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PBL Camp: PreK-Grade 2 (Week 1)

PBL Camp: PreK-Grade 2 (Week 1)

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How will you make the oil spill relevant to your early elementary students? This is our brainstorming thread -- any and all ideas and thoughts welcome!
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Cheryln's picture
5th & 6th teacher from NYC

The oil spill, while devestating, is a great way to introduce the environment to students of all ages. I teach 2nd grade, so this topic can be used in Geography, Science, Math and Religion (I teach Catholic school).

Geography - the students can use a US map to see where the spill happened and chart it's path up the Atlantic.

Science - students can research the animals and ecosystems affected. It's a great way to introduce the ocean environment and the animals that live there.

Science Experiment: Get a large tub and fill with water. Then put plastic ocean animals in it. Pour in cooking oil (you can use food coloring to darken it) to show how water and oil don't mix and what it does to the animals. The students can then clean the animals using Dawn dish liquid. You could even use feathers so the students can really see how the oil affected the birds that live in the Gulf.

Math: They can creat bar graphs or pictographs showing how many animals have been rescued. They will have to keep track of this on a weekly basis through technology (researching online).

Religion: They can discuss God's creation. The Book of Genesis can be used (the creation story).

Rita's picture
multi-age teacher pre-k -2nd grade

Since I live and teach in Atlant GA and am semi-removed from the gulf. I plan to do water and oil experiments with the students. First I will start a dialogue by asking them if they have heard of the oil spill, then ask them what they think about it. I will use thier feedback to guide the discussion and the experiments. One project that would be useful is to take a clear water bottle and add sand and small toys then fill it 3/4 with water and then fill the rest with oil to simulate an oil spill to show them how the oil and water don't mix. Then ask them questions about the effects of this on a real beach. We could end the project by journaling about the effects on plants and wild life from the oil spill and going to the Georgia aquarium. Hopefully they will be doing some educational programs about the oil spill there.

Brenda's picture
First grade teacher

Great thoughts, everyone. Maybe this won't be as difficult as I originally thought. The penguin jumpers sound wonderful. As a knitter, I wish I had known about it.

Question: What time frame do you see this happening in? A day? A few days? A week?

Christa Griffith's picture

I like these ideas. For an economic idea: I was thinking to find out, by researching online, how much money the people in the gulf are losing on a daily basis. Or just focus on one type of business. But I also like the focus of the animals and the affects it is having on them. Being near the Texas Gulf, I like the idea of determining where the oil spill is on our coastline and where it may be heading. Obviously, I need to narrow down the purpose and focus on one area. Any ideas on how to organize this?

Laura Rieker's picture

Susan's idea is great, about the sweaters.  Working with Pre-K ESE students I need to stick to some very basic concepts.  Awareness will be the big A we are working on.  I always have a penguin display up in my classroom.  Living in Florida, the children can grasp the concept of beaches, so I like to talk about various habitats in other parts of the world-hence penguins.  We always do a unit on sea life, and have sea animals in our water table.  I can expand on Susan's other idea of oil on the animals and have the students try to wash the oil off the sea creature toys with and without soap, (just salt water).

Laura Rieker's picture

A cost effective way to make sweaters (provided the toy penguins are small) is to take old socks and cut out arm and neck holes in the socks. (This is how my duaghter makes sweaters for her stuffed animals and dolls).

Amanda Walma's picture

Very cute ideas with the penguin sweaters...but are there any penguins in the Gulf? Or were you just thinking about oil spills in general?

Deborah Robinson's picture

I really liked the experiment suggestion that Susan Hoffsis provided in this discussion. Thanks Susan! It is helping me to generate some ideas for my classroom experiments and questions for discussion.

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