Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nature Education

One of our local state parks offers homeschool days from time to time. Today we had an opportunity to participate in a program called Arachnid. Not my first choice of topics, but perfect for my boys.

RB Winter State Park has a nature center to die for! The place is packed with books, puzzles, nature related toys, animal exhibits and a wealth of educational opportunities. They even have a nice propane fireplace with rocking chairs beside a giant picture window overlooking their collection of bird feeders. On top of all of that, the park naturalist is an enthusiastic teacher.

The day started with some instruction about various
arachnids found in our area. We discussed the taxonomy, life cycles and anatomy of many different critters. Then we all went outside to find some live specimens to observe. Each child was given a bug magnifier and sent into the woods. After everyone had found something, we stood in a circle and passed our boxes around to get a close look at a variety of small animals.

Later the kids split into groups of two and worked to come up with a presentation about an arachnid. Each pair made a poster and shared what they had learned with the whole group.

Today was the perfect wrap-up for our two month entomology unit. Starting next week, we move on to marine biology. I hope all of our science units turn out as well as this one has. Here's a brief breakdown of what we covered in this unit.

JT read through The Practical Entomologist
EM and JT used the DK Eyewitness Insect Workbook for daily activities.

We covered classification of living things, food webs, habitat, life cycles, anatomy, contributions insects make to our world, harmful insects, ecology, and careers in entomology. We watched videos and read MANY books. We also learned how to collect and display our own specimens. We went to a marsh, the woods, an insect fair and arachnid day for field trips. We also successfully raised three species of caterpillar and one species of moth from larva to adult. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to top this unit!

One thing you should notice here is that I keep saying we learned, we did this, we did that. I did not know everything I wanted the boys to learn before we started this unit. I was not an expert on the subject. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that I get to learn nearly as much new stuff as the boys. I have to get outside of my comfort zone. Today at the arachnid program, this arachnophobic woman held a magnifying collection box with icky eight-legged creatures inside. It was a learning experience.

I wonder what I'll be learning next.

No comments: