Welcome back! Our second year together has had an amazing start and the students and I are excited to share our learning and experiences with you. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts with us as well. Enjoy exploring!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Animals of Africa!

We have started our first science unit on the animals and habitats of Africa. We are lucky enough to have a teacher on our team that took a trip to Southern Africa this summer! The wonderful Ms. Kate lead the "Theme Kick-Off" by showing a beautiful slideshow of many different animals she saw first hand. The students thought it was so neat that she had seen them all and anxiously were asking her questions. There were many "oh's and ah's" heard around the room as pictures of giraffes, hippos, and a newborn elephant appeared on the screen.

To teach the four habitats that we have chosen, we have mixed the classes into four groups that will rotate through each classroom throughout the next month to learn about Africa from each Synergy teacher. We are all teaching a different habitat that we have chosen to focus on and the animals that live there, while we will be focusing more broadly on Africa within our own classrooms as well. I am teaching about the animals that live in the trees and sky, Ms. Kate, about the animals living in the bush, Mrs. Eaton, about the animals in the water, and Ms. Rogers, about termites and underground animals. At each station the kids are getting the opportunity to see videos and pictures of the animals as well as create their own drawings of the habitat. We have been talking quite a bit about predator and prey , as well as camouflage and if the different animals of a certain habitat use that as a defensive strategy or not. To open the discussion of camouflage we showed this video in the link below. It is not of an African animal, but it is such an amazing example, that it couldn't be passed up! The kids loved it and I am sure would love to show you and quiz you to see if you can find it. Wow, is nature spectacular! Camouflage Link

The students have been very intrigued by this unit so far and it has been a blast sharing with them the many animals of the trees and sky. While these are sometimes thought of as not some of the most exciting, because they are not the lions, cheetahs, and elephants that grace Africa's savannah, the kids are enjoying hearing about the Chimpanzees, Gorillas, monkeys and birds that do live in either the savannah or the jungle. It is fun to hear their reasoning about why certain animals can not live in the jungle, but instead in the savannah, and vice versa. My first group shared with me that gorillas would not do well living in the savannah, because it is too dry and they do not have anywhere to hide. I thought to myself, "this is a smart crew, we're going to get a lot done"! Another animal that has made quite a hit is the secretary bird. Ms. Kate got an awesome picture of this bird and shared with us that while she was in Africa the guide told them that the bird got this unique name from the feathers on its head resembling a quill. The students loved this little fact and quickly wanted to know more, always a wonderful thing!

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