Building Early Science Skills

Young children develop an understanding of science concepts through active engagement with their environment. Infants begin learning about science as they begin to explore the world through their senses.

In the preschool years, children learn to make observations, categorize, and create hypotheses. Hands-on experiences help children learn to integrate their knowledge meaningfully and tie information to their experiences.


  • Observing: Noticing different properties of objects and events using the senses
  • Classifying: Grouping objects and events according to their properties; sorting by color, shape, or size, or sorting by multiple properties such as color and shape
  • Measuring and using numbers: Describing quantity using physical attributes such as length, weight, size, and temperature; estimating; recording data with the help of teachers or peers by drawing or using other tools; understanding spatial relationships
  • Communicating: Using language, drawings and other tools to describe observed events and relationships
  • Inferring and predicting: Making predictions about what might happen based on past observations and experiences, including cause-and-effect relationships
  • Defining operations: Defining terms and ideas used in the context of one’s experiences and communicating how these terms are used, such as “what do you do” and “what you observe”
  • Making hypotheses: Proposing explanations based on what is observed
  • Experimenting: Exploring, manipulating, and investigating to find what happens

 Pre-Academic Skills: Atypical Development
Children with developmental delays may also have delays in developing pre-academic skills.(link to Developmental Milestones) Try to introduce concepts and activities appropriate to your child’s level. This will foster success and self-esteem that will enhance the learning process for your child.

Are you concerned about your child’s early learning abilities? Or is your child showing other developmental delays? If so, contact your child’s pediatrician, family doctor, or teacher. If further evaluation is needed, the doctor or teacher may refer you to an appropriate specialist such as a child psychiatrist, psychologist, or behavioral pediatrician. You may also be referred for evaluation and services to the local Regional Center in California or local early intervention programs outside of California, {link to Getting Started Birth to Three} if your child is under age three, or your local school district, {link to Getting Started Preschool.} if your child is over age three. Trust your instincts and seek further evaluation if you have any concerns about your child’s development.

Building Early Science Skills » Links and Resources

Ginsburg, H. P., Blafanz, R., and Greenes, C. (1999) Challenging mathematics for young children. In Teaching for Intelligence II: A Collection of Articles, A. L. Costa, (Ed.). Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight.

Sandall, S. R. and Schwartz, I. S. (2008) Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.