Looking for Similarities and Differences
Patterns exist everywhere in nature. Early on we learn to recognize them, and they help us make sense of the world. It starts simply – noticing that night follows day, plants have leaves, animals move, and winter snows change to spring rains.
This recognition of repeating events and reoccurring structures and shapes naturally leads to our organizing and grouping things together and inspires us to look more closely. We recognize that insects are animals with six legs, the seeds of evergreen trees are contained in cones, and birds build nests every spring. Careful observation of similarities and differences within groups helps us further classify both living and non-living things. Snowflakes are all six-sided crystals, yet they can be sorted into categories by growth pattern and specific design. Insects, like butterflies, beetles, and grasshoppers, can be separated into easily recognizable orders based on their shared traits. And, while all leaves share a similar function, they can be differentiated by shape and venation patterns. Continue reading Patterns in Nature
abdomen The body section behind the thorax; the back end of an insect or spider.
altricial Baby birds that are helpless and featherless when they hatch and depend upon their parents for food and warmth for several weeks.
amphibians A group of animals with moist skin including frogs, toads and salamanders, that live part of their lives in water breathing with gills, and part on land breathing with lungs. Continue reading Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children
The world is full of all sorts of insects. You can find them everywhere you go, whether swimming in a pond, weeding your garden, playing on the playground, or enjoying a picnic lunch. It is said that there are 200,000,000 insects for every person on earth. Scientists have identified more than a million different kinds of insects. And they think there are millions more species still waiting to be discovered.
Insects belong to a group called arthropods. Unlike you and me, with our bony internal skeletons, an arthropod’s body is covered with a tough outer shell, or exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is divided into segments that allow the critter to move. In fact, the word arthropod means “jointed legs.” Arthropods include not only insects, but also centipedes, crustaceans, and arachnids like spiders, ticks, and mites. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Background
FOCUS: Honeybees, grasshoppers, and butterflies are all insects, yet they look and behave very differently from each other. So what makes an insect an insect, and how is it different from other animals? Insects all share the same basic design of three body parts, six legs, wings, antennae, and compound eyes. Variations in the size and shape of these parts account for their great diversity. We’ll learn to recognize common groups of insects by their characteristic features and watch them outside as they go about their daily lives.
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about insects.
Give a variety of adult insects in small jars to children to examine in small groups, and ask what they notice and wonder about them.
Materials: a variety of live adult insects collected in small jars, magnifying lenses.
BUILD AN INSECT
Objective: To construct and compare felt insect models and identify common features and differences in insect anatomy.
Ahead of time, create bags of insect parts using the five Build an Insect templates and a variety of craft materials. In every bag use the same material to represent Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Activities
Toad Gets Bugged
Characters: Teddy Toad, Shirley Spider, Davy Dragonfly, Bombardier Beetle, Giant Water Bug.
Teddy Toad I’ve worked up quite an appetite in the garden today and a nice insect would taste great. (tapping sound) Is that the pitter patter of little buggy feet I hear? Who’s that walking down my garden path?
Shirley Spider It’s me, Shirley Spider. Let me pass!
Toad Afraid not! I’m ready for an insect snack and a crunchy bug like you would be perfect. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Puppet Show
ALL SORTS OF INSECTS ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Standards
LEAVES: NATURE’S SUNCATCHERS
Leaves are all around us. They are a welcome sign of spring, brightening the landscape with fresh green. They give us shade in summer and color fields and hillsides emerald. Every fall they dazzle us with their fiery display of color. Leaves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, yet a close-up look reveals patterns that help us identify them. Despite differences in form, all leaves perform the same vital function – capturing sunlight and turning it into food for the plant. Continue reading Leaves – Background
FOCUS: Leaves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are all designed to make food for the plant, using sunlight, water, air, and their green pigment, chlorophyll. With close observation, leaf features such as shape and venation can provide important clues to the identity of plants.
INTRODUCTION: LEAF GRAB BAG
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about leaves.
WARNING: Before collecting leaves, be sure to check your school grounds for any poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, wild parsnip, and chervil.
Have children work in small groups with a leader to look for different types of leaves. Provide paper lunch bags to collect samples. Ask them to collect leaves from different types of plants, such as grasses, weeds, trees, shrubs, even garden plants. Have each small group sort their leaves into two piles and see if the other groups can guess which feature was used to sort them.
Have the children save their leaves for future activities.
Materials: paper lunch bags, Fact Sheet on Poison Ivy, Wild Parsnip, and Chervil.
LEAF LOOK SORT AND FIND
Objective: To identify physical features of leaves and associated vocabulary.
Have each child choose a leaf from their Leaf Grab Bags (see Introduction above). Using the Leaf Anatomy and A Variety of Leaves diagrams, have them note the various features on their leaf. Explain that you will now be asking them to split into two groups based on one particular leaf feature. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Activities
Leaf It to Leaves!
Characters: Woody Woodchuck, Freda Fern, Pine Needles, Gertie Grass, Chlorophyll, Maple Leaf
Props: carbon dioxide, water drop, sun, clover leaf, words to song.
Woody Woodchuck (singing while holding clover) I’m looking over a four-leaf clover that I overlooked before. Mmm – I certainly do love leaves. They make such wonderful meals for a woodchuck. And they come in all shapes and sizes. (Freda Fern enters, clover exits) Why, hello there, Freda Fern. I was just thinking about you.
Freda Fern You were? Why’s that? I’m all ears – well, actually I’m all leaves. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Puppet Show
LEAVES: NATURE’S SUNCATCHERS ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Standards
Follow a shaded trail through a northern forest on a warm summer’s day, and the warm rich scent of fragrant conifer needles fills the air. Though we tend to refer to all conifers as pine trees, a closer look reveals a wide variety of cone-bearing species in our woods. Plants are classified by how they grow and reproduce, the type of flower they make, how the seeds are formed, and the structure in which the seeds are contained. Conifer is the scientific term for trees with seeds in cones and, generally, needle-like leaves. Conifer trees are part of a larger group, called gymnosperms, which includes plants with seeds considered naked, not enclosed in a fruit. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Background
FOCUS: A closer look at the many variations in conifer cones and their leaves makes each species unique and recognizable and distinguishes the common evergreen trees in our neighborhoods and nearby woods.
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about conifers.
Give a variety of conifer boughs to small groups of children, and ask what similarities and differences they notice.
Materials: a variety of conifer boughs, magnifying lenses.
CONE HUNT AND SORT
Objective: To sort and identify cones by their patterns of similarities and differences.
Ahead of time, collect a wide assortment of cones, being sure to have some cones that match any conifer trees growing on or around the school grounds, for a total of at least 100 cones. Try to collect five different kinds of conifer cones. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Activities
A Very Pine Day
Characters: Reddy Red Squirrel, Hemlock Branch, Spruce Branch, Fir Branch, Pine Branch.
Reddy Red Squirrel Oh boy, it’s time for lunch! I just have to find a kine pone so I can eat some seeds.
Hemlock Don’t you mean find a pinecone?
Squirrel Of course! Find a pinecone. That’s what I said…I think. Anyway, now I’ve found one, right here on your branch.
Hemlock No, you haven’t. I’m not a pine, and this little cone isn’t a pinecone. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Puppet Show
CONIFER CLUES ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Standards
“When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.” W.A. Bentley, 1925
Snow is magical, renewing our sense of wonder, transforming a barren landscape into a winter wonderland, and drawing us outdoors. When we look closely at falling snow, we marvel at the beauty of snowflakes. Each snow crystal is a unique, ephemeral work of art – yet its symmetrical, harmoniously balanced design is not random but created through a combination of physics, math, and chemistry. Continue reading Snowflakes – Background