Learning About the World


Physical Sciences

Goal 1: Children construct concepts of the properties of matter, sound, motion and energy through inquiry, exploration and investigations.

By the end of each age group or grade level, most children will have met prior age group or grade level standards in this domain.

Infants Through Older Toddlers


(0-12 Months)

  1. Attend to and demonstrate interest in objects in their environment, using all of their senses to explore
  2. Move and handle objects to learn more about them (e.g., drop food from high chair to see what happens)
  3. Explore ways to make different sounds with their bodies and objects (e.g., vocal sounds, clapping)
  4. Attend to objects that emit light
  5. Look for an object that is hidden out of sight

Young Toddlers

(9-18 Months)

  1. Repeat actions and observe results
  2. Demonstrate ability to push and pull objects
  3. Act upon objects to make them move in different ways
  4. Explore properties of liquids and solids (e.g., dumping water or blocks from a container, roll play dough)

Older Toddlers

(18-36 Months)

  1. Use objects in more than one way (e.g., use a bucket as a stool)
  2. Label physical properties of objects (e.g., big, heavy).
  3. Use basic words to describe speed of motion (e.g., “My car go fast.”)
  4. Ask questions about motion and sound (e.g., Why?)
Younger Preschoolers Through Kindergartners

Younger Preschoolers

(36-48 months)

  1. Investigate and describe different types or speeds of motion
  2. Use objects to effect motion (e.g., build ramp with blocks so cars go faster)
  3. Investigate and identify solids and liquids

Older Preschoolers

(48-60 months)

  1. Use evidence to discuss what makes something move the way it does and how some movements can be con trolled
  2. Describe objects by their physical properties and states of matter
  3. Investigate the differences between liquids and solids and explore how liquids can become solids, and solids become liquids
  4. Use objects to make different sounds (e.g., put beans in a can to make 1 type of sound and in a plastic tub to make another type of sound)
  5. Demonstrate the relationship between shadows, the objects that make them, and the light source


Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

  1. Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
  2. Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.


  1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
  2. Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
First Graders Through Third Graders

First Graders

Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer

  1. Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
  2. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects in darkness can be seen only when illuminated.
  3. Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
  4. Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

Second Graders

Matter and Its Interactions

  1. Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
  2. Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
  3. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
  4. Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.

Third Graders

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

  1. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
  2. Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
  3. Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other
  4. Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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