North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Scientific Exploration and Knowledge

Goal: Children observe and describe characteristics of living things and the physical world

Skill Progression: Observe and describe characteristics of living things and the physical world

Age: 36-42 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 36-42 Months.

Asks questions about nature

Situations for Observation of Skill

Take a nature walk through a park, in the woods, or in the country (depending on where the child lives). Discuss what is seen and what happens in nature, including the weather.

Elicitation Strategy

While walking, the adult can point out what is seen in nature and share information about nature with the child (e.g., “When trees have leaves, the leaves change colors and fall down”.) This often prompts the child to ask a question (“Why?” or “Why don’t they fall now?”) Talk about the sun, the sky, clouds, as well.

Behavior Observed

The child asks questions when she sees something interesting.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Talking about nature teaches children to be interested in science. Parents can talk about the clouds and weather, look at the moon and stars at night, search for birds and insects in the yard or park, and so on. Encourage parents to take nature walks, visit the zoo or natural history museum, go on a “field trip” for pumpkins or picking berries, visit a petting zoo, and so on. These experiences are important for children who live in the city and don’t have opportunities to encounter the bigger picture of nature.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit