Schoolyard Ecology

Grades 3—6

Written by Katharine Barrett and Carolyn Willard

Whether your schoolyard is an ocean of blacktop or a little slice of nature, this guide uncovers the animal organisms and plants that share recess space with students every day. In this series of outdoor investigations, children work in teams outdoors to sample, record, and analyze information about living organisms and their environment, and then return to the classroom to share their findings and explore ecological, environmental, and life-science concepts.

In the course of these activities, students learn biological sampling techniques and develop mapping and related mathematical skills recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for this grade range. Practicing gentle stewardship, they collect temporary specimens—including ants, spiders, and other often-maligned animals—in "shake boxes" in order to study them as individual and interdependent organisms. There is ample opportunity to relieve students of their fears of certain crawly creatures and to explore why some animals seem to provoke such reactions.

Based on their observations and findings, students select small areas as sample study sites, and summarize by writing about these favorite locations in the closing activity. This guide is designed to spark student curiosity about the patterns and interactions in nature, beginning with their most immediate outdoor environment—the schoolyard. It makes a great companion unit to such GEMS guides as Animals in Action, Ant Homes Under the Ground, Buzzing a Hive, Terrarium Habitats, and Ladybugs.

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Literature Connections

In this era of hype about hands-on activities, the school yard is too often given short shrift, except for occasional nature walks. … The book, a product of a team effort, underwent extensive tryout and review by teachers and specialists, and it shows." — Science Books & Films

"Overall this is a very thorough presentation of five excellent ecological activities for children. This is the way science should be taught. The investigations encourage children to learn by 'doing' and to discover for themselves how organisms interact with each other and their environment. The activities are also invaluable because they foster in children an appreciation and stewardship for other living things. If they can be taught to value spiders and ants, the rest will be easy." —The American Biology Teacher

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price
0-924886-35-8 3—6 5 Activities,
120 pages

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