Children add defensive structures to an imaginary defenseless animal. Then, in classroom dramas, their defended animals encounter a Tyrannosaurus rex. In the second session, the children learn about the defenses of modern-day animals. Overhead projection of the dramatic encounters adds even more excitement and learning energy. This unit is an excellent way to introduce biological concepts of predator/prey and help young students understand the distinction between defensive structures and defensive behaviors.
These activities encourage appreciation for trees and animals that live in tree homes, stimulating children’s interest in the world around them and emphasizing the biological need for warmth and shelter. Children become familiar with a living tree, then build a child-size tree from cardboard boxes, paper, and cardboard tubes. The class role-plays a mother bear and cubs, raccoons, and a family of owls and their tree homes. Students make paper models of raccoons and owls. Sorting/classifying and measurement deepen mathematical learning.
Mother Opossum and Her Babies focuses on the intriguing behavior of the Virginia Opossum. Children role play opossums sniffing in the night. They measure themselves next to a life-size poster of a mother opossum, and compare their hands and feet to an opossum’s paws. Throughout, mathematics is centrally integrated with life science. Students learn about the opossum’s pouch and the development of baby opossums. Through dramas, children learn about the famous trick of “playing ’possum,” and are challenged to identify mystery foods by smell. After making their guesses, the class enjoys a snack of “opossum foods.”
In an artful interweaving of mathematics and literature, these activities jump off from one of the well-known “Frog and Toad” stories, “The Lost Button.” The story leads to free exploration of buttons, then sorting and classifying and a Guess the Sort game. Students design their own buttons and use a graphing grid to organize data. They also “guesstimate” the number of small plastic frogs in a jar and lima beans in a handful to develop the valuable life skill of estimating.
A Frog Pond board game helps students develop strategic-thinking skills. The Hop to the Pond Game focuses on probability and statistics. In the revised guide, all grade levels play the fair version of Hop to the Pond with six frogs. Then grades 1Ò3 play the unfair version with 12 frogs.
Eggs, Eggs Everywhere
This unit introduces children to the wonders of eggs and develops developmentally-appropriate concepts in biology and life science. Activities combine literature, role-playing, drama, and art with observation of eggs, as children learn about the diversity of animals that come from eggs. They use small plastic animals for sorting, classifying, and graphing activities. Students also explore the movement of plastic eggs and other objects on flat and inclined surfaces. These activities are noteworthy for interweaving literature, mathematics, and the physical sciences with life science.