“Their grass might be greener, but our grass has snow on top so we can sled.” This was one response to asking what students thought when they heard the grass is greener phrase. I love how many children chose to look at the positive aspects of the situation, while most of the adults around them are complaining about the snow and cold that comes with winters in Michigan. Our green grass will return in a few months, until then we’ll enjoy sledding and other fun winter sports, then head inside for some cocoa and warm thoughts about warm places.
This month we’ve been on an African Adventure at Adventure Academy. We’ve prepared for Safari, observed the animals, and now learned about “Life in the Grasslands” with help from Mother Goose Time. Although we utilize many curriculums for our tots to teen students this program is the one that can be simplified or extended to meet the most needs and interests of a mulit-age classroom. From english to mathematics we adapt lessons to reinforce basic skills and introduce new concepts. From science to social studies our students are engaged in understanding their own community while learning about lands far away and appreciating diverse cultures.
While learning about diverse cultures children discover the curiosity to travel and engage with new people. Often one becomes grateful for the traditions and lifestyles in their own homes. Older students who researched the lifestyles in various African societies discussed how blessed they are to live without having to carry a bucket of water on their heads to have some water closer to home! This topic also led to the discussion of human needs and rights as the Flint water crisis unfolded downstate. Integrating the theme meant while older students continued comparing and contrasting local and world news, younger students enjoyed the visuals and stories of far off lands.
Integrating the lessons for diverse ages meant older students worked on patterns with meaning for their Maasai bracelets, while younger students worked on their small motor skills and noted bead colors and shapes. We thought of reasons for the bracelets such as jewelry during a celebration or as a gift for another during a holiday. We talked about the difference of buying vs making vs doing gifts for another. In doing a gift for another do we expect payment? Should our chores be for payment or as a volunteer in appreciation? These are questions even the youngest of students answered.
What if you lived in an African hut? What type of chores would be different than in your own home? What kind of celebrations would you host if you lived there? Who would come celebrate with you? While inventing a story with a “storytelling set” we decided we could not invite the animals as most were too big, too wild, or would eat the guests. What if you were watching an elephant migration from your window and noticed they were tired and hungry, should you help? The conversations of helping others and helping animals showed the caring nature of the children in our program.
Often these conversations were started with a teacher directed question, but continued on while the teacher only observed, listened and answered questions that meant first looking up the correct response. From using the books in our resource library to searching the internet children discovered that no one has all the answers, but most everything can be answered. Children love learning. They are curious and want answers and by simply providing the answers we’re not encouraging their curiosity. Sometimes Adventure Academy gets a bit off the lesson plan, as we let the learning process take over. When we get back on track we find we learned so much more than the original objective and we learned by increasing our problem solving skills.
While problem solving an issued making instruments we learned about other things that create music, we learned about rhythm and beat, we learned about the music animals create and how they too sing and dance. We learned about the sounds animals make to communicate feelings of celebration, happiness, sadness, being scared … “What noise would you make if you were about to become a lions dinner” was just one question a student asked. That answer was loud!!! The loud response quieted down the food chain as we learned about who ate what and when – and why. The circle of life was a sad topic for some so understanding the reasons helped with acceptance of why the lion was the king of the jungle in Africa and why the cute lil’ bunny would be eaten locally.
We ended our week by comparing the animal kingdoms and lifestyles around the world, ending back at home to appreciate our snow covered yard. We followed animal foot prints and made our own before going on a sledding adventure! If you know a lil’ one who’d like to join in our learning adventures we only have a couple part time spaces remaining so email Christi@MiFamilies.com soon to enroll! If you have other questions about Adventure Academy or other programs that Mi Families facilitates please feel free to email as well. If you’d like to network with Christi or other providers or parents please find us on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube … and let us know where else you are on social media so we can join you! Thanks for reading this weeks article – please subscribe above for updates about our future adventure.