Posted by: jwhiff | October 21, 2011

Habitat in the Classroom

After a couple of weeks, some my students are just as interested in our aquarium habitat as the day we first filled it with dirt and leaves.

The trick is to put it on a table along with a selection of tweezers, magnifying glasses, paper towels, empty buckets and a spray bottle filled with fresh water.  Even with nothing visible crawling around, you’ll end up with a crew that digs around, takes out samples, rearranges everything and gives it all a good spray to keep it moist.

Our inhabitants are currently a selection of woodlice, a big beetle (whom we haven’t seen for a while…not sure if it is even in there anymore!), an ant and an earwig.  We found all of these critters while checking out the underside of rocks just outside our classroom.  We keep adding to it all of the time.  It is so simple, low-maintenance and gives us a good excuse to get outside and do a little micro-exploring.

By the way, I finally feel like I am (almost) past the complete focus on behaviour to the exclusion of all else in the classroom!  Woohoo!  We even tried our first big field trip (out to a dairy farm and pumpkin patch) and everyone stayed safe, listened for my voice, and had a great time.  The key is having lots of stuff to do and to touch.  Oh ya…and to spend over a month training them to respond to me.  Whew!

I would like to start some nature walks now, but they can’t involve maintaining everyone’s attention while speaking to them about interesting things.  They simply need some time to squish around in an engaging environment and touch stuff.  The talking needs to happen beside them as they explore or in answer to their questions as they discover.  I’m sure this is not huge news to many of you, but it is important to consider up front.  I think it would be really neat to invite some grade 5’s to come along with us.  The grade 5’s would be thrilled AND it would give them a reason to maintain the nature connection that I tried so hard to start last year.  I can’t quite give them up!


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