The 3rd and 4th grade GT students started our Nature Center (Habitat & Garden) several years ago. We called it ‘Project Green’. I has changed a lot since our first design. We are in the middle of a building / revitalizaion campaign after construction went through our classroom. Our goal is to transform it into a safe, fully functioning outdoor leaning space for students; providing a safe habitat for Monarch Butterflies, frogs, turtles and the birds.
(Photo galleries of our outdoor classroom will be posted as soon as possible. We have a lot of exciting pictures to share.)
Curriculum Materials that are available for use: Arkansas Game & Fish AGFC—(Project WILD/WET, Aquatic WILD , Project Webfoot, Flying Wild), Arkansas Forestry materials, Project Learning Tree (PLT), Blanchard Springs Caverns, Burpee, and Farm Bureau. Other teachers are implementing their own curriculum.
Participating Classes 2017-18 School Year—
Kindergarten teacher-Mrs. Middleton and 15 students will be using the outdoor agricultural area for planting a pumpkin garden. During science, children will go on a journey of self-discovery as they make observations, conduct experiments and participate in investigations using the teacher’s pumpkin and weather units.
• See patterns using their drawing journal of trees during the different seasons.
• Life Cycles of pumpkins (Fall-Winter-Spring Observations)
• Answer critical questions about the ‘Pumpkin’ as they see the seed-to-seed process, (i.e., What will happen to the seeds that are left behind? Rot? Food source? Make another pumpkin?
• Observation of cross-pollination between bird house gourds and pumpkin (gourd).
• Ability to measure with non-standard measurements
• Understanding of how animals change or use their environments for survival (nests, etc.)
• Come up with a scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation. She intends to enter one of their experiments in the Science Fair.
[A Farm Bureau grant supplied the bed for this component. Due to termites and rot it is barely holding together. I am looking for ways to replace it before the spring growing season.]
K-12 Gifted & Talented teacher-Mrs. Snow will be using the Nature Center to grow flowers so students can study pollinators and pollination. It will be beneficial for our pumpkins and bird house gourds. Guided by the story Mariana Becomes A Butterfly. Students will—
• Be introduced to the field of agricultural engineering
• Recognize that insects are a part of the natural world.
• Understand that insects and be helpful or harmful.
• Identify the parts of a natural system—the pollination system
• Understand that plants that attract pollinators —considering shape, color, type, and location.
• Observe Life Cycles of Flowers
• Ability to design and install their own garden for observations, providing a potential food source for our butterflies and birds.
Third grade teacher-Mrs. Mathis teaches Science/Social Studies and sees 58 kids per day. She has indicated she would like to use the outdoor agricultural area to do the following:
1st gr. Enrichment guided by Mrs. Smith (me) will be using the bird habitat this year. [I will have 3-1st gr. classes will rotate into my room every 3 weeks throughout the school year; total students-70; class is 30 minutes/day; 5 days a week.] Students will become citizen-scientists as they participate in the Bird Feeder Watch Program. After completing selected activities from the Flying Wild/Project Wild Curriculum, students should be able to:
• Describe that birds are living things because they need food, water, shelter, and air to grow and reproduce.
• Compare the life cycle of a bird to that of another animal.
• Name some characteristics of what makes a bird a bird. Design and build a model of a bird nest.
• List some of the different places where birds make nests and why.
• Compare and contrast the various materials that birds use for their nests.
• Name habitats of birds in their neighborhood.
• Name foods found in those habitats.
• Explain an adaptation that helps a bird survive.
• Discuss the basic concept of migration and why it is necessary for some birds.
• Explain the role feathers play in a bird’s survival.
• Understand the design of a bird’s beak.
• Discuss adaptations of beaks for survival.
• Learn how to be good stewards as we take care of bird feeders throughout the school year.
• See patterns
3rd – 4th gr. Gifted Education Pullout classes with Mrs. Smith (me) will be planning and creating our bird habitat. I usually have around 16 students.
• BirdSleuth Habit Connections—outcomes from within this curriculum. [I’ve written a grant and this curriculum comes with it. If we are awarded it, our students will use it to guide them as they plan our bird habitat and complete the activities inside.]
• Be problem solvers as they work to provide a habitat for the birds and look for ways to improve our Nature Center, i.e., summer-time irrigation system, site analys of water feature and problem solve ways to fix it, etc.
• Apply / develop math skills (accurate & non-standard measurements, understanding of scale & proportion, area & perimeter) and mapping ability
• Show initiative and self-direction
• Demonstration of leadership & responsibility
• Communication & collaboration
• Flexibility as they work in various roles in the Nature Center
• As citizen-scientists, they will organize data collected from our Bird Feeder Watch activities and look for patterns from the data collected; deliver grade level data to each teacher so they are given the opportunity to use it as well.
• Demonstrating research skills, as they provide a list of native plants for the Nature Center to attract different bird species.
• Demonstrate ability to use technology such as binoculars, Super Gourd pole; be able to teach someone else.
3rd – 4th gr. Art classes with Mrs. Smith (me) will be using the garden area to complete a variety of tasks:
• Children will explore different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Birds motivate artists with their beauty and extraordinary flight. Students will use their knowledge of the birds they see as inspiration for drawings and watercolor paintings.
• Identify connections between the visual arts and nature and other disciplines.
• Create a composition that has value/color usage (still-life painting with gourds as the subject).
•They will turn their gourds into birdhouses and learn about ways to help ‘garden for birds’ at home. They should be able to discuss environmental changes that affect a place’s physical characteristics, temperature, or availability of resources, some organisms survive and reproduce, others move to new locations, yet others move into the transformed environment, and some die.
•Understand that the gourd has many purposes and was used in various ways in different cultures, i.e., food, utensils, musical instruments, non-functional and functional art, and homes for birds. Share personal stories.
•Student Presentation. All finished work will be displayed on November 13th, during the Music Program / Art Showcase night; promoting a positive parent connection to the Nature Center.