Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How the world works

I LOVE teaching science, but honestly, sometimes I feel bogged down with how to fit it all in. Especially In the way that flows best for my kids' learning needs and the direction of inquiry.
Before spring break we started our 5th unit of inquiry--how the world works. Our central idea is: Patterns are a natural occurrence.

After brainstorming some patterns we see in nature, we kind of landed on patterns in the sky for a while.

This led perfectly to our provocation--there is no more light! One morning, I kept all the lights off in the room and covered the windows with black paper. The kids were so confused when they came in. At one point we even closed the door so there was only a tiny bit of light coming from the window in the door. It was dark! But we could still see a little bit and one of the kids pointed out it was because there was still some light in the room. I asked them what they thought the world would be like if there was NO sun. I wrote down their remarks in the dark and transferred it to a chart when we turned the lights back on. They had a lot of great thoughts and it led us to some areas to continue to take our learning.

Later that morning when we started our read to self time (and because it suddenly felt so bright in the room!), one of the kids noticed that the sun was reflecting off of the cover of her book. One of the boys pointed out it was a reflection and it was a PERFECT connection to when we read The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons later that morning. The kids really understood how the Moon does not make it's own light but reflects the sun thanks to our earlier demonstration! :)

We proceeded to start tracking the moon phases to notice the patterns there, and we have done a lot more with the sun, moon, light, shadows, etc.

BUT we are not totally done. The kids kept talking about how we need the sun so plants will grow, and I wanted to start growing some stuff, so I shifted us on to plants a little more, just by the books I put out during read to self time etc. It was a little hard to make the shift, but today we finally immersed ourselves in the world of seeds and plants.

Today was one of the days where I felt like I was able to really integrate my science and reading block together. We did shared reading using a  text from Reading A to Z about how seeds grow. During workshop, the kids were reading plant books during read to someone and writing down words worth noticing. There was a group using some books to help make some predictions about what kind of seeds were in the bags, and the writing group was beginning to draw a picture of what the playground would be like with no light (they will start writing in the next day or two).

Then we used our writing block to start our plant journals. We made some predictions, wrote down some questions, made some initial observations about our seeds before "planting" them and making more predictions. You can grab a free copy of our journals {here}!

Because we are in that tricky time of year when attention spans wane, and active levels go WAY up, it makes the need for hands on, engaging lessons so much more important! I want to work really hard these next several weeks to better integrate my ELA standards into our inquiry unit so that the kids are applying their reading and writing skills in more authentic situations.
Next week is going to center around the parts of a plant, so hopefully the kids will learn a lot through the integration and have a fun time learning in the process! :)

Don't forget to get your plant journal freebie!

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