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Build K-2 Literacy During Science Time

A standards-based solution to give students a head start in STEM while fostering strong reading and writing skills. 
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Take your students on a tour of space with ExploreLearning Gizmos. Topics cover many aspects of space from gravity to exploring the solar system.

The Importance of Early Childhood Literacy

Literacy, “the ability to comprehend and communicate through reading and writing,” begins as soon as babies hear the sound of a human voice (National Association for the Education of Young Children). 

Strong literacy matters from day one. But studies show our students are behind. The 2022 Nation’s Report Card, released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), revealed that average fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were lower than 2019 assessments. Without strong literacy foundations, more and more children are at risk of falling behind in higher grade levels, which research shows has serious implications for future learning and living.


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Students will learn to:





In a Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) research study, teachers from Denver, CO participated in a 2-week study using the Science4Us States of Matter module with 156 students, while another group of teachers and 116 students served as the control group and taught science instruction as usual without Science4Us. 

The control and experimental students took pre-and post-assessments to measure content knowledge. The students who used Science4Us showed greater learning gains on the posttest than the control group.

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Nurture Their Interest with Science4Us

Scientific inquiry is the collection of qualitative and quantitative data and the use of that data to explain how the natural world works. Scientific Inquiry, far from being foreign to children, is the way children naturally learn — they play and experiment, they see what happens, and from these experiences they build their own rules and expectations about how the world works. 

The Inquiry book at Science4Us consists of two units: Science Tools and Think Like a Scientist. Each unit takes a student’s natural desire to play and experiment and begins to show how observations can be noted and analyzed, building skills for using the scientific method.

Reading proficiency at the end of third grade is a “make-or-break benchmark” in a child’s educational development. 

  • Starting in 4th grade, students are no longer learning to read but reading to learn content in other subjects.

  • Students who do not read proficiently are “unlikely to obtain a post-secondary degree.”

  • Yale researchers found that three-quarters of students who are “poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school.”

  • Low reading achievement can have a long-term impact on individual earning potential, productivity, and global competitiveness.

  • Students who are not “moderately skilled” readers by third grade are “unlikely to graduate from high school.”

Source: Fiester, Leila. “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. KIDS COUNT Special Report.” (2010)

Gizmos are virtual math and science simulations that bring powerful new interactive STEM learning experiences to grade 3-12 classrooms.

Get hands on with math and science.

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Solve the math fact fluency problem.

Adaptive and individualized, Reflex is the most effective and fun system for mastering basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for grades 2+.

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Make fractions finally make sense.

Frax stops the fraction struggle through an adaptive, game-based system that helps grade 3+ students build the skills, knowledge, and understanding of fractions for ongoing success in higher mathematics.

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Looking for different grade level solutions?

Check out our other math and science products.

Building Blocks of Literacy

“Vocabulary knowledge is the single most important factor contributing to reading comprehension” (Laflamme, 1997).

The National Reading Panel of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) recognized vocabulary as an “essential skill” to improve reading performance. Other evidence notes that direct vocabulary instruction not only improves reading comprehension and writing quality but also listening and speaking vocabulary.

Here’s the great news: vocabulary development occursin various contexts and across all academic content areas” as students learn the meaning of new concepts and words, making science a perfect canvas for rich literacy development. 

Other critical literacy components include:

  • Phonological awareness

  • Phonemic awareness

  • Print motivation

  • Print awareness and print conventions

  • Narrative skills

  • Letter knowledge

  • Fluency

  • Comprehension
Examples of literacy in Science4Us:

  • Inferencing

  • Making predictions

  • Cause and effect

  • Comparing and contrasting

  • Speaking

  • Listening

  • Sequencing

  • Summarizing
Students practice:
Included supports:

  • Cloze readings

  • Paragraph frames

  • Diagrams & tables

  • Graphic organizers

  • Graphs

Sample activities:

  • Systematic syllable practice

  • Opportunistic vocabulary lessons

  • Notetaking

  • Writing summaries

  • Narrative writing

  • Expository writing

  • Letter writing

  • Reader’s theater

  • Group skits

  • Musical connections with song, dance, and instruments

  • Peer conversations

Science and Language Go Hand–in–Hand

“Science and literacy are interwoven and synergistic” (Billman et al., 2021). 

Subjects like science often have a lesser focus in the early grades due to packed classroom schedules and an emphasis on math and reading. However, research shows that literacy and science standards intersect in many ways. 

ExploreLearning Science4Us (grades K-2) provides literacy-integrated experiences that introduce students to Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth & Space Science through thousands of online and offline activities. Students broaden their vocabulary and understanding of scientific terminology while allowing educators to teach literacy and science simultaneously.