Learning About Plants and Animals
PNW BOCES Program Enhances Science Learning
Kindergarteners scurried around their classroom, looking behind books and in little pockets of classroom displays for slips of paper with acorns printed on them. When a child found one, they stood tall and still, like a tree.
They were acting out what happens to many of the nuts hidden by squirrels which are not found and eaten each winter. “They become trees!” said the kindergarteners. The game was part of program called Animals and Plants Change their Environment, led by Danny Carvill, an educator with PNW BOCES’ Center for Environmental Education.
mighty oak trees
touching a beaver pelt
New insights about natural world
The kindergarteners considered the big question: can animals and plants change their environment, through the lens of squirrels, worms and beavers. The conversation, guided by the environmental educator and classroom teachers, tapped the knowledge the students already had and added more, leading them to new insights about the natural world.
Carvill showed them a red wiggler he’d brought with him. The students told him about the bigger worms they’d found last week at their field trip to Gossett Brothers Nursery, and that worms ate leaves and their lunch leftovers in the composting process. Together, the class thought about the tunnels that worms dig in the soil and considered how they make it easier for plant roots to grow.
empowering students to think like scientists
The students also had the opportunity to see and touch a beaver pelt and a log that a beaver had chewed. As they placed their fingers into the grooves the animal’s teeth left in the wood, they learned that beaver dams slow rushing water and create homes for plants and animals. “Like turtles!” said one student, remembering the ones they were looking for in the stream at Gossett’s Nursery.
“We’ve been studying the needs of plants and animals in our science unit,” said kindergarten teacher Jackie Kovatch, referring to Amplify Science, a curriculum that district elementary schools have just begun using. “This program enhanced what we’ve been learning.”
A beaver's impact on the ecosystem
Thank you MPES PTO for funding this program.