Component 2: Knowledge of Science Concepts

Learning Goal 2.a: Children explore the characteristic of objects and materials that are living, non-living, man-made, or naturally occurring.

By 9 months, most children:

  • Show interest and curiosity in the natural world
  • Explore the properties of objects and materials

By 18 months, most children:

  • Explore the characteristics of living things (e.g., petting a cat or dog to explore the soft fur)
  • Actively experiment with and explore the physical properties of objects and substances (e.g., stacking and knocking down towers and stacking them up again; bouncing balls; playing with play dough)

By 24 months, most children:

  • Observe and react to living things (e.g., when outside, chasing or follow a small creature, such as a butterfly, bird, or lizard)
  • Explore living surfaces (e.g. rolling in grass or playing in the dirt)
  • Explore representations of living things (e.g., playing with a stuffed animal and referring to it as a “doggy”)
  • Explore characteristics of man-made and natural materials (e.g., playing with rocks that are bumpy and smooth, pairing mother and baby toy animals)

By 36 months, most children:

  • Show curiosity and ask questions about the natural world
  • Make observations about the characteristics of living things
  • Observe and identify natural materials
  • Compare and contrast properties of physical objects
  • Demonstrate an understanding that different weather requires different clothing (e.g., looking outside at newly fallen snow and running to get boots and mittens

By 48 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differences between living and non-living things
  • Describe how living things change over time
  • Understand the characteristics of and differences between habitats for people and habitats for animals
  • Investigate the properties of natural elements and provide simple descriptions
  • Use observable characteristics to describe and categorize physical objects and materials based on differences or similarities



By 60 months, most children:

  • Describe the characteristics that define living things
  • Observe the similarities, differences, and categories of plants and animals
  • Ask and answer questions about changes in the appearance, behavior, and habitats of living things
  • Use increasingly complex vocabulary to describe natural elements
  • Differentiate between natural and man-made materials
  • Describe changes that occur in the natural environment over time
  • Make observations about physical properties of objects, the motion of toys and objects, and changes in matter