This fall, our second grade science units have focused on living things. I have been on a mission to bring science to life for my students by providing lots of hands-on, interactive experiences. To kick off our year, we studied our five senses and characteristics of living things. We went outside to find and draw living and non-living things. (That's about as close to a field trip as we get!) At the end of our 5 senses unit, I surprised my students with our first interactive science experience and brought in a tub of hermit crabs for them to observe - with only 4 senses, of course... no one needs to taste a hermit crab! My students live so close to the ocean, yet many of them have never been to the beach and didn't know what hermit crabs were. We wrote our observations, discussed whether hermit crabs were living things, and a few days later observed that they were outgrowing their shells! The kids LOVED the hermit crabs, and I loved the curiosity, questioning, and scientific conversations that took place!
Next, we started our plant study. We learned all about what plants need to survive and how the parts of the plant help it to grow and live. To integrate literacy, we read the book ¡Tiempo de calabazas! which talks about what pumpkins need to grow and about the parts of a pumpkin plant. Naturally, we took another "field trip" across the schoolyard to observe some of the school's plants and touch each part as we named it. We even dug in the dirt a little to find some roots!
This week we studied the life cycle of plants, specifically pumpkins. We read Calabazas, Calabazas, which follows a pumpkin from seed all the way to pumpkin. This is one of my favorite weeks because we actually "planted" a pumpkin. And we planted it INSIDE of itself!
First we observed the outside and the inside (I had cut the top off already), then we carefully spooned dirt into the auyama (Dominican pumpkin) and poured in a little water. My students said, "Don't put the top back on or the sun won't get in and it won't grow!" So we set it in the sun and observed it every day. My students predicted that it will grow lots of auyama plants because there were lots of seeds in the auyama. They also predicted that the first day we won't see anything, but maybe the second or third day we'll see some sprouts.
Every day this week my kids came to school and immediately reminded me to water the auyama. Every day we observed that it hadn't sprouted yet. We had also just read The Carrot Seed, in which a little boy plants a seed and everyone in his family tells him it won't sprout. This turned out to be an unintentional but great literacy connection as we, too, were worried that our seeds wouldn't sprout!
Today when my kids came to school, they came running to find me: "¡Profe! ¡Profe! ¡Se brotó!" (It sprouted!) They were SO excited to see three sprouted seeds sticking out of the dirt in the auyama! We had some great conversations while we observed the auyama and talked about how it will grow. I don't know how the auyama will do over the weekend, but regardless, it provided another great interactive science experience for my kiddos - they are excited about science, they're talking like scientists, and they really did learn the pumpkin life cycle!