Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nonfiction and Hands On Science

I am a hands on science advocate. Perhaps that's because my uncle founded Delta Education in his basement when I was a kid. My mom taught teacher workshops and founded a science book company in our basement. As newlyweds, my husband and I took on a regional, (non-Delta!) science kit packing job and filled our entire house with Rubbermaid tubs, stacked 7 high. We counted every seashell and cut every dowel in that kit. So I come up on this hands-on thing honestly. No wonder I'm a big fan of fellow INKer, Vicki Cobb.

Anyway, I was thrilled when nonfiction author Gwendolyn Hooks sent me an article about a program called Trout Are Made of Trees and Trout, Trout, Trout: a Fish Chant. (Years ago I wrote River and Stream and Wetlands, as well.)

My dream would be for great nonfiction to be a bookend, read before and after hands on science experiences.
Here's a link to a page that has other aquatic programs such as Leaf Pack, Project Learning Tree, Project Wet, Project Wild, Leopold Education Project. Here's a link to funders they suggest.
Here's a link to more fish-related activities from my school visit travels.

Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan link picture books to science lessons in their books, Picture Perfect Science Lessons and More Picture Perfect Science Lessons.

Get messy folks, and then read some nonfiction. That's exactly what I am doing. I'll be muddy in the garden today. Then, like yesterday, I'll probably consult a field guide (Cool caterpillar, what is it?), or two.


Vicki Cobb said...

Great post, April. In fact it gave me the inspiration for my next post, Why "Hands-on" Anyhow?
I once gave a workshop for Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan. The problem for the class-room teacher when it comes to hands-on science is classroom control. The reading/recitation lesson model makes it easy for the teacher to maintain decorum regardless of whether or not anyone is learning anything. Dr.Wendy Saul has worked extensively in the area of linking hands-on science and literacy. I think I'll ask her to do a guest blog.

April Pulley Sayre said...

Vicki, that would be great. You are so right about classroom organization/control. I have no clue about how to do that kind of thing and I love to witness skilled educators coordinating science activities. What amazes me is how fun and creative it seems. Some of the techniques make the work seem like a game, a challenge, a joy. The kids have no idea they are being "managed" and encouraged to organize and flow from activity to activity.

Wendie O said...

April, I love 'hands-on" science, too. In my library, I present books/ stories first, then let the group do the activities I have set up around the room.

I create some sort of control by taking an idea from teachers -- stations. (and also letting adults and parents be in the program with the children -- everyone participates/ no sitting in the back, gossiping allowed.)

The children and adults flow from station to station, doing the activity or craft at that station, then moving on to another station. They seem to self-regulate the crowd control.

Fun! -wendie old