I begin this lesson by having one table at a time come sit on the floor like scientists, which means they are ready to listen and work. I explain to the kids that today we are going to explore the world of seeds by doing a sorting activity. I also explain that some of the seeds will be saved for planting in a future lesson.
1 small cup of mixed seeds for each student, approximately one tablespoon per student as some of the seeds are small and I don't want to detract from the science learning by making the counting to difficult (I use six different types of seeds; sometimes available in pre-made bags of six bean soup mix)
1 sorting map per student (made on construction paper and laminated for repeated use)
recording sheet, one per student
Seed sort procedures:
I tell the kids that as they work I will be roaming to help as needed. I do it this way to encourage the kids to develop independence in science exploration and to learn to support one another in the research and recording of data.
Since I support autonomy and respect individual differences and group preferences, many of my students choose to sort their seeds without using a sorting mat. They prefer to sort them independently directly on the table. As long as the students demonstrate competency and accuracy in their work, they are always given options.
Once the sorting and recording is complete, we read the book, How and Why Seeds Travel (How and Why Series), by Elaine Pascoe. As I read, I encourage the kids to read along with me to reinforce their reading skills. The book is is a simple reader where unknown words are supported by vivid photos. It is reflective of the independent readers found in the reading program adopted by my district to help them develop an understanding that there can be a strong integration between science and reading.
We stop at areas of interest to discuss how and why the seeds might travel a particular way. It seems that the squirrel dropping the acorn is always their favorite!
I read many books during science class to get the kids engaged in discussion and to help them learn to process scientific information that is presented through text.
After we finish reading and discussing the book, Seed Secrets, I show the kids a You tube video called "How do seeds travel." I have them watch it to fill in any gaps that might still remain from the reading and discussing the text. The animation and information in the video does a good job of bringing the information to life for the kids.
After the video is over, I have the kids turn to their floor partner and share something they learned from the text and the video.
By the time the book, video and discussion is over, the seed sort sheets are dry and the kids are asked one team at a time to get their sheets from the table and bring them to the floor.
Once the kids are all seated with their sheets, they are asked to turn to their floor partner and share how many of each type of seed they had at their tables. My floor partners are not from the same tables as they work at. They are asked to tell each other the seed count and then determine which partner has the lesser number of each type of seed. I choose the lesser number of seeds because it supports a challenging math concept. Through my years of experience in kindergarten, I have found that the kids often take to understanding the concept of greater than much sooner than less than. This is also a simple way of introducing kids to share, interpret and use data.
I choose three random students to share with the class what was shared between them and their partner. This allows a closure to this part of the lesson and moves us to the final individual evaluation which is done in their science journals:
I roam the room to support kids in their narrative based on data as needed.
When the kids are finished writing, I have them come back to the floor to share with their floor partner. I then choose three random students to share the narrative they wrote in their science journal with the entire class. This validates thinking and learning without taking up large amounts of time by having them all share with the whole class.
A take home reader is the tool used for the extension of this lesson. The students are able to share the information within the readers with their families. They cut and staple the reader in the classroom if there is time at the end of the lesson or as a transition before the next class period. The teacher can have the books prepared in advance if preferred.
Procedure to read books:
This take home reader supports learning and serves as a home-school connection piece. It supports learning by extending the lesson and crossing into Language Arts. Most students can read it themselves; those struggling with reading can have assistance at home.