This lesson is challenging for my students. Since we live in a desert, most of them have never seen a pond and some have never even heard of a pond. For this reason I front-load some information. I read In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming to the kids. It is a very simple, grade-level appropriate text that the kids can easily connect to.
As I read the book, I stop on each page so we can discuss the plants and animals we see on the pages. We talk about how each animal looks, what they are doing and where they live (the pond). I do this because the more we use the word "pond" and the more we discuss the types of animals that live there, the more likely the kids will remember what we discuss and what kind of animals live there.
I ask questions like:
Once we are finished with the discussion of the text, I ask the kids to quietly think to themselves about the different animals that we saw living in or around the pond. I have them turn to their floor partners and share the animals they remember from the text.
I call on volunteers to share what animals they listed. I record the animals on a sheet of chart paper to hang in the room for later use.
The exploration for this lesson is fun! The kids are provided a large piece of brown construction paper and a small piece of blue construction paper. They are also given a set of pictures of pond animals. Since most have never seen a pond and because life on a pond is so diverse, I don't include any animals that are not from a pond. Crayons, glue and scissors are in their table baskets.
The kids remain on the floor as I explain the job to them.
Their task is to work with a partner to create a pond to take home and talk to their parents about. They must include the following:
I quickly demonstrate one way the can accomplish this, but I do not use all the animals as I don't want to use up their work time. I just use a couple to give them an idea of what their ponds should look like.
I explain to them that even though they are helping each other create the ponds, they are all to have their very own and each one must be different.
I set the timer for 10 minutes and they get to work. Setting the timer prevents most of the kids from wasting time. They know that once it goes off, there is no more work time.
I roam the room as they work to assist and answer any questions that come up in their discussions.
Now that the pond habitats are done, I call the kids to the floor one table at a time with their pond models.
I have them share their work with their floor partner. Each partner gets 30 seconds to tell about where they put their animals and why. They also tell what plants they included in their pond.
Once the pairs have shared, I pull random names from the name stick can to share their work with the whole class. They come up one at a time to sit in the teacher chair to show and share their ponds just as they practiced with their partners.
Once 3 kids have shared, I explain the evaluation portion of this lesson to the kids.
The evaluation of this lesson is simple. The kids are given a sheet that has pictures of different types of plants and animals. The kids are to circle the plants and animals that belong to a pond.
I call the table leaders up one at a time to get the number of pages needed for their team. Once all the table leaders are seated and the pages are placed at each spot, I call one table at a time to sit down and go to work.
As the kids work, I roam the room and ask the kids to explain which plants and animals they are choosing and to tell me why. Some volunteer simple information like, "I saw it in the book" and some go deeper and say things like, "frogs need water and land to breathe and eat. They have to stay wet or they will dry out and die."
I do it this way to get the kids to take what they've learned and what they already know and make sense of it in a discussion. If kids get done early, I allow them to color the pictures.
Bring it together:
Once the kids are finished, I have them come up and get their science journals. They glue the page into their journals and we gather on the floor with our journals. I call one table at a time to sit on the carpet.
The kids then turn to their floor partner and share their work. The talk about the animals and plants they circled and why. After they share with their partner, I call three random students to share with the whole class. They should be ready because they already practiced with their floor partner. They take the teacher chair and present.
We remain on the floor and I explain the ecosystem of the pond to the kids. I explain to them the pond food chain and the needs of the plants and animals. We discuss the symbiosis of the habitat. I use a Powerpoint on my ActivBoard. If you don't have an ActivBoard/SmartBoard, you can print the Powerpoint off as full sheets (one picture per page) and just use the pictures.
I have the kids refer back to the list we created and ask is there anything we need to add now that we've learned so much. The kids add some bugs and plants to the animals. They now realize that they are as important to the pond habitat as the animals.
We sing the song, "5 Little Speckled Frogs Sitting on a Log" to close the lesson.
We sing it through twice. On the third round we pause on occasion and point out the things seen in the picture of the pond.