Inspired by two favorite stuffed animals, a turtle and an alligator, children have become interested in learning more about water habitats. We have begun by starting a study of the pond near our school. In just two initial visits, children have already made all kinds of fascinating observations about the natural world nearby.
One of the most readily observable features of our pond during this chilly end-of-winter time is the plants.
“I see grass! Oh wait...it’s the stems of cattails.”
“There’s little black things...they’re the tips of plants.”
“Look what I found! A gigantic leaf!”
“It’s clover! Look, a rainbow clover!” (describing clover leaves with reddish-brown edges and a yellow-tinged middle stripe)
They have also started thinking about animals, and wanting to know more.
“There’s a spider in the water. Oh, it went down.”
“Not spiders. Water skippers. They go on top of the water and they make ripples.”
“Where’s the frogs?”
“Are there frogs? Oh, no, they’re hibernating under the mud.”
“I found a feather! Maybe a vulture? Or a duck?”
They have made discoveries about the physical properties of water, and applied their prior knowledge to this new situation.
“Hey, it’s turning brown! Cause I’m mixing the dirt around.”
“Look, it makes a track.”
“When it rains, it will explode. Cause I see it’s high. The water. It’s gonna come out of the hole and go over the grass.”
“From here, it looks like the whole pond is covered with snow. It looks like a giant bottle of seltzer. Because it looks like white on it.” (observing the ripples on the pond on a very windy day)
Concepts of size and measurement
Children naturally observe and remark on mathematical relationships as they observe the world around them.
“It’s as tall as my papa!” (describing the tall phragmites stalks that children found)
“I can be five steps back from the water and still reach!”
"Who has the longest one?"
And snippets of poetry and creative stories have been inspired…
“I’m painting the clouds!” (waving a phragmites stalk in the air)
“What if the water exploded so much that we all had to swim, and we had to swim to our cars, and we had to swim to our school!”
“Little plants...they look like fairy plants...maybe fairies live in there…”
These types of experiences are important because they incorporate many types of learning while promoting an authentic connection to nature, which serves both children and the ecological environment. Children hone their observational skills, engage in scientific inquiry, and explore botany and zoology. Opportunities for measurement, collecting data, and gathering information to answer their own questions abound. Opportunities for creativity and poetry are intertwined, as children are inspired by what they see to capture the world with novel words, and to create their own drawings and artwork.
As we continue with our pond investigation, we will weave in opportunities for children to represent their thinking through drawing, writing, and we plan to eventually use found materials to create our own pond complete with plants and wildlife on a big piece of cardboard. We will integrate the languages of math, science, and art, as children learn about and share their knowledge of the world around them. We look forward to sharing our continued learning with you!