Prior to the nature walk, I will ask the students what do you think we will find on the nature walk? I will have students turn and talk to their shoulder partner to tell what they think we will find on the nature walk. I will then ask two or three students to share with the group.
In addition to our group work to prepare for the nature walk, some students researched nature by using the big book, Nature Spy.
The class will watch Seasame Street Nature Walk using this video. I will ask the students to think about the video and what they saw. I expect them to apply their new found knowledge to their own nature walk. Asking questions, observing objects, and thinking about what they see. I will not infer with the way they use their new knowledge or attempt to influence their thinking. I want my students to become scholars who know how to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of the world around them and how to construct meaning for themselves from the experiences I provide. Finally, I want my students to retain and integrate this new knowledge into their prior learning and then transfer it to life beyond the classroom.
I will reiterate the safety expectations and the appropriate use of the science tools including the magnifying glasses. We will briefly discuss making drawings in our science notebooks. And finally, we will talk about respecting nature and being quiet to keep the animals from being alarmed.
The students will walk, observe, and record their findings. We will take pictures if birds are sighted and if necessary we will use our contingency plan to collect found objects.
Nature Walk Guidelines and Safety Expectations
1. Student stay in full view of the teacher at all times.
2. Student always observe without tasting or putting anything in their mouths.
3. Students walk with and share science ideas with their partners during the nature walk.
4. Students take care of the animal habitats by not removing objects from them.
Students will tell about their findings and observations on the nature walk which is the NGSS practice Analyzing and Interpreting Data. This is a foundational practice that kindergarteners will become very skilled at throughout their academic careers. What the students say will reveal their understanding of the science process skills.
It is my opportunity to clarify what we saw on the nature walk. Clarification is necessary because young scientists expand their thinking when their misunderstandings have been cleared up. We can also use the guide book to identify any birds from the pictures taken. I suggest using National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America. Your state's conservation center can be a major resource for additional information about birds in your region. (Missouri nature walkers can use the Missouri Conservation website.)
We can also discuss how our discoveries can be applied to other scientific areas. This discussion will be solely based on our findings to be authentic.
In an attempt to deepen the students understanding of science and prompt them into asking deeper questions, I will ask several "why" questions. For example, "why do you think we found a used cigarette in the grass" or "why is our park so clean?"
The aspects of a nature walk do not warrant a formal evaluation in my opinion. However, I do believe that students must be held accountable for participating in the activity and held accountable for making a valuable contribution to the discussion. Therefore, I enforce our classroom expectation that everyone participates. My class celebrates and encourages each other that we seldom have anyone who is reluctant to speak because they enjoy the "specific praise" about their presentation.
At this stage of our investigation, I will encourage the kindergarten students to explore the outside world in their own backyards. I will also encourage them to use what they learned on the nature walk to learn about new things. This lesson can be extended as students share other things that they would like to explore as a result of going on the nature walk. Based on the birds that were encountered during the nature walk, we could make bird feeders using pine cones. This will definitely be a scheduled activity if pine cones are found on the nature walk. I encourage you to walk the path of the nature walk prior to the lesson to ensure what will be found when you take the walk with the children. However, the child in me wants to be surprised along with the students.