Building Science Skills

Grade 5
Tips for Parents

  • When you see a living creature on a walk, on television, or in a book or movie, classify it as an amphibian, mammal, bird, reptile, fish, insect, or crustacean. If you are not sure of a particular creature's category, research it together in a directory, encyclopedia, or animal book.

  • Observe the moon together over several weeks; note whether you are looking at it at the same time every day or at different times. (You and your child could do this exercise once a year for several years -- perhaps at a different season each year -- and learn something new each time.) Note the moon's location and draw its various shapes; be aware of the stars around it. Examine the moon chart in the weather section of your daily newspaper or on a calendar. There is almost no end to the astronomical observations you and your child can make. If, like many parents, you are not especially familiar with the sky, this exercise will be a good learning experience for you as well as for your child.

  • Ask about the scientists your child is currently studying. Are men and women represented? What about people of color? What does your child know about these scientists and their work?

  • Your child is learning about life in the oceans. See what your child can tell you about the following topics: whether there is more water or land on our planet; what kinds of plants and animals live in the different parts of the oceans; what we know about the ocean floor; marine fossils; and the potential for farming in the oceans.

  • Your child is learning more about the human body. Ask, "What happens when your heart beats?" Your child should have some basic knowledge about the circulatory system.

  • See whether your child can find his or her own pulse. How about your pulse? Have your child measure your heartbeats. Ask, "What would happen if I ran a mile and then you measured again?"

  • What does your child know about the effects of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin?

  • See what your child knows about the digestive system. Ask, "How does food change as we digest it?"

  • Together think about the many ways the idea of time comes up in everyday life. Take turns pointing it out. You might say, "I have time on my hands," and your child might say, "Once upon a time." See how many you can get.

  • Ask why it isn't the same time everywhere in the world. Why, when it is 12 noon in Boston, is it 11 am in Chicago?

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 5th Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.

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