Education Standards

PreKindergarten: Making Sense of Our World

Overview

The purpose of Making Sense of Our World is to encourage students to use communicative behaviors to relate their thinking like scientists. The module introduces strategies developed in Kindergarten. These strategies include identifying sensory attributes to sortclassify, and compare observational data about our world, and are for all students. The classroom teacher should work with a specialist or special educator to find or develop alternate activities or resources for visually impaired students, where appropriate.

Lesson 1: Orange Observation

STANDARDS:

  • RI.PK.1 With modeling and support, answer questions about details in an informational text.
  • RI.PK.7 With modeling and support, tell how the illustrations/photographs support the text.
  • SL.PK.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about pre-kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • SL.PK.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details with modeling and support.
  • STEM Practices 4 Engage in Inquiry
  • NGSS Science Practices 1 Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts - Patterns
  • NGSS PS1 Matter and Its Interactions

 

EXPLORATION: ENGAGEMENT:
Share the book My Five Senses by Margaret Miller. Introduce the RS1 Finger Play/Song Resource Sheet to review the senses. Have students point to the body part that matches the line in the finger play. For hands, direct them to wave to each other. You can also sing this finger play to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

Tell students, "Now we are going to use our five senses to describe the world around us and the items in our world." Display RS4A Senses Statement.  Read it aloud to students.  Discuss how we use our senses to observe and describe the world.  Place an orange out for all students to see.

 

Distribute the RS2 Pinch Cards to each student. The Teacher will model using the orange in the whole group.  The teacher will encourage communicative responses by pinching the icon for sight on the RS2 Pinch Card and say, “I see an orange-colored ball shape.” The teacher will write the response on the class chart beside the picture cue for the sense of sight.  The teacher will now challenge students to describe what they see using think, pair, share. The teacher will write student responses on the chart paper.  Repeat this process with each of the other senses. Allow students to practice observations by pinching a sense icon and sharing their ideas. If time provides, cut the orange so that students will be able to use the sense of smell and taste to describe the orange. (Pass around the orange slices so that students can experience smell/taste – check with parents for food allergies first). Another option is to invite a few students up to smell/taste and record their responses. If you have an assistant, consider dividing students up into small table groups to smell and taste.  Keep in mind that in some counties, students are not permitted to eat in the classroom unless a permission slip has been obtained, which, of course, makes the use of an orange less feasible. 

Class Chart example:

Sense

Picture Cue

Possible Response

(teacher writes modeled response and student response on class chart)

Sight

I see with my eyes…

orange, round, bumpy, like a baseball

Touch

 

I feel with my hands and fingers…

bumpy, easy to squeeze, sticky when cut open

Hearing

​​I hear with my ears…

quiet, makes a thump when you drop it

Smell

 

I smell with my nose…

no smell before cut, smells sweet when cut

Taste

 

​​I taste with my mouth…

juicy, sweet, tart

EXPLANATION:
Display the class chart. Read the responses aloud to students. Display RS4A Senses Statement. Discuss how we used our senses to observe and describe the orange. Display RS4B Communicate Statement. Read Aloud. Tell students that when we share our ideas, we are communicating with others. Have students clap the syllables in the word communicate to help them say and remember this word. EXTENSION/EVALUATION:
Divide students into small groups and pair students together. Students will use a picture sort or other foods/objects to explore further.  Keep in mind that in some counties, students cannot eat in classrooms without a permission slip, which, of course, makes the use of food less feasible.  Also, be aware of food allergies before using any food items.  Other usable items are popcorn, sand blocks, scented candles, cinnamon sticks, seashells, photographs, keys on a ring, a ball, etc.  Challenge students to describe the items using their senses. Repeat this process for the other senses.

 

Ask the students why we should not use our sense of taste with this item. Ask students why some items are not suitable for the sense of taste. If students use the sort, have students take turns placing the small pictures of objects on the sense icon pictures. Many computer programs offer pictures and icons. Prompt student:  “Which would be your favorite way to explore or experience the object?”  (You could also say Best Way or Worst Way) or Ask students “What sense could you use to describe this object? How would you describe the object using that sense?” Encourage discussion because there is more than one answer.  Annotate and REPI what students say using (see Resources) RS 3 Communicative Recording Sheet, or Lesson1 Orange Observation Communicative Anecdotal Notes Sheet.  Place these recording sheets on a clipboard, and the teacher can move around the room while the students are engaged in describing the object to a friend.  Cut the square out and attach to the PTD Prekindergarten Portfolio Summary.

 

Consider using a tape recorder or another adult to assist with the capturing comments on the Communicative Recording Sheet, or use the Lesson1 Orange Observation Communicative Anecdotal Notes Sheet as students discuss their rationale. Since students are in small groups, it should be easier to take notes on all the students for this lesson. If not, there will be opportunities to do this in future lessons. 

 

Attach the following to a clipboard and use it to guide your REPI scores for responses as you circulate.  

REPI Developmental Continuum for Creative Behaviors

Scenario: When communicating about observations, the student…

 

Communicative Descriptor

Communicative Examples

Readiness

express ideas simply but clearly

“It’s a ball.”

Emergent

expands on ideas and provides additional information

“It is round.”

Progressing

expands on ideas, compares and contrasts, and gives examples

“It is round, like an orange.”

Independent

initiates and elaborates upon complex ideas

“It bounces when you use your hands to drop it.”

Lesson 2: Identifying Our Senses

STANDARDS:

  • W.PK.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, or developmentally appropriate writing to state information on a topic.
  • SL.PK.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about pre-kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • STEM Practices 3. Interpret and Communicate Information from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts - Patterns

ENGAGEMENT:
Remind students that to learn more about our world, we need to use our senses. Review the five senses by singing the RS1 Senses Finger Play/Song from Lesson 1. Also, review what the word communicates means. Refer to RS4B Communicate Display Sentences.  Tell students that they will be scientists as they observe their school using their senses and then communicate what they have observed.

EXPLORATION:
This can be a whole-group or small-group activity, which will depend on the size and needs of the group and the presence of adults in the room. Instead of taking a walk around the school, you could also set up stations in your room with different objects (fan, pencil sharpener, typewriter, scented candle, clock, or bell). Model the activity using the classroom as an example setting before beginning the Senses Walk. Refer to Lesson 2 Senses Walk Paper (see Resources) for sight, hearing, and smell. Tell students, “I use my ears to hear the pencil sharpener making my pencil sharp again.” Have students offer several other observations, encouraging elaborative language by saying, “Tell me more, please.” Distribute a clipboard, and a Lesson 2 Senses Walk Paper to each student (see Resources) so that one-third of the class will be using the sense of sight, one third the sense of hearing, and one third the sense of smell while making observations on the Senses Walk. Explain to students that as they walk, they will concentrate on the one sense printed on their paper. For example, the “sight” group will use their eyes to observe as they walk. Refer to Display Sentences. Tell students that we are going to use our senses to describe our world. For the Senses Walk, consider the locations that will offer the most stimuli for a variety of the senses, such as the playground, the cafeteria, the office, and the gymnasium.
EXPLANATION:
Upon returning to the classroom, Refer to Display Sentences. Tell students that we now need to describe our world to others. Ask students to communicate their observations from the walk, as a whole group, and record and display a Senses Observation Chart created before the lesson. Students could also communicate their observations through a think-pair-share. 

EXTENSION/EVALUATION:
After students have communicated their observations.  Ask students to take their Lesson 2: Senses Walk Paper off the clipboard and take it to their desks. Have students communicate their favorite observation from the senses walk by using crayons or markers to illustrate a picture. Remind students to concentrate only on the sense written on their paper.  To encourage further elaborative language, go around the room, and ask students to talk about their illustrations. Use the phrase, “Tell me more, please.” and record comments on Lesson 2: Senses Walk Paper. Apply the REPI scale for the communicative behavior. The teacher and assistant will move around the room and REPI each student artifact.  Attach the artifact to the Prekindergarten Portfolio Summary.  

Consider creating a learning center by using a hanging transparent shoe bag on a chart stand; attach the extra stickers from this lesson on the individual pockets. In each pocket, place objects that the students can see, hear, or smell. Some suggested items might include small musical instruments such as a bell or sand blocks, scented candles, cinnamon sticks, seashells, photographs, keys on a ring, or other objects that would encourage observations.

Place the rubric below on a clipboard and use it as a guide to REPI student responses and drawings.

 

REPI Developmental Continuum for Creative Behaviors

Scenario: When discussing observations seen, the student says…

 

Communicative Descriptor

Communicative Examples

Readiness

express ideas simply but clearly

“I saw the principal.”

Emergent

expands on ideas and provides additional information

“I saw the principal talking.”

Progressing

expands on ideas, compares and contrasts, and gives examples

“I saw the principal talking to the custodian. Something was funny because I could see them laughing.”

Independent

initiates and elaborates upon complex ideas

“I saw the principal talking to the custodian. They were looking at a funny card that the custodian had in her hand. They were both smiling, and their eyes were laughing.”

 

Scenario: When discussing observations heard, the student says…

 

Communicative Descriptor

Communicative Examples

Readiness

express ideas simply but clearly

“I heard a noise.”

Emergent

expands on ideas and provides additional information

“I heard the phone ringing in the office.”

Progressing

expands on ideas, compares and contrasts, and gives examples

“I heard the secretary answer the ringing phone. It must have been someone for the principal because the secretary said, ‘Let me get the principal for you.’”

Independent

initiates and elaborates upon complex ideas

“I heard the secretary answer the ringing phone. It must have been a parent for the principal because the secretary said, ‘Let me get the principal for you.’ I heard the principal come to the phone and tell the parent to come on Tuesday for a meeting.”

 

Scenario: When discussing observations smelled, the student says…

 

Communicative Descriptor

Communicative Examples

Readiness

express ideas simply but clearly

“I smelled something.”

Emergent

expands on ideas and provides additional information

“I smelled lunch.”

Progressing

expands on ideas, compares and contrasts, and gives examples

“I smelled pizza and corn that we are having for lunch today.”

Independent

initiates and elaborates upon complex ideas

“I smelled pizza and corn that we are having for lunch today. I also smelled the cleaner that the custodian used to clean up the tables when we are finished eating. It smells like a pine tree.”

.

Bridging Experience: Our Incredible Senses

STANDARDS:

  • W.PK.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, or developmentally appropriate writing to state information on a topic.
  • SL.PK.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about pre-kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • SL.PK.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details with modeling and support.
  • NGSS Science Practices 1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts - Patterns
  • STEM Practices 3. Interpret and Communicate Information from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 4. Engage in Inquiry

PROCEDURE:
Read the five statements below one at a time. Have students point to the body part that they use for each sense illustrated in the sentences.

  • I hear birds singing. (Point to ears.)
  • I see clouds in the sky. (Point to eyes.)
  • I smell popcorn. (Point to nose.)
  • I feel sticky. (Point to hands.)
  • I taste chocolate. (Point to mouth.)

Reread the five statements. Challenge the students with these questions: “Where am I when...”

  • I hear birds singing?
  • I see clouds in the sky?
  • I feel sticky?
  • I smell popcorn?
  • I taste chocolate?

Encourage divergent responses and supporting details in communications. Consider recording responses on a tape recorder or the RS3 Communicative Recording Sheet, (optional). Capture these responses as anecdotal notes for the Primary Talent Development portfolio.  Consider creating a slide show so students can see and hear the above items about which you are speaking.  

A range of student responses may include:

Sense

Location

I hear birds singing?

  • outside
  • pet store-has lots of birds
  • my house-have a pet bird

I see clouds?

  • outside because it's going to rain
  • in an airplane when I'm in the sky
  • in my room because clouds are painted on the ceiling

I feel sticky?

  • The fair because I ate cotton candy.
  • The ice cream store because my cone dripped.
  • The beach when I was hot and got sand all over me.

I taste chocolate?

  • the store
  • My grandma's house because she has a treat jar.
  • Hershey Park because they make chocolate.

I smell popcorn?

  • movies
  • classroom for a treat
  • my family room

Tell students that they will be creating a poster(s) about using their senses to observe a favorite place in their world. Model this using the grocery store as a location. Consider using a video of a tour of the grocery store. As the student moves through the grocery store, record student responses on a class poster.  Have students communicate what they see, hear, (could) taste, touch, and (could) smell on the class poster.  Also, record how students describe what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.  Other suggested locations may be the classroom, the library, the cafeteria, the art room, the gymnasium, or the playground. The chart located in RESOURCES can serve as an example.

Consider completing the bridging activity over two or three days.

After this modeling activity, encourage students to think about what they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste at home or a favorite location, such as the beach, the backyard, the playground or a restaurant. Tell students they will be sharing their ideas about their observations to create a My World Poster (See Resources).

Students may illustrate, tell, and/or write their responses based on developmental appropriateness using crayons, markers, or magazine pictures. Many computer programs also offer pictures and icons. Tell students, "I want you to close your eyes and think about your favorite place in the world. Ask students to close visualize what they might see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.  Ask students to open their eyes and communicate to a neighbor a detail about their favorite place.  When students are finished sharing ask each student what their favorite place is and what sense do they want to use to describe it.  As they communicate, hand the student the My World Poster that corresponds with the sense the student wants to use to describe their favorite place.

 

Use the posters individually as the teacher or adult assistant in the room has a conversation with the student and scribes his or her responses. Encourage elaboration by asking each student, “Can you tell me more?” The teacher and assistant will move around the room and REPI each student artifact.  Attach the artifact to the Prekindergarten Portfolio Summary.

 

Use the following rubric as a guide while you REPI around the room.

REPI Developmental Continuum for Creative Behaviors

Scenario: When asked to draw sensory observations, the student…

 

Communicative Descriptor

Communicative Examples

Readiness

Express ideas simply but clearly

Illustrates/states one example for the sense chosen – in this example of taste, Draws/tells about a person with an ice cream cone.

Emergent

Expands on ideas and provides additional information

Illustrates/states one example for the sense chosen with details – in this example of taste, Draws/tells about a person with ice cream and indicates how the person likes the cone.

Progressing

Expands on ideas, compares and contrasts, and gives examples

Illustrates/states more than one example for the sense chosen with details – in this example of taste, Draws/tells about a person eating in a restaurant, trying different foods, indicating how the person likes/dislikes the food.

Independent

Initiates and elaborates upon complex ideas

Illustrates/states more than one example for the sense chosen with details – in this example of taste, Draws/tells about a person eating in a restaurant, trying different foods, indicating how the person likes/dislikes each food with facial expressions.

You should set up the following extension learning centers may:

  • Writing Center: After the activity, consider placing additional poster pages in this center so that students may complete them independently.
  • Science Center: Add closed containers with objects inside such as paper clips, pennies, sand, etc. for the students to shake. Students can then match the sound to picture cards or to containers that have the same object inside. (It would be necessary to create two of the same containers for the latter choice.) Make these centers self-checking. 
  • Library: Add touch and feel books to the classroom library. The public libraries have an extensive collection in their toddler areas. Also, consider creating and storing a book using the "My World" posters in the library.
  • Art Center: Encourage students to paint pictures of things that we see, smell, hear, touch, or taste.
  • Mathematics Center: Use the question “What sense helps you the most?” Students may place stickers above each sense to create a bar graph that displays the student's favorite sense, which will provide information about preferences.