Thursday, August 8, 2013

 The Journey Is About To Begin... Into The Forest We Shall Go ...

The school year is finally drawing close and preparations are proceeding along. This year I will be teaching my students all their first grade curriculum through animals and habitats. (To read more about why and for an overview of the year please read the post previous to this one.) The first quarter we will begin our studies in the forest. The classroom will be divided into 4 sections. One area for forest wetlands, another for forest vegetation, another for forest animals, and the last for people of the forest. My first thought was to totally turn the classroom into a forest before the students arrived - you know sort of like a Disney World building. Then I got to thinking wouldn't it be better if we built the forest together over the first few weeks of school? Then this familiar quote “And the walls became the world all around.”  Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are got stuck in my head. So on the first day of school we will read this book together and begin creating our forested world together. I love all the trees teachers have made in their classrooms ~ so we will learn how trees grow from seeds. We will hold, examine, and compare tree seeds. Then we will plant/lay them where we'd like those trees to grow up the walls of the room. Well you know what will happen next. Acorns, pinecones, small stones, and anything else I can collect will be used as math manipulatives for counting, sorting, patterns, adding...rather than traditional plastic and foam pieces. We will learn about many animals that live in the forest. First, we will concentrate on the black bear. As we will be the bears this year. My Kindergarten teaching friend has named our hall Critterville and every class will pick an animal. I love it! Fiction and Nonfiction books about bears will rule the first days. Of course an author study of Karma Wilson will be in the plans. Love her bear books :)

I didn't have a picture of mama bear and cubs so this will have to do.

Oh the excitement of venturing down a new trail.

Our nonfiction study will be Fairytales that occur in the forest. I was very fortunate to have received a free copy of Happy Endings With A Wolf unit created by Angela Rubin. You can read all about it here. Let me tell you its great! It incorporates language arts, math and science! At Paula's Place here you can read all her great fairytale ideas. Love how she grew Jack's bean stalk and put the castle on top. Be sure to go take a look. She also has a great Fairytale unit. This morning I found a great Bear Hunt posted by Kelly of First Grade Fairytales. Head to the bottom of her post to find out how she made her bear hunt extra special for her students. Kelly thanks for sharing - I know my children are going to love their bear hunt!

The best news of all is my fantastic ESOL teacher made a contact with Wildlands Conservancy. Through a special grant they will be sending the most amazing naturalist to our classroom twice a month!! She will be bringing live animals, skulls, antlers, pelts, magnifying glasses, and all sorts of other amazing things to our classroom. Each time she visits she will read to and teach my children about an animal in the habitat we are currently studying! We will also be visiting the Conservancy. I just can't wait.

Moravian College has also agreed to partner with us and provide some college students to volunteer in the classroom.

I still have a few loose ends to tie up, but things are starting to look good :)

More to come when the journey actually begins the end of the month.

Now for some fun ~ 
This past weekend I ran the Color Me RAD 5K with my sister-in-law and niece. It is amazing and loads of fun. If you haven't tried one. Go for it!

Hint: If you do this run take a large fitted sheet place one short end over the head rest on your car seat, and the other down on the floor. This eliminates a mess in the car on the way home.

Now this is just plain cute - my granddaughter and her friend.
I can't take credit for this, the little guy's mom created it.

I leave with you with one of the last bloomers of summer. They are huge many as big or bigger than dinner plates. Enjoy the last bits of summer!
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