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Local resources support an outdoor inquiry-based project.
The article is based on a project that took place in a farm based classroom with children ranging from three to five years old. It is truly wonderful the way the classroom had the opportunity to experience the change in seasons since other children in certain parts of the nation are not fortunate enough to experience the full effect of the seasonal cycle. The students are given the opportunity to engage and explore their own environmental surroundings allowing it to be a more meaningful experience. Brooke Larm did a phenomenal job stating the way the project used the 5E inquiry model for investigation: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. The project was also aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS.) It gives teachers an idea on how to incorporate the 5E model into a lesson and also connect the lesson with the NGSS standards. It also includes a brief list of scientific, artistic, and documentation tools that could be used to encourage investigation and discovery to enhance student learning.
Yolanda Rodriguez (Los Angeles, CA)
Having access to a farm, pasture, gardens, forest and a pond made this series of investigations especially engaging for its preschool participants. Using the guiding question, “ How Do Plants and Animals Prepare for Winter?”, the author takes us through the 5 Es on an inquiry-based project – all outdoors. Children were allowed to investigate plants and animals in these various settings in order to connect new with old experiences and develop a deeper understanding of the survival needs of plants and animals in the variety of settings. One of the activities that stood out in my mind was how students practiced representing their learning through art (p. 66). Among other things, children looked for and observed star patterns in nature. I especially liked the authenticity of some of the tasks that students considered: On the farm, they contemplated how goats might prepare for the winter, discussing where they would get shelter and food. Then they took their knowledge of seeds from another activity to consider how birds and squirrels prepare for the winter. Throughout the unit, children helped to create a “Wonder Wall” that synthesized what they had learned and made their learning visible to each other and their families (p. 68). This article provides an excellent template for how to provide children with rich, engaging informal learning experiences to supplement their natural curiosities and understandings of the natural world.
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)
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