Patterns in Nature

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

Patterns in Nature Table of Contents

Patterns in Nature – Resourcesbooklet, bibliographies, etc. (password needed)

Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children

Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children

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

All Sorts of Insects – Background

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

All Sorts of Insects – Activities

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.

Introduction: Ask the children what insects they’ve noticed on the school grounds or in their backyards. How can you tell if something is an insect?

PUPPET SHOW “Toad Gets Bugged”

Objective: To learn basic insect anatomy and observe the variations that distinguish one insect from another. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Activities

All Sorts of Insects – Puppet Show

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 – Standards

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 – Background

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

Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Activities

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: Bring in a variety of leaves that are very different from each other – broad, narrow, lacy, leathery, needle-like, etc. Hold each one up and have the children point out some differences they notice.

PUPPET SHOW “Leaf it to Leaves”

Objective:  To learn about variety in leaves and their common function.

Perform the puppet show, or have a group of children perform it for the class. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Activities

Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Puppet Show

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 – Standards

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

Conifer Clues – Background

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

Conifer Clues – Activities

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.

Introduction: Hold up an evergreen bough and a conifer cone. What are some things the children notice about the leaves on an evergreen that are different from leaves on other plants? What might the cones be for?

PUPPET SHOW “A Very Pine Day”

Objective: To learn how to identify common conifer trees by leaf and cone characteristics. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Activities

Conifer Clues – Puppet Show

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 – Standards

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

Snowflakes – Background

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