We love Waseca Biomes around here. I mean we really love their curriculum and honestly can't get enough of it. They don't pay me to say that, I really love them that much. I want everything in the entire catalog... yesterday.
I settle for 2-3 new things each year.
Which usually turns into 4-5 new things each semester....
This year, we decided to try something new and share Waseca with friends. We did the Introduction to Biomes curriculum last fall (and then limped along to finish it in the spring) and wanted to do Biomes of North America this year (which does not currently seem to be available on their website, glad I grabbed it last year when MBT wrote about it as the logical step from the Intro curriculum).
Each week this fall, we will be working with one other family to complete the study for the first two biomes: temperate forest and grasslands. Our class will run 2 hours each week. The first 30-60 minutes will be dedicated to group presentations and activities. We have a broad mix of ages (3 CH, 2 E1, 2 E2, & 1 MS) so we will start with overview activities and then I will have follow up activities available for a variety of ages, skills, and interests.
For example, this week, we will be starting with the Field Trip to the Temperate Forest. Using the question guide suggested in the lesson plans, I made a scavenger hunt list for each group (you can download it free in my TPT store). After the "field trip" (we don't actually have to leave our property), they will have interdisciplinary choices for further study. For today it will be making a miniature environment, drawing a forest, and layers of the temperate forest (3 part cards).
During work time each week they will also have access to the previous materials they have been introduced to and a supply of art materials for (relevant) project making. This includes the introduction to biomes card materials, continent stencils, backyard biome mat, and more. The North America continent mat and readers will hopefully be arriving soon for us as well. Best part about a mixed age of kids is that I can justify purchasing materials my older kids are past because I still have little ones too!
Our first week, since our friends are new to Montessori, we did a brief review of biomes (they did an abbreviated curriculum over the summer) and then introduced the temperate forest. I left out plenty of art supplies and gave them access to our puzzle and card work materials. They mostly went with project making and came up with some neat things. Caleb (9, ASD) was having a hard time with no clear direction, so he took care of photography.
Honestly I think the hardest part of this format will be everyone getting to do everything they want to do in a defined work period! I suspect that for both families this will spark independent work at home to cover what they weren't able to do during our work time. We plan to spend 6-8 weeks on each biome, although some of the later biomes may be able to be done in fewer. We are in the process of working out field trip plans for museums or other places we can learn about the biomes that we don't have easy access too (which is everything except temperate forest and grassland...although it can feel like the tundra in the winter).
We will be trading off with this same family starting in a few weeks and their mom will be running a Future Problem Solving group for the kids so I will share more on that when it gets moving. We also participate in a gym co-op though a local university as well which gives us three group activities/week, more than we've ever done.
What kinds of co-operative activities are you participating in this year?