A new season, a new term and a new unit! This unit is working within the theme, Sharing the Planet and we will be looking at:
- The properties and functions of plants.
- What do plants need to be healthy and grow?
- The importance of plants and our responsibility.
We are very lucky to have the perfect provocation for this unit behind our school, a small forest and river. We began our ‘Tuning In’ by taking a forest walk to examine the forests current conditions, what kinds of plants could we see? What colours were around? What was interesting? The children worked in small groups and used Pic Collage to take photos and record notes. The colours were a bit bland and nothing had really started to grow yet but we found some small insects and could hear birds chirping. Some of the children made the connection that spring had begun and soon the plants would start to grow again. How will the forest change over the next few weeks? Why will it change? At the end of the unit we will return to the forest and complete another Pic Collage, the children will then be able to make a comparison with their first recordings and hopefully explain what has happened and why.
The next lesson began with a KWL chart:
WHAT do we know about plants? What do we WANT to learn about plants? What have we LEARNT about plants?
The children had a lot of prior knowledge about plants, their function and importance but there were still plenty of things that they weren’t sure about and wanted to learn. This simple KWL chart gave me a good understanding of where I needed to focus the learning. We started this journey with a four-part rotation.
Station 1: Draw the plant on display; add any labels and descriptions that you can.
Station 2: Use the unit books to find answers to any of the questions in our KWL chart or interesting facts. Write them onto sticky notes and add them to the poster.
For the most part the children were really engaged with the tasks, they were being inquirers and researchers, independently finding information and recording it to share with their classmates. The unit book station and sorting activity proved to be the most beneficial and engaging. Regrouping and discussing at the end of the session was essential and the children were really excited to share answers to the KWL chart questions and interesting facts.
What would have made this activity better? It would have been good to have at least one more adult in the room, I found myself spending most of my time at the sorting activity helping children research the unknown products and discover that so many of the things we use and need come from plants. Another adult could have helped support the other stations and would have allowed for further student explanations, which would have deepened their understanding. But, in saying that sometimes it is good to release control and let them develop their autonomous learning skills.