It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!
This week we are featuring Brittany Brown. Her older infant classroom decided to spend a day doing a survey exploration of nature. She wanted to introduce the group to the different aspects of nature to see what they were most interested in exploring. Below you will find a reflection from Brittany and images from her lesson on nature.
What were your topics of exploration?
We spent the day exploring nature and the environment around us.
What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)
I wanted my students to have a better understanding of their environment. I noticed that the children were becoming increasingly interested in exploring the natural world they encounter every day and thought it would be an excellent topic for our group to focus on. I wanted the lesson to be as hands on as possible, and to teach them that it’s okay to interact with the different things you find (bugs, dirt, flowers, trees, grass). I tried to focus on nature in a more broad terms to start because I wanted to see which aspects in particular caught their interest. We could then move to doing a more in depth study on those topics later in the week.
What was most successful about your lesson?
I believe the most successful parts of our lesson were the hands- on materials I brought along to the museum visit. The great thing about exploring nature in the Natural History Museum is that we are able to provide the children with multiple touch points. In addition to the books and objects I brought into the gallery space, we were also able to observe real insects as well as view amazing nature photography. Seeing the children’s reaction to the variety of insects, objects, and images gave me a clear picture of their interest and provided inspiration for future lesson plans.
What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?
I decided to spend the entire week exploring nature. While I valued the general exploration of the topic, I think ultimately, it would have been better to break down the topic, maybe focusing on just trees, flowers, or insects. I believe the focused study would have given them a greater understanding of specific topics. Also, I would recommend using as many sensory based activities and books as possible when developing a lesson. I believe the combination really helps children better understand what’s being taught.
Here are a few images from their unit on nature:Brittany began by taking her group up to the Insect Hall at The National Museum of Natural History. On many mornings there is an interpreter in the gallery with different insects for the children to meet.
The children got to meet a live caterpillar and compare it to the Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The group practiced using gentle hands and loved exploring the texture of the caterpillar.
Brittany then had the group observe the display of chrysalis and butterflies. She explained that the caterpillar they just saw would eventually become a chrysalis and then a butterfly.
To reinforce the information she was sharing with the group, Brittany read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She was sure to point to the corresponding exhibits as she read.
Brittany then led the group around the gallery to look at the other insects. She brought along a sensory bag full of dirt, small insects, and foliage for the children to touch in the exhibit.
The group went up to see the Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places photography exhibit. The class had fallen in love with the book Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson so Brittany read the book in front of one of the photographs in the exhibit.
The last stop was to the edge of the Butterfly Garden (located outside of the Natural History Museum) to interact with plants and insects in their natural environment. Brittany encouraged the group to feel the textures and smell the different plants.
This class had a wonderful time learning about nature! Be sure to check back for our Teacher Feature next week!