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Class Pets and Observation

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Low-maintenance, high-impact choices for the homeschool or classroom

 

I am a nature lover (if you haven’t already guessed). I also taught in an urban school district for a long time, and realized that most of my students did not have the same opportunity to work with nature, animals and gardens as I had growing up. So I always included class pets and animals in the set up of my elementary classroom. Many teachers have class pets. In this module, I will share with you the ones that I found to be the least challenging to maintain, while providing the maximum opportunity for observation and scientific study. I am also putting an emphasis on critters that students might not have already been over-exposed to in school (such as the ubiquitous painted lady butterflies that students see in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and on and on).

1. Mealworms

Mealworms are not really a worm, but are the larval form of a grain pest called the darkling beetle. They are an engaging substitute to the aforementioned painted lady butterflies for studying insect life cycles, and require very little in the way of materials or maintenance. Here are the plusses and minuses of using mealworms to study insect life cycles:

Plusses

-Their life cycle is short (a few weeks), so you can observe the changes in the insects while you are studying life cycles in class.
-They are much more durable to handle than the painted ladies (which are definitely a “hands off” insect) — kids can take the mealworms out during all stages and use hand lenses and observation boxes to study them more closely.
-They do not require special food: old-fashioned oatmeal, plus an occasional potato or apple core for moisture.
-They demonstrate complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult).
-They are not sensitive to the temperature and moisture levels of the typical classroom or home.

Minuses

-They are “ickier” for some kids (and adults!) than butterflies, which are cute and pretty.
-Their food can attract other critters that you don’t want (e.g., mice), so you must make sure their bin is securely covered.
-Occasionally, the oats also draw a tiny mite that looks like white dust — not a danger, but they crawl out of the bin and are a little messy (the University of Kentucky link, below, gives tips on treating this harmless issue).
-You will want to plan what to do with the mealworms you raise, as you will need to remove some regularly (see the “Bonus” section, below, for some ideas).

Bonuses

If your school or home has an aquarium, you can regularly cull out some of the mealworms (at any stage) for a clean, no-cost food supplement. Tropical fish love live food, and raising food for the fish can give an additional purpose to raising the mealworms. I had a pet parakeet once who also enjoyed an occasional mealworm snack — he would get very excited! If you happen to have reptiles somewhere in the school, they, too, eat mealworms. Failing these “consumers,” consider selling the mealworms as a class project, to a local bait shop, pet store or to families with tropical fish.

Basic supplies needed

– an initial supply of mealworms (purchase about 100, at a local pet shop or bait shop — try to get a variety of stages, not just fully grown “worms,” so you will not have them all turn to adults at the same time).
– a 5-10 gal. plastic container with a lid (not clear — grain pests prefer dark places). Drill lots of air holes in the lid.
– bedding material (I used old-fashioned oats. Other sources suggest sawdust, leaf litter, etc. However, oats are cleaner, especially if you are then using the mealworms for fish food. Do not use sand — the insects don’t like it).
– occasional potato piece or apple core, for moisture. Replace often, to prevent mold.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has a web page with some more specifics on constructing a mealworm bin.

2. Crickets

 

People have kept crickets as pets for thousands of years. In the Far East, it was considered good luck to have a cricket in the house, and families would capture a cricket and keep it in an ornate, tiny cage –its singing was considered a blessing on the house. It is the cricket’s singing that makes it an interesting pet to keep and study in the classroom, as you can use the singing of the cricket as a “thermometer” — the higher the temperature, the higher the frequency of the cricket’s “chirps,” and the more active the cricket. I also found that this nocturnal insect would chirp more on overcast days — kind of a nice sound for a classroom. This presents a perfect opportunity to study cause and effect and do some graphing.Plusses-The habits of a cricket can be directly correlated to the light level and temperature of the environment — a nice opportunity for scientific study in the classroom.
-They make a sound that is appealing to little ears.
– Being close relatives of cockroaches and grasshoppers, they require no special foods (rolled oats and an occasional piece of fruit are clean options for their feeding).
– They are not fussy over temperature and moisture levels (although you will want to control moisture so that their bedding doesn’t mold).

Minuses

– In your house, there are few things so annoying as a chirping cricket that finds its way into your home while you’re trying to sleep. So you will want to put the critter somewhere where it won’t annoy sleepers, and make sure it doesn’t escape.
– Crickets are content as herbivores (veggie eaters) in captivity, but are omnivores in the wild. If they are unhappy with what you feed them, they will eat each other. I never had this problem, as my kids contributed snack waste (apple cores and the like) to the cause.

Bonuses

As with mealworms, crickets are often raised as food for other pets. So if you have more than one cricket, and you end up with a bunch, you can feed them to tropical fish, reptiles, tarantulas and other school pets. Pet stores often dust mealworms and crickets with an nutrient enrichment powder, or feed them special food, to make them more nutritious to the critters that eat them (a process called “gut-loading”).

Basic supplies needed

-an old aquarium (I used a 5-gal tank that had developed a leak — didn’t matter for a cricket terrarium); cover it with a tight-fitting screen (the tank lid may not be sufficient, as the crickets can escape through the lighting cuts);
-bedding materials (wood chips, a layer of sand, anything clean);
-a small, shallow dish with cotton balls that you can soak for water source — a MUST if you want to encourage breeding;
-a food source (rolled oats, an occasional piece of fruit or vegetable;
-hiding places (an inverted egg carton or a paper towel tube will suffice).

I didn’t include a lamp, although some do. I found that my crickets chirped on very overcast days, which was a treat when we were stuck inside on a rainy day.

The Amateur Entomological Society has a fact sheet on care of crickets as pets, with links to a book on rearing crickets in the classroom.

3. Apple Snails

Apple snails are the largest freshwater snails on earth. Their size and the ease with which they are kept make them a very popular aquarium pet. They are a low-care alternative to an aquarium, if you’d like to have an aquatic pet in your classroom. They are active, and kids can see the trails they make as they clean the algae from the glass. As the snails glide across the glass, students can observe the undulations of their “foot”, and observe their rasping mouth parts — very cool.Plusses-They are algae-eaters, so they will clean the glass of their aquarium, and you won’t have to.
-They are adapted to variable environmental conditions;
-They are easily fed (on occasional piece of spinach or romaine lettuce, plus the algae on the tank glass).
-Lighting needs are strictly for viewing purposes — the snails don’t care.
-They will lay eggs (just above the water line) and multiply in a typical aquarium.

Minuses

-You cannot include live plants as tank decor, unless you are ok with replacing them regularly, as the snails will eat them. Otherwise, use plastic plants.
-You cannot include any other tank mates with snails. Snails are good fish food: even the smallest fish will snack on your snails. You may end up with empty shells and fat fish.
-As with any other aquatic pet, even a goldfish, periodic water changes are important to keep your snails happy and to keep your classroom smelling fresh.

IMPORTANT!!!

Apple snails have become an exotic pest in many states. They were once brought to the United States as potential food snails for the escargot industry, and pet snails also have been released into ponds, lakes and streams by hobbyists in past decades. Their size (some species can grow to 6″ in diameter in the wild) and their lack of natural predators makes them a danger to the ecosystem in which they are released. Do not ever release your snails into the natural world! If you decide to get rid of them, give them to a pet store.

Basic supplies needed

-A small (10-gal) aquarium, with hood, lights, gravel, filtration and a small heater;
-Occasional feedings of romaine lettuce or spinach.
-Start with 5-10 snails for a 10-gal tank.

See The Apple Snail Website for more info.

 

Unusual Class Pets

And now for something completely different!

 

The above module lists some potential class pets that can be purchased at most bait shops or pet stores. But there are are a number of other critters that are easily kept as pets, if you happen upon them. Here are some that I have kept successfully as an elementary teacher and homeschool mom.

 

Stag Beetles

Gargantuan beetles with menacing pincers (but that are actually vegetarians). Keep them singly, as the males will fight. I have found them commonly in the lawn, mid-summer. I usually keep them only a short time. Keeping Adult Stag Beetles gives information on the care and feeding of stag beetle pets.

Garden Snails
Garden snails, and their ickier cousins, the slugs, are easy to keep as pets. They feed happily on a leaf of lettuce or carrot top, and lay lots of eggs, which hatch into the tiniest snails. Look for snails in the garden in the summer, when the plants are still covered with dew. Slugs can be trapped by putting a board flat on the ground in the evening — slugs hide underneath it, come morning, and can be plucked up. See Keeping Snails and Slugs as Pets for lots more information.

Ant Lions

Remember that scene outside Jabba the Hut’s palace, where Star Wars characters kept tumbling into the big pits of those sand creatures? Well, ant lions are like miniature versions of those beasts. They are much more common than you think, and you’ve probably passed them by many a time, unawares. The ant lion lives underground in sandy soil (I have found them in cracks in pavement or driveways, at the edges of paved roads and the sandy sides of parking lots). They dig a pit in the sand (see the link for photos), and wait for hapless ants to crawl down in, then their humongous jaws spring up and snatch the creature into its mouth. I kept about ten of them in an old 10-gallon aquarium, in a bed of sand. My 3rd graders used to bring insects in from recess and feed the ant lions before we settled in for read-aloud. Fun, in kind of a macabre way. The Ant Lion Den has lots of great information for your kids to use for research on this very cool class pet.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
The last critter on my class pet list can’t be found on a hike (unless you live on Madagascar!), but can be purchased at a local pet shop. I got mine from a teacher-friend, whose own pets gave birth. For a moment, disregard the last part of this creature’s name, and its value as a class pet: like its pesky cousin, it is easy to feed (I fed mine a handful of dry cat food, plus the odd snack waste, such as apple cores and baby carrots). They conserve water from their food, like the household pest, but a shallow bowl with water-soaked cotton balls will be necessary if you want yours to give birth. Unlike the household version that skitters under the refrigerator when you turn on the lights, the Madagascar hissing cockroach moves slowly, and doesn’t breed prolifically. Unlike the large, tropical roaches you find in Florida, this kind is wingless — if your container has a secure lid, your pets will stay put. This roach gets its name from its habit of forcing air quickly through its spiracles (the breathing holes on an insect’s abdomen) when alarmed, causing would-be predators to drop the roach. It’s very cool — I found, however, that mine got used to handling, and it took a lot to startle them. Your colleagues will be creeped out, but your kids will love them. Read more on this Madagascar hissing cockroach fact sheet.

 

Critter Catchers and Bug Houses

Exo Terra Glass Terrarium, 12 by 12 by 12-Inch

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Exo Terra Glass Turtle Terrarium

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Exo Terra High Glass Terrarium, 36 by 18 by 36-Inch

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Other Observation Activities

And what NOT to keep as pets…

 

There are some things that people insist on keeping, that I would discourage:Ants. Ant farms (either that you build or kits) rarely last, as there is not usually a queen. It is better to head outdoors and watch them on the playground than to try to build a colony in the classroom.Goldfish. These fish are easy to keep, and can grow to enormous size in a tank the size of a coffee cup. However, they foul the water more than many other kinds of fish. Unless you are willing to really keep an aquarium, leave these alone. If you want an aquarium, choose guppies for your tank — cleaner, and they make lots of babies.

Painted lady butterflies. There. I said it. Don’t raise painted ladies in your classroom. Why? Not because they aren’t pretty (they are). Not because butterflies don’t teach kids important scientific ideas (they do). But simply because they are ALWAYS RAISED IN CLASSROOMS! I am worrying that kids in the city think they are the only kind of butterfly that God created. I HAVE raised caterpillars with kids for many years — we find them outdoors, and find the food that they were eating. We identify them, then we watch them through their life cycle. For fun, find one of the giant silk moth caterpillars: Io moths, Luna moths, Cecropias, etc. These caterpillars are huge, and you must keep the cocoons in the refrigerator over the winter, until they emerge in June.

Birds, rabbits, and other large pets. I have had all of these, and they are delightful. But I also had to pack them up on the weekends when it was hot, on holidays, and over summer vacation. They became my household pets when they weren’t in the classroom. OR you have to entrust them to kids and their families for vacations. PLUS if you have an allergic or asthmatic child one year, you will need to get rid of your class pets (which happened to me one year — it was sad). If you really want them, go for it, but there are simpler ways to teach pet ownership to kids.

Click here for more ideas to practice the science process skill of observation.

For ideas on how nature study and observation can fit into a complete curriculum unit, see How to Teach Everything: Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

 

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One Small Square: Practice Looking Closely at the World

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One Small Square

 

“There is more to life than increasing its speed. — Mahatma Gandhi”

Practice looking closely at the world

Label your patch so you can find it the next time.Early in the spring, go outside with your child and find a 3′ x 3′ patch of ground. It could be in the woods, in your vegetable garden, in the lawn, or even around a crack in the sidewalk (you’d be surprised the special world that crops up around some of the smallest places). A good way to choose a random patch to observe is to toss a hula hoop out into the yard, then use plant tags or a colorful stick with a flag to mark your “little patch” for another day.

Now it’s time to observe like a scientist!

Take your nature journal, your colored pencils or paints, maybe a magnifying glass if you have one. Bring along a “bug house” or plastic butter tub along, just in case you find anything interesting you and your child would like to observe more closely. Spend about 15 minutes recording the world that you discover in your little patch of land.

As you sketch, write or paint, ask yourself some scientific questions:

–What living things do I see?
–Is anything moving? What is it doing? Why?
— Are any creatures interacting with one another? Why?
–What do you see that is surprising?

Go back and check out your patch at least once a month.

–How has your patch changed? What new things do you see?
–What do you think caused the changes in your patch?
–When you come back next month, what do you predict the patch will look like? Why?

Here are some journal pages you can download and use to draw and write about your little patch of land.

If you are working on taking data with your child, use this data collection tool.

Lists are a great way to keep track of observations. Download this recording form to begin yours.

New to notebooking? Check out the many Free Notebooking Pages at NotebookingPages.com and get started today! Samples of nature study notebooking pages and much, much more!

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Describing Using a Bubble Map: Observation of Wildflower Fruits and Seeds

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Who Would Love This Task:

  • Do you struggle getting your children to notice the difference between the words  “patch” and “pitch?”
  • Do your kids refer to objects as “thingy” or “cosita” instead of using precise words to describe them?
  • Does the typical writing of your students lack elaboration, or use general versus specific details?
  • Do you wish your students would stop and notice things when they are outside playing?

If any of these apply to you and your students, then you would all benefit from this learning task on observation. Observation is a skill used in all learning, and is the foundation of inquiry.

In inquiry-based learning, explorations provide opportunities for students to have conversation and ask questions prior to starting a new topic, to that they can activate their prior knowledge about the topic, and begin to formulate questions to help them guide further investigations. The teacher can use this opportunity to find out what students already know, as well as any misconceptions they have about the topic. To foster these experiences, teachers carefully choose the materials they provide, so that they draw the students to the learning goal. They resist the “temptation to tell,” instead providing an environment that leads students toward the desired logical conclusion (the “big idea”) instead.

This guided exploration is included as an introductory learning task for a unit on seed dispersal mechanisms. Before students can understand the various methods that plants use for dispersing their seeds, they must begin to see that the structures of plants are connected with their functions. The first step of this process is identifying and describing plants and plant structures from their locale. Although this task uses wildflower seeds and flowers as materials, you can adjust the materials freely to use whatever natural or interesting materials you have available when you do the task.

This learning task also explicitly teaches students how to use a Bubble Map as a way of recording their observations, in preparation for its use independently. The Bubble Map is a thinking map designed to focus specifically on the cognitive process of describing an object using adjectives.

Teach students to notice and wonder about things all around them [Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett 2012]


 

Learning Focus:

Essential Questions —

  • What is inquiry?
  • How do scientists use observations in scientific work?
  • How do wildflowers disperse their seeds?

Enduring Understandings —

  • Scientists use observations to better understand the world around them.
  • Observing plants and seeds gives us clues about how they are dispersed in nature.

 

Focus for This Learning Task:

  • Focus Strategy: Describing Using a Bubble Map
  • Targeted Skill: Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information
  • Key Concepts: Attributes
  • Core Ideas: Structure and Function

 

The Learning Task:

Guiding Questions for Students:

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?

Materials Used:

  • Stems of burdock, including fruits (one for each pair of students) [Another interesting, textural fruit can be substituted for burdocks: horse chestnuts, maple samaras, black locust pods, milkweed pods, etc.]
  • Observation pages (one per student) and one copy of directions (for teacher)
  • Writing tools
  • Hand lenses
  • Tweezers
  • Styrofoam trays or plates
  • Chart paper and markers OR SmartBoard (for teacher)

 

Safariology™ My Bug Box Exploration Kit with 4 Compartments. Includes one set of tweezers, one magnifier, and an idea booklet. $10.98, HearthSong.

Procedure (Day 1):

1. Preparation:

    • Organize students in partners – pair students to foster conversation.
    • Pass out one burdock stem, one pair of tweezers, one Styrofoam tray, two hand lenses, and two Observation Pages for each partnership. Students will also need pencils. Have students label their trays with their initials, for future days.
    • On chart paper or the SmartBoard, recreate the chart from the Observation Page. In the center, write the words, “I notice…” At the bottom of the page, write “I wonder…”

2. Define observation: “When you notice details about something, you are making observations. Scientists use observations to understand the world around them, and to help them ask good questions.”

3. Model observation.

    • “Hmmm… I’m looking at my stem. I know it’s a burdock – you might not know that. I notice that it’s mostly brown.” [On the chart, make a bubble connected to the center bubble. Label the new bubble “mostly brown.”]
    • “Let’s see. I notice that the stem has some streaks of green in it, too. I’ll connect that to the color bubble I already have.” [Draw a new bubble, and label the bubble “streaked with green.”]. “I wonder if the whole thing started out green, then turned brown?” [At the bottom of the Observation Page, write the question, “Did the whole branch start out green, then turn brown?” under, “I wonder…]
    • “Ok. There are these round balls on the stems. I think they’re seeds or seed pods or something. I notice that they’re really prickly – they stick to my fingers!” [Add new bubbles, “very prickly,” “round things.” Add the question, “I wonder what these round things are?” to “I wonder…”]
    • Give students a minute or two to copy what you have written so far onto their own Observation Pages.

[Teacher’s Note: A Bubble Map is a brainstorming tool, so don’t worry about categorizing the responses right now – that can be done in another step. This step is focusing on describing with adjectives. If student’s response is not in the form of an adjective, paraphrase it to make it an adjective (with the student’s permission).]

4. Shared PracticeObservation.

  • Invite students to share observations that they can make about their own specimens, adding them to the class display as above.
  • Add additional observations to the class Observation Page.
  • Collect trays and tools for the next session.

Procedure (Day 2):         

1. Preparation:

    • Have students find their partners.
    • Pass out materials, or have a helper pass them out.
    • Post class Observation Page.

2. Review:

  • “What is observation? Why is it important in science?”
  • “What observations did we make about our burdock specimens yesterday?” – (Review class chart – have student volunteers read or report – add new observations as necessary).
  • Introduce the word attributes. Define attributes as the kinds of things we noticed about the burdock specimens (“We said the burdocks were mostly brown, and streaked with green. Those are all words that describe the attribute, color.”).

 3.      Guided PracticeObservation

  • Next, give students several minutes to explore their specimens using the hand lens [Teacher’s Note: Encourage students to closely examine the barbs on the fruits with the hand lenses, but don’t tell them what they’re for.]
  • [Support: Be prepared to guide students to put their responses in adjective form. It is also very important to encourage students to include questions at the bottom. Paraphrase their statements to form questions, if needed (E.g. “Look at those tiny things inside! Maybe they’re seeds” becomes “I wonder if those tiny things inside are seeds?”]
  • As students are ready, invite them to next use the tweezers to dissect one of the seed pods, continuing to add to their observation sheets.

4. Independent Practice – Observation

  • Provide interesting specimens in the Nature Corner Center for independent observations by the students. Provide any tools that would help the students make observations (hand lenses, tweezers, scissors, plastic knives, etc.), as appropriate. Include sufficient copies of the Observation Page for all.
  • Post the class Observation Page in the Center, for reference.
  • Post the vocabulary words, “observation,” “observe,” “attribute,” “notice…” and “wonder…” in the Center.
  • See “The Nature Corner” for more details on setting up a nature study center in your classroom.

 See the photo gallery, below, for ideas for seeds and other plant materials to put in the Nature Center, in order to help students develop their observation skills.

 

Wrap-up (Day 3 and ongoing):

  • Students place Observation Page in their science journals.
  • Teacher continues to use “I notice… I wonder…” in multiple contexts.
  • Students continue to use “I notice… I wonder…” in multiple contexts.

How could you use “I notice… I wonder…” when you’re reading? How could you use your powers of observation when you go into the cafeteria at lunchtime? When you return from recess today, be ready to share 3 things you noticed, and one thing you wondered, about the weather today.

Key Vocabulary:

  • Adjective
  • Describe
  • Observe, observation
  • Attribute
  • Notice
  • Wonder

Follow-up:

  • Which of your five senses did you use the most when making your observations? Which did you use the least? Why?
  • Read over your questions, under “I Wonder…” Which can you answer by more observation? Which of your questions must be answered by doing some kind of research or experiment first? Why?
  • Why do you think it is important to ask questions in science?
  • Why do scientists make observations about things?

 

Let’s Go Outside! Outdoor Activities to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature. Paperback, $14 (HearthSong)

Grade-Level Considerations:

Pre-K/K:

Students who are very young are learning that objects have properties, some which can be observed directly, using their senses, others which can be determined using simple tools and tests. The focus for them is on honing their observational skills, and sharing their observations orally.

When sharing this learning task with little ones, ask them questions, like the ones below.

  • What did you notice? Which of your senses did you use to notice that?
  • What word could you use to describe _____? Can you think of another word that means the same thing?
  • How did using scientific tools help you make different observations?
  • Why do scientists observe things?
  • If you were a world-famous scientist, what would you want to observe next? Why?
  • What other things did you observe today? Explain.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Focus on conversation with preschool and kindergartners [Image credit: kjarrett 2012 via Creative Commons]

Grades 1/2:

As students enter the primary grades, they are learning that living things have structures that help them to survive. They begin to notice and can explain the connection between the structures of living things and their specific function (e.g., the stinger on a bee helps it protect itself and the hive). They are becoming more adept at the use of tools to investigate their world, and are learning to select the appropriate tools for a given situation. They can compare the way a seed is formed with the way that it is dispersed and begin to see the function behind the form.

Providing a variety of science tools leads primary grade students to explore their world in different ways, and to gather different kinds of information. In addition, providing unfamiliar objects to explore helps students at this age apply the skills that they have practiced in new contexts. As students work, ask them questions such as these:

  • Which tool would be better for ______? Why might this be?
  • How could you answer your “I Wonder” question? What tools would you need?
  • If you were making observations about underwater plants, what tools would you need? Would you need to make your observations a different way? Work with a partner to design this new exploration.
  • Use pictures and words to describe your observations.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Primary grade students are learning that living things are the way they are for a purpose [Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett 2012]

Grades 3/4:

Children who are moving through the elementary grades are exploring the relationships between and interdependence of living and non-living things in the environment. They are beginning to understand that some structures of living things make them better adapted for their living conditions — that there is an underlying purpose behind the way that plants and animals are designed, the environment they live in, and how they go about finding food, shelter and ways to reproduce. They are also moving beyond concrete to representational, and are using symbols and visuals to show ideas.

Children in the elementary grades can begin to discuss how certain seed dispersal mechanisms benefit plants that live in different ecosystems (e.g., why a tumbleweed disconnects from its roots when the seeds are ripe, on a windy prairie). They are also more adept at creating their own graphic organizers (“thinking maps”) to organize information in meaningful ways.

If this exploration is conducted with elementary grade students, ask them questions like the ones, below:

  • Look at the structure of _______. How do you think this plant disperses its seeds? Draw a picture showing how this might occur.
  • In what kind of environment would this seed dispersal mechanism be important? Explain.
  • Look at the words you used to describe _______. Organize your descriptions into categories. Name each attribute.
  • Create a flow map showing how _______ reproduces itself, starting with the dried fruit. Label each step in the process.
  • Find another wildflower seed head in the Nature Center that you think disperse its seeds a different way. Explain its seed dispersal mechanism. Use pictures and words to explain your thinking.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

Elementary students begin to infer and explain the reasons why living things look and behave the way they do, based on observing patterns in nature [Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett 2011]

Grades 5/6:

Students in the middle grades are honing their skills as scientists, and learning to evaluate the validity of experimental methods and claims. Their experiments should focus on evaluating and selecting among various scientific claims. They can be expected to produce more sophisticated arguments and presentations, based on data and resources.

When conducting this investigation with older elementary students, consider the following adaptations:

  • Find two other plants that have the same seed dispersal mechanism as _______. Compare the seeds of these three plants. With a partner, make a chart showing what is sometimes true, always true, and never true about plants with this seed dispersal mechanism.
  • How would you find out if you were correct when deciding what seed dispersal mechanism _______ uses? Describe the investigation.
  • Find an article online that describes the various ways that plants disperse their seeds.

Common Core State Standards Connections:

In the middle grades, students practice making scientific claims and evaluating others claims, using observations and other data sources [Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett 2011]

Suggested Resources:

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