Making Observations Background Information for Teachers and Parents
This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about making observations. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Making Observations. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
Help children develop science inquiry skills and empower them to ask questions and make observations about the world around them. In this movie, children will learn different ways to make observations. This movie can be helpful as a review before beginning science projects or experiments. We highly recommend revisiting the movie throughout the school year.
Remind children that when they observe, they pay close attention to something. They use their five senses to observe–seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Review the five senses with children and pick something to observe together, such as an apple. How does it look? Take a close look at the apple together and describe it. Remind children to observe it closely, noting its color, size, and shape. Remind them to look at all of its different parts. How does it smell? Have children compare it to other smells they know. Does it smell sweet like candy or a flower? Does it smell sour like a lemon? Then have them feel it, noting its weight and texture. Is it light or heavy? Is it smooth or bumpy? Is it soft or hard? Then have your students listen to the apple. How does it sound? While some objects don’t make sound on its own, they make sound when you interact with them. Take a bite of the apple. What do you hear? Have children note how the apple tastes. Is it sweet, sour, crunchy, or soft? It is important for children to understand that they should only touch or taste something if an adult says it is safe. Encourage them to find other ways to describe the apple.
Remind children that when scientists observe something, they often look at it from different angles. Things can look different from different places. They also take their time to observe since things can change in surprising ways over time. Some scientists spend years studying the same thing and learn more and more as time goes on. Observe the weather with children. What is the weather like in the morning, afternoon, and night? How does the temperature change? If you chart the weather on a daily basis, you can look back over your calendars from the past months and observe how the weather changes over time and seasons. Help children understand that making observations over an extended period of time aids them in gathering more accurate information about something. What if you only recorded temperature at night? It would be difficult to understand how the temperature changes over the course of a day, week, month, or year.
Children should be familiar with different tools that can help them observe. Magnifying glasses and microscopes can help them see things up close, while binoculars enable them to see things that are far away. Rulers and measuring tapes allow them to measure length, width, and height, while scales help them measure weight. Balances help people compare different objects. Thermometers let them record how hot or cold something is. Children can use stopwatches and clocks to time something. Encourage them to use many different tools when they observe, and to learn what each tool best aids their observations.
Remind children that recording their observations is just as important as making them. They may want to write their observations in words or numbers. For example, the apple is red, shiny, and smooth and has six seeds. They may want to draw pictures, take photos, make videos, or even record sound. Encourage them to be thorough and creative. They should take notes and organize their observations in a chart, diagram, or other graphic organizer. Different organizers work best for different objects, so arm children with a variety of tools they can use as they observe and find the one that’s best for them. It is important that children learn to be neat and organized when recording their observations, because they will need to be able to find and read the results at a later date.
When scientists make observations, they learn the world around them and help answer questions. They can use what they learned to make predictions and their observations often lead to more questions and investigations. Help children develop strong inquiry skills and foster their curiosity and a love of science.