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I am working on a similar project on ecological issues geared toward
nature habitats. I was also thinking about focussing on a project at
the third grade level as the starting place to get kids interested in
the environment, to help them realize the issues, and start small by
thinking about what they can do at home to start, then continue this by
thinking about what they can do in their communities, then promoting
community awareness to make it grow. The trick is doing something in
each of these areas and continuing to do it at each grade level as they
grow up, BUT what is suitable and not too much information to start at
the third grade level.
This is still in the works, but I think I will have them research what
all is involved in making a bird house on personal property (issues
around - wind, rain, predators, animosity with other birds, what birds
are typical to what region of the country, size of bird, needs of the
bird, food source, what type of birds do you want to attract, ease of
cleaning, danger to bird, habitats that blend in with nature, manmade
dangers to birds, even using recycled materials -- as long as they are
natural). This gets them in touch with the environment, issues around
science, recycling, and researching/thinking about everything involved).
Once you have them think about public property habitats, it gets
complicated really fast.
The issues surrounding putting one (or more) birdhouses on public
property (social and political issues, larger range of species
interaction, aesthetics and blending in with the environment,
decomposition and danger of materials, temporary vs. permanent habitats,
and upkeep, if permanent. This adds issues about why we are doing it --
if it is because mankind destroyed natural habitats or because we want
to draw a particular species to an area, then the resulting impact from
doing that. Are we impacting the environment (or the balance of nature)
more by incorporating foreign materials or attracting wildlife not
native to an area. If this encourages increased population does that
mean more animals will be killed if it is in an area where they have
limited space so the new population is forced into populated areas.
And, this list just builds and builds! I would not cover all of this
with the third grade class but start out with their own backyard and
then develop it further in later lessons. The more I think about it the
more issues I find. They are all valid issues, but its getting too
complicated. All I wanted to do was raise social consciousness and
start out with the younger kids. I may change this totally. Like start
out with creating the private property birdhouses (and doing research),
take a walk through a woods, and start thinking and observing what is
around us to help them think about issues. Actually, that feels
better. Thanks! This is helping me sort things out. I will probably
focus on teaching them about the birds native to their area, recognizing
their calls, etc., then take them on a nature walk to figure out what
species live in their area and then research the animals characteristics
and habitat needs (if the birds/animals are prone to living in manmade
structures) and go from there.
I was also thinking about talking to the kids about non-functional
birdhouses. There are several artists who make birdhouses with the
holes too small for a bird to fit in which makes you think about social
consciousness. How many things we do without really researching all the
issues and taking responsibility. We may be well-meaning but if we
don't think about all aspects or long term effects, we may just be
adding to the problem.
This is still in the experimental stage, I am having trouble deciding if
I should stick with third grade and just do the preliminary issues or
focus on a different age group so we could get into the more complicated
I would like to hear more about what you are doing too! I tried the
website you listed and it said it did not exist. Would you please see
if this is the correct address. I entered:
Also, I would love to hear more about the Joseph Beuy's project. I'm
going to search for more info as soon as I send this.
I'll look forward to hearing your brainstorming!