Tremendous Trees – Activities

FOCUS: Wood, leaves, bark, roots, flowers, and fruits: disassembled, these various parts don’t begin to convey the majesty of a mighty tree in full summer foliage. However, each part of the tree serves an important function that contributes to its survival. Roots reach into the soil for water and nutrients, wood provides strength for the trunk, branches hold the crown of leaves up to the sunlight. Like other living organisms, trees grow, reproduce, and die, but they are more to us than just tall woody plants: they are neighbors that grow and change with us through the years.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about trees.

Hold up a small cardboard box and tell the students that you’ve discovered a beautiful object that can turn sunlight into sugar, pump gallons of water a day, purify air, move and split rocks, change color with the season, and provide shelter and food to all sorts of animals. What do they think it is? Open the box and present the small sapling hidden inside.

Materials: cardboard box, small sapling.
Continue reading Tremendous Trees – Activities

Tremendous Trees – Puppet Show

Tree-mendous Trees

Characters: Maple Tree, Charlie Chipmunk, Sarah Sapsucker, Sammy Squirrel, Tiny Fir Tree

Maple Tree  (tapping noise) Who’s that nibbling on my toes?

Chipmunk  That was me, Maple Tree, chewing on these little roots down here.

Tree  Listen, Charlie Chipmunk, I need those roots. Look how big my trunk is, and all these branches. I couldn’t stand up without strong roots to anchor me.

Chipmunk  I’ll say they’re strong. They get into cracks in the rock, and start to grow thicker. Pretty soon the rock splits in two! Continue reading Tremendous Trees – Puppet Show

Tremendous Trees – Standards

TREMENDOUS TREES 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 Tremendous Trees – Standards

Grasses and Grains – Background

Compared with lacy ferns, showy flowers, and towering trees, the grasses seem hardly worth noticing. Yet these modest plants flourish in harsh conditions, cover much of the land masses of the world, support huge populations of grazing animals, and produce prodigious amounts of seeds – the grains that feed our livestock and us. Grasses have fascinating and unique adaptations that make them extremely resilient and set them apart from other kinds of plants.

Grasses grow just about anywhere – in fields, wetlands, saltmarshes, mountaintops, deserts, and even in shady forests. There are ten thousand species worldwide, and – in prairies, savannahs, pampas, and steppes – they cover a quarter of the earth’s land. Grasses dominate in conditions that are challenging for most other plants. They thrive in open plains that are dry and windy, lacking in shade, exposed to rain and snow, blizzards, and tornados. They are also built to survive fire and grazing by hordes of animals, from swarms of insects to herds of elephants. Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Background

Grasses and Grains – Activities

FOCUS: Grasses are hardy plants that grow over much of the earth, flourishing in harsh conditions. They are able to withstand high winds, hold onto slippery slopes, and grow back after being mowed, burned or grazed. Grasses have fascinating and unique adaptations that make them extremely resilient and set them apart from other kinds of plants.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about grasses and grains.

Give each child a grass stem with flower/seed head, and ask what children notice and wonder about their plant.

Materials: grass stems, one per child; magnifying lenses.

GRASSES UP CLOSE
Objective: To make observations about the structure of grasses and consider how these function for the plant.

Working in small groups, give each team a complete grass plant with roots, stems, leaves, and flower head. Ask each group to share one observation about their grass plant. Other groups compare to see if their grass plant has the same or similar feature(s). Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Activities

Grasses and Grains – Puppet Show

Stalking the Wild Grasses

Characters: Benjy Bear, Foxtail Grass, Crab Grass, Panic Grass

Props: hunt card; 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of flour on stiff piece of paper.

Benjy Bear  (holding up hunt card) Oh boy, I love these nature scavenger hunts, but sometimes they can be quite challenging! Hmm. It says, “Find a grass plant.” (Foxtail Grass appears) Oh, hello, are you a grass plant?

Foxtail Grass  You bet.

Bear  That was easy. Now let’s see. It says, “Look at the stem and find the nose.” The nose?! I don’t see any nose! Wait a minute, that’s silly! Plants don’t have noses! Even I know that! Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Puppet Show

Grasses and Grains – Standards

GRASSES AND GRAINS 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 Grasses and Grains – Standards

Predators and Prey – Background

What makes the fox clever and the deer swift, and why do both have a keen sense of smell?  Predators and prey face different challenges in getting their food. Predators must find their prey, chase and catch it, subdue it if it fights back, all before they eat it. Prey animals must forage for food cautiously, always on the lookout for predators. The anatomy and the behavior of predator and prey animals reflect each species’ needs and way of life.

Both predators and prey need keen senses, but the position of eyes and ears, the functioning of noses and sense of smell, can be very different. Continue reading Predators and Prey – Background

Predators and Prey – Activities

FOCUS: Both predators and prey need to eat, but they face different challenges in getting their food. Predators must find their prey, chase and catch it, subdue it if it fights back, and eat it. Prey animals must forage for food cautiously, always on the lookout for predators. The physical and behavioral characteristics of predators and prey reflect their needs and ways of life.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about predators and prey.

Ask children to take a moment to imagine being either a stalking cat or a squirrel alert to danger. Then ask them to share what they were thinking as they were imagining life as their character.

LOOK OUT! SCENARIOS
Objective: To model some behavioral adaptations that help predators and prey survive.

Have children work in small groups and give each a Look Out! Scenario card. They will rehearse and act out vignettes about animal life in the wild. Continue reading Predators and Prey – Activities