Integrating Science Learning Experiences Into a Curriculum

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn some ways that teachers can expose students to science concepts through cross-curricular instruction. Specifically, we will explore ideas for integrating science with English Language Arts, Math, and Art.

Building Connections Across the Curriculum

Early childhood is a time of inquiry. Students want to know about the world around them. Integrating science instruction in every content area increases student engagement, improves critical thinking skills, and builds connections across the curriculum to improve cognition. Integrated curriculum combines content areas to create meaningful learning experiences for students. Let's look at some ways that teachers can integrate science across the curriculum.

Science in English Language Arts

We know how important improving literacy skills are to helping students be successful. This means that sometimes we focus more on literacy than other subjects. Thus, we can neglect giving these other subjects the attention they deserve. By using science themes to integrate thematic units, students don't miss out on developing a strong foundation in science.

Incorporating science-based literature and poems into English Language Arts lesson plans is a simple way to expose students to science concepts and vocabulary. Some examples of children's literature with science concepts include:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a popular children's book that teaches children about the life cycle of the butterfly.
  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is the story of a man who goes to the rain forest to cut down a tree, but first takes a nap. While he is sleeping, each of the rain forest animals comes to him in a dream to beg him not to destroy their home. This story teaches students about animals in the rain forest, as well as cause and effect.
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton is a story about a man with a steam shovel who is nearly put out of business by gasoline, electric, and diesel shovels. The book touches on concepts about technological advances and repurposing, but is also a great introduction to simple machines.

Writing activities can be used to further explore the scientific principles behind the books as students create journal entries and graphic organizers to respond to literature.

Science in Math

Early childhood science concepts, such as cooking and the weather, heavily depend on math concepts, such as measurement, time, and data collection (graphing). In lieu of planning for math and science as separate subjects, teachers can combine the two to create engaging activities for students. Some examples of math and science integration activities include:

  • Ask students to work with a partner to use paperclips to measure the length of their foot and their hand. Compare the results.
  • With students, record data about weather conditions each day using a graph.
  • Ask students to sort rocks by attribute and then count how many are smooth and how many are rough.

Science in Art

Art and science are both subjects that don't get enough attention in schools. By mixing the two subjects, teachers are able to get more from both of them. Here are some ideas for integrating art and science.

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