Formerly the CT River Watershed Council|


Whose Garden Is It?

Overview/Rationale for Lesson Children begin to learn about habitat and the interdependence of organisms through a first visit to the school garden.  Focusing question: Who does the garden belong to? Grade level: K-2 Print Version Developed by Mary Bates, Jackson Street School, Northampton, MA and used in Kindergarten Community partner: School Sprouts Learning Objectives Children will learn about habitat of organisms. Children will begin to understand interdependence of organisms and nature. Children will observe, draw and describe one thing they notice in nature. Children will learn and practice rules for nature excursions. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity Time: 5 minutes Step 1.  During circle discussion, explain the purpose of a nature excursion (“to explore, learn about our environment, our world and living creatures”) and how it is different from outside playtime.  5 minutes. Discuss rules for nature excursion Quiet voices (why? other classes are working, can hear the teacher, can focus on nature) Listen to teacher directions Use a scientist’s eyes and ears Respect living creatures and plants Main Activity Time: 30 minutes Step 2. Take children outside and give a brief tour and history of the school garden. 5 minutes. Each child carries a clipboard with handout attached.  (Download Student Handout from Materials Checklist.) Children set clipboards down until it is time to draw (in Step 6).  Teacher brings pencils, erasers and colored pencils. Teacher narrative:  Garden was designed by teachers working with a gardener.  Garden was created by teachers and parents and students.  There are beds for each class K-4.  Garden plantings include three sisters, herbs, a butterfly patch and a strawberry patch. Step 3. Ask children focusing question:  Who does the garden belong to? Share ideas out loud. 2 minutes. Step 4. 

Incredible Insects!

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children write and illustrate diamante poems to recall what they observed on a fall field trip to observe insects at Northfield Mountain. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  K to 2 Developed by Susan Pelis, Sheffield Elementary School, Turners Falls, MA, and used in Grade 1 Community Partner: Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center Learning Objective(s): Children will write a diamante poem and draw an illustration, including details of things they saw, heard and touched on their field trip. Children will experience insects first hand and hone their observation skills in an outdoor setting. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity: Step 1. Pre-trip discussion.  10 minutes. Ask children to predict, “What do you think you’ll see at Northfield Mountain?” List responses on chart paper. Step. 2. Class Trip to Northfield Mountain. From 2 hours to 1/2 Day. Children participate in a facilitated session on “Incredible Insects” conducted on the edge of a meadow.  Children look at insects through hand lenses and draw a sketch.  Optional extra time for lunch and walk in the forest. Main Activity: Time:  70 minutes (steps may be split into 2-3 writing periods). Step 3. Make a Community List:  “What We Saw, Heard, Felt.”  15 minutes. Children generate a list of things they saw, heard and felt during a group discussion. Teacher records comments on chart paper.  If available, photos from the trip help to stimulate conversation and spark interest.  See a sample Community List. Step 4. Each child completes a pre-writing activity: “I saw, I heard, I felt” (handout downloadable from Materials Checklist). 10 minutes.  Children use the template to draw pictures and list items they saw, heard, and felt.  See Student Sample. Step 5. Model how to write

Exploring Our Pumpkins

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children explore pumpkins with eyes closed and eyes open, using descriptive words and observational drawings to share their sensory discoveries. Grade Level:  K to 2 Print Lesson Developed by Penny Block & Janice Henderson, Smith College Campus School, Northampton, MA, and used in Kindergarten Community Partner:  Fletcher Farm, Southampton, MA Learning Objective(s): Children will learn to observe a pumpkin with their senses and use words to describe shape, texture and physical features they notice. Children will learn to make a drawing from observation. Children will write a descriptive word about their pumpkin (on their own with invented spelling or with support). Children will begin to learn how to work like scientists by looking closely at an object and making careful observations. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity: Step 1.  Children have individual pumpkins with their names written in black marker at the top of the pumpkin. Gathering pumpkins may be part of a field trip to a pumpkin patch, or teacher and students may bring pumpkins to school. Pumpkins should be small (no taller than 10”). Teacher discusses guidelines for handling pumpkins with children (pick up from the bottom, not the stem; handle gently; no rolling). This class picks pumpkins at:  Fletcher Farm, 22 Gunn Rd, Southampton, MA (413) 527-6888. Main Activity: Time: 30-45 minutes Step 2.  During circle time, teacher models how to explore a pumpkin with eyes closed and uses words to describe what she feels.  2-5 minutes. Teacher may ask a child or another adult to bring her the pumpkin while her eyes are closed, modeling surprise and suspense at what she feels. Teacher’s narrative:  “Oh let’s see, this feels round, not tall. 

girl by water

Vernal Pool Poetry

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Students record sensory observations during a guided nature walk and use this data to create poetry and watercolor paintings documenting their discoveries. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  K to 2 Developed by Beth Brady and Carol Berner, R.K. Finn/Ryan Road School, Florence, MA, and used in Grade 2 Community Partner: Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA Learning Objective(s): Students will learn to collect and record sensory data during a nature walk (I See, I Hear, I Smell, I Touch/Feel). Students will write a short poem or journal entry and make a watercolor painting based on field trip observations. Students will learn to look closely and ask questions about creatures and elements they discover on the forest walk. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  15 minutes plus outdoor nature walk Step 1.  During circle time students read and discuss the poem “Polliwogs” by Kristine O’Connell George.  15 minutes.  Note:  This activity may take place 1-2 days before nature walk. Write poem “Polliwogs” on chart paper and post it in circle area. Lead a pre-trip discussion about upcoming nature walk and ask children, “ What do you think you will find at the vernal pool?” Read aloud “Polliwogs” and invite children to take turns reading it aloud. Ask children, “What do you notice about the poem?” Lead discussion based on children’s observations about the poem’s shape, use of describing words, comparisons, etc. Tell children they will be writing their own poems after their trip to the vernal pool. Step 2.  Children go on a nature walk and record on a handout things that they see, hear, smell and touch.  (Download Student Handout from Materials Checklist.) 1-2 hours. During pre-trip discussion,

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