iLEAD AV 1st, 2nd Graders Study Animal Habitats, Animal Advocacy
Almost every educator and parent knows that children have a natural affinity for animals. It could be their pets, farm animals, zoo creatures or other animals in various environments. But in addition to their cute, cuddly and adorable qualities, animals also serve as one of nature’s most powerful learning laboratories. Not only can we learn about animals, but we can learn a great deal about us as well. It’s with this spirit in mind that the 1st and 2nd grade learners at iLEAD Antelope Valley embarked on their most recent project.
Facilitators Aaron Kahle and Kristy Basty recently presented their learners with the driving question: How can I teach others to care about animals and their environment? According to these facilitators, this project not only tapped into their natural curiosity about animals, but also challenged them to advocate on their behalf to others.
One of the major products the learners had to produce was that of a realistic habitat for a specific animal. Learners had to operate within one specific natural habitat: desert, ocean, rainforest or the arctic / polar environment. Learners first had to build up their knowledge of these four major habitats and then focus their learning on a specific animal within that habitat.
Kahle and Basty knew they could tap into their learners’ concern for animal life and the planet as a whole in order to engage them in this project.
“Our learners not only have an affinity for animals, but also for each other,” said Kahle. “This project connects with their hearts. Indeed, this young generation really cares about the world around them.”
In addition to designing the habitat for their specific animal, Kahle said that the learners completed several aspects of the project leading up to that final product. This included several writing assignments, research and mini projects as well. One of the mini projects involved working with Roly Polys (Pill Bugs) on campus to determine what they eat and how they survive.
“All of these learners did an amazing job and completed a great deal of writing,” said Kahle. “We were very impressed with their creativity and use of descriptive writing.”
Examples of some of the species of animals that these learners focused their research on from the four major habitats were Arctic Fox, Puffer Fish, Caribou, Tiger, Snowy Owl, Rattlesnake, Sharks and Orca/Killer Whale. Kahle said the learners really began to make real connections and came away with greater knowledge and appreciation not only for their individual animals, but for animal life as a whole.
Basty said this project included deep investigation, as well as experimentation. As an example, she said learners participated in an experiment about how oil spills affect the habitat of ocean life. They tested feathers without oil and then tested again when oil was introduced to the water. Learners accessed research and information from quality sources such as National Geographic Kids, YouTube Kids, PBS Kids and others.
“They noticed how oil and water do not separate and the effects that it has on wildlife that depend on clean water to survive,” said Basty. “They really began making connections and expressing empathy towards the birds and other wildlife in our oceans.”
In addition to the Presentations Of Learning, learners brainstormed ways that they can help preserve animal habitats. According to Basty, they generated ideas such as not cutting down trees or planting more, using less gas and oil, recycling and not littering.
“Our learners did a fantastic job on their investigation, research and creation of their habitats,” said Basty. “I am so proud of the work that they have done and the connections that they made during the process!”
Kahle concurred with Basty and said he really enjoyed watching the learners work through this important project.
“They really demonstrated grit, resilience and a willingness to be successful,” he said.