I have no excuse. I am just lazy. And I'll stop there.
But hey! I did manage to break my wrist on a field trip, so we can all take a small moment to feel sorry for me. Annnnd move on. Don't let anybody every tell you teaching isn't dangerous.
I do have something to share though. I'm pretty proud of myself.
In science we're doing our whole ecosystems unit. Making sure the kids know the difference between living and nonliving is part of the dealio. So, it turns out that it is a tad difficult to make an eight year old understand that water is not a living thing. And clouds, apparently it's not fair tat they aren't alive. Sheesh.
Lucky for me though, the night after this disastrous discussion, it rained. Which meant that by morning, the sidewalk was crawling with some juicy worms. Quick walk around the building and I had fifteen in a cup. FYI, when you put fifteen worms in a cup they get upset (or really NOT upset) and secrete junk. I don't want to know why.
Anyhoo- I scraped up a patch of dirt from the playground into a plastic tub and dumped in the worms. They had buried themselves within five minutes before the kids got to the room. So I pulled small groups and we went exploring in our plastic tub looking for signs of life. I was expecting to encounter at least one other type of bug, but it turned out to just be the worms.
What we did find though, was a bug casing, a ton of trash, and an interesting piece of quartz. Besides the worms. But in this small group exploration, we were able to have an extremely casual conversation about how we know we're alive. And how that helps us know that the worms are alive. And then how that helped us know that the grass was alive- but not the dirt, or the rocks, or the water. They all got it.
Awesomely, we were also able to tie in a discussion of how humans can harm or help an environment. We harm it by leaving our trash behind, but we can help it by removing the trash when we find it. I've now got a small legion of litter watchers out on the playground, picking up what they find and barking at people who drop things.
Tying this in to language arts time, we also recorded words we thought of to describe how the worms looked, and felt, and moved, and questions we still had about them. I compiled all of the different group ideas into one chart and the kids are using it to write about the worms during writing time, and also what to look up during computer research time.
It was an interesting assortment of trash that came out of this one little patch of ground I put in the box. And it has gotten me thinking about how I can tie this into a math lesson for Earth Day coming up this month. If I send my kids out to either gather trash from our school yard, we could sort the trash into categories and then graph the results. If then I have the kids share the information with the rest of the school, and develop ideas to reduce our yard trash- then I've nicely gotten this worm project wrapped up into student led action.
I was pretty surprised with myself for enjoying the worm hunt. I took my daughter to the reservoir this weekend thinking I could find a newt or crawdad or something. I men, how hard could it be? Last time I went with a friend and her boys and every five seconds they picked up a rock and said "Look what I found!" I found moss. MOSS. Which is interesting I suppose, but disappointing. Poor moss, I guess no one every gets excited about moss. I apparently do not have the necessary gene to find a newt. And neither did squirt. I guess I'll have to beg my dad to come with us next time.
I've taken to picking things up as I find them- a dried worm to put into a magnifier box to study. Even found a huge dead black beetle yesterday and heard myself tell the kids today- "You be careful! That's my treasure! Look how hairy it's legs are!" Who have I become? I refuse to touch a spider though. Unless, maybe, it were already dead and curled up. Maybe.