Sunday, June 1, 2014

Inquiring About Tortoises

Every year during the last couple weeks of school, I ask the kids if they want me to bring in my Russian Tortoise. His name is Steven.  Usually, they say yes, I bring him in, we document him, they ask questions, we read a book, they observe him, and that's the end of it. Not this year! 

As soon as I mentioned bringing him for a visit, they wanted to inquire about tortoises! We created a "We wonder..." chart to find out what they wanted to know. They came up with some great questions! Here are just a few:
"Why do they look like a rock?"
"How do they grow? Does the shell grow with them?"
"How do they put their shells on?"
"What do they eat?"
"Why do they need their shells?"
"How do they get passed an obstical?"
"How are tortoises different than turtles?"
We read books and watched videos to help us find out more information and to answer our questions. 

They started creating playgrounds for Steven and our toy turtles and tortoises to play in. This took a lot of planning, collaboration, and problem solving as they worked together.

They created tortoises in the art area using paint and pastels. 

I decided to set out a provacation to encourage documentation through sculptures of what tortoises looked like in the art area when I observed the interest forming.  Creating tortoise sculptures was a favorite!

We incorporated living and nonliving into this inquiry and also discussed what living things need to survive. Here is one chart they made. 

Finally, the long awaited day arrived and Steven the Tortoise payed us a visit.

They observed him by taking a closer look. 

They documented what he looked like and labeled the different parts of a tortoise. They were fascinated by the hexagons, trapezoids and patterns on his shell! 

They let him play on their playgrounds. 

They wondered what his favorite food was. He is an herbivore so I brought in some different things that he likes to eat. He could choose from lettuce, a carrot one of my students brought for him, an apple slice, and green beans. They all made predictions. 

He made a beeline for the carrot! The kids rushed to their tables to document what happened!

We took him outside with us and a group decided to make a playground for him out there!  This was a great gross motor workout as they lifted and arranged logs near a plant for him. They noticed how well his shell camouflaged him!  They decided he needed camouflage for protection since he didn't need it to catch prey. 

The interest in tortoises continues on in our class as we start wrapping up this school year.

We also had field day this week!  It was a day of fun and games!

The Bean Bag Toss

Relay Races

Paddles and Balloons

Very fun hula hoop game where they each have a hope, than as music plays, adults take hoops and they have to find someone to share hoops with. 

Puff Ball Races

Dance Party

Snack and free time outside

I adore all 30 of these crazy kids! I can't believe this year is already coming to an end!

Here is a hint about the last project going on in our room!  I'll post about it next week!

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