“The friendship we share grows amidst the craggy rock pond; reeds of water spray fireflies scented with bonfires.” ~ Bradley Chicho
With the weather warming up, and nature waking up, it seemed like an ideal time to learn about living creatures not yet explored in our classroom and so our focus became creatures in the pond. In November, we read Denise Fleming’s book Time to Sleep when learning about hibernation. Our inquiry into pond life began with reading another wonderful picture book by the same author called In the Small, Small Pond. The beautiful illustrations and rhyming text introduced the children in my class to a variety of creatures who live in and around the pond. We also sang Listen to the Water, bringing the names of those creatures into the song to reinforce what we had been learning. I find that selecting a picture book of quality and engaging the children in singing a song that is both beautiful and fun sets the stage for scaffolding learning in other areas, including science and nature, and language and literacy.
It is my good fortune where I work to have a colleague who is a reptile and amphibian enthusiast. Thanks to him the children were able to meet and ask questions about a Japanese toad and an Australian tree frog. He explained many things about the habitats and habits of these creatures, their role in the web of life, and how they must be treated by people so they can survive. We extended the children’s learning about the life cycle of the frog by looking at a video. They were encouraged to use what they had learned from a guest speaker, from the video and from non-fiction books like From Tadpole to Frog by Jan Kottke to create their own pictures of the frog’s life cycle, or of creatures in the pond. These pictures would either become part of a bulletin board display, or part of a book on the frog’s life cycle, written and illustrated by the children.
We concluded our inquiry with word work. The children could select from a number of activities which included: writing the names of creatures mentioned in the book In the Small, Small Pond on dry erase boards; spelling the names of those creatures using magnetic letters; trying to match rhyming words from the story; putting sequencing cards in order to tell the story of the frog’s life cycle. Although some of the activities were a bit challenging, they allowed the children to put different literacy skills to work, from letter recognition, to forming letters and assembling letters to create words, to noticing similarities between printed words and how they sound, to understanding a story sequence. The children learned a lot through this inquiry, and demonstrated an understanding and respect for nature that I have had the privilege of seeing grow throughout the school year. We ended our inquiry with Kermit the Frog singing the song On My Pond, a beautiful message about respecting the habitats of pond creatures, which I hope you will enjoy and share with others who love and appreciate nature as much as the children in my class!
“Pay attention to rainbows, and snowflakes, butterflies and the songs of birds, the crash of storm-driven waves and the mirror-surface of a quiet pond. Let the depths of nature become a part of your innermost being.”
~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie
This blog post is dedicated to Mr. K, protector of living creatures.