Grade Level: 3-5
Subject: Science
Teacher: Nancy Fisher, Sauvie Island Academy

Section off squares in an outdoor nature area. These can be a square foot or a few square feet, but not larger than that. Assign each student or pairs of students a section. Have them spend time observing, sketching, and, if possible, photographing what they see.These observations can be used in a number of units or themes. I like to tie them into our study of Lewis and Clark. Students choose one plant sample from their area to draw, describe in the fullest detail possible, then compare their descriptions with those written by Lewis from the journals of Lewis and Clark and books such as Plants of Fort Clatsop. Next, I may bring in a sample dozen plants that I want everyone to know over the course of the year. I will put the plants on a table and handout random descriptions to pairs of students. They will read the descriptions and try to identify what plant it matches.
We will discuss how the plants might be grouped and ways to describe their shape, edges, etc. after that we will look at the work of David Douglas, the botanist who classified plants on Sauvie Island among other places. We can look at different habitats over the year to write descriptions of trees, shrubs, and flowers.
*Throughout the year, students will return to their nature area that they were given. They will take temp. data, sketch, paint, write poetry, observe animal evidence, and write about how that area changes over time.