Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Camouflage and Binoculars

On Monday we went deep into to the African forests and mountains to see if we could spot some Chimps or Gorillas. We made binoculars from paper towel tubes and then watched a couple short clips  on the laptop of what apes do in the wild (ie. eat bugs off each other, swim, swing, and lounge around with their family). We then examined our outfits and added dress up clothes of green, brown and black to camouflage ourselves. With our notebooks in hand we set off into the jungle to do some "observations."  
I was so proud of what happened next!

I was able to step back while the explorers wandered around the classroom, some by themselves and some with partners. They whispered and tiptoed and pointed at invisible chimps and gorillas. They were using great words to describe to each other what they were seeing. They would look for a few minutes through their binoculars and then step back and write a few notes in their notebooks. They would walk by another child on their way to a new location and report to them what they had just seen over in another area.  This activity continued for at least twenty minutes without any teacher guidance or interference. So much focus. So much whispering :)

Our binoculars
Our camouflage
A great view of the chimps from under this hiding spot. :)
Sharing notes

Lots to write.
Do you see what I see?

At the end, I called them all over to share notes and discuss what kinds of things they saw. Some notebooks had scribbles, some had letters, and some had elaborate drawings of their observations.  They saw apes with babies, apes swimming, apes cracking nuts with rocks and someone even spotted a chimp with his own pair of binoculars.  

Learning in action

Here are some random pictures of different things we have been working on.
 It probably looks like we are just playing, but we're not!

Science and Art all in one. The amazing combination of eye droppers, watercolor and paper towel. Its fascinating to watch the colors spread when the drop hits the paper towel, usually resulting in some color mixing.
Gravity, Inertia and Exercise!
Shaving Cream and Blocks works on muscle control and balance.
Stacking cups is math and also involves a lot of coordination and concentration.
Creativity is always increased when working under a table. This is "Miss K's" flower garden.
African mask making explores art, social studies, and emotions as well.
Do they scare you or make you laugh?