Some years ago (these sweet children are about to graduate from college!) my first grade class was engaged in a study of waterways. This was a year-long investigation and adventure that we took together with our 4th grade buddies. We visited the pond in Prospect Park, the Gowanus Canal, and the ocean at Breezy Point. Along with the 4th graders, we took an exciting ride on the MetroNorth train, and followed the Hudson River all the way to the Croton Reservoir.
Along with a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection, the children did water-testing experiments in class, took a walk around the neighborhood to observe how water is tested at various water-checking stations located on different streets and we also visited the water control center at the reservoir in Central Park.
Our “big bang trip” was a boat ride in Jamaica Bay with five instructors from the New York Aquarium. The instructors set up five different exploration stations and the children spent time at each one.
Our assistant principal, Richard Goldstein a former science teacher, spoke to the children about different landforms and how they interact with and form the various waterways. He helped the children make mini-landforms in small plastic boxes. The next day at the suggestion of the children, we followed this up at Choice Time by creating various landforms in our sand/water table, mapping the landforms and then pouring down “rain” creating rivers and islands.
Sometimes there was a disagreement about how the landforms should be constructed , but the children were encouraged to do some research to settle their disputes!
Collaboration, sometimes conflict, creativity, research…all taking place at one center during Choice Time in a first grade class!