This term the students started off their inquiry learning about The Black Oak Savannah, one of North America's most endangered ecosystems. They learned that this Savannah once flourished in High Park when it was being cared for by the Indigenous people who first inhabited this land. This week, the students went to visit High Park again to learn about the Indigenous people who lived in High Park in the 1500-1700s. They were given an introduction as to how the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people lived in harmony with the land. They learned about The Three Sisters, which were crops that were often planted together. They also learned about different types of housing that were built during this period and how they made their clothing. This week the students will begin independent research projects on the inhabitants of High Park during the 1600s-1700s.
Over the past two months, students have been examining daily how to build and break apart triple digit numbers. We have been looking at number patterns, addition, subtraction and easing into multiplication and division. When the students are finished their daily math assignments one of their favourite things to do is build their own math problems for themselves and one another.
This week the students started to prepare for our Reader's Cafe. This term the students have learned a lot about the life cycle of a plant, including concepts such as photosynthesis, germination and pollination. They have also learned about the properties of soil and how they contribute to the life cycle of a plant. To consolidate their learning, the students have written songs, comics, stories and scripts about what they have learned. They cannot wait to present these creations to the other Mountview students, the Mountiview teachers, their friends and family.
After we were given a pumpkin at the farm last week for the classroom, the students had so many questions about pumpkins! This resulted in us having a pumpkin themed week. We started the week by engaging in pumpkin themed activities with our learning buddies, the Kindergarten students.
The students have been studying grouping, division and multiplication this week. When they wanted to uncover how many pumpkin seeds were in our class pumpkin they each first estimated an amount. We then collectively decided to place them in groups of 10 so we could easily count them. We discovered there were 65 groups of 10 and 2 left over. The students determined there was 652 in all or 65x10 +2=652.
To further explore the conditions needed for a seed to sprout the students observed seeds placed in different conditions. One batch was given water (without soil) and sunlight. Two other batches differed in the amount of water. The difference between the two batches was that one was exposed to sunlight and one was not. By the end of the week, the seeds in paper towel and water had sprouted. Some students inferred based on our photosynthesis and soil unit that these seeds would be okay until they started creating their own food and needed to absorb the nutrients from the soil.
On Wednesday room 101 and 103 ventured out to Brook's Farm near Stouffville, Ontario. As we arrived we were greeted with our first snowfall of the season! Thank goodness we all pulled out our winter jackets that day.
On site students were presented with a presentation of the life cycle of a pumpkin. They were also taken on a mini train ride to the pumpkin patch so they could pick their own pumpkins. When this was done the students got to meet various farm animals such as a pig, geese, cows and goats. I think the biggest hit for them however was playing in the giant hay barrels, jumping on a giant inflatable mat, and taking turns on the zip line.
Last week, the students in room 101 learned how rock can be broken down to make soil. Students learned how different types of weathering helps break down rock such as biological weathering (plant roots), chemical weathering (acid rain) and physical weathering (waves and wind).
This week the students wanted to learn how organic matter in soil is broken down. To do this the students first learned a little song:
Sing to the tune of Frère Jacques:
Who are you?(x2)
What do you do?
Turn dead plants and animals
Like carbon and nitrogen
Students then studied a decomposer of their choice and made posters to explain what their decomposer did and why it was important to the soil.
To conclude this learning, students built a worm farm.
This week, the students wanted to uncover what soil would be best for their plants from The Black Oak Savannah. This led them to question how soil is made. Our classroom character Felicity the Fairy left us a recipe for soil. Together in a jar we combined rocks, organic matter, water and air. When we read the next instruction we were shocked! We found out that for these materials to turn into soil we would have to wait 1000 years! This led to one student questioning whether anyone other that our fairy friend was immortal so they could guard the contents of our jar.
The students inferred that for our ingredients to turn into soil, the rock and organic material would have to break down. Luckily, Felicity the fairy left us two science experiments to show us how rock can break down over time.
The first experiment instructed us to put a piece of chalk in vinegar. Chalk is a soft, white, porous, sedimentary carbonate rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. The vinegar was meant to represent concentrated acid rain. When the chalk/rock was put into the acid rain it began to slowly break apart. Over time acid rain has a similar effect on rock.
The second experiment required us to put a piece of chalk in water in the freezer. We learned that when water goes into the small cracks of this porous rock and expands while it freezes it breaks the rock apart.
We continued our research and found that rock can be broken down by weathering.
After we learned how soil is made, the students in room 101 went on to explore the components of soil. We used a song to learn that soil is made up of sand, silt, humus, rock and clay. To make this lesson a little more fun, the students first had a chance to examine clay, sand, silt, humus and rock in different jars. They compared each component's texture and consistency.
Next, the students had the opportunity to make soil in a jar...using the following ingredients:
Marshmallows represented rocks.
Crushed graham crackers represented sand.
Chocolate pudding mixed with crushed graham cracker represented silt.
Chocolate pudding represented clay.
Crushed oreo cookies represented humus.
This was topped with a gummy leaf to represent organic material and a gummy worm to stand in as a decomposer!
Students then made a diagram of the components of soil and did procedural writing to explain how they made their soil cups.
This week, the students continued to learn about how to care for the plants they wanted to raise from the Black Oak Savannah. Through this inquiry process the students learned about the process of photosynthesis. They learned that a plant breathes in Carbon dioxide from its leaves. It uses this carbon dioxide combined with water and sunlight to perform a chemical reaction. Through this chemical reaction the plant produces sugar which it uses as energy and releases oxygen into the air from its leaves.
To witness first-hand how a plant breathes in carbon dioxide from the stoma in its leaves, the students examined leaves that had been submersed in water for a few hours and left in the sunlight. They examined bubbles on the underside of the leaves. They inferred that this was because this is where the leaf released oxygen. They made the connection that if we were to breathe out under water we would make bubbles too!