Monday, June 25, 2012

Amazing Animals Presentation at Zion National Park

I visited my family this past week and took my neice (age 7) to Zion National Park in Utah to work on her Junior Ranger Badge. As part of the requirements she had to attend a ranger led program and we opted for the Amazing Animals talk about bears.

I got a little nervous when Ranger Colton put the vocabulary words on the board (see first picture) but I thought he did a great job of explaining what each of them meant and getting input from the children. I also liked his graph representing the diet of the black bear - shading in 70% for plants, 20% for water creatures, and 10% for large game (see the board in the last picture). He had a bear skin and talked about the adaptations they had for being successful in their environment - claws, fur, and teeth that were both flat and pointed for grinding plants and chewing meat.

The program was 45 minutes long and he had children go outside to participate in an activity where they became black bears and had to get resources in order to go into torpor. The resources were different colored poker chips on the ground which were worth a certain number of points (parents...or in my case Aunts held a plastic dixie cup while the kids had 1 minute to collect their resources - one at a time and drop them in the cup. Then the children (with or without the parents help) had to calculate the points they earned gathering resources. If they earned at least 60 points they were ready to go into torpor (most of the kids were successful). Next he had all the kids become wounded bears and they repeated the activity but they had to hop on one leg to collect their resources (only a few children got the necessary points for torpor).

I thought this was an excellent lesson for many reasons -

- He had an actual animal carcass the kids could handle
- He started with a true story of a black bear encounter in the park (and held up laminated pictures while he told the story to capture children's interest)
- He had a graph on the board plus the vocabulary words he was going to use
- The activity involved children going outside and being active
- There was a math componet with the graphing and points calculation

My neice just turned seven so her attention span and retention ability is not the strongest but she was able to recall some of what she learned (bears have 2-3 cubs, they have five fingers and toes, they eat plants and meat). The age group (and nationality) of the children ranged from 12 to 4 (which made the teaching challenging but children got out of it what their age allowed - older kids retained the vocabulary better while younger kids were more apt to remember feeling the claws on the bear carcass).

I definitely filed that lesson away for use in grades that talk about animal adaptations (in our case third grade).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mind Map as a Right Hand Assignment

I have been exposed to "mind maps" before but I've never used them in the notebooks. I saw this pin on Pinterest (see first picture) which got me thinking about how they can be used in notebooks.

Using my trusty craft supplies I created two mind maps in my practice notebook. The first had to do with the water cycle and the second I was thinking of  using it as an end of unit review.

Here were some of my thoughts as I was creating them.

1. Student would need some serious modeling when introducing "mind maps". You can not just show them a sample and say "go". It probably would be best to do it as a group and then have students copy it into their notebook a couple of times so they get the general idea of how it works.

2. I think this would only appeal to the artistic children. I don't think it would damage the non-artistic children to go through the process of creating a mind map but when I was doing it I was thinking that you might need to give those children a choice of assignments rather then just saying "Mind map and nothing else!".

3. A larger scale version of a mind map (see last picture) is time consuming. I would allot at least two class periods to finish.

4. Definitely would need a class supply of colored pencils. In the second picture I used crayons and I wasn't too happy with that. I didn't have colored pencils in the house so I used thin markers for the last mind map (I don't like markers in the notebooks because the colors bleed through on the previous and next pages).

I would definitely try it out with children and see how it goes and add it to my list of possible "right hand assignment" ideas.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Email Widget Added

At the request of some of my readers I have now added an email widget where you input your email and you get notified of updates to this blog via email (which is WAY easier then having to check back every so often to see if I posted anything :)

Enjoy and sign up!

Right Hand Idea #3

This is part of my "pull out" mania this year. I thought it would be fun for students to draw an environment complete with at least three animals and two plants and then discuss adaptations they have that help them survive in that environment on the pull out tab.

Right Hand Idea #2

This idea was loosely based on something I saw on Pinterest. I had the child pick an animal at the top of the food chain and create a food chain inside its belly. In hindsight she probably didn't need to have the tiger represented (since it was already represented by the drawing).

This would fall under 5th grade standards here in South Carolina and I am thinking of how it could be modified to represent fossil fuels in our energy unit.

Right Hand Idea #1

Sorry I have been absent a bit this past month. With school winding down there has been a lot to do!

I have been working on some right hand assignment ideas and borrowed some fourth graders to help me out.

This one was adapted from a hallyway display I saw outside a second grade classroom (see third picture). I thought it could be easily adapted and used in a notebook.