Natural Science Studies in Fourth Grade Main Lesson Blocks

From Linda Weyerts, Class Teacher: The writing samples and drawings you see here are from our four-week block on map making and our four-week block on local mammals. Expository writing skills develop from the rich vocabulary of natural science  and a  multi-sensory approach to narrative.

We began our geography and natural science studies with the First People and their sense of the Sacred in nature. The students listened to Abenaki and Algonquin creation stories and legends told orally, followed by field studies and observations of weather, trees, animals and landscapes.

Children today need more time outdoors to develop their understanding of the natural world. This process of students learning the curriculum of “ Natural World Literacy” at Orchard Valley begins in third grade with the farming and gardening  work in fall and spring. Our nature studies in fourth grade include the world of animals in their natural habitat.

This fall we have been exploring the local landscape and learning about how maps are made, starting from our own classroom out in ever widening circles. As the first snow fell, we began to notice what mammals live in our meadows, orchards, and riparian margins as we learn about the science of winter tracking.

This hands-on experience is one way our students enter into a fresh understanding of the living systems of the natural world. In  the context of forest ecology reflects a new capacity in the child to care for the environment of self, home, family, and community in ever widening circles. 
Living Like Abenaki People by Caleb
I am SharpEagle. I am a boy who lives in a village by the water. I just got a new canoe so I decided to go hunting. I pushed my boat from the shore on Hunt day. The water was calm and I could just make out a loon in the distance. I drew an arrow and shot. I hit it and paddled over and brought it home. I had a goodmeal that night. My day ended around a nice fire.

Life Along the Winoski River by Miloe
Today is hunting day. I woke up and had fish for breakfast. I went outside to get ready to go hunting. I got my bow and went into the woods. I saw a deer and pulled the bowstring back. I shot the arrow. It hit the deer. I skinned the deer and pulled it to my village. We had a great feast to celebrate.

Today is Tuesday. I woke up to see fog on the lake. Later on I saw a great blue heron. Then I went hunting and got a deer. I brought it home and ate it for dinner and went to bed.

Life Along the Winoski River by Wyatt
Today I am going on an adventure. Two days ago I helped build a canoe with my family. I think I am going to ride Step High, my horse, to the boat. I rode along side my brother, Brown Deer. When we got to the river my father said, "Kaya, go fetch the food from our basket," and I did. When we were in the lake I asked if I could go swimming. Father said, "yes!"

I dove in. the water felt cool. I swam lower and saw a lot of fish; cat fish, king fish, and trout. I came up with a cat fish. Father was surprised!