Fall is definitely in the air this week….what a wonderful opportunity for us to begin our new unit!
Both Wednesday and Friday’s class began discussing the change of season. We began Wednesday’s lesson with an experiment of sorts, using a flashlight and the globe. The flashlight represented the sun and the globe, of course, was the Earth. I pointed out the poles and the equator to the children and we then picked parts of our bodies that represented those same placed on the Earth; our head was the North Pole, toes the South Pole and our bellies were the equator. We played a quick game of SIMON SAYS to help them remember those points on our bodies (“Simon says touch the North Pole”) and then moved onto using our tools.
I placed a small piece of tape on Colorado so that the children would be able to visualize where we lived in relation to the equator and the poles. I then demonstrated to the children how the Earth moved on it’s axis for a complete rotation each day, as the sun (the flashlight) was stationary. We observed how the light spread across Colorado throughout the day and then shone on the back half of the Earth during our night. I then demonstrated to the children how the Earth moves around the sun over the course of the year. To really help them understand, each child took a turn holding the flashlight still/being the sun, as I circled around them stating “It’s your 4th birthday, now you are 5, now 6…..adding a year each time I circled them while holding the globe.
This was a great visual that helped the children SEE how the position of the Earth in relation to the sun created our different seasons. They saw how summer brought us closer to the sun and had a great deal of sunlight while fall and winter were had shorter/less day light hours and cooler temperatures. From there we learned how the sun and it’s relationship to weather/precipitation provided nourishment for plants.
We learned that plants required a great deal of sunlight (food), enough water (rain vs. snow) and good soil. Again, to help them visualize, we played a TREE game. I planted each child’s feet (roots) onto a plate and reminded them that their roots would hold them in place and help them to gather nutrients from the ground. I then sprinkled blue, black and orange piece of paper around the children on the ground. I modeled for them how they would bend their trunks and branches, reaching for their nutrients, keeping their roots in place. As I counted aloud to 15, the children were shown how to pick up a proper balance of water, soil and sunlight to become strong trees. Too much or not enough of the “food” would not allow them to grow, or perhaps they would be a seed or a cactus. We moved our bodies back and forth, like the trees blowing in the wind and learned through hands-on experiences.
Of course, we counted leaves, picked them up with tongs, created leaf paintings and sun catchers, made leaf rubbings and even “beat” leaves between sheets of paper to observe the by product of color that leaves created based on the amount of PHOTOSYNTHESIS that each leaf conducted.
Next week we will begin harvesting fruits and vegetables as we continue on exploring Fall.