Tropical Rainforest Study 2014-Final Weeks and Zoo Field Trip

We are quickly approaching the end of our school year.  This also means the end of our study of Tropical Rainforests.  My hope is that this unit helped to spark an awareness of how important rainforests are, even though we were barely able to scratch the surface of all the plants, animals, and people who live there.

Our last major project that we worked on during class were readers’ theaters adaptations of “The Great Kapok Tree”, an awesome book about the importance of saving the rainforests from destruction.  (We are also still in the midst of working on some computer projects for this unit as well: Powerpoints and Glogsters.)  Here are some pictures and video from our performances of “The Great Kapok Tree”, as presented to both kindergarten classes and two of the preschool classes.  They were GREAT audiences!!

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To wrap up our unit, we took a special field trip to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.  We spent the majority of our day in the Indonesian Rain Forest section, hunting for answers to questions about different plants and animals.  It was a great day, and after a scary start to the day (can we say torrential downpour, thunder, lightning, and hail?), the skies cleared, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful field trip to the zoo!!

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Sauder Village Field Trip 2014

Tuesday was our annual field trip to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.  Students traveled back in time to various time periods in Ohio history (much of which relates very closely to our studies in Indiana History).  The weather was PERFECT!  The first rain drops fell as we were getting in our cars to drive home.  Along with our history lessons in different shops, schools, churches, and Native American dwellings, we also enjoyed sweets from the Sweet Shop and General Store, as well as nice cool ice cream from the Ice Cream Shop.  Much fun was had by all.  Thank you again to all of our parents who were able to come along as drivers and chaperones.  Your help is appreciated more than you know!

Here are a sampling of pictures from our day:

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Tropical Rainforest Study 2014- Week 3!!

So much has happened in our classroom since last week’s post!  We have been hard at work, continuing our study of the rainforest.  This week was full of activities that helped us further explore this amazing ecosystem!!

First up, our collages of rainforest products.  Students searched through ads to find medicines, foods, and other products that come from the rainforest.  What an amazing array of items we would miss if our rainforests disappeared!!

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This week was also our first time trying out the school’s iPads.  This was a LOT of fun, and the students were way better at using them than I was!!  🙂  We used a program called ChatterPix, where you have a still picture, but give it a “mouth” and record yourself talking.  When it plays back, the “mouth” moves with your voice!  Super cool.  We told about our animals from our rainforest animal projects.

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Here’s an example:

(Neat, huh?)

My favorite rainforest project is Rainforest Superlatives.  We talk about a few examples of rainforest plants and animals that are either extremely large or extremely small.  Then, using yardsticks and rulers, the students drew out each creature true to life size.

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Finished products:

The Rafflesia Flower: the world’s largest lily, measuring up to 3 feet across!

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The Harpy Eagle: one of the world’s largest eagles, measuring up to 3 feet in height, with a 5 foot wingspan!

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The Pygmy Marmoset: the world’s smallest primate, measuring only 14-16 cm long with a 15-20 cm tail!

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The Goliath Bird-Eater: world’s largest spider, measuring an 11-inch legspan!

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The Reticulated Python: the world’s longest snake, measuring 32 feet, 9 inches in length!

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The Goliath Beetle: one of the world’s largest beetles, measuring up to 6 inches long!

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Our last project for the week involved some practice in letter writing.  We wrote letters to our governor, asking him to help us save the rainforest!  Each letter was then attached to a rainforest creature of their choice and added to our classroom rainforest display!  Lots of great creativity with these!!

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Stay tuned for more fun projects coming up next week!!

Pops Concert 2014: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Last night was our Spring Pops Concert!  It went so well, and all of the groups performed wonderfully!  I wanted to share a few of the pieces from last night.  (They are only choir pieces, because my memory card wasn’t empty enough to include all of the groups, unfortunately.)  Enjoy these snippets from our concert, and keep always in your prayers all of God’s children around the world!  🙂

Opening processional (Cameroon):

Stodola Pumpa (Czech Folk Song):

O Sifuni Mungu (Swahili/Africa):

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (Closing Piece with Band):

Tropical Rainforest Study 2014- Weeks 1 & 2

Two weeks ago, 4R began studying the tropical rainforest ecosystem.  We have been exploring this topic in Reading and Science, and have even made connections in other subjects as well!!  We have barely started in our projects and activities, but I thought that it would be nice to see what we’ve learned about so far.  Here is what we’ve been up to in class for the last 2 weeks.

Our classroom took on a whole new look with this unit.  We walked in last Monday to find that a tree had sprouted right in the middle of our room, and brought with it some vines and other plants.  Then there were the animals…it’s a jungle in here!!

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One of the most important things to learn and understand about the rainforest is that it is divided into 4 distinct layers.  Each layer has different plant and animal life, and they are different enough to almost be their own ecosystems!  We broke into study groups and researched each of the layers in more detail.  Once enough research had been collected, the groups worked together to make large dioramas of the layer they were assigned.  These dioramas were combined to make one large classroom display of the 4 layers of the rainforest!!

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Forest Floor:

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Understory:

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Canopy:

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Emergent:

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The finished product:

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During our second week of study, we took one more opportunity to explore the layers of the rainforest (AND to review what Compare and Contrast means before the ISTEPs!!).  Groups selected two different layers of the rainforest and thought of the many ways that they were alike and different.  Using sticky notes and hula hoops, they compared the two layers in large Venn diagrams.  They were allowed to look for help on the computers, but most of the facts they were able to recall from our layer study last week (we used our research from the diorama project to help with this one, too!).

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Other projects that were done/due during our second week of study were “A Day in the Life of a Rainforest Leaf” writing projects…

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…and Rainforest Animal Research Projects.  For these, students chose an animal that lives in the rainforest, researched their animal to find at least 3 interesting facts, and then drew a picture of their animal (and wrote the facts on the paper) that we added to our 4R Rainforest Wall.

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More projects to come in the next few weeks!!  What an exciting topic to explore!  But be careful…it’s a jungle in here…