It seems that Tuesdays have been disproportionately hit with extreme weather over the past month! Our outdoor explorers have worked in the outdoor classroom when it’s been safe, though. We’ve continued our integrated science, language arts and social studies lessons in our indoor classroom on other Tuesday afternoons. Here are some highlights from the past month.
Students are developing understandings of the natural world as they notice how the vernal pool changes over time. This winter’s weather variety has made the vernal pool a constantly changing natural feature. Children consider variables such as temperature, weather and seasonal cycles as they create explanations for the ongoing change of the pond’s size as well as its surface. The surface has been changing from watery to mixed ice chunks and water to seemingly solid ice.
Students investigate tree trunk and discuss possible reasons for the holes and peeling bark.
Connecticut’s first grade core science curriculum has students explore how organisms (both plants and animals) are structured to ensure efficiency and survival. Our class has been reading informational texts and making first hand observations to learn about the parts of a tree and their different roles that together help trees thrive in the forest habitat. Students are noticing the colors and designs of tree bark to identify the trees that surround the outdoor classroom.
With the same science concept in mind, we’ve been observing and learning about birds and squirrels. We placed two bird feeders outside our classroom window. Students observe the feather patterns in birds that visit and use field guides to identify and learn about the birds. Successful use of field guides entails practicing first grade reading goals about using non-fiction text features like headings, table of contents, illustrations, diagrams, captions and glossaries. This month students have identified the following birds: blue jay, starling, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, chickadee, and red-bellied woodpecker. Children draw and write their observations in their field guides.
Mrs. Smith has led the class in lessons on how to sketch birds, squirrels and trees. Children are learning to pay attention to shapes, notice detail, take risks with their drawing, and build stamina in engagement with observational drawing.
Students were given the engineering task of selecting recycled materials to design and create working bird feeders. This week the children set up their bird feeders around the outdoor classroom. We are eager to visit this week and see if they’ve been used…and by whom!
We’ve also been taking time to observe the beauty in nature. A read aloud of Lois Duncan’s retelling of a Navajo tale The Magic of Spider Woman was a spark to our weaving work but also a message about the importance of keeping life in balance. Students collected y-shaped sticks and used them as a weaving structure. Weaving builds coordination and motor skills, practices crossing the midline, and takes concentration! The first graders are using an assortment of collected natural objects as well as fabric scraps to weave into the stick looms. Finished stick weaving projects are being sent home as decorations, so be on the lookout!