The overall goal of the Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) model is to increase teachers’ ability to introduce basic science concepts to preschool children through the use of a guided inquiry-based curriculum.

Core elements of the ECHOS approach are the modeling of science process skills and the use of guided inquiry and exploration. Science lessons and integration activities are designed to build on children’s existing knowledge base. Using concrete, hands-on materials and guided exploration directed by the sequenced lessons, teachers introduce the content and science process skills that help children build meaning over time. The lessons provide new experiences that will become the foundation for the development of more complex science concepts introduced later in their schooling.

ECHOS consists of nine thematic units designed to be implemented over the course of a month. Each unit contains four guided science lessons that teachers introduce in 20-minute segments to four small groups of children on a weekly basis. The curriculum units are sequenced to present increasingly complex science process skills in the areas of Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences. The ECHOS model incorporates the tested E-I-E-I-O Learning Framework (Excite, Introduce, Explore, Interact, Outcomes), which guides the teacher to elicit children’s prior knowledge about a concept and clarify or correct misconceptions. Lessons blend guided inquiry and direct instruction. They are scripted to provide teachers with the confidence to present science concepts accurately.

Integration card, or i-Card activities, are exercises related to the science lessons. They are designed to help educators reinforce concepts in the domains of language and literacy, mathematics and creative arts. The teacher and teaching assistant can deliver i-Cards with groups of up to ten children. The activities may also be facilitated by volunteers in the classroom or used to extend learning at home. The language and literacy i-Cards include recommendations for Picture Walk and Read Aloud books that can be used during Whole Group time or Story Time to further reinforce the concepts presented in the lesson. Each unit also includes a science storybook written to reinforce the key concepts introduced in the science lessons. ECHOS integration cards are also available in Spanish.

At the conclusion of each science lesson, the teacher places hands-on materials, models, charts and books that were used in the lesson in the classroom Science Area. This provides a rich collection of thematic educational materials that children can access during Free Choice Time or other center rotation to further help reinforce the science concepts. Each unit also provides a set of ‘Ask Me About’ stickers designed to be used as a prompt for family to help children recall the science concepts they learned during the day.

E-I-E-I-O Learning Framework

To learn more about the framework, click on the video below.

Unit Overviews

The curriculum features the following life science, physical science and earth science units listed below. Each Unit Overview includes a short video clip from an ECHOS science lesson.

Young girls holding an umbrella in the rain

Rainy Weather

Unit Goal: Children explore where precipitation comes from, what it is and where water goes after it rains.

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Young boy using magnifying glass on plant

Beginning Botanist

Unit Goal: Children learn about the parts of plants and what plants need to live and grow.

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Young boy playing with a duck puppet

Feathered Friends

Unit Goal: Children discover that different types of birds have different types of beaks, feet and feathers to help them live in different habitats.  

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Young boy playing with a bee stuffed animal

Busy Buzzing Bees

Unit Goal: Children learn about the special features of honeybees and their important role in helping transfer pollen from one flower to another.

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Young girl holding shell to her ear

Discovering Shells

Unit Goal: Children use multiple attributes to sort and categorize shells, and learn about their functions.

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Young boy using book on blocks

Blocks Measure Up

Unit Goal: Children use blocks as an alternative measurement tool to compare the length and height of objects.

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Young girl playing with water

Water Play

Unit Goal: Children use science processes to investigate volume, water displacement and buoyancy.

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Young girl creating bubbles with a straw

Astonishing Air

Unit Goal: Children engage in trial-and-error investigations that allow them to observe the presence of air and explore its properties.

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Young boy using magnets and paper clips

Magnificent Magnets

Unit Goal: Children engage in investigative activities that encourage them to explore how magnets interact with common magnetic and nonmagnetic objects.

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