring the world around them.

Developmental Growth: By observing, begins to describe new or unfamiliar toys, objects, people, and events.

Child Indicators: Demonstrates interest in surroundings by focusing on familiar and unfamiliar faces,bjects in different environmental settings (including plants and animals), and events. Notices and begins to express individual wants and needs. After repeated exposure to the same toys and objects, begins to explore new ways of using these materials. Begins to notice and label objects and events in the environment. Enjoys outdoor play. Observes, and may play with and describe water, sand, and mud. Observes and describes sun and clouds (sun is bright, clouds are white). Begins to integrate the simultaneous use of more than one sense (uses sight, touch, and hearing by examining and shaking a toy). Uses senses to explore characteristics of certain living things (scent of flower, rough texture of tree bark). Shows some understanding of object permanence; looking for people and objects that have disappeared, with assistance.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide appropriate space, time, and materials for child to explore (place child on floor with multi- dimensional objects and open- ended toys like blocks, containers, pots and pans, sand, mud, and water). Safeguard the environment; maximizing freedom for exploration indoors and outdoors.Encourage child to label and describe observable natural events (falling leaves and butterflies landing on flowers). Support and encourage child’s descriptions, discussions, and exploration by smiling, nodding, and asking questions. Read a variety of picture books with real-life photos or drawn/painted illustrations of familiar and unfamiliar living and nonliving things and encourage child to point to and describe. Provide opportunities to play jointly with caregivers, other children, and objects such as participating in an indoor/outdoor obstacle course. Respect child’s explorations without predetermined outcomes or expectations.

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Goal 43: Children further engage in exploring and making sense of the natural world by asking questions and making predictions about cause and effect relations that can lead to generalizations.

Developmental Growth:  Explores cause and effect relations through observation, and trial and error.

Child Indicators: Uses senses and initial attempts at trial and error to solve problems. Attempts to repeat cause and effect events. Observes, describes, and begins to predict the world around them. Shows surprise when events occur that do not follow expected sequences. With increased motor skills, actively pursues an object that disappears in an unusual location (object permanence). Begins to problem solve when they use a series of actions, an object, or a caregiver to reach a goal (pulling a string to reach an attached toy). Imitates a caregiver’s action(s) to solve a problem. Begins using trial and error to find a solution to a problem.

Caregiver Strategies: Create an environment that inspires child to have ideas and figure out how to do something to cause a reaction (drop a toy from the table). Encourage child to try out ideas, make mistakes, and develop contradictions. Encourage child to explore, compare, and describe safe natural materials (leaves, shells, snow, and food items). Actively promote development of scientific reasoning by providing safe environments and responsive materials to explore. Promote development of reasoning and problem-solving skills by making available problem-solving opportunities to observe, experience, and discuss using a variety of materials and encourage experimentation with possible solutions (using containers and utensils to scoop items out of water or hidden in sand). Provide toys and materials that can be used in different ways to encourage problem-solving and exploration (several sizes of container, funnels, or sieve at water play). Refrain from intervening too quickly as child explores problem- solving experiences and help point out, describe, and discuss the results of child’s actions. Wait for child to gesture, motion, or verbally signal for help or assistance. Acknowledge, encourage, and support explorations and attempts at problem-solving. Emphasize freedom to explore learning and problem-solving opportunities rather than providing solutions. Allow and encourage repetitive activities such as dropping and picking up objects. Model problem-solving behaviors that are developmentally within child’s ability to imitate. Talk with child about natural objects and everyday events (how does food smell, taste, etc.).

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Scientific thinking and knowledge skills include observation, building an understanding of cause and effect in the natural world, and making predictions.

16 - 38 Months

Goal 42: Children observe, describe, and collect information by exploring the world around them.

Developmental Growth: Construct and describe simple observable characteristics of objects, people, and events.

Child Indicators: With continued exposure to the same toys and objects, explores new and multiple ways of using these materials. Enjoys and expands on choices for outdoor play. Enjoys playing with, exploring, and experimenting with water, sand, and mud. Notices, understands, and expresses individual wants and needs. Demonstrates curiosity about the natural environment and identifies or labels the earth’s materials. Uses senses to identify details of similarities and differences through observation and exploration. Explores and investigates physical properties of living and nonliving things. Demonstrates increased understanding of object permanence; looking for people and objects that have disappeared.

Caregiver Strategies: Encourage child to explore new and unfamiliar toys and objects to find multiple ways for using them. Provide child with varied opportunities to describe and discuss the similarities and differences observed with water, sand, and mud. Provide child with varied opportunities to play, explore, and experiment with water, sand, and mud; and describe and discuss what they observe using funnels, tubes, containers, and utensils. Provide child with bubble solution and a variety of wands and household items (spoons with holes, spatulas, funnels, cups, plastic bottles, straws), and encourage them to describe the bubbles that each item makes. Support, encourage, and guide child’s observations and explorations by discussing and asking questions about their findings without predetermined outcomes or expectations. Provide opportunities to label and describe earth’s materials while on nature walks. Provide opportunities to explore and investigate physical properties of living and nonliving things.

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Goal 43: Children further engage in exploring and making sense of the natural world by asking questions and making predictions about cause and effect relations that can lead to generalizations.

Developmental Growth: Vary actions in order to see what happens as a result (cause and effect).

Child Indicators: Uses senses, and trial and error to solve problems. Expands on their ability to observe, describe, and predict the world around them. Increases problem-solving as they use a series of actions, an object, or a caregiver to reach a goal (pulling a string to reach an attached toy) or intentional outcome. Imitates and begins to vary a caregiver’s action(s) to solve a problem. Uses trial and error to find possible solutions to a problem (moving a puzzle piece around to find the right place).

Caregiver Strategies: Create an environment that inspires child to have ideas and figure out how to do something (provide open-ended materials, combinations of materials, and access to a variety of materials). Encourage child to try out ideas, make mistakes, and develop contradictions. Encourage child to explore, compare, and describe safe natural materials (leaves, shells, snow, and food items) according to observable similarities and differences. Actively promote development of scientific reasoning by providing safe environments and responsive materials to explore. Promote development of reasoning and problem-solving skills by making available problem-solving opportunities to observe, experience, and discuss using a variety of materials that further encourage experimentation with possible solutions. Provide toys and materials that can be used in different ways to encourage intentional problem-solving and exploration. Refrain from intervening too quickly as child explores problem-solving experiences and discuss and experiment with solutions and the results of their experiments. Wait for child to gesture, motion, or verbalize a request for help or assistance. Acknowledge, encourage, and support explorations and attempts at problem-solving and new learning. Emphasize freedom to explore learning and problem-solving opportunities rather than providing or emphasizing predetermined solutions or outcomes. Ask questions such as “What do you think the ball will do when I drop it?”

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36 - 60 Months

Goal 42: Children observe, describe, and collect information by exploring the world around them.

Developmental Growth: Call attention to, describe, discuss, and explain observable similarities and differences among objects or events.

Child Indicators: Shows interest and curiosity in exploring, investigating, and words to describe living and nonliving things. Uses senses to explore materials, objects, and natural phenomena (sand, pinecones, crawling ants). Makes comparisons and calls attention to details; and with adult assistance, explores the ways in which things are alike and different (notices how shells are the same or different; notices objects that float or sink; listens to different sounds that animals make). Notices, describes, and predicts changes in the environment (dark clouds mean possible rain). Observes, compares, classifies, measures, and communicates observations of events and objects. Explores earth science, physical science, and life science through observations and experimentation with concrete objects. Begins to use simple tools (magnifiers, lenses, droppers) for exploration and investigation. Predicts the outcome of an investigation based on observation or experience. Demonstrates respect for living things (watering plants, trying to avoid stepping on anthills). Explores answers to questions and forms new questions or conclusions

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities to explore, describe, and classify materials, objects, and natural phenomena using various senses (touch snow and feel how cold it is; listen to the sounds that different machines make at a construction site). Provide opportunities to make and describe nature collages. Provide opportunities to observe and explore different physical characteristics of living and nonliving things using investigative tools (magnifiers, droppers), with assistance.   Provide an adaptive handle to investigative tools when need to meet individual need. Provide opportunities to examine and create nature collections such as rocks, shells, and insects. Play “I Spy” by describing living and nonliving items in the immediate surroundings for the child to figure out. Provide opportunities for child to select items and place them in a sensory bag for others to explore, describe, and identify. Discuss which food items come from plants during snack time. Compare different seeds found in fruit during snack or cooking. Compare and describe different flower and vegetable seeds to be planted in a garden or pots. Provide child with bubble solution and a variety of wands and household items (spoons with holes, spatulas, funnels, cups, plastic bottles, straws), and encourage them to describe and predict the bubbles each item makes. Use lighting and different objects and describe their different shadows. Provide opportunities to compare and describe the similarities and differences of living and nonliving things with photos or illustrations in books. Provide opportunities for child to describe living and nonliving items during “show and tell.”

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Goal 43: Children further engage in exploring and making sense of the natural world by asking questions and making predictions about cause and effect relations that can lead to generalizations.

Developmental Growth: Investigate unfamiliar phenomena and both trial and error (sometimes systematic trials), with assistance

Child Indicators: Uses senses and develops strategies (from trial and error) to solve problems. Explores the use of investigative tools to extend the senses in a trial and error fashion. Eagerly observes, describes, and predicts the world around them. As child investigates new phenomena, makes progress from trial and error toward a more systematic approach to problem-solving. More apt to verbalize observations than ask meaningful questions. Uses questioning as a way to engage conversation rather than as an intended means for gathering information. Shows curiosity and interest about familiar/unfamiliar and living/nonliving things. Begins to demonstrate respect for living things. Eagerly observes, describes, and predicts the world around them. Makes simple predictions and inferences about cause and effect relations based on observations, explorations, and experimentations with objects and events in the natural world. Compares their predictions with actual observations. Begins making predictions about changes in the environment that lead to generalizations based on understanding.

Caregiver Strategies: Create an environment that inspires child to have ideas and figure out how to do something. Encourage child to try out ideas, make mistakes, and develop contradictions. Encourage child to actively explore, compare, and describe safe natural materials (leaves, shells, snow, and food items) according to observable similarities and differences. Encourage child to observe patterns and offer possible predictions through questions (e.g., “What will happen if we put this flower in a vase without water?”). Provide child with bubble solution and a variety of wands and household items (spoons with holes, spatulas, funnels, cups, plastic bottles, straws) and encourage them to question and predict what kind of bubbles different types of wands will make. Provide child sand, water, mud, pebbles, and grain for pouring and help child question what will happen. Raise or lower the height of the sand/water table to allow child in wheelchair to play with peers.Provide child with simple machines to take apart and put back together (flashlight). Provide different toys with wheels or differently shaped objects and slopes to observe and question how they might move. Provide child opportunities to explore, observe, and describe the different properties of magnets with different materials (cloth, plastic toys, nuts and bolts, coins). Provide a variety of natural experiences that encourage child to explore, describe, and classify according to interests (e.g., “Which of these insects crawl and which ones fly?”). Encourage child to act on their own observations of patterns and make predictions (add more milk to pancake batter during cooking activity). Encourage child to compare their predictions with what they see (e.g., “Did the pancakes turn out the way you wanted when you added more milk?”). Provide opportunities for child to mix colors using paint, play dough, colored water).

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By acquiring scientific knowledge, children gain an understanding of and information about their surroundings.

60 Months - Kindergarten

Goal 42: Children observe, describe, and collect information by exploring the world around them.

Developmental Growth: Collect, organize, and display results of observations to construct relationships that help them organize and make sense of the natural world.

Child Indicators: Uses observations, descriptions, and predictions to examine the natural world around them. Increases awareness and understanding of the physical world as the child collects, organizes, and displays results of observations and experimentations. Makes comparisons based on observations and vocabulary that includes descriptive and comparative words. Makes inferences, draws more meaning than from what is visible, and predicts future events. By describing events, compares predictions with what was observed. Uses scientific tools that are not limited to observations, but also includes locomotion devices (gears and pulleys), technological tools, and measurement devices.

Caregiver Strategies: Continue to invite curiosity and interest through experiences that encourage the child to explore, describe, and classify living and nonliving items using various senses (sand and water as it runs through fingers; sounds of different animals; making different size bubbles with household items). Provide opportunities to organize, discuss, and draw conclusions based on observations about living and nonliving things using investigative tools (looking at a caterpillar’s sections through magnifier; using different household items to make bubbles). Provide child with bubble solution and challenge them to find items in the classroom that will make bubbles. Encourage child to make own drawings, stories, or books about living and nonliving things. Provide opportunities for child to describe living and nonliving items during “show and tell” for others to figure out. Provide child with an assortment of investigative tools and devices to explore and describe, draw, and write about (magnifiers, binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes; weights and balancing scales; tubes and funnels; bicycle chain and gear sprockets; animal guide books). Encourage child to discuss how we get food from plants, animals, farms, and fields. Encourage child to assemble the needed materials and describe the different flower and vegetable seeds and the soil mixture needed to plant seeds in a garden or pots.Encourage child to observe patterns and make predictions (e.g., “What happens to the lima bean planted in soil if it does not get any water?”). Help child organize needed materials (paper, markers, crayons, scissors) to draw or create collage life cycles of insects, animals, and plants. Continue to read life cycle books like, The Hungry Caterpillar. Provide child with the needed writing materials to document, visually organize (create charts, graphs, tables), and display observation results (measuring the height of a sprouted lima bean; daily temperature pattern for one week).

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Goal 43: Children further engage in exploring and making sense of the natural world by asking questions and making predictions about cause and effect relations that can lead to generalizations.

Developmental Growth: Plan and conduct simple investigations to explore questions or problems.

Child Indicators: Uses senses combined with specific strategies to solve problems and make predictions that lead to generalizations about the world around them. Uses investigative tools to gather information and extend the senses. Makes inferences, predictions, and generalizations based on observations and experiences. Compares predictions with actual observations. Actively asks questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. Makes predictions about changes in the environment that lead to generalizations about the natural world. Eagerly acts on curiosity and interest to organize and plan observations, explorations, and experiments with living and nonliving things and events in the environment. Respect for living things becomes a personal responsibility. Begins using gathered information (data) to construct and communicate reasonable explanations.

Caregiver Strategies: Create an environment that inspires child to have ideas and figure out how to do something.Encourage child to try out ideas, make mistakes, and develop contradictions. Encourage child to act on their own observations of patterns, make predictions and draw pictures, write stories or recipes that reflect outcomes (how to make thicker pancakes; how to make thinner pancakes). Provide child with an assortment of investigative tools and devices to explore and make predictions and generalizations about observations (magnifiers, binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes; weights and balancing scales; tubes and funnels; bicycle chain and gear sprockets; animal guide books). Provide child with an assortment of investigative tools to draw and write about their observations, predictions, and generalizations (which items are magnetic and which items are not?). Listen to and discuss stories that illustrate changes (seasons, growing plants, animals) and draw pictures and write stories based on generalizations. Provide child with bubble solution and a variety of wands and household items that will make bubbles (spoons with holes, spatulas, funnels, cups, plastic bottles, straws) and items that will not.  Ask child to display observation results using drawings, tables, or charts.

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