I know that it is not officially spring yet, but it certainly feels like it here in Austin, TX. I currently have my windows open providing a gentle breeze in my living room and am listening to the sound of birds chirping. It is such a beautiful time to teach our students about new life, animals, life cycles, gardening, taking care of the Earth, and so much more.
These past few weeks have been beautiful here and we have taken full advantage of them in our classroom. I thought I would share a few things today that you can do with your young learners to help encourage creativity, observation, and deep learning to occur!
A Living/Non-living activity
With life slowly starting to emerge here in Texas, it is the perfect time to get outside and explore. One sunny afternoon last week, before heading outside, we reviewed the attributes of living and nonliving things. We reviewed what it meant to be a naturalist and how to carefully explore living things. I then told my young learners that our goal today was to go outside and find as many living things as we could! We got out half sheets of white paper, folded them in half and made t-charts so we could document our observations. Then we walked out to our garden. Immediately we started to see many living things! Beetles, crickets, grass– my kids were SO excited!
My students carefully observed our outdoor classroom (our garden) and happily documented what they were discovering!
We were super excited to see that the bees were finding flowers!
We even discovered a stink bug in the garden.
(This was the talk of the afternoon!! “Don’t step on it or IT WILL STINK!!!!”)
When we came inside, we happily shared what our favorite living and non-living things were!
Our living and non-living excursion created such a buzz in the classroom. My students were asking a lot of questions about worms and their impact on the garden so we read a few books to help answer some of their wonderings. However, experience is the best teacher, so we decided that going outside on a worm hunt would be the best way to really find the answers to some of our questions.
We gathered our materials and headed outside to look for worms.
Our hunt was not in vain. Not only did we find grubs, rolly pollies, and ants, but we also found lots and lots of worms!
My students carefully prepared habitats so that they could closely observe them. When we got inside, you should have heard all of the fabulous observations they made during our worm hunt!
That afternoon, to further ignite their passion, I set up a dirt sensory table for them to explore. (This was a HUGE hit! — a MESS– but a huge hit! A tip: I have three dust brooms in my classroom and my students know that whatever falls on the floor, they have to clean up after they are finished playing!)
Animals are always a huge hit with this age group. Since my students were showing such a draw towards investigating and discovering animals and insects, I decided to extend their learning even further by teaching them how to not only measure with non-standard units of measurement, but also, how to use a ruler to measure in inches. While we have practiced measuring with non-standard units many times, introducing the ruler so they could scientifically measure something was a HUGE hit.
First, my students practiced measuring with cubes and recorded their measurements on our chart.
Next, they used our rulers to measure the animals in inches!
These pictures are from the book “Animalium Coloring Book.” (Affiliate link provided below.)
As I guessed, as soon as they learned how to measure accurately, they began practicing measuring their grubs, our fish!, and our worms. They loved being able to accurately measure.
I hope that you can use some of these ideas as spring starts to come to your area and that you had a wonderful weekend! Stay tuned for a blog post on the butterfly inquiry that is currently going on in our classroom! Can’t wait for the blog post? Follow me on Instagram for daily pictures of what’s going on! (adayinfirstgrade)