Discovering Nature in our Neighborhood: An Investigation of Natural Communities around Our School
In this unit, students will examine the natural surroundings through the seasons, around our school and identify micro-communities of plants, insects, and other animals through walks and nature journaling. Their work will be integrated with Nonfiction Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies Curriculum. Students will each contribute to the writing/illustration of a Nonfiction Narrative Class Book using their observations and research findings about specific organisms' interrelationships.. Through interviews, students will also gather oral history from their families or other resources through interviews to explore their ancestors' experiences of connection with the land and present this information to a larger school community through a project of their choice.
Vocabulary words include: community, diversity, habitat, features, interact, adapt.
- Structures of different animals/plants serve different functions in the growth, survival and reproduction.
- Plants and animals interact with one another in various ways besides providing food.
- Changes in a habitat can be harmful or beneficial to plants and animals.
Context for Use
Equipment: a personal science journal, Magnifying glasses, clear tape to preserve samples (i.e. dried leaves or blossoms) on journal pages, class digital camera to capture pictures of the organisms found. Animal/Insect/ Plant/ Tree Field guides would be helpful.
Three valuable reading resources include:
- Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs and Other Ughs by Anthony D. Federick. Dawn Publications, 2001 (Read Aloud to introduce Unit prior to nature journaling)
- Nature in the Neighborhood (Mentor Text for the Class Book) ISBN 0-618-35215-5
- Tales with Tails: Storytelling the Wonders of the Natural World by Kevin Strauss ISBN 1-59158-269-5 (This book gives examples of Nature connection stories from various cultures).
Skills or concepts that should already be mastered: have prior knowledge with vocabulary connected with animal and plant life cycles, needs, and basic parts, a base understanding of what a community is, be able to measure using a ruler, work with a partner or independently drawing and writing sentences at a second grade level.
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science
Description and Teaching Materials
The second project requires students to direct their focus to our relationship with nature as humans from multicultural perspectives and discover stories of their family members/ancestors or culture's relationship with nature. How have we as humans worked/interacted with, benefit from and steward the nature we depend upon? After researching this oral history through family or other resources (storytellers from other cultures) students will present their learnings in a form of their choice (publish their story, drama, etc.)
Teaching Notes and Tips
How this activity is different from what our class has done in the past: In the past our class has not participated in journaling outdoors. We have experienced identifying aquatic insects using magnifying glasses and reference sheets but not journaled about them. Studetns have done a unit on writing a nonfiction book about an animal through research and reading but not through direct inquiry. Students have also interviewed parents to find out more about members personally, but have not inquired about experiences directly related to nature. We also worked on a plant unit using compare and contrast strategies and journaling indoors.
also Reading & Lit> 1.B.,C, and Writing 2A,D, and Speaking, Listening, Viewing 3A,B and Social Studies A.