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Standing Up: Skeletons and Frameworks Capability: Interpret representations NoS achievement aims: Communicating in science Contextual strands: Living world Contextual strands: Material world Contextual strands: Physical world Level : 1,2

Building Science Concepts, Book 51

This resource illustrates how a Building Science Concepts activity can provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to make sense of representations in the context of science.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

NZC LINKS: The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Communicating in science

Develop knowledge of the vocabulary, numeric and symbol systems, and conventions of science and use this knowledge to communicate about their own and other’s ideas.

L1 & 2:

Build their language and develop their understandings of the many ways the natural world can be represented.

NZC LINKS: Living World, Material World, Physical World


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource


Understand the interactions of living things with each other and with the non-living environment.

Properties of materials:

Explore and develop ideas about the properties of materials, how these relate to their uses, and issues arising from their use.

Physical enquiry:

Explore and investigate physical phenomena.

L1 & 2:

Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.


L1 & 2:

Find out about the uses of common materials and relate these to their observed properties.


L1 & 2:

Seek and describe simple patterns in physical phenomena.

Learning focus

Students make careful objective descriptions.

Learning activity

Section 1 of this booklet (page 8) consists of an activity designed to establish the children’s prior understanding of skeletons and other support systems. Children are provided with a set of pictures showing different structures and asked to share their ideas on what they think helps each item in the pictures to stay upright.

Adapting the resource

This activity could easily be refocused to foreground students’ ability to carefully and objectively describe the items in the pictures. Provide each student with a picture. In pairs, the students describe their items as carefully as they can so that their partner can tell what it is without seeing the picture.

Focus on the following:

  • What sort of adjectives do the students use - do they mention colour, texture, size, etc.?
  • How precise is the language that is used (e.g., “It’s dark green” not “It’s a pretty colour”)?
  • Do they pay attention to all relevant features?
  • Do they describe what they see in their picture or are they drawing on background knowledge?
  • Do they use similes or metaphor to support their descriptions?
  • Would the listener be able to identify this particular picture if shown it with other similar pictures?

What’s important here?

Scientists write about their observations and research with enough detail for others to be able to critique what they have done. Descriptions in science tend to be factual and objective. Students need practice to be able to describe things in this particular way.

Understanding and using the literacy practices of science supports students to think in new ways and supports students to become scientifically literate, i.e., to participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role. (This is the purpose of science in NZC.)

What are we looking for?

Do students use clear descriptive language?

Do they realise the importance of making careful descriptions?

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

For suggestions about adapting tasks in ways that allow students to show progress in gathering and interpreting data see  Progressions .

Exploring further

This activity could be done in any context. All that is required is a set of pictures or objects for students to describe.

Other resources for this capability

Watch Me! (L1) Ready to Read series 2009, Guided Reading level: yellow

Seeds (L1 & 2) Connected 1, 1999

Light and Colour: Our Vision of the World (L1 & 2) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 10

An Interview with a Glass of Water (L3 & 4) Connected 2, 2002

Ferns (L3 & 4) Connected 3, 2002

Why Does It Always Rain on Me? (L3 & 4) Connected, Level 3, 2012

Spring is a Season: How Living Things Respond to Seasonal Changes (L3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 44

The Air around Us: Exploring the Substance We Live in (L4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 30

Catch My Drift (L4 & 5) Connected, Level 4, 2012

Bioaccumulation interactive (L5) Science Learning Hub

The elements: element analyser interactive (L5) Digistore on TKI

Garden Bird Survey: Participants’ Stories (L5) Landcare Research webpage

The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (L5) GNS Science webpage

Key words

Building Science Concepts, skeletons, structures