All bark and no bite!
Lesson 2 of 7
Objective: SWBAT understand that not all bark is the same, but it does serve the same purpose by comparing different types of barks.
I begin this lesson by having the kids gather on the carpet. While the kids were at lunch I placed a tub on each table that contains the following:
When my kids do not have lunch before science, I have them sit in teams of two and review sight words with each other while I quickly put the tubs on the table. They are all prepared the night before.
I call one table at a time to come to the carpet to sit like scientists. I do this to maintain focus and excellent behavior. Once the kids are on the carpet, I tell them that I am looking for the best scientist row. As soon as they hear that, they sit up straight and put their hands in their laps. I acknowledge the first row that is ready and then I acknowledge the rest of the rows one at a time because every student deserves to be recognized when they are doing what is expected of them. This is how they learn what is okay and what is not as many of my students come from environments that do not consistently provide that kind of feed back to them.
Now that all the kids are gathered on the carpet, I review the tree chart with them and then we create a tree word bank. I ask them to share what they have learned about trees since our last lesson. We create a tree word bank that I post in the room for the duration of our trees unit. I do this to support long term understanding of trees, access to vocabulary, and support when speaking to the class or with a partner.
We take a quick 2 minute field trip outside the classroom to look at trees. This primes their brains for what we will be doing. As they are making observations about the tree outside our classroom door, I guide them into focusing on the bark by asking, "What protects the tree?". We then return to our classroom.
We review the word bank and tree diagram once more and then explain what they will be doing in science today.
I provide them with the rules and expectations first:
Keep your hands in your lap until I tell you what to touch.
Touch the items on your table gently so they don’t break.
Table leaders will touch each item first and then pass it around in a circle at the table.
We will compare the items as we experience them.
I share this with them so they know what to expect throughout the exploration. This helps to promote appropriate behavior and participation because they know what is going to happen and what the expectations are.
I prepare the bags of bark the night before. I include three trees that are commonly found in our area. They do not have to be indigenous, only frequently seen. For my locality I choose to use:
palm tree "bark"
pine tree bark
bottle brush bark
I instruct the table leaders to pick up the bark that is the darkest. I have them feel it, but they are not allowed to say anything. They silently pass it to the next person. I have my kids pass clockwise. The next person silently touches and looks at the bark. They do this until each person at the table has had a chance to feel and look at the bark. I then ask the kids to discuss at each table how the bark feels and what it looks like. I roam the room and listen in on the conversations. I have them discuss for about one minute. Sometimes I set the timer so they use the minute wisely. I do this same procedure for each item in the tub.
Next I have the tables compare the different barks. I have them take out the barks labeled 1 and 2 first. I demonstrate what it looks like and sounds like to compare to items. I call on one or two kids to try it. This is a challenging concept for young children. Many of them come into kindergarten needing experience in describing a single object and now they are being asked to compare two. I support them in language and communicating observations by asking one or more of the following questions if they struggle with comparing two objects:
What color is …? What color is…? Are they the same or different?
How does ……feel? How does the other one feel? Do they feel the same?
How does …smell? How does the other one smell? Do they smell the same?
I always provide safety nets for learning because the goal is to gain knew knowledge, not to frustrate kids. Kinders sometimes need a lot of extra support especially when it comes to explaining their learning.
We do this procedure unit we’ve compared all the items.
Using our tree diagram from the previous lesson, I encourage them to connect prior learning to this new learning by asking them where they think bark is found on a tree. I choose a random volunteer to tell the class where they think bark is located on a tree. The kids in my room know that there is never a wrong answer, just misunderstandings so if a student responds with an incorrect answer, I help “steer” the student to the correct one.
For instance, the first student I called on said bark is found on branches. While that is correct, is is lacking the complete answer of, “the trunk and branches.” I ask the student how he knows that bark is located on the branches of a tree and he responded because it’s on the fat part and the fat part makes the branches. It is obvious that this student understands the concept of bark, branches, and trunk, but is not yet fully connecting to the vocabulary for this tree unit. I ask the student, “Do you know what that fat part is called?” He responds with “No.” I realize that there are probably other kids who may not know the name of that part of the tree. I ask for someone to volunteer to tell us what the name of that part of the tree is. I get a few hands up which tells me that many kids have not yet connected with the term trunk. I choose a student to share the name of that part of the tree with the class and then I ask the kids to turn to their talking partner and tell their partner what the fat part of the tree is called. We then act out growing from a seed to an adult tree as we did in the previous lesson. Once we are adult trees, we identify and name our trunks.
I have my kids return to the floor. I call them one table at a time to come and sit like scientists. This looks like kindergarten crisscross applesauce with hands in lap and mouths closed.
I ask the kids to describe how the different barks look and feel. I ask the kids to share what they think bark does for a tree. I choose volunteers to answer because the concept of what bark on a tree does could be a far reach for several children in my room. I record the responses on chart paper to keep our thoughts clear.
Once we have several ideas listed on the chart, I then ask the kids to think about the different types of bark we experienced. I ask them to think about why the barks might be different. I expand on the question by reminding them that some bark is smooth and some is rough. Some bark even has a smell and others do not. I give them 30 seconds to think on their own to consider these facts. I then ask the kids to share what their ideas with their talking partner. I do this so that the kids that may not have any idea at all, there are usually just a couple, can hear the ideas of another student to get their thoughts forming.
Once they have each taken a turn to share what they think bark does, I randomly choose three kids by pulling name sticks from a name stick can. I provide them a sentence stem if they need it to get their ideas started, "I think bark _______ because _________."
This supports my struggling learners and my ELL students in forming a way to communicate their thoughts clearly. It also helps to keep the kids on topic as kinders often veer off course in discussions.
This lesson culminates with the kids integrating what they have learned into the concepts already taught by having them cut and paste tree labels on diagram. This diagram includes labeling the bark of the tree on the trunk as well as the other parts of the tree learned in previous lessons.
I evaluate the learning in this way for two reasons:
1) The bark lesson is truly an extension of learning from prior lessons and I want the kids to be able to connect it to what they have already learned so this makes it like a "nice neat package of learning"
2) This evaluation keeps the perspective of the tree as a whole living object. The bark can be compared to human skin and the purpose it serves on the human body. I don't want the kids to think of bark as a completely separate object or learning target. The idea is to get them to understand that the bark is an important part of the whole tree and it is found on the trunk and branches.
I roam the room as the kids complete the diagram so I can clear up an confusion and catch it before they glue the labels in place. Most of my kids do well and need little to no assistance. There are three or four that need extra support so I have them sit at my guided reading table and I assist them by having them to one specific label at a time with my guidance. I roam in between the labels they are asked to cut and glue in place to help any other students that might need a quick intervention.
I collect the diagrams when they are completed and check them to make sure the labels are placed in the correct locations.
The extension for this lesson and a couple others takes place in the My Tree Memory Book lesson. That is when the kids get a chance to make a book of tree information by compiling, bark, leaves, seeds, and flowers when applicable. The book is broken into "chapters" on different types of trees. Access this extension lesson here.