Formerly the CT River Watershed Council|


If Landfill Machines Could Talk…

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children draw landfill machines and imagine trash from their perspective, as a way of understanding where garbage goes and why it is important to recycle. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  3 to 5 Developed by Nancy Meagher, Sheffield Elementary School, Turners Falls, MA, used in Grades 2-5 Learning Objective(s): Children will complete a detailed drawing of a landfill machine and write what they imagine the machine might tell people about recycling. Children will use observation skills to gather detailed information about their machine from photographs and drawings. Children will discuss landfills and consider implications and alternatives. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  10-15 minutes Step 1.  Introduce the project with visual images and verbal descriptions of landfill machines at work.  5 minutes. Teacher’s narrative: “When I was ten years old my mother took me to visit a landfill and I loved the big machines.  They moved just like dancers.  Their bodies are like what humans would like to be:  strong and big to move things.  If we didn’t have these machines we could never move so much trash.” Step 2.  Use a photograph or diagram to point out the parts of a backhoe and demonstrate with children how machine parts move like human body parts.  (Note: a photo is available for download in Resources.) 5-10 minutes. Demonstrate the similarity between body parts and machine parts, using a backhoe arm as an example.  Teacher points to each part of the excavator arm and moves the corresponding part of her own arm, inviting children to move their bodies along with her as she guides them. Teacher’s narrative: Just like you have a shoulder, the machine has a shoulder (points


Adopt-a-Tree, Watercolor Painting

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children spend time observing and painting their trees, with a focus on looking closely at colors and structures and learning to work attentively in nature. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  3 to 5 Developed by Susan Riley and Erica Morse, Marlboro Elementary School, Marlboro, VT, and used in Grades 3 & 4 Community Partner:  Susan Bull Riley, Fine Arts Painter, Marlboro, VT Learning Objective(s): Students will draw and paint their tree based on direct observation. Students will mix watercolors to create colors they see in nature. Students will spend time in close proximity to their tree, getting to know the tree and its surroundings. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  5 minutes See Adopt a Tree: First Visit for introductory activities that precede watercolor painting, including choosing a tree, sketching and journal writing. Step 1.   Outdoors at Adopt-a-Tree Site.  Gather class in a circle at the site and explain the schedule and expectations for the day’s visit.  5 minutes. Teacher narrative:  "Today the mountain [or schoolyard, forest, meadow] is your classroom and I expect you to make good choices." Main Activity: Time:  60 minutes Step 2.  Demonstrate how to make a watercolor painting of a tree, showing and discussing each step, using a tree close by that everyone can see as a model.  20 minutes. Teacher tells children to work on painting what they SEE, not what they THINK trees look like.  Example:  “People think tree trunks are brown and paint them with brown paint.  Look around and tell me what colors you see in trunks?”  Children respond:  “Gray, black, greenish, white striped.” Teacher then models sequence of 1) pencil, 2) pen and 3) watercolor, demonstrating each

tree study

Adopt-a-Tree, First Visit

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children revisit the same tree several times over the course of the year in order to observe seasonal changes, deepen their understanding of the tree and its habitat and build a relationship with the tree.  This is the first lesson in a year-long sequence. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  3 to 5 Developed by Erica Morse and Emma Hallowell, Marlboro Elementary School, Marlboro, VT, and used in Grades 3 and 4 Community Partner:  Hogback Mountain Conservation Association Learning Objective(s): Students will use skills of map making, observing, illustrating and journal writing to locate and describe their tree for future reference. Students will spend time getting to know the tree and its context. Students will develop follow-up questions about their tree to pursue through research and subsequent visits. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  15 minutes Step 1. Pre-trip discussion.  5 minutes.  Before visiting the site, explain to the class that they will be going to the same place several times over the course of the year and each child will “adopt” one tree to learn about in depth. Step 2. Group meeting at the site.  10 minutes. Gather children in a circle and give directions for choosing a tree and recording work in a journal. Teacher’s directions for choosing a tree: Tree has to be clearly visible from top to bottom (not too blocked by other trees, rocks, etc.). Tree has to be bigger around than the circle of your hands. Spread out along the path so you have some room between children. Main Activity: Time:  1 to 1 1/2 hours Step 3. Individual work at the site with trees.  50-75 minutes.  Students follow directions

museum mosaic

Water and Works of Art

Overview/Rationale for Lesson As an essential element to our existence on earth, water has served as a source of artistic inspiration for centuries.  This lesson offers students the opportunity to step outside the classroom and see water creatively through the lens of the artist. Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8 PRINT LESSON GR 3-5,   PRINT LESSONS GR 6-8 Developed by Hannah Griggs, Student Assistant for Museum Education, and Julie Zappia, Associate Educator for School and Family Programs, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, and used in Grades 3 to 8. Community Partner: Smith College Museum of Art Learning Objectives Students will reflect quietly and use their senses in a guided observation of water in an outdoor setting.  (This class visited Paradise Pond in Northampton.) Students will use Visual Thinking Strategies to observe carefully original works of art featuring water from different centuries and in varied media. Students will discuss similarities and differences in art works and present critical and personal responses. Students will respond creatively to their observations of water in the environment and in art by designing original collage images. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  20 minutes plus time to walk to and from the outdoor site Step 1.  Real Water Observations (20 minutes).  At Smith College’s Paradise Pond, sitting on the dock of the Boat House overlooking the water: Ask students to reflect quietly, and notice the environment by looking at the landscape, hearing the sounds of the environment, and smelling the air. Ask this series of questions aloud, threading together responses and generating a discussion: What do you notice about this environment? What do you see, up close and far away? What do you

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. 

CT River Holyoke

River Sounds, Dinosaur Footprints

Overview/Rationale Students prepare to write poems about a field trip to the river by practicing outdoor listening and performing choral readings of river poems from River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  3-5 Developed by Carol Berner & Lori Thayer, E.N. White School, Holyoke, MA,  and used in Grade 4 Community Partner:  Dinosaur Footprints Reservation, The Trustees of Reservations Learning Objectives Children will listen closely to sounds outdoors and record their findings on a Sound Map. Children will read and respond to poems about rivers, paying attention to poetic elements of  rhythm, repetition and sensory images. Children will plan and present dramatic readings of river poems. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity Time:  30 minutes Step 1. Introduce the activity of listening outside and model how to use aSound Map (downloadable from Materials Checklist).  15 minutes. Teacher’s narrative:  “You will be going to the river to catch a poem and you will need some tools to help you fish for poems:  tools for paying attention and tools for recording what you notice.  The tools you will use include looking, listening and imagining.” Model how to use theSound Mapping Handout. Prepare a large Sound Map on chart paper and demonstrate how to use it by telling a story about listening to outdoor sounds. Write a symbol (word or sketch) for each sound on the Sound Map as you tell the story.  For example: “Yesterday I was sitting in my back yard and I heard…” Indicate whether sounds are close by or far away, loud or soft, moving or stationary, etc. Optional:  Share an example of a poem you wrote from your Sound Map: “Lawnmower

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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