Authentic Instructive Look at Local Habitat

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What Kind of Leaf?

Do your students know

 the names of plants,

 birds, and animals that 

live around them?




I found that my students would say that's a yellow leaf, not that the maple leaves have changed colors.  





They wouldn't know this was a duck because of its green head.

  

Mallard Ducks



Or they would see a crow and call it a black bird, or a cardinal would be that red bird in the tree.


Several years into my teaching I realized that my students might be able to read, but they couldn't identify local birds, leaves in the fall, flowers in the spring, and other parts of the local habitat.


Since I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I decided that I would introduce ways for my students to actually be able to identify local habitat.  


This identification was integrated into my curriculum throughout the year.  


If I was reading a picture book, I would point out some plant, like a cat tail in a pond.  We then would talk about where they would find it around our area.


On the playground, we would observe the crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, and other birds.   Even after a fire drill, we would look around to see what they could observe.



In October I had a  Leaf Project to be done with the family.   I would give them two week-ends to complete, plus the kinds of leaves to collect.  Often they would find the smelliest leaf, the smallest leaf, and use other attributes.  Then when they brought in their completed projects we would identify the various leaves.



Often, I would throw in an animal name in our spelling list of the week.  We would then find pictures and books about this animal to further their knowledge.



What was the result?

At the end of the leaf project, parents would tell me how much fun they had working with their child.  They also would tell me how they would find out the names of the leaves, along with their child.


My students while playing outside, would stop and say, be quiet, see the crow, robin, cardinal and other birds.


We learned about daffodils, iris, and tulips in the spring, and sunflowers in the fall.


Iris




  We would observe the seasons of the year through watching trees and bushes change colors, loose leaves, and then blossom in the spring.

Pine Trees in the Snow


Wherever you live, desert, beach, city, grassland,  then teach your students about your local habitat. 


 This might not be part of the core standards, but it will be a life skill they will always have. 



If interested in my leaf project for this fall, click the picture to check it out.  
Included are classroom sorting activities for various leaves, in case you live somewhere in which you have few leaves. 



Mickey




by Michele Strayer

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