We currently are knee-deep in our forest inquiry. Throughout the week, my students came up with some great wonders!
Here are a few things that they are currently wondering:
1.How can they figure out if a tree is deciduous or coniferous tree?
2.What forest animals live in burrows?
3.How does a forest change at night?
4.How do animals protect their homes?
5.Can we find signs of fall on our campus? (This is definitely one of our FAVORITE daily activities!)
To help my students find out the answers to their questions, we have been reading a few of these books:
By far their favorites have been “Over In The Forest”, “Forest Life”, “Leaf Man”, and “Lost In The Woods”.
Our classroom is decked out in forest pictures and vocabulary posters.
My students refer to these pictures and posters often throughout our day. They especially are into the deciduous and coniferous posters.
After reading a few picture books and letting my students explore our forest pictures and posters during one of our morning meetings, my students created their own forests. They carefully mixed their paint colors to create just the right shades of greens, blues, and browns.
To create these masterpieces, my students first came up with a plan, then drew their forests in pencil.
Next, they traced their drawing in Sharpies. (They said, “We are REAL artists!!”)
Finally, they added paint!
They are currently hanging on our bulletin board along with some of their forest questions and wonderings!
Another way my students have been exploring the forest is by using our tree blocks and forest and tree TOOBS.
Child 1: “This is a habitat for good and bad animals. The good animals all live over here so that bad animals can’t get to them. What was that word for bad animals?”
Child 2: “Do you mean predators? The ones that hunt other animals?”
Child 1: “Yes! The predators go over here.”
Child 2: “Yeah! We don’t want them to get these guys!”
“I made a home for the otter. He likes the coniferous tree best!”
“I created a home where all the animals can live together!”
“This is the beaver’s damn. The raccoon is trying to get in, but he can’t find the entrance!”
After my students created with these materials, some of them chose to document their learning and work!
The collaborative play that came out of these simple materials was remarkable. Throughout play activities like this, my students are using their knowledge to create and are using our new vocabulary words in a natural way. It’s such an authentic way for students to show what they know!
Since my students are REALLY into finding “signs of fall” on our campus… (mind you it is still 90* here in TX!) we went on a nature hunt to find as many “signs of fall” as we could! (I should note that during our calendar time we are counting down the days until we can change the calendar from “summer” to “fall”.)
On our nature walk my students found so many marvelous fall items to add to their nature bags.
When we came back to the classroom, my students shared with their elbow partner their favorite discovery. We then added them to our nature table!
The last thing that we did this week was watch parts of the ‘documentary’ “Hidden Kingdoms.” In this video (found on Netflix), my students got to TRULY see what a forest was like. The 30 minute movie tells the story of a young chipmunk that is gathering acorns to prepare for winter. (The actual movie is one hour and goes back and forth between an animal in the rainforest and a chipmunk but I just skipped the rainforest sections.) My students LOVED the story and it definitely helped develop schema of a forest. Next week we are beginning to create a 3D forest out of recycled objects so this was great preparation for that project.
After we watched the movie, my students got out pieces of paper to create a plan for our large forest project.
I can’t wait to see what they create!