Friday, June 06, 2014

Year-End Wrap-up: Extreme Environments Geography Studies

This year my third grader, Caroline, did a geography study that focused on three regions that have extreme climates: desert, jungle, and tundra.  She read three journal-style books about the authors' travels in the Sahara Desert, the Solomon Islands, and the Canadian Arctic.  She also used several supporting resources which I obtained through inter-library loan, and these were used in addition to the three main books to create her own notebook.

The three main books, or "spines," for this geography unit:
52 Days by Camel: My Sahara Adventure by Lawrie Raskin with Deborah Pearson
Jungle Islands: My South Sea Adventure by Maria Coffey and Debora Pearson

What I loved about this geography study was how I merely had to provide the resource books and the blank page, along with a list of extension topics, and Caroline was on her own to show what she learned and what resonated most with her in the notebook that she created.  I am becoming more and more convinced that starting with a blank page is so much more effective - and less time-consuming on the teacher, an added bonus! - than giving a pre-made worksheet.  And I didn't even have to come up with the additional books and the list of jumping-off ideas for her to use... shoutout to Jill at Our Home on the Range, who shared her plans that she made for this herself, for which I thank her very much  Here are links to her posts with her plans on each environment: Sahara Desert, Solomon Islands, Canadian Arctic.  I found these to be so helpful - I just printed them out, put them in a binder with Caroline's other plans for the year, made sure to reserve the books at the library, and that was that!  Caroline used them as a guide and checked off each one as she completed it.  And now I want to share what she came up with as a result!  Click on any of the images to be able to read them - she draws and writes small, and writes a lot:

front cover - I buy these blank hardback books here
she made her own table of contents on the inside cover

The first book she read/notebooked was 52 Days by Camel: My Sahara Adventure:

Northern Africa Map notebook page.  Assignment: "Read "How I Became a Desert Explorer" (up through p. 5).
Draw a map for your notebook of northern Africa. Be sure to include Fez, Timbuktu, and other major cities, rivers, and ocean names."

Information about the city of Fez.  Assignment: "Read chapter 1, "Fun Times in Fez."
Make a page for your notebook on Fez."

The Atlas Mountains.  Assignment: "Read chapter 2, "Chills 'n' Thrills."
Make a page for your notebook on the Atlas Mountains."

Life in the Sahara.  Assignment: "Read chapter 3, "What a Blast!"
Make a page for your notebook on the Sahara. Use information from the library books."

Information on camels.  Assignment: "Read chapter 4, "A Camel Tale."
Make a page for your notebook on camels."

Bargaining in the markets.  Assignment: "Read chapter 5, "Fun in the Sun," and The Storytellers by Ted Lewin.
Make a page for your notebook on African markets and bargaining."
Mirages.  Assignment: "Read chapter 6, "Midnight Madness."
Make a page for your notebook on mirages."

Niger River Basin (she chose to focus on peanuts as one of the crops grown there).  Assignment: "Read chapter 7, "Almost There..."
You've been given a map of the Niger River Basin.  Make some notes about it on the paper for your notebook."

Timbuktu.  Assignment: "Read chapter 8, "Timbuktu at Last."
Make a notebook page on Timbuktu."

Salt Mining.  Assignment: "Read chapter 9, "In Search of Salt."
Make a notebook page on salt."

 The second book was Jungle Islands: My South Sea Adventure.  Caroline continued making pages in the same book so that all three environments were contained in the same notebook:

Map of the Area.  Assignment: "Create a map of the Solomon Islands for your notebook."

Information about coconuts.  Assignment: "Read chapter 1, "All Aboard!"
Research coconuts or sugar cane. Draw a picture of the life cycle of one of them for your notebook. Taste shredded coconut or make something with coconut milk for dinner."

Eclectus Parrot info.  Assignment: "Read chapter 2, "Jungle Eyes."
Read about wildlife mentioned in the chapter (parrot, bats, sharks, or mudskippers).  Draw an animal for your notebook with notes from your research."

Coral Reefs.  Assignment: "Read Life in a Coral Reef (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Wendy Pfeffer, Coral Reefs by Jason Chin, and This Is the Reef by Miriam Moss.
Draw and color a coral reef for your notebook with notes from your research."

War Canoes Built by Native Islanders.  Assignment: "Read chapter 3, "Come On In!"
Draw a picture of the war canoe built by the islanders and a picture of the kayak used by the author and photographer. Note the differences on your notebook page."
Crocodile Info.  Assignment: "Read chapter 4, "Crocodiles!"
Draw a picture of a crocodile for your notebook with written notes."

Frigate Birds.  Assignment: "Read chapter 6, "Into the Unknown."
Draw a page on frigate birds for your notebook."

Leatherback Turtles.  Assignment: "Read chapter 7, "Make Way for Giants."
Draw a page on leatherback turtles for your notebook with written notes."

 The third and final book was about the arctic, By Truck to the North: My Arctic Adventure (Adventure Travel) by Andy Turnbull with Debora Perason.  Here are the pages from it that completed Caroline's notebook:

Map of the author's route through Northwestern Canada to Alaska.  Assignment: "Read the introduction and chapter 1. Narrate.
Draw a map for your notebook of western Canada and Alaska. Be sure to include the towns they'll visit."

Totem Poles/Town of Kitwanga.  Assignment: "Read chapter 4. Narrate.
Make a page for totem poles for your notebook.
Learn a little about Kitwanga on this website."

She wanted to do a watercolor illustration of a totem pole... the bottom got cut off when I scanned it, sorry.  I love her writing style... "Totem Poles - eek! (They are a bit scary, with the faces and whatnot.)"

The Klondike Gold Rush.  Assignment: "Read chapter 5. Narrate.
Make a notebook page on the Klondike Gold Rush (using words and pictures). Use Klondike Gold by Alice Provensen in addition to your book."

The Northern Lights.  Assignment: "Read chapter 6. Narrate.
Make a notebook page on the northern lights. Be sure to include a little about how they form and draw a picture."
Caroline also wanted to use watercolors for this page... I told her if she got them really wet, then they would run together.  I think it looks awesome.  For any watercolor pictures that she made on watercolor paper, we just taped them into the book after they had dried.

Timber Wolves.  Assignment: "Read chapter 7. 
Make a notebook page on timber wolves or other animals of the Arctic."

Sunlight and Darkness in the North.  Assignment: "Read chapter 8. Narrate.
Make a page on the sunlight and darkness in the far north. Use Arctic Lights Arctic Nights."

Polar Bears.  Assignment: "Read chapter 9. Narrate.
Make a page on pingos for your notebook. Be sure to draw one and describe how they are formed. Alternatively, make a page on polar bears for your notebook using A Polar Bear Journey by Debbie S. Miller."
That is a printed out image of a polar bear, by the way.  She requested an image instead of drawing one.  You can see that she prefers writing to drawing when relaying information, so that was fine with me. 

We then used this book to get perspective on the opposite pole... the following pages are of the Antarctic and are based on reading from this book: Antarctic Journal: Four Months at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Owings Dewey.

Map of Antarctica and Palmer Station.  Assignment: "Read pp. 6-17. Narrate.
Draw a map of Antarctica for your notebook. Be sure to include Palmer Station. Add a few notes about Palmer Station to your page."

Killer Whales.  Assignment: "Read pp. 18-31. Narrate.
Make a page for your notebook about Litchfield Island or any of the animals mentioned in the book."

Blue Whales.  Assignment: "Read pp. 32-45. Narrate.
Make a page for your notebook about blue whales, winter and summer in Antarctica (p. 37), or glaciers in Antarctica."

Elephant Seals.  Assignment: "Read pp. 46-63. Narrate.
Make a page for your notebook about elephant seals, blue-eyed shags, icebergs, glacier snow, or Weddell seals."
And of course, she made a back cover complete with her own made-up website called "let'"

I learned a lot by watching Caroline complete this study... she is a very fast reader, and she would prefer to write about what she has learned than to retell it orally or to draw/map things.  I liked seeing how her pages would contain more written info as she progressed through the year.  She used several animal/natural world encyclopedia books that we own when looking for more info on any animals.  For an excellent list of additional supplementary books, see the posts I mentioned above on Our Home on the Range.  We checked many of them out and found them to be useful in exploring further!

1 comment:

Kansas Mom said...

Erin, these are fantastic! Her notebook pages are completely different (in a wonderful way) than what my son did. I've only done this with my oldest child, so I hadn't really considered how much freedom the notebooking pages give them to make their work truly their own. Thank you for sharing!