One of the greatest tragedies to occur is when a child becomes bored with learning. Their very beings crave exploration and discovery. From the time that they can form sentences, the incessant amount of questioning begins. They are curious about the world around them in a way that is admirable and inspiring.
“Why? How does that happen? Where does it come from? What if… “
Maybe it is our culture, maybe it is the busyness of life, maybe it’s just a natural occurrence… I don’t know. But at some point, many kiddos stop asking questions and they become bored with the learning process.
Many students must be re-taught to think critically and question concepts that spark their interest. They must be taught that subject matter has layers–depths that beg to be explored. Mysteries that ask to be unraveled.
Their is always more to learn.
One way to spark kids’ curiosity once again is to take “things” that are unusual to find in most curriculum and use those “things” to reinforce student expectations. For example: The “things” my team used to teach living vs. nonliving, basic needs of animals, vocabulary, inferring word meaning, writing a story in sequence, sequencing events, research, and other academic concepts were…
Frogs and ladybugs!
The Life Cycle of a Frog
We read various frog books throughout the week. The books ranged from silly, fiction books to non-fiction books regarding specific breeds of frogs. In reading groups, I pulled books about various types of frogs. While reading, I encouraged the students to ask questions about the frogs. I wrote down the questions and facilitated their research as they searched for the answers to their questions. Not only do exercises like this spark a child’s curiosity, but it builds their comprehension in reading. I allowed students to research frogs on PebbleGo during “listen to reading” in the Daily 5. (PebbleGo is a fantastic resource for teaching science and social studies.)
After researching, we listed frog facts as a class. As we identified unanswered questions, the students continued to hunt for answers. When students found the answers to their questions, they were overjoyed and felt like the champion of the class! It was awesome. And addictive. I could watch their little minds spin all day.
After researching, we created a class anchor chart regarding frogs. Students folded a piece of construction paper and made their own personal copy. Their own copy could either be specific to a breed of frog or about frogs “in general.” They used their foldable to guide their writing.
I taught the students a song regarding the stages of the frog life cycle. It is sung to the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb.” Every year, I give the students opportunities to make up motions and new verses/words. This was the time that we discussed sequencing and the magical words (first, next, then, and last.) The song goes like this…
Frogs are laid in a pond, in a pond, in a pond.Frogs are laid in a pond, where they are kept safe.
Tadpoles hatch out from the eggs, from the eggs, from the eggs. Tadpoles hatch out from the eggs and like to swim around.
Tadpoles grow four legs, four legs, four legs. Tadpoles grow four legs and hop onto the land.
Frogs like to catch flies, catch flies, catch flies. Frogs like to catch flies with their sticky tongues.
And, we crafted!
And of course, we write. We write a non-fiction piece– an expository text. The next writing could be fiction, a personal narrative, or whatever else they desired to write about frogs.
The Life Cycle of a Ladybug
Books, books, and more books. We spent quite a bit of time inferring meaning and building vocabulary during the various read-alouds. Anytime we came across a new vocabulary word, the students waved their hands and whispered “sparkle.” In my class, we refer to vocabulary words as “sparkle” words. I’ve found that by classifying words as “sparkle” words, the kids are more likely to remember their meaning and use them in their conversations and writings.
After reading books, watching videos, and asking numerous off the wall questions regarding ladybugs, we made an anchor chart as a class. The students made their own “Can, Have, and Are” graphic organizer after we finished our class anchor chart. They used their personal graphic organizer to guide their future writings. We also used a KWL chart during our reading and research. (K-What I already KNOW, W-What I WANT to learn, L-What I LEARNED)
We spent a day learning and identifying the life cycle of a lady bug. We compared the ladybug’s life cycle to the frog’s life cycle. The students were quick to point out the many differences and similarities. The students wrote in their writing journals and sequenced the life cycle of a ladybug.
This time of year, we have ladybugs everywhere! I encouraged the students to capture ladybugs and bring them to class for our observations. We released them at the end of the week. The kids were not sad because they had learned that the ladybug’s life span is actually very short. They wanted to release the ladybugs so that they could live their last couple of days in the grass.
After researching, gathering facts, and reading about ladybugs, the students free wrote about ladybugs.
And, they made this lovely paper plate ladybug.
And, they ate these yummy ladybug snacks that fell apart WAY too quickly.
Both units were very successful. The students were engaged, and they effectively mastered the content. I loved watching their little minds awaken to new ideas. I loved all of their questions and sparking their curiosity. I loved watching them compare and contrast and think on higher levels. I loved that they understood that all of their questions could be answered through research. I loved that they enjoyed reading, writing, and the learning process.