Sunday, July 20, 2008

Crayons' Grade Two: Science and Nature

The title of the post is somewhat misleading, since most of what we're going to do this year is more "nature" than "science." It's what we have, it's what we can handle, and besides that we're pretty much loaded with social-studies stuff and other subjects. Anything else we do...say one of Daddy's blinking-light projects...will be a bonus.

Part A each week will be a chapter from Among the Forest People and Among the Night People, both online at The Baldwin Project. Crayons and I read Among the Pond People last year and wanted to continue; we really liked these stories. They're a combination of fable and nature study; they usually have some point to make about human nature, parenting, disobedience or patience, but they also have good factual material about crayfish and so on. They're easier to read than Mrs. Gatty's Parables from Nature, and I think they're more entertaining and more accessible for young children.
"I tell you what let's do," said another Nymph. "Let's all go together to the shallow water where he suns himself, and let's all stand close to each other, and then, when he comes along, let's stick out our lips at him!"

"Both lips?" asked the larvæ.

"Well, our lower lips anyway," answered the Nymph. "Our upper lips are so small they don't matter."

"We'll do it," exclaimed all the Dragon-Fly children, and they started together to walk on the pond-bottom to the shallow water. They thought it would scare the Snapping Turtle dreadfully.--"The Dragon-Fly Children and the Snapping Turtle," in Among the Pond People, by Clara Dillingham Pierson
Part B each week will be a variety of things, some hands-on and some not, some corresponding to the Part A readings, some not. One book we picked up (at the supermarket, for a dollar), is Nightprowlers, by Jerry Emory. Overall it's a bit "green" for my taste, but I like the approach of looking at what goes on outside at dusk, during the night, and at dawn--something that our kids don't often get to experience for themselves.

The other ongoing book is Through the Year, by George Willard Frasier, Helen Dolman, and Kathryne Van Noy. It's old (1937), it's dated, and the cowboy stories are hokey. It's written in school-reader style.
"This morning I saw a rabbit," said Nancy. "It made tracks. It was looking for something to eat."
"Will we see woodchuck tracks?" she asked.
"No," said Miss Adams. "The woodchuck does not go out in the snow. It does not look for food. It sleeps in its hole all winter."
Why use it, then?

It covers some of the interesting things a primary class might do throughout a school year--take a fall walk, watch cocoons and tadpoles, feed winter birds, hatch chicks; and gives us the option of trying those things as well. It gives us a book that Crayons can easily read for herself. It also ties into our seasonal theme for this school year. I wouldn't use it as our only book for the year, but combined with some newer books it makes a useful "spine."

Besides, I like Miss Adams' cool 1937 coat with the giant fur collar.

Other books? David Webster's Exploring Nature Around the Year: Winter. (Lots of hands-on experiments. I also like Cheryl Archer's Snow Watch, very similar.) We like the Linnea books and enjoyed reading her Windowsill Garden book awhile back--the girls always wanted to do more from that, so we'll get it out from the library or try to get a copy of our own.

And we have all the other resources of Natural Science Through the Seasons, the Handbook of Nature Study (with all Barb's challenges on the HNS blog), library books about the seasons and animals, other things from our own shelf--but the planned part this year has to be fairly minimal or I know we won't even get that much done. There are also the cross-curriculum connections with science, especially things that will come up in geography.

We are not nature nuts here, in spite of being squirrels. But even a little can be very enjoyable.

Related Posts:
Crayons' Grade Two: Social Studies
Crayons' Grade Two: Bible

1 comment:

Birdie said...

Thanks again for sharing all of your school plans and ideas. They really do help inspire me and jump-start my planning.