Did you see your students’ writing in the April edition of the Forest Park Press? We wrote short reports about the weather in late February, and these were published in the latest edition of the FPE Press. The students enjoyed seeing their names in print. You can find the April edition by going to the Forest Park homepage and clicking on Forest Park Press on the left side of the page.
We’re currently gearing up for a new science unit. The second graders study animals and habitats at this time each year. We learn general information about the differences between forests, deserts, and grasslands. We also learn some information about ponds and rivers, oceans, and arctic regions. We learn a little about the five different taxonomies of animals with backbones; amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles. We determine what characteristics of different animals equip them for life in specific habitats. For instance, only certain animals can survive in deserts. The students also learn a little about food chains.
Most of this type of science is learned through books and class discussions and isn’t hands-on. To increase the interest factor and add activities to the science curriculum, the school district provides us with the materials to create “mini-habitats” in our classroom. The students work in small groups to plant a small terrarium that includes soil, a plant, a rock or two, twigs, bark, etc. These terrariums become the habitats for earthworms and pillbugs. While the other animals we’re studying will be larger and have backbones, these are the animals we can successfully observe in our classrooms. The students learn that a habitat provides shelter, food, water, oxygen, and space for the animals living in it.
We integrate the subjects of writing and art into our science unit about animals and habitats. Each grade level gets funds from the Run for the Arts money the students raise each spring to use for some activity in art or music. This year the second grade classes are using our money to have an Artist in Residence come to our classes for five art sessions. The art teacher will work with the students on painting with line, shape, and colors during the first three sessions. The fourth and fifth sessions will be used to paint an animal. The students will be able to choose the animal they’ll be painting (within certain restrictions). The students will also learn to write basic reports and will choose an animal to write a report about. The report writing will all take place at school during Writer’s Workshop. I’m collecting library books about animals that the students will be using for these reports. We may ask individual parents to help their children find information about an animal on a website if we can’t find a book with the information we need.
We will culminate our unit on animals and habitats with two activities. On Tuesday, May 24th all of our second graders will visit The Portland Zoo. We’ll send more information on this in future. We won’t have to limit the number of parents who are able to chaperone, so all parents are welcome! However parents will have to drive themselves or carpool because our bus funds are limited. We won’t be able to have younger siblings on this trip due to safety issues.
At a date to be determined but probably within a week to ten days of the zoo trip, all of the second graders will go to Mill Pond Park on a walking field trip. All parents are invited and younger siblings are allowed on this trip. Parents often meet us at the park instead of walking up and down the hill with us, especially if they have preschoolers. The purpose of the trip is to evaluate the health of the pond and the stream, but we’ll also take our lunches with us and have both recess and lunch at the park. We will send out information about the zoo trip and the walk to Mill Pond Park at later dates.
I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine!