Welcome to my Blog!

Greetings and welcome to my page. My name is Rebbecca, I am a mom of two and a preschool teacher in southwestern Virginia. I have had the blessing of working in a Reggio Emilia inspired center for nearly 10 years, with the Greenies (my students) for 7 of the last 10 years. Our emergent curriculum and play based learning approach has changed the way I think about working with children. I am looking forward to sharing my inspirations, reflections and stories with you. So glad you're here!

“If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” Shel Silverstein

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Wild! Summer...

I love inspiring children through nature. Earlier this year I attended a training for the program "Growing Up WILD." It is a wonderful program aimed toward early childhood educators. You might recognize its older brother Project Wild. The group of Greenies I was working with this past year exhibited a strong sense of being nature-smart. From digging worms to bird watching- I knew I had a perfect group to take the training I had received and run with it. I decided to take lessons from the materials and some of my own ideas and created what I called the Mini-Naturalists Summer Course.

We had about 9 weeks this summer and each week we focused on a different theme from the book. Here are some highlights from the summer.

 We began the week by getting an idea of where our understanding of the topic is in relation to what we want to learn as a group.

Amazing Ants Week. We place some tasty bits on a napkin near an ant colony and wait...

and wait, and wait. This Greenie kept vigil while all other decided to go play. A few ants came close but we never saw the gathering and returning to the colony in action.
Wiggling Worms week. We used realistic worm lures to paint with. We used three shades of brown that one Greenie explained must represent dirt, sand, and mud.
Later in the week we get up close and personal with real worms. We observe them, touch them, and try to decided which end is which. We come to the consensus that the end trying to get away from us must be the head.
What is Wild? Week. After some discussion we learn that wild means anything that must take care of itself while tame means it needs someone to take care of them. We take turns sorting out animal cards into Wild or Tame.
The finished data collection. But what if an animal was wild then it became tame? That needed a category of its own: Domesticated. We used beanie babies to show how that worked. We were surprised at how many animals could be both wild and tame.
Wildlife is Everywhere week. I decided to tweak this lesson a bit and focus on kinds of habitats and conservation. We created a desert in the media table. Notice the lizard living in the bone :) These are authentic bones and antler pieces.
The Greenies decorated "observation tubes" which were strung around necks as we went on a nature walk. It was quite a challenge to do so quietly but the rewards were worth it! Here we find a cricket to watch.
Fishing Fun Week. We used pretzels as rods and sun butter as bait for our goldfish. Fun with food, you can't go wrong!

We went for a walk around a local pond and talked about how fish might hide from predators like these hungry geese. We noticed a dock, cattails, rocks, and other foliage.

We made sure to take time and make notes in our field journals- 1 subject notebooks cut in half.

Hiding in Plain Sight Week. In order to study camouflage we visited the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech.

We saw many neat specimens under glass and impressed the students with our "Head, Thorax, Abdomen" song. The Greenie noted that many of the moths were the same color as the environment- and a few had big spots like eyes, sure to scare away any predators.

We get a turn to hold a living specimen- a giant cockroach! Cool!

Back in the classroom, one Greenie has hidden a few lizards- and herself- in a plant. can you find the Greenie?

Taken from the book, I hide 7 animals in our garden and challenge the Greenies to find as many as they can without giving away the locations. Most only found 4.

This guy was particularly sneaky! Nice use of light and shadow.

Our last week was Seed Need. We talked about where seeds come from, how they grow, and dispersal. Out last activity was to use a variety of seeds to make art. We bough pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soy nuts, and a variety of raisins. The Greenies decorated tortillas covered in soy butter then ate their tasty art.

I was most happy that the Greenie maintained their interests in the topics. We had a great time learning more about our local environment and hopefully lessons to last a lifetime.

Here is a direct link to the program:


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