Sunday, June 6, 2021

Animal Life Cycles

     During the spring season, SMART START incorporates the study of animal life cycles into its curriculum. Our young learners are provided the opportunity to be involved throughout the process of this natural science in a realistic setting. 

Learn about four different animal life cycles and the benefits of experiential learning below:

πŸ₯šπŸ£πŸ₯πŸ” Caring for chickens in our outdoor classroom is a segment of SMART START's daily routine. Classmates contribute to feeding, watering, cleaning and egg collecting. Everyone was eager to further their knowledge on the life stages of a chicken: egg, hatchling, chick and adult. Pupils participated in placing eggs inside an incubator, adding water to monitor humidity and rotating egg positions. We discussed the changes occurring within the egg as it forms from simply a yolk into a chick. After 21 days of anticipation, 7 chicks hatched! The class has been enthusiastically nurturing the hatchlings and have recently acquainted them to a coop outside. This biology teaching continues indefinitely as all will witness and assist the chicks as they grow into adulthood, lay eggs and begin the cycle again- learning through experience at its finest. 

πŸ›πŸ¦‹ Eager Entomologists look forward to viewing the developmental timeline of a butterfly at school each year. This process consists of: watching a caterpillar come out of an egg, seeing it form into a chrysalis, celebrating the butterfly's emergence and releasing it into nature. We successfully hatched 10 Painted Lady butterflies this spring! Caring for the butterflies consists of adding sugar to a wet cotton ball for nourishment. It is exciting to view the insects using their long proboscis (straw-like tongue) to drink. To conclude this curricular aspect, the group circled together to hear the classic story, "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle through a story time and short film. Learning about metamorphosis firsthand is certainly an unforgettable educational event. 

🐞 Hatching ladybugs is another annual favorite. Tubes of larvae are poured into our ladybug habitat and a small amount of water is added each day. After about ten days, there were dozens of adult ladybugs crawling about. SMART START Scientists used magnifying glasses to inspect the insects up close and were able to hold the ladybugs. We discussed that ladybugs are a type of beetle that are bright red to protect themselves from predators. After this hands-on encounter, the ladybugs were set free in our nature classroom. All were surprised to discover a few eggs left behind in the habitat. These were carefully placed outdoors for the life cycle to start once more. 

πŸƒ Last but not least, the life cycle of a praying mantis was explored. These critters develop inside a large egg case that can take up to 6 weeks to hatch. Peers waited patiently for the insects to arrive. Friends were fascinated to see hundreds of mantids one morning at school. Magnifying glasses and natural curiosity were utilized once again to examine. All bravely held a praying mantis and some even carried a handful of them outdoors to be released into the school garden. 

πŸ“š To reinforce life cycle learning, all took turns reviewing themed literature and materials to reflect and ask questions. Weeks have passed and our young learners are still applying the knowledge they gained from this unit. From finding a butterfly and stating that it, "emerged from a school chrysalis" to reminding the class that if we place eggs in an incubator they will take, "21 days to hatch", It is incredible what children can retain when exposed to subject matter through real life experiences. This method of teaching promotes a child's genuine desire to discover the world around them and sets them on their path to becoming a life long learner. 


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