What your child learns in Key Stage 1 science

Little girl looking at flower through microscope
You may well struggle to remember what you learned in Years 1 and 2 in science – and things have moved on a lot anyway. So swot up on what your child will be taught with this quick guide.

Throughout Key Stage 1 science lessons, your child will be learning about the importance of asking questions, gathering evidence, carrying out experiments and looking at different ways of presenting their results. Lessons are practical and will focus on the world around them. 

Science skills in KS1

In Key Stage 1 your child will learn to use the following methods, processes and skills:

  • asking simple questions (for example, 'What would happen if I didn't give a plant water?')
  • observing closely, using simple equipment such as a magnifying glass
  • identifying and classifying
  • using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions
  • gathering and recording data to help in answering questions

Year 1 science

Under the new 2014 national curriculum, children in Year 1 will learn about:

  • Plants, identifying and naming plants and looking at their basic structure
  • Animals including humans, identifying and naming a range of animals and understanding how and why they are grouped (e.g. mammals, birds, amphibians etc)
  • Everyday materials, looking at their properties
  • Seasonal changes, observing changes across the four seasons and looking at different types of weather

Year 2 science (2014-2015)

Children who start Year 2 in September 2014 will continue to learn from the old curriculum. They may learn about:

Life processes and living things

  • Differences between things which are living and have never lived
  • How living things (animals and humans) move, feed, grow, use their senses and reproduce
  • External parts of the human and animal body
  • Importance of exercise and diet
  • Plants, including how they grow

Materials and their properties

  • Recognising everyday materials (for example, wood, plastic, metal, paper)
  • Sorting materials according to various qualities
  • How materials are used for different purposes
  • How some materials can change (for example, by bending/melting/stretching)

Physical processes

  • Electricity: everyday appliances, simple circuits, using a switch to break a circuit
  • Forces and motion: speed and direction; pushing and pulling
  • Light and dark, including the sun
  • Making and detecting sound; how we hear

Year 2 science (from September 2015)

Children who begin Year 2 in September 2015 and beyond will follow the new curriculum, learning about:

  • Living things and their habitats, including dependence within habitats and micro-habitats
  • Plants, observing how seeds and bulbs grow into plants and what plants need to stay healthy
  • Animals including humans, focusing on reproduction, nutrition and exercise
  • Everyday materials, comparing their uses and looking at how they can be changed by exerting force

Help your child at home

  • Show your child plants or pictures of plants, such as apple trees, tomato plants, sweet corn, and cabbages and ask them why it is important for humans to grow plants.
  • Plant seeds at home. Talk about the things plants need to grow, such as soil, water, light and air. Help them to observe the changes as the plants begin to grow.
  • Do you have a pet? Help your child to point out the similarities between animals and humans. Do we both have arms, legs, eyes, ears and a nose? Do we both need food, water and sleep?
  • Talk to your child about sources of light. Walk around your environment and point them out: timer switches, clock radio, computer, lamp, light bulb, street lamps, the sun and moon. Which are bright or dim?
  • Link science to real life. Talk about how things were in the past and how scientific advances have brought changes. Share books that show non-electrical or old household appliances.
  • Give your child a collection of items made from different materials - paper, cardboards, plastics, metals - and ask them to find different ways of grouping them (rough, smooth, shiny, dull or plastic, metal, wood, fabric).
  • Point out materials that are found naturally and those that are not (twigs, unpolished/unfinished wood, sand, rocks, water, bone, clay, wool, glass, plastic, paper, cardboard). Ask your child to try sorting the materials into those they thinks are found naturally.
  • Talk to your child about how natural materials are changed to make everyday objects. Use resources to help your child learn about the processes involved.