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informational texts is an important component of both science and literacy
development. 2. Teachers can counter children’s misconceptions about animals through the
language they use when discussing animals. Most children’s books do not use
the word animal when referring to animals other than mammals (Barman et
al. 2000). They may refer to insects and reptiles as creatures, critters, or even
monsters. Teachers can counter these representations by using the word animal
when discussing children’s books that include insects or reptiles, or when
children encounter insects on the playground.
3. Broaden all children’s knowledge and understanding of animals. This means
going beyond an occasional field trip or activity and incorporating the study
of animals into the ongoing classroom curriculum. The curriculum should
incorporate all types of animals so that children can develop vocabulary and
information to support their interest in and further study of biology.
What standards apply to activities involving animals?
The Next Generation Science Standards and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes
Framework have standards that relate in some way to animals.
In addition, many states have their own standards that apply. In the Next Gener-
ation Science Standards, which begin with kindergarten, understanding of ani-
mals appears in the section K-LS1 (Kindergarten–Life Sciences) “From Molecules
to Organisms: Structures and Processes.” The standards are general and brief, as
are the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework science stan-
dards. Much of the Head Start science section focuses on scientific inquiry; con-
cepts related to animals are encompassed in the very general statement, “Observes,
describes, and discusses living things and natural processes.” To broaden under-
standing of how science standards apply to the study of animal life, a related state
standard is included with each activity. Teachers will ultimately need to consult
their own state standards if they are available.