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Designing the Environment
Technology Integration
Performance Indicators

Math, Science, & Social Studies Workshop Map

Introduction to Math, Science, and Social Studies

Sub-Topics (Click on topic you wish to see)

Learning Standards
State Early Learning Standards
Position Statement on Early Childhood Math
National Standards

"Blowing Bubbles."
Introduction to Math, Science, and Social Studies

Young children learn math, science, and social studies concepts as they explore the world around them. Early childhood teachers and families can design the environment and activities to give children opportunities to construct knowledge in these areas. Through technology all children can gain access to their environment and learn critical developmental skills. New advances in technology, such as the computerized microscope and the latest digital technology, make children's discoveries come alive. Graphing software helps children organize, categorize, and understand information they have collected.

Although the three curricular areas are interrelated, a close look at the standards for each serves as an overview of the content which children should be learning at the preschool level.

Learning Standards


The National Committee for Teaching Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) defines appropriate math experiences as those that challenge young children to explore ideas related to patterns, shapes, numbers, and space with increasing sophistication.

"NCTM Standards." View NCTM Standards

"Playing with Blocks."Everyday activities can be the basis for learning mathematical concepts:

  • Recognizing patterns (stories with repetitive phrases, songs and nursery rhymes)
  • Following directions (games)
  • Sorting (putting away silverware)
  • Reasoning (constructing with toys)
  • Representing (writing, drawing)

By providing an appropriate environment with plenty of opportunities to explore materials and participate in problem solving experiences, teachers and families can support children's math concept development. Many early childhood books are based on number concepts or contain patterns. Movement activities to accompany music help children understand directions of up, down, in, and out, which develops spatial awareness.

"To Top."

"Math is Fun!"The main areas in the NCTM's Learning Standards for Math include:

  • Number and Operation
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis and Probability
  • Problem Solving
  • Reasoning and Proof
  • Communication
  • Connections
  • Representation

State Early Learning Standards

One example of state learning standards which includes specific benchmarks for preschool age children is the Illinois Early Learning Standards developed by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2000. The Illinois Early Learning Standards are consistent with NAEYC developmental standards and current research in early education and development. These Early Learning Standards are organized by interrelated goals which apply to the areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Physical Development and Health, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, and Social/Emotional Development:

Applications of Learning

    • Demonstrate and deepen understanding of basic knowledge and skills

Solving Problems

    • Recognize and investigate problems; formulate and propose solutions supported by reason and evidence


    • Express and interpret information and ideas

Using Technology

  • Use appropriate instruments, electronic equipment, computers and networks to access information, process ideas, and communicate results

Working on Teams

    • Learn and contribute productively as individuals and as members of groups

Making Connections

    • Recognize and apply connections of important information and ideas within and among learning areas

According to the Illinois Early Learning Standards, mathematics is a language we use to identify, describe and investigate the patterns and challenges of everyday living. It helps us to understand the events that have occurred and to predict and prepare for events to come so that we can more fully understand our world and more successfully live in it.

"Illinois Learning Standards." View Illinois Learning Standards

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"Learning About Worms."Position Statement on Early Childhood Mathematics

In April 2002, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) issued a position statement on Early Childhood Mathemematics: Promoting Good Beginnings. Recommendations are made for teachers and key personnel as well as institutions, program developers and policymakers.

"Position Statement." View Position Statement

Math Resources

"Building Blocks." Building Blocks
Articles and information on using technology to promote math concepts in young children.
"Where Learning Begins." Early Childhood: Where Learning Begins – Mathematics
Activities for families of children, two to five years, focusing on math and science

"To Top."


Young children discover knowledge through experimentation and interactions in their social and physical environment. Since play is the young child's vehicle for learning in early childhood classrooms, children acquire scientific knowledge by construction rather than instruction. As they explore their world, children engage in the processes of science. Through a nurturing environment teachers and families can provide opportunities for children to explore and express their discoveries in a variety of ways. Science goals in early childhood are based on national and state learning standards.

National Science Education Standards

The National Science Education Standards released by the National Research Council in December, 1995, consist of two main areas, Science Teaching Standards and Science Content Standards. The Council recommends in the Teaching Standards that preschool classrooms provide an environment that is child-centered and encourages active inquiry. Lessons should be planned which focus on children’s natural interests and motivations. Children should be encouraged to work in groups to identify and solve problems. Equipment and materials should be available to allow children to interact with nature outside in their communities, neighborhoods, and backyards. The teacher’s role is that of facilitator, observing children as they actively study science.

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"Playing Outside."The National Research Council organized Science Content Standards into 8 areas:

  • Unifying concepts and processes in science
  • Life science
  • Physical science
  • Science in personal and social perspective
  • History and nature of science
  • Earth and space science
  • Science and technology
  • Science as inquiry

Developmentally appropriate topics are listed for each content area. Through these science standards teachers are encouraged to provide an environment and activities which promote inquiry and assist children in constructing meaning about themselves and the world around them.

"National Education Standards." National Education Standards

"To Top."

Illinois Early Learning Standards

According to the Illinois Learning Standards science education should help young learners develop a rich and full understanding of the inquiry process along with the key concepts and principles of life sciences, physical science, and earth and space sciences; and issues of science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts. Link to Illinois Learning Standards

"National Education Standards."

Science Resources

AAAS. American Association for the Advancement of Science
Science Made Simple. Science Made Simple -

Ideas for discussing topics of interest to children.
Project 2016.

Project 2016: Key Initiatives and Articles

Articles by the National Science Teachers Association which feature information on the national initiative to build public support for science literacy

Learning About Village.Social Studies

Young children are affected in all aspects of their lives by the social world around them. As an integral part of the early childhood curriculum, social studies defines how a child learns to become an active contributor to society. Teaching strategies should be based on use of concrete experiences and opportunities to discuss observations. Goals should reflect children's personal, social, and cultural experiences.

The main goal of the early childhood social studies curriculum is to help children develop a positive self concept. Children need to understand that although they have some of the same feelings as other children, they are unique individuals who can contribute to society. Children need to develop a sense of time, understanding the past as it relates to the present. Development of spatial relationships is needed for children to understand the relation of their community to the world.

"To Top."

National Standards

The National Council for Social Studies established the following themes that form the framework for social studies standards.


  • Abilities to understand multiple perspectives from different cultural vantage point

Time, Continuity and Change

  • Abilities to sequence and establish a sensor of order and time
  • Abilties to recognize that individuals may have different views about the past

People, Places and Environments

  • Interest in things distant and unfamiliar
  • Concern for the use and abuse of the physical environment

Individual Development and Identity

  • Exploration, identification, and analysis of how individuals relate to others

Individuals, Groups and Institutions

  • Abilities to examine how institutions affect their lives and influence their thinking

Power, Authority and Governance

  • Abilities to develop a sense of fairness and order
  • Awareness of rights and responsibilities

Production, Distribution and Consumption

  • Understandings of the difference between wants and needs
  • Exploration of economic decisions

Society, Technology and Society

    • Awareness of how technology is used in daily life
    • Understanding of evolution of technology

Global Connections

    • Exploration of global connections and the impact of action plans

Civic Ideals and Practices

    • Abilities to balance needs of the individuals and the group
    • Abilities to set up classroom expectations
"National Council for Social Studies." National Council for Social Studies

"Charting Bean Growth."National Council for Social Studies defines skills young children need to develop in the social studies curriculum.

  • Research skills - collecting, organizing, and interpreting data
  • Thinking skills - hypothesizing, comparing, drawing conclusions and inferences
  • Decision-making skills - considering alternatives and consequences
  • Interpersonal skills - seeing others' points of view, accepting responsibility, dealing with conflict
  • Map and globe skills - understanding and using directional terms
  • Reading skills - reading pictures, charts, and graphs


View Position Statement.

National Council for Social Studies Position Statement on Social Studies for Young Children

View Teacher Source.

PBS Teacher Source - Community and Family

Build a Neighborhood.

Suggestions for activities on topics related to social studies and links to further information.

Build a Neighborhood

Interactive site which provides objects and scenery so that children can build a scene for a house, farm, or construction environment.

Resources for Families and Educators

View Resources.
Designing the Environment. Designing the Environment
Last Update July 26, 2007 | © 2004  All rights reserved. | Center for Best Practices | Text Only |