During the Summer I enjoy changing things up a little bit by utilizing the early childhood education program Growing Up WILD. Growing Up WILD is a phenomenal curriculum designed to educate children regarding wildlife and the outdoors while simultaneously providing activities that focus on Math, Science, Health, Art, and Language and Literacy. Each lesson plan in the Growing Up WILD curriculum adheres to the NAEYC standards and correlates with Head Start Domains.
Since our standard curriculum's topic for the month of June is water, I pulled activities from several activity plans within the Growing Up WILD curriculum in order to enhance what is presented within Passports. Perhaps our favorite week was our exploration of The Deep Blue Sea, wherein we lost ourselves in learning about the ocean and the animals that dwell beneath its surface. My students were ecstatic to learn all about different sea creatures, especially jellyfish and squid.
Initially I planned on simply glossing over saltwater and its importance due to the amount of activities and lessons I had already prepared. However, one student brought the subject up before I did and was so excited to tell the class that the ocean is different than lakes or rivers because it “tastes funny.” I love it when this happens; a child can recall an event or experience that he was a part of in the past and completely change the direction of our day. We ended up learning about the importance of saltwater for the animals that live in the ocean and why it is dangerous for humans and other animals to drink a lot of saltwater. After this discussion, though, we were able to make our own saltwater and taste a small amount by dipping our fingers in the solution.
One of my favorite ways to enhance a certain unit is to begin each day with a book in connection with its theme. Big Al and Shrimpy by Andrew Clements was read multiple times due to its popularity with my students, and was even read by a special guest. During our "free choice" center time, I set out various books in relation to water for my students to explore on their own or with a partner.
Growing Up WILD has introduced a lot of amazing things to my students, and I will definitely continue to use it in the future. It has acted as a tool to get them excited about outdoor learning! Their website, www.projectwild.org/GrowingUpWILD.htm, is a great place to look for lesson plans and activities to integrate with each monthly curriculum theme.
Mr. Daniel is the Kindergarten Prep Academy Teacher at #202 in Oklahoma City, OK. Children leave his class more than prepared for Kindergarten. The parents at his school are always impressed with his creativity, love for teaching, and tenacity in the classroom.