Sometimes the most simplest plans become the most profound! My first graders needed to learn about earth’s natural resources (I follow Virginia’s Standards of Learning). It was toward the end of the year and I was getting burnt out from creating/finding lessons. It was also beautiful weather out and I just wanted to be outside! We spent two days outside investigating two of earth’s resources- rocks and water. My kiddos are still talking about what we learned and discovered.
Day 1-HUNT FOR ROCKS:
I showed the students on our interactive board different types of rocks. I explained that rocks have three properties- color, shape, and size. Then, we went on a ROCK HUNT! I had to reiterate what we were doing a few times- looking for rocks vs. playing on the playground. My kiddos were engaged the entire 20 minutes while we were “rock hunting.” Even my lower functioning kids were enjoying the hunt. It was nice to see them working cooperatively and celebrating for each other when they each found rocks.
Day 2- SORT THE ROCKS:
We gathered at our group table to check out our rock collection. I drew three circles on the table using a dry erase marker. First, the students sorted by size, then shape, then color.
Day 3-WHERE DOES THE RAIN WATER GO?
I armed each student with a clipboard and a blank piece of paper. We were ready to draw diagrams of where water goes. First I pointed out that the rain is collected in gutters, so that the water doesn’t collect on the roof. Then, we looked for a STORM DRAIN! At the time, I did not realize how excited these kiddos would be search for a storm drain… but boy were they excited! They drew a picture of the storm drain on their clipboards and labeled the parts. I asked if they thought any Ninja Turtles lived down there and got an adamant “no!” LOL. One of my expert readers pointed out that it drains into the Chesapeake Bay. Even teachers learn something new 🙂 Finally, I held up a pitcher of water and asked them to predict which way the water would flow. Of course they all predicted it would flow toward the drain and they were right!
Moral of the story… Any kiddo, but especially kiddos with autism NEED these authentic and hands-on experiences to soak in new information. Use the resources around you and you do not always need to spend hours planning the perfect lesson. Now, whenever we go outside for recess I get a chorus of “let’s look at the storm drain!”
How do you try to create authentic experiences in your classroom?