Posts Tagged Science

Gaining New Heights!

Today was a different turn of events in and out of the classroom. Yesterdays whirlwind of wildness, brought a gentler breeze of caring nature.

Thursdays are designated field trip days, and for the morning we were off to Daystar, a retirement community down the road. At Daystar we painted little Origami boats for their community bulletin board. There were striped boats, Pokka dot boats, battle ship boats, submarine boats, and fairy boats. All the custom Origami boats were handcrafted by Deloris – absolutely flawless, not one hole left to patch. Dolores told a story of playing with Origami boats in her youth, were her pals would float boats down a stream as they watch them get caught inside a current in a culvert.

Afterwards I read two books. One book about a families need to buy or build another bed as their offspring began to over populate the parents comfort of a good night rest (imagine that). And the other book was about a sleeping Gecko who would not stop talking.

And then the highlight of the day proceeded into the drizzling rain as we ventured to Castle Park. However, the interest in the elaborate playground system was quickly won over by a small grouping of trees. Within minutes all 15 for the day, were in “climbing trees.” (As I thought to myself, where were those trees 24 hours ago when the shit was hitting the fan in the classroom?) Standing on guard next to the trees I executed to myself, a plan if one broke a limb (preferable a tree), watching as they ducked and weaved around the lofty Cedar branches to position their climbing route. Observing as they tested out the strength of the branches – stepping on tree limbs and stumbling just in time to catch their balance. All the while hearing their bursting interjection of comments: “I need more space; I need a private tree; It’s to crowded in here; You need to get down, so I can climb around; Your stepping on my hand.” And I stood there peering into a frenzy of fun, chuckling under my breath and thinking of my youthful days of climbing trees. Remembering a time when a neighbor once threatened to call the fire department for climbing their tree to high. (My… how we are protective of those “private trees.”) And I stood there observing the mastery of a tree; what lessons a tree can teach, with all the pliable branches, the oozing sap, it’s coarse bark, those knobby limbs, while offering a carrying capacity to support a whole class of kids, with private spaces and Great new perspectives. In between our courageous climbs we laid in the grass, as the clouds made room for the sun.

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Bugs In The Classroom…Oh no!

“Look at the size of this spider!” “I found a centipede!” “Or there goes an earwig.” Kids are always fascinated by critters that crawl, squirm, or creep along.
Yes, all critters are bound to wiggle their way into the curriculum of early childhood. And as adults may we learn to welcome or at least accept a small crawling presence, even if some adults may be sent screaming or scratching at the walls in arachnid fright. I have observed continuous times that arachnophobia is not a disease, but a learned behavior that begins at a childhood and is certainly curable in our adult years. And it as adults we should be mindful of not to spreading this arachnophobia to young ones, despite the startling side effects of a spider sighting. Yes, be brave out there adult arachnophobias. But as, educators we can learn to appreciate the overriding joy that sends young people scrabbling just to catch a peek at a little bugger.

In a classroom that holds value on protecting and preserving the integrity of all living creatures, great and small, science lessons can unearth before our wondering eyes, when least expected. The small independent school I teach at is exemplary of the need to treat all creatures of the earth with respect, and we model this in our handling of insects as they find their presence on the classroom floor or wall. We’re sure not to grab the nearest tissue and squash the little critter into oblivion. (Unless we know for certain that a particular insect is capable of causing bodily harm.) Instead, as calmly and without loosing ones respectful composure we find a gently technique in removing and transporting the critter back into the great outdoors.

Often times an uninvited eight legged guest or other insect has become a focus of interest in the classroom for a day. The world of insects aspires further curiosity, and can provide just the right curricula for introducing books on insects, opportunities for insect sketching, examining, identifying, or a doorway into entomology. Besides, these opportunities for further exploration of the natural world can provide powerful insight and knowledge into the fields of science, natural history, reading, and quite naturally instill a sense of value and compassion.

Insects to can become temporary pets.

We have kept everything from a common house spider, earwig, centipede, potato bug (rollie pollie) inside an aerated container, for a day, just to get a closer perspective. Ants in an ant farm are also intriguing, as kids can closely observe their behavior as they carve their way into creating a colony. Stick-bugs are a the staple insect pet in most preschool classroom. Because of their quick ability to proliferate almost every square inch of an aquarium. And they can easily snack on most of the vegetation right outside the door. Kids love having them crawl over them, as they can click quite tightly.
However, they can easily be displaced or disappear into the carpet or clothing, as their prone to camouflaging themselves quite well. (There are over 3,000 species of stick bugs)

Kids love having insects crawl all over them in an environment where there are no reservations or anxieties about getting swallowed by a fly or bit by a spider. Most spiders, as most people know are not poisonous, but suddenly a creature with barely a mouth has the teeth of Jaws. Sometimes we just need to swallow hard through those indifferent feelings and jitters some adults may experience at the sight of Charlotte and her web in the corner of the room. As this new acceptance may be a valuable lesson for young scientists.

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