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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

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

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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