Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center

Loretta Pollock, Swanson Elementary, Palmer, AK

                       THE WOODS AND POND

Appropriate for grades 1-2.

OVERVIEW:  In today's world of high consumption it is important to
keep people in touch with the earth and its diverse life forms. 
As long as one's senses are involved, much can be learned by even
the youngest child.  If we allow children the opportunity to
 experience nature, and let them see our own enthusiasm, they will
be on their way to a lifelong appreciation of our natural
surroundings.  If we give them direction in their observations,
they may become the natural scientists and caretakers of
tomorrow's world.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this woods and pond unit is to involve
children with nature in a living, experiencing way.  The
activities are designed to give children a hands-on approach to
learning about their natural surroundings.  Following the seasons
through a multitude of changes throughout three quarters of the
year gives continuity to the unit and increases their awareness of
the important part that nature plays in our lives.  Children who
have the opportunity to be involved in this way gain knowledge and
show their appreciation for the multitude of life forms in their
care for the area in which they are encountered.

OBJECTIVES:  After completion of the activities in this unit,
children will be able to demonstrate the following skills and

 1.  Recognize that the pond/woods environments are ecosystems and
     state some of the differences in the two ecosystems.

 2.  Identify three of the trees in the area by their leaves and
     bark characteristics.

 3.  Recognize three shrubs by their growing manner and fruit.

 4.  Identify by common name three animals and plants in or near
     the pond.

 5.  Identify three changes in the two ecosystems over a span

ACTIVITIES:  These activities are only a few which can be used to
involve children in nature in a real way.  Instead of teaching an
ecosystem unit, plant unit, or animal unit in isolation, the use
of a local natural area ties all of these things together in a
meaningful way for the children.  It also gives the science
curriculum continuity over time.  Hopefully they will spark your
imagination and you will come up with lots of other ideas for
involving children with our natural world.

 1.  Take the children on many pond and woods walks to the same
     area to observe and identify plants and animals spanning the
     seasons.  Do drawing and writing activities with the children
     both in the field and back in the classroom.  Keep an
     ecosystem book.

 2.  After the children observe small pond creatures, bring back a
     few to the classroom for further observation.  Be sure to
     bring back the pond water with them.  Have the students
     observe some pond water under a microscope the first day,
     second day, and fourth day after bringing into a warm
     building.  They make comparisons and note differences in both
     kind and number of organisms.  Using prepared, colored slides
     of tiny pond creatures, have children look through the
     microscope and then on a four inch circle, draw what they
     observe through the microscope.  Mounted all together, this
     is a very effective display.

 3.  On at least one woods walk, do hug-a-tree activities.  In
     this activity children are blindfolded and led to a tree by
     another child and returned to a starting point after careful
     use of their sense of touch.  Free of the blindfold, they are
     to find the tree they have hugged.  Gather leaves and make
     leaf prints with the students after comparisons as to size,
     color, smell and feel.  In a tall mature forest, ask the
     children to lie on the ground on their backs.  With eyes
     shut, they are to be very still and just feel and hear the
     woods around them.  With eyes open, but still on their backs,
     they look up to the tops of the trees and quietly observe. 
     (A breezy day is very effective for this activity.)

 4.  Invite you local Forest Service Greenhouse person to come
     with samples of seedling trees to talk to your children. 
     Most will give each child a seedling to take home and plant.


TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  This unit involves children in learning
activities that require the use of all their senses.  Taking them
out into nature is the most likely way to insure their learning
and appreciation of this wonderful world, our earth.  Collect
their art, writing and record keeping and display it at your
school's science fare, hang it in the hallways, decorate you
classroom with it.  The children's new knowledge will show up in
creative art and writing projects, and all across the curriculum.


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