Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Bro's Cool Desert Project & Little Bro's Nice Spin Off Work

Big Bro had to choose a project to do for his science co-op class.
He chose to research, as he titled it, "Desert Life in All the Deserts of North America."

Seeing that we live in Florida, finding hands-on resources about the deserts of North America appropriate for a six year old  was a bit of a workout, to say the least...we ended up ordering several books from Amazon, as our libraries and bookstores in our area were lacking in materials.
We did manage to find some great North American Desert Biome books from Amazon...

We did not have three part cards for desert plants, but did manage to find a lapbook component, a mini-book about desert plants that both boys used for shelf work.

It can be a bit of a challenge to find resources that tie in with whatever your child is passionate about learning when you truly try to follow your child...but once we rounded up the materials, he was good to go.
We also found some neat larger sized plastic animals at Michael's.
We had to go to several Michael's Stores to find these, but they really helped to bring the animals to life for both Big Bro and for Little Bro.
The animals also worked well in our mini sand table that we had out as work while Big Bro was doing his desert project.
This made it possible to let Little Bro work on something related to the desert, too...
We found a tarantula, scorpion, desert tortoise, and a sidewinder snake...

Little Bro  just loved the book, Way Out in the Desert.

For Little Bro's work, since he has been working with learning to write his numbers, he was very intrigued that this book has numbers hidden on each page.
While Big Bro was working on his desert project, Little Bro worked at making a numbers book based on the numbers and the animals he found in Way out in the Desert.
 He enjoyed making his numbers book so much that on the following days after making his first numbers book, he made a second one, but then, he chose other items to count and to find on the pages.

Little Bro also did a numbers scavenger hunt with this book where he had to find the magnetic number to go with the number on the book pages.

He then chose to have me hide some numbers around our home for him to find. He had a great time looking for the numbers and then, putting them in order from 0 to 20.
He loves to do scavenger hunts so if he is in the mood to do one, it gets added to our day as his work...

It worked out so well that Little Bro was enjoying the various work on the shelves, but yet, with a totally different focus.

Big Bro pretty much ended up focusing on the Sonoran Desert, as we were able to find the most amount of materials appropriate for young children about the Sonoran Desert, as compared to the others.

We found two online resources that were especially helpful in giving his project some structure...

The first being a lapbook on Homeschool Share about Desert Animals.
This lapbook was designed by Jody Small...a big thank you to Jody for putting the lovely lapbook template together.
Instead of doing it as a lapbook, several parts of the lapbook were put out on trays as Montessori inspired shelf work that he then was able to choose.

This lapbook has nice classification cards that work well as three part cards if you make two copies and cut one stack into the photo cards and the labels.
Both boys enjoyed doing the desert animals three part cards...

The Homeschool Share Desert Animals lapbook components are all designed to work with the book, One Small Square - Cactus Desert by Donald M.Silver.

This author has a whole series of One Small Square books he has written and since this one was such a hit, we are most likely going to order the order ones he has written, as they were a great resource...interesting and informative, but not too overwhelming for a child just starting to learn to do research on their own...

Big Bro's favorite book though was Cactus Hotel by Brenda Guiberson.
This is an awesome book!
If she has written any other books, we are going to order them.
Cactus Hotel takes your child through a beautifully illustrated and nicely written journey of the life cycle of the Saguaro Cactus...it tells you all about the life cycle of this majestic cactus, as well as all of the different critters who make their home in and around the Sagauro...just a fabulous book!
So glad that we ordered it! Big Bro loved this book...he read it to himself, had both Dear Hubby and I read it to him during the day and then, as a bedtime story...he read it to Little Bro and then had us read it to both of them...he could not get enough of it.

The second resource that proved to be quite helpful was a Bilingual Webquest  - The Desert Animal Webquest created by Ms. Magee and Ms. Miller at Blattman Elementary School  and then translated into Spanish by Mrs. Pereda and Mrs. Neal from the Howsman Spanish Literacy Team. A huge thank-you to them for not only designing this very child-friendly, informative Webquest in English, but also in Spanish...
The Webquest was created back in 2004, so it is rather simple in its design, but all of the material is still very relevant and the format is perfect for a young one to do some hands on research about desert animals. Ms. Magee and the others really came up with a great resource for young ones just learning how to do research...

They created a nice research guide that you can print out and then, your child can complete on his or her own.

If your children are going to do any research about animals, regardless of the biome, this research guide is a keeper...they could use it for every animal they study...
This guide will serve your child well as shelf work time and time again as they research various animals. 

Big Bro loved integrating technology into his project, and this was perfect, as it was pretty straightforward...not too jazzy or cutesy...very factual and well done.
Their Webquest is designed for two children to work together as researchers, where they each would select one animal and would fill out one form about the animal.
Big Bro worked on this by himself and instead of just doing one page about one animal, he did all of the pages about all of the animals in both English and Spanish, as well as a few additional animals.

He then did some separate research on desert plants, as he wanted to let his co-op classmates know how the plants and animals are both necessary in the desert biome.

If you are trying to integrate Spanish into your English program, this Webquest would be great for you, as it lets your child hear the names of each animal in Spanish, as spoken by a native speaker.
The research form is also available in Spanish, so your child could actually complete their entire research in Spanish.
Big Bro really enjoyed learning about life in the desert, and I must say that Little Bro and I also learned a great deal as he was working...really had never studied about the desert biome before and we all found it to be fascinating.
Here are some photos of Big Bro doing his presentation for his co-op class.

This was Big Bro's first time ever doing a presentation in front of a group. He was a little nervous at first, but then, once he got comfortable with being in front of everyone, he seemed to enjoy the experience. He had fun explaining what he had learned about desert life to his classmates.

Learning about the desert biome was a fascinating experience...so glad that Big Bro chose it for his project, as we all ended up learning so much about the deserts of North America...makes me want to go visit the Sonoran Desert in person!


Discovering Montessori said...

Great work you and your boys did. This sparked my interest in the desert. Thanks for all the resources you used.

welcome to our wonderland said...

wow what a great job he did! love his tri fold board on the desert.

Nicole said...

Thanks for linking up to Montessori Monday! LOVE the desert work - way to "follow the child." It looks like both the boys (and you!) had fun learning - I think sometimes that's my favorite part - learning alongside my kids.

By Word of Mouth Musings said...

LOVE this and thanks for joining in on Time Travel Tuesday - be sure to tell your friends - its a great way to recycle :)

Awesome that your boys are able to get up and speak - its a great life lesson!

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