Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Last Child in The Woods....or the schoolyard

Happy Earth Day. Today is a great day to give thought to our planet and the children who will be taking care of it in years to come.

"We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this earth, and to tell our stories.  These are the moments when the world is made whole.  In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist."
~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

We started the day making these (by Kindergarten Crayons):

Reading this (Our Earth by Anne Rockwell):

And singing along with this:

I am a firm believer in getting children outside.  I think they need to experience nature before they can care about nature.  There is so much they can learn by using and developing their natural intelligence.

Looking at their world up-close and personal will make those diagrams, charts, tables, and other non-fiction readings more real....more understandable.  Take your students out and look under rocks.  How exciting to find the same tunnels in the ground that you saw in your ant farm.  Can you watch their movement?  Maybe they will be carrying large leaves or other objects around. 

Watch the seasons change by picking a tree and observing it in each season.  Talk first about what it looks like.  We had so much fun just feeling the bark on different trees, then trying to describe what we felt.  We just happen to be focusing on opposites last week when we went out and felt the smooth (my students wanted to say soft) bark of the quaking aspen.  Then the bumpy, hard, rough bark of the cottonwood tree.  We also found sticky sap, dry shriveled apples, and pokey pine needles.  Use your time outdoors to expand vocabulary and notice details.

Teach the science of time and seasons by tracing shadows.  You can make a shadow clock and your discussions can go many different directions....math, science, history.

Earth Day should be more than planting seeds and picking up garbage.  It needs to be about making connections....to the land, to the air, to those who live there.

"Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.  If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Butterflies: Up Close and Personal (another Bright Idea)

I love, love, love spring.  Why?  Because I get to raise butterflies with my students.  This is my favorite activity all year long and I have a Bright Idea for taking it up a notch and letting my students get up close and personal with the butterflies.

First, you need to order your butterflies.  I just order mine online.  The caterpillars are super easy to work with and actually are pretty hardy.  Even so....I always order a classroom set.  I do this for two reasons....first, I like every student to get a hands on experience, and second, I am still nervous they all won't survive.

Then you watch, wait, and learn. 

When the cocoons hatch....then the fun begins!!  Once the butterflies emerge I set up a screen porch tent.  The tent I use has no floor (so the butterflies can hide in the grass).  I set it up under a tree in our outdoor education area.  Any "quiet" spot in a grassy area would work.

Inside the tent I put some flowering baskets at different heights.  I slice oranges on a paper plate to feed the butterflies.

My students are so very careful.  Even the most rough and tumble kid watches where he steps and is ever so gentle.  My tent is small, so only a couple of students at a time get to go in.  My daughter comes and takes pictures for me (that lets me focus on the rest of the class while the students in the tent have a wonderful experience with the butterflies.  Plus, my daughter is a great photographer and the pictures are outstanding!!).

My kinders are timid and some require coaxing and help to get the butterflies to crawl onto their hands.  My 2nd and 3rd graders liked trying to see how many butterflies they could get on their faces.  The joy and reactions is the highlight of my year.

By taking the time to observe carefully and closely they learn so much about insects.

They see the proboscis and watch it work.

They experience the sticky feet of a butterfly as it clings to their finger and proceeds to hang upside down.
They learn how to take care of things in the wild. 
Getting up close and personal with the butterflies is an experience they never forget.  If you would like to see more of what we do consider joining me on facebook and at my TpT store.

For more Bright Ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the linky below.  Choose a topic or grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday....Math Manipulatives

I love being able to share ideas....that is what makes blogging so much fun.  I find new ideas, I get to share my ideas, that's why I am so excited to link up with Christina at Sugar and Spice.  Lots of great ideas.

I saw this one several places, including pinterest, but then my good friend Mr. Greg from Smedley's  Smorgasbord of Kindergarten gave exact instructions on how to make them.  So I just had to give it a try:

What do you use to teach and/or practice place value?