Speaking Science in the Primary Classroom

Here are some great definitions to help children talk about science in the classroom.  (taken from psb.org) 

 Animal homes Bird nests, beehives, and anthills. These are all animal homes. Just like our homes, they’re safe places where animals can live with their families.


Axle & wheels Wheels are sometimes connected by a metal bar. That’s the axle. The axle turns to make the wheels go around.


Breathing When we breathe, we move air in and out of our bodies. Inhaling means taking air into our lungs. Exhaling means pushing air out of our lungs.


Cavity A hole in your tooth. Cavities can happen if you don’t brush your teeth well.


Chart A science tool that we use to record information. This information is called data. Charts can help us remember how many chores we’ve done, tell us what the weather will be, and record how many children are in school.


Clouds and rain Clouds are made up of many, many drops of water. When more and more drops of water come together, they get heavy. Then the water drops back to the ground. That’s rain (or sometimes snow)!


Communication / animal communication When people talk to each other, they are communicating. They tell each other what they want, want they need, or just say hello. Some animals can communicate those things, too, even if they don’t use words to talk. They can make noises or behave in different ways to communicate.


Compare Observing two (or more) things and thinking about how they’re the same


Contrast Observing two (or more) things and thinking about how they’re different


Data The information you record on a chart.


Darkness Darkness is just the absence of light. Sometimes it seems scary, but the world is the same in the dark as in the light. Things don’t change just because we can’t see them.


Decay Fruits, vegetables, and plants change when they get old. They start to rot and break down.


Digestion Our bodies break down food so we can use the good stuff, (the nutrients), from it. We need those nutrients to live and grow.


Discover Finding out something new or interesting.


Elasticity The property of a material that allows it to return to its original shape after being deformed by an external force. For kids, we introduce the idea using various “balls” colliding with the ground. Some don’t bounce because the stuff they’re made from doesn’t have much elasticity.


Estimate/estimation When you estimate, you make a good guess about quantities like how many things there are in a bowl or how far away something is.


Exercise Exercise is moving your body to make it stronger. Exercising makes your heart beat faster.


Explore/exploration When you explore, you observing things in the world around you. It’s a lot like investigating.


Force On the show, we describe force as oomph. It’s also often described as a push or a pull. Although we can’t always feel them, forces – like gravity – are always at work in the world around us.


Friction The force that resists the motion of one thing (for example, the rubbery soles of your shoes) on another thing (the floor).


Germs We can’t see them, but germs can make us sick. Washing hands with soap and water helps keep germs away.


Growth, growing Things that are alive, like plants, animals, and people,change. Slowly they grow and get bigger. On the show the kids talk about how they’ve grown bigger, and we observe growing plants.


Habitat Sort of like an animal neighborhood, it’s where different animals live, find food, and make their homes.


Incisors, canines, and molars These are kinds of teeth. The incisors are in the front. The canines are pointy and good for tearing food. The molars are the big ones in the back; we use them to grind up our food.


Inertia Objects that are moving and keep moving until something stops them. Or, that objects that aren’t moving stay that way until some force acts on them.


Inclined plane Like a ramp or a slide, inclined planes can make it easier to move heavy things.


Investigate/investigation When you investigate, you explore things and find stuff out.


Irreversible change Like apples that turn into applesauce, irreversible change can only happen once.


Joint A joint is a place where bones are connected to each other. We can’t bend our bones but we can bend at a joint. Joints help us move and do lots of things like walking, running , drawing and scratching our noses.


Lever Another simple machine, a lever makes it easier to lift things up. A see-saw is an example of a lever. So is the jack you use to lift a car to fix a flat tire.


Lungs Our lungs are in our chests. They help us breathe. They move air into and out of our bodies.


Magnify To make things look bigger.


Magnifying glass A science tool that we use, with our eyes, to make things look bigger so we can observe them better.


Molecules We can’t see them but tiny molecules are in the air. They travel from an object – like a dirty diaper or a flower – to our noses, and our noses can smell the scents.


Muscles We have muscles all over our bodies. They help us move. Even when we think we’re still, some of our muscles – like our heart muscle – are still moving and working.


Non-standard measurement For length, non-standard measurement means measuring with something other than a ruler or tape measure.


Nutrients Living things need nutrients to grow. People and animals get most nutrients food. Leaves make nutrients using sunlight. Some animals eat leaves as food because leaves are full of nutrients.


Nutritious foods Foods that will help you grow strong and healthy. Eat lots of different kinds of nutritious foods to be healthy.


Observe/observations Observing is when you look really closely at something… and listen to it and maybe even smell it and feel it. It’s using your senses to get information.


Oxygen Oxygen is in the air around us. Our bodies need it to live. When we breathe, our lungs help get the oxygen out of the air and into our bodies.


Protect/protection Protect means to keep something safe. Sunblock protects our skin from the sun so we don’t get burned.


Prism A special tool that we can use, with a light source, to make the rainbow’s spectrum of colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.


Pulley The pulley makes work easier. It’s made of a wheel (or more than one wheel) and a rope. To lift something heavy, attach it to the rope on one side of the wheel, then pull the rope on the other side.


Rainbow When sunlight passes though water drops in the air, it can make a rainbow. Rainbows have seven colors, always in the same order — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.


Reversible change Like water that can melt and freeze and melt and freeze, reversible change is when something can change back and forth.


Rotate Another word for going around and around. Wheels rotate.


Ruler A tool that we use to measure how long things are.


Scent Another word for the smell of something, like a dirty diaper or a flower.


Shadows When you block part of a light source (like the sun or a flashlight) with something solid (like your body or your hand), a shadow is created.


Skeleton All of the bones of a person or animal. Different animals have different kinds of bones and skeletons. That’s why they’re different shapes.


Soil Another word for the dirt that plants grow in and worms crawl through. Soil can be different colors. It can have leaves, twigs, and pebbles in it.


Sound waves You can’t see them or smell them or taste them, but sound waves travel through the air. You use your ears to hear them.


Sunblock or sunscreen Sunblock helps protect our skin so the sun’s rays don’t burn us. It helps to keep us safe and healthy in the sun.


Temperature A measure of heat energy. On the show, we say it’s a measure of how hot or cold something is.


Texture The way something feels when we touch it with our skin. We learn about lots of textures-scratchy, soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, and squishy.


Thermometer A tool to measure temperatures.


Veins The bumpy lines you can feel and see on some leaves. Veins bring nutrients from the leaves to the rest of the plant. (People have veins, too. They carry our blood around our bodies.)


Vision One of our senses, vision is using our eyes to see things.


Wind When the air around us moves, that’s wind. Wind is a kind of weather, and it can move things like leaves and sand and hats from our heads.

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