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Monday, May 18, 2015

Learning Science In Your Local Habitat

"Where a love of natural beauty has been cultivated, all nature becomes a stupendous gallery, as much superior in form and in coloring to the choicest collections of human art, as the heavens are broader and loftier than the Louvre or the Vatican." - Horace Mann

Students may see this magnificent bird during local study.
(photo credit)
A long time ago, my son wrote a report about developing interest and enthusiasm about the local habitat. His essay was born from his many adventures running and hiking through local woods, farms, and conservation lands as well as canoeing, kayaking, and swimming in the ponds, lakes, and rivers near our home.

Similarly, as a child, I spent many days exploring the local forests, parks, hills, mountains, and fields in my community and throughout New England with my family. Those adventures developed my love of nature and a strong sense of family too.

Now as a teacher, I know it's important to develop a sense of stewardship and knowledge about the natural world in students. Fortunately I live in an area where citizens support the natural world by preserving land, supporting conservation organizations, and establishing curriculum standards that meet outdoor education/exploration needs and interests.

As I studied the life science standards in the newly revised Massachusetts elementary science framework, I realized that we can teach those standards with the lens of our local habitat. Therefore I made a number of standards-based exploration cards that we'll use in the days ahead as we venture into nearby woods and river habitats.

It is important to provide our students with the opportunity to study and learn about their local habitat in engaging and informative ways so that they develop their ability to become stewards of local lands and water. Too often local habitats are overlooked, and as teachers of young children, we have the opportunity to make positive change in this regard.