Science co-op is well underway for the fall and we are working our way through the temperate forest. Each week I have a group activity and multiple follow up choices for a variety of levels. After three weeks, however, I noticed that no one was choosing the card work. Even with modeling from our teacher moms, it was getting walked by every week.
On one hand, the activities they were choosing were excellent extensions of their learning and for sure everyone was keeping busy. On the other hand, especially for the older kids, the card work is where they start to really build that scientific vocabulary and pick up more advanced levels of knowledge.
I decided to adjust my regularly scheduled activities this week and focus specifically on all of the tree and plant three part card work in a way that would get everyone involved at their own level.
First we did a dramatic reading of the Sapsucker Play. Along with being very entertaining, we hinted at a few of the vocabulary words that would come up later in the day.
Then I broke the group into pairs and each pair was assigned one of the following card work sets:
Parts of A Tree
Cross-section of A Tree
Parts of A Twig
Parts of A Mushroom
(The mushrooms didn't quite fit with the other groups, but including it made my groups even and I didn't want to skip the fungus.)
Each group had a strong reader and a weaker reader or a non-reader so they had to work together to lay out all of the cards. Caleb was paired with Lucie and they did the tree, which was the simplest of the sets and we brought out the puzzle and connected all of the parts to the puzzle as well as the cards.
After the cards were laid out, I had everyone make a parts of mini-book. When the booklets were finished, everyone went into the woods to find an example of their specimen and plan a presentation for the rest of the group.
Kylee and Ashleigh found neat mushrooms growing in old walnuts that actually allowed us to see the underground portions of the mushroom.
Aidan and Sean incorporated Arrow the rabbit into their presentation by discussing how twigs provided winter nutrition for some animals. Being a good Montessori program, the rabbit was allowed to remain a member of the audience after his contribution.
Caleb found a sapling and pulled it up in a way that showed all of the parts well. Lucie wasn't much help in the actual presentation, but she stood with him authoritatively and pretended to speak into her twig "microphone".
After everyone had presented, I had extra copies of all of the blank masters for students to take home and color/label/etc as they wished. Some of the students passed on this, but about half did not. Kylee has already made a second booklet and spent about a half hour online looking at pictures of mushrooms.