CA Science Framework Description (K)

Highlighted Phenomena from Kindergarten

  • A squirrel on the schoolyard digs in the ground to hide a nut.
  • Students need a jacket at recess some days but not on other days.
  • Rabbits spend most of their time in the shade on sunny days.
  • Flappers in a cardboard pinball machine make the marble bounce off at different speeds and directions.


Introduction to Kindergarten

Kindergarten introduces several phenomena that students will revisit in later grades. At this level, students focus on observing what happens and asking questions that build their curiosity. As their language develops, they describe what they see and notice patterns that recur. In later grades, they will use these patterns as evidence to explain how or why events occur. 

In IS1 (Plant and Animal Needs), students take a walk around their schoolyard and a virtual field trip down a river to observe different living things. They sort these living things into two categories (which might include plants versus animals) and describe the similarities and differences. In a snapshot, students notice that certain plants and animals live in certain environments. These experiences help students develop a mental model of what plants and animals need to survive.

In IS2 (Animals and Plants Can Change Their Environment), students make detailed observations of how plants and animals change their environment to meet their needs. A snapshot highlights that humans also modify our environment when we consume resources to produce the objects we use every day.

In IS3 (Weather Patterns), students record weather patterns and consider how those patterns affect them and other living things. In a vignette, students plan for a new class pet, a rabbit. They read about how native California jackrabbits stay cool in the wild, and then they engineer a shade structure to protect their pet (including designing, building, and testing the structure using a rabbit made of ultraviolet-sensitive beads).

In IS4 (Pushes and Pulls), they focus on physical interactions beginning with seemingly unstructured play with marbles and ramps. In reality, the students are both playing and engaging with real-world phenomena using the three dimensions of the CA NGSS. The framework describes opportunities for teachers to invite students to make predictions, test them, and explain the observed outcomes. Eventually, students make pictorial models in which they draw how pushes and pulls affect the motion of objects. A snapshot focuses on developing language using a strategy called “classroom talk.” An engineering connection challenges students to build a structure out of blocks and then design a solution that protects their structure from a heavy ball rolling towards it. 

from d’Alessio, Matthew A. (2018). Executive Summary: Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: Consortium for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Overview of Instructional Segments for Kindergarten

Grade K - IS1 - Overview

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework