On January 30, Friends of the Rappahannock educators, Meredith Palumbo and Lowery Becker, met with Head Start teachers from the Fredericksburg area to provide training on curriculum kits based on six lessons from the early childhood Project Learning Tree lesson book. There are two boxes that focus on a variety of animal and tree lessons.
The kits have prepped materials that go along with some of the lessons to aid in teaching lessons from the book. The purpose of the kits is to make it easier for Head Start teachers to do the activities in the Project Learning Tree book and encourage teachers to take their students outside to learn.
During the Professional Development, we introduced the teachers to the activities in kits. The 16 teachers split up into six groups to discuss the activities prepped from the tree-focused curriculum kit. We had the teachers do a mock lesson using the materials provided in their group. After they ran through the given lesson they had to come up with two variations from the lesson and two alternative activities using the same materials provided. Even though there are specific lessons from the Project Learning Tree book that correspond to the given materials, teachers can be creative in how they use the materials in the classroom.
One group focused on a lesson called “The Shape of Things.” They were given a bracelet of circles, squares, and triangles. The goal of this lesson is for students to identify and describe these common shapes and pair them with objects around them. They will play “I Spy” and take a nature walk, looking for things in nature that match the shapes on their bracelets. The teachers reviewing this lesson found that they could add math to this by counting and charting how many objects they found of each shape.
The materials encourage teachers to be creative with lesson plans and get the children to go outside and learn in their natural environment. We added laminated shapes, different graded sandpaper, tree cookies, laminated native tree leaves, seasonal pictures, log building blocks, a felt trunk and leaves, nature guides and books, jars, magnifying glasses, and shovels to the curriculum kits. These given materials go along with activities from the Project Learning Tree book but can also be used in various ways, as teachers may use the materials for lessons other than trees, such as habitats, life cycles, communities, seasons, animals, etc.
There are two sets of the animal and tree curriculum kits for the three Fredericksburg Head Start programs to share. We are currently working on creating the tree kit for the nine Spotsylvania Head Start schools with generous funding from the PNC Grow-Up Great Grant.
Field Trip Coordinator